Covid 19 and pet food worries. We have turned into walking bundles of concern, every piece of news or information strikes us with anger, fear or frustration . It’s stressful enough looking after pets in the midst a lock down without the added worry about the quality of ingredients in their food.
North America like the rest of the world is battling this audacious virus which respects no borders, race, religion or ethnicity. As slaughter houses across the continent emerge as clusters of coronavirus outbreaks they close operations. This leaves farmers and factory farms with millions of unwanted animals. They are culled. The politically correct term is ‘processed.’
As you shelter and lament the inconvenience of reduced choices at the grocery store, there are people across the world dying of hunger. A greater disruption is afoot of the seamless supply chain from cold storage to your back yard grill. This is a direct result of the unpreparedness or unwillingness to acknowledge the march of a virus and its ability to strike with stealth and ease.
As in all tragedies, the vulnerable suffer. Invisible essential workers bound by circumstance and compelled to carry out a job few people will physically or emotionally survive. Meat packers, butchers, factory production line workers globally are the most neglected. They provide a service, and endure a reality none of us want to imagine, let alone live.
“All people who work with their hands are party invisible, and the more important the work they do, the more invisible they are.”George Orwell
“Much has been written about veterinarians and technicians in veterinary practice, animal shelters and research laboratories, but the struggles of those engaged in food animal work are poorly documented in the literature.”(Shearer JK. Euthanasia of Cattle: Practical Considerations and Application. Animals (Basel). 2018;8(4):57. Published 2018 Apr 17. doi:10.3390/ani8040057)
Grossly undervalued is this backstage of a production line, behind the scenes footage we as an audience pretend does not exist.
Unwanted hard to dispose off meat and meat parts find their way to a long established dumping ground- Pet food. In appropriate ingredients in commercially produced pet foods are an open secret. As pet owners take notice through modifying feeding habits. Pet owners are bringing about seismic changes in pet food industries as “human grade pet food”, “raw” “grain free” and a myriad inventions take root. There is no reason to believe history will not repeat itself. As the meat industry faces being overwhelmed with a product they cannot sell.
“Presently, choices for disposal of livestock carcasses includes rendering, burial, landfills, composting and incineration. In high livestock density areas (areas where there may be several large feedlots or dairies), animal mortalities and tissues discarded from the slaughter of animals are rendered into usable materials such as lard or tallow. Some of these products are utilized in the manufacturing of wet and dry pet foods. In February 2018, pentobarbital contaminated pet food was alleged to result in the death of a dog . Subsequent testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (United States) confirmed the presence of pentobarbital in a tallow ingredient used in the dog food prompting an immediate nationwide recall of all potentially affected pet food products .”Shearer JK. Euthanasia of Cattle: Practical Considerations and Application. Animals (Basel). 2018;8(4):57. Published 2018 Apr 17. doi:10.3390/ani8040057*
Personal opinions on the consumption of meat and factory farms aside, there are human lives and livelihoods who are just as voiceless and vulnerable as the animals on the production line. Circumstances and realities of factory farms are abhorrent. The question here, is do you have to worry about your pets?