Ann Martin's feline companion, Simon
Ann Martin is to the pet food industry what Rachel Carson was to the petro-chemical- pesticide industry. In the same spirit of rigorous investigation, Martin has revealed what ingredients go into pet food and in the feed of most farm animals whose meat and other produce we consume.
--Dr. Michael Fox, author, Eating with Conscience: The Bioethics of Food
In Food Pets Die For, Ann Martin carefully and methodically reveals in great detail the serious problem with the ingredients present in commercial pet food. Even more amazing, is that this is an industry that is almost completely unregulated. Martin is to be congratulated and thanks for her tenacity in taking on an industry with $20 billion in worldwide revenues.
--Alan H. Berger, Executive Director, Animal Protection Institute of America
Ann Martin's book rips the curtain off one of the most suppressed news stories of the decade. It took courage and amazing persistence to write this astounding book. It should be widely read: In the process, it will transform the pet food industry.
--Gar Smith, Editor, Earth Island Journal
Ann Martin's findings are an eye-opener, but she goes further by offering alternative dietary advice as well as pages of nutritious recipes and elpful hints for healthy pets.
Ann Martin's book provides information rarely seen anywhere else It is a shocking, sometimes disgusting look into the pet food industry, and should open the reader's eyes regarding the sources of the "nutrition" most Americans trust as their pets' sole food source."
--Alan L. Miller, N.D., Alternative medicine Review
No metaphor was intended in the title of Ann N. Martin's book on the true nature of the pet food indsutry. The author means what she says, and the shocking facts she uncovers are unrelenting. Having conducted her own investigation into the mult-billion industry, Martin reveals what goes into the food we feed our pets---and it's not those juicy fillets we see on television commercials.
--Susan Dewan, The Amicus Journal
Even if her findings are questioned, Food Pets Die For paints a picture of a thin-skinned industry that is not used to even being lightly questioned. Pinned down with seemingly simple queries, Martin's targets are depicited as if they were guarding national defense secrets. It's hardly the touchy-feely, we-care-about-your-pets picture that food companies present in television ads.
--The Healthy Dog
Ann Martin with Jake
Ann with her dog Sarge.
Ann Martin is internationally recognized as an authority on the commercial pet food controversy. Since 1990, Martin has investigated and questioned exactly what goes into most commercial pet food and continues to discover more unsavory practices of the pet food industry.
The first edition of Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food, published in 1997, was the first book to expose the hazards of commercial pet food. Ms. Martin's investigative reporting was selected for special recognition as "one of the most censored news stories of 1997" by Sonoma State University's Project Censored, which focuses on important news events that are largely ignored by mainstream media. Since then, she has been on numerous television and radio shows internationally, and her book has been translated into Japanese. Ms. Martin was also a columnist for Better Nutrition magazine for four years. In her second book, Protect Your Pet: More Shocking Facts, Ms. Martin continues her investigation of commercial pet food as well as other controversial, pet-related issues.
Ms. Martin graduated with a B.A. in business from the University of Western Ontario, and worked in a tax office for several years. She lives with her family in Ontario, Canada, where she continues to question, research, and write about pet-related issues. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can reach her through NewSage Press's website.
OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR:
PROTECT YOUR PET: MORE SHOCKING FACTS
(The following introduction is an excerpt
from Food Pets Die For. All material is copyrighted by Ann
N. Martin and NewSage Press. Permission to reprint must be obtained
from NewSage Press.)
Introduction to the
Third Edition of
Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food
What I Have Learned
Since the publication of the first edition of Food Pets Die For in 1997, my research and investigation into the pet food industry has turned into an ongoing life pursuit. At the time, few pet owners had any idea how the pet food industry worked or what was actually in the pretty cans and bags of food they fed their animal companions.
This book has been the result of my seventeen-year investigation into the pet food industry. Slowly, a growing number of consumers began to question the unregulated, multi-billion-dollar pet food industry. In 1988, "Project Censored," sponsored by Sonoma State University's journalism department, chose my investigative writing on the pet food industry as one of the most socially significant news stories that had been overlooked, under-reported, or self-censored.
The second edition of Food Pets Die For was published in 2003, and its popularity as one of the definitive exposés on the pet food industry made this book a grassroots bestseller. While many in the mainstream media dismissed my findings, pet owners began to spread the word that commercial pet food posed potential health problems.
Now, with the publication of the third edition, you will see that I still have many concerns about the pet food industry, its business practices, and the inferior pet foods they produce. With rare exception, most commercial foods are far from being balanced and nutritious.
In 2007, the largest recall in the history of the pet food industry shocked the public as manufacturers recalled more than 60 million bags and cans of pet food. In the end, an untold number of cats and dogs--perhaps thousands--died after eating food tainted with questionable products from China. This massive recall became a major wake-up call for millions of consumers, who in the past, never even questioned what they fed their pets. This recall has led to more questioning of the industry, including a U.S. Senate hearing. Still, a year later, there are unanswered questions, pending lawsuits against pet food manufacturers, and ongoing concerns about commercial foods.
Every day since the 2007 recall, pet owners have contacted me, questioning what pet food is safe to feed their pets. Many do not have time to cook for their pets and they are looking for healthy alternatives. In this new edition, I list pet food companies that I consider reliable in their practices, and producing quality pet food with human-grade ingredients. This list is not definitive, but it is a solid beginning. I am continually looking at other pet food companies producing quality foods, and welcome suggestions.
Before recommending a particular pet food, I find out who actually makes the products that go into a company's food and where the ingredients originated. I ask manufacturers numerous questions, such as: "Do you make your own food in your own facility?" If not, "Is you food make by a co-packer?" If so, "Which co-packer?" "What inspections do you carry out on the ingredients, meat, grains, fats, oils, vitamins, minerals and amino acids used in the food?"
I also research to find out if the pet food company had been in a previous recall, and if so, what was the reason? I even ask if the pet food manufacturers participate in animal experimentation in any way. Sadly, there are major corporate pet food companies that spend millions every year on experiments that injure and kill animals.
If a reputable pet food company refuses to answer any of my questions, but I still think the company produces quality food, I note my concerns. I also warn readers to be vigilant in checking out pet foods, and I offer ways to do this. For starters, I explain how to read pet food labels, and what the listed ingredients might include--oftentimes an unsavory toxic mix.
Most importantly, I continue to make my case for cooking for animal companions as the best choice. I have included an assortment of easy, nutritious recipes and simple guidelines to begin making home-cooked meals for your pets. This does not have to be complicated or intimidating. In fact, it can be fun, and certainly an expression of love your animal companions will greatly appreciate.
Since 1990 I have fed my dogs and cats a homemade diet. The pet food industry and some veterinarians warn against home cooking, claiming pets are not receiving a "balanced diet." I completely disagree with this assessment. In fact, my experience over the years proves a homemade diet can extend the life of an animal companion and cut down on veterinary bills.
My pets, along with thousands of others who eat home-cooked meals, are outliving by years standard life spans for cats and dogs. For example, the lifespan of a giant-breed Newfoundland is approximately eight years. My Newfoundland, Charlie, was fourteen years old when he died. My cats have also lived long lives, well into there twenties, and died of old age. My cat, Yakkie, lived until he was twenty-seven.
For my readers who were not around before feeding commercial food became the norm in the late 1950s and early 1960s, ask your parents or grandparents what they fed their pets. Most likely, the answer will be table scraps. I think they will also tell you their pets usually lived long and healthy lives, unless they were hit by a car or had some other accident unrelated to health. I am not condoning feeding table scraps, although if your leftovers include food items such as fresh vegetables, fruits, non-spicy meat, or whole grains, this would be a healthy treat for a pet who eats nothing but commercial food. Ultimately, I am advocating for home-cooking with human-grade foods, organic if possible.
Imagine if your animal companion regularly ate healthy, human-grade food. If you eat this way, and experience the benefits of good health, so will your dog or cat. Bon appétit!
Ann N. Martin, April 2008
Unravelling the Mystery Ingredients in Commercial Pet Food
In recent years, some small pet food companies have begun to make healthy pet food using only human grade ingredients. When you read the labels on these wholesome pet foods, most likely you will recognize all of the ingredients listed, such as chicken, zucchini, squash, celery, and turkey. With these natural pet foods, what you see is what you get.
The standard fare from most commercial pet food companies is a mystery, and the long list of ingredients indecipherable. Despite highly touted claims of being balanced and nutritious, most commercial pet food products are anything but that. In fact, many of the ingredients are potentially harmful and composed of the dregs from slaughterhouses and the rendering business.
Even some of the "premium foods" promoted by pet food companies are really not any different from their standard line--other than being more expensive. As explained in Chapter Eight, Pet Food Recalls, many pet food companies get their lines of wet or dry food from one or two manufacturers that produce hundreds of pet food brands under various private-label names. These lines of food can range from the cheapest supermarket brands right up to the high priced "premium" foods, yet it may basically all be the same inferior product from the same pet food manufacturer. The bags and cans may have different attractive designs with claims of being "completely nutritious" and "balanced," but in my opinion, this is simply false advertising.
So, how do you determine if a particular pet food is nutritious or not? Ultimately, the best defense is to feed your animal companions human grade food, either home cooked, or made by pet food companies that only use human grade foods. (In later chapters, I offer many options for cooking meals or for buying natural pet foods.) If you decide to feed your animal companions commercial pet foods that do not use human grade ingredients, be sure to read the labels. Some foods are worse than others. And even then, buyer beware.
Deciphering Pet Food Labels
Pet food labels can be deceiving--they only provide half the story. The other half of the story is hidden behind obscure ingredients listed on the label, or they are not listed at all because they were added before the product reached the pet food company. Even conscientious consumers cannot possibly detect the hidden ingredients that can be legally put in pet food. Only about half the actual contents of the pet food are listed on the label due to minimal legal regulations in the pet food industry.
In addition, it is not easy to understand what the list of ingredients truly implies. The only way that I have figured this out is by unearthing the information slowly, bit by bit. I have been chipping away at these mystery-labeling practices since 1992. For instance, it took me awhile to figure out what certain words on a pet food label actually mean. A good example is the ingredient "meat by-product." The word "meat" sounds good and implies protein, but "meat by-product" can include a variety of unsavory animal parts. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), "Meat by-product is the nonrendered, clean parts of slaughtered mammals other than the meat."
Under AAFCO guidelines, acceptable meat by-product can include animal lungs, spleens, kidneys, brains, livers, blood, bones, low-temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. The guidelines indicate that "meat by-product" can even include livers infested with worms (liver flukes) or diseased with cirrhosis. Lungs can be filled with pneumonia. If an animal is diseased and declared unfit for human consumption, the carcass is acceptable for pet food. Even parts of animals, such as "stick marks,"--the area of the body where animals have been injected with antibiotics, hormones, or other drugs--are cut from the carcasses intended for human consumption and used for meat by-product in pet food.
Dead Dogs and Cats as a Protein Source
The most objectionable source of protein for pet food is euthanized cats and dogs. (See Chapter Four.) It is a common practice for thousands of euthanized dogs and cats to be delivered to rendering plants, daily, and thrown into rendering vats--along with pet collars, I.D. tags, and plastic bags--to become part of an ingredient called "meat meal." If you see the term "meat meal" listed as an ingredient, there is no guarantee that the pet food does not contain euthanized cats and dogs.
Note the difference between the terms "meat meal" and "meat by-products," which are commonly listed as ingredients on pet food labels. The term "meat meal" refers to material from rendering plants that is sent to pet food manufacturers. The term "meat by-products" refers to the material sent to pet food companies directly from the slaughterhouse and does not involve rendering.
I have listed some of the ingredients frequently included on pet food labels. These definitions are from AAFCO's "Ingredient Definitions." Note that when you read descriptions that include "clean flesh" or "clean parts," this means that the material is basically devoid of any extraneous matter such as hair, fur, and stomach contents. However, the idea of creating "clean parts" in the rendering process seems misleading at best, and in my opinion, a complete misnomer. In an article written by David C. Cooke, "Animal Disposal: Fact and Fiction," Cooke noted, "Can you imagine trying to remove the fur and stomach contents from 600,000 tons of dogs and cats prior to cooking them? It would seem that either the Association of American Feed Control Officials' [AAFCO] definition of meat meal or meat and bone meal should be redefined or it needs to include a better description of good factory practices."1
Meat, Poultry, and Fish Sources
My research shows that the meat used in pet food is sourced in the United States, and arrives at the pet food manufacturer as a "meat meal" or "meat and bone meal." Lamb is the only imported meat source, coming from Australia and New Zealand. The following are definitions provided by the AAFCO for explaining ingredients acceptable under certain terms for labeling.
Note to the reader: In the book, this chapter goes on to explain numerous ingredients listed on pet food labels and exactly what those ingredients may include. The following two ingredients, "meat" and "meat meal" are examples of how Ann Martin explains the ingredients and what they legally can include.
Meat: AAFCO defines "meat" as the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals. This mammal flesh is limited to the part of the striate muscle that is skeletal or what is found in the tongue, diaphragm, heart, or esophagus. AAFCO stipulates that the flesh is "with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels that normally accompany the flesh."
When you read on a pet food label that the product contains "meat," you are getting blood vessels, sinew, and so on. Meat is not rendered but comes directly from slaughterhouses. Again, this is called "meat by-product" and can contain many unsavory and/or diseased animal parts.
Meat meal: AAFCO defines "meat meal" as the rendered product from mammal tissue exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, hide, trimmings, manure, stomach, and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. (The rumen is the first stomach, also called the cud, of a cud-chewing animal.)
Simon after a good, home-cooked meal
Cooking for Cats
For nearly twenty years I have fed my cats a homemade diet. My cats have all lived well into their twenties, and died of old age. I have to shake my head in disbelief when I read articles or news reports quoting veterinarians who claim feeding your cats and dogs home-cooked meals is harmful. This simply is not true. With a little bit of preparation and a basic understanding of what your companion animal requires nutritionally, you can help your cat and/or dog live a long and healthy life.
In this chapter, I will talk about specific diet concerns for cats, including vitamins and minerals. This does not have to be complicated even though there are many books and articles that would have you believe otherwise. My approach to cooking for my cats and dogs is to keep it simple, using the freshest and most natural ingredients affordable. In Chapter 12, there are recipes for preparing a homemade diet for cats, including the recipes I have used over the years.
Cats are carnivores. That means they are flesh-eating animals and require a certain amount of amino acids derived from eating animal protein. Cats have evolved as hunters of other animals in keeping with their nature as meat-eaters. If you are a vegetarian and you want your cat to be a vegetarian, I encourage you to keep reading this chapter, even though you may think this is meat-eating propaganda. There are some serious nutritional considerations for your cat, especially about sources of protein and essential fatty acids.
The primary purpose of protein is to build body tissue and provide energy. Cats need the amino acids that are included in animal protein. Researchers have identified twenty-three amino acids that cats require and a deficiency in any of these amino acids can cause health problems. For example, in the 1980s researchers identified the amino acid taurine as an essential amino acid for cats, which means cats cannot produce taurine so they have to ingest it by eating animal tissue.
In 1988, Paul Pion, D.V.M., a resident veterinary cardiologist at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) found that commercial cat foods did not contain sufficient amounts of taurine. The processing of commercial pet food basically inactivates taurine levels in commercial foods. During that time, one of the leading causes of death in cats was dilated cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle. Pion observed considerable improvement among cats with cardiomyopathy when their diet was supplemented with taurine.1 In response to Pion's findings, pet food companies began adding supplemental taurine to cat foods. Subsequently, cases of cardiomyopathy dropped.
The research is still ongoing for identifying other essential amino acids for cats--which ones cats can produce on their own, and which ones they must get through food. "To date, the essential amino acids cats must obtain from the food they eat are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, and taurine," according to veterinary researchers Rory Foster, D.V.M., and Marty Smith, D.V.M.2 While the research is ongoing, what is certain is that protein from meat contains a far greater variety of amino acids than do proteins from plants.
Note to Reader: This chapter goes on to discuss numerous issues related to a cat's diet, including vitamins and minerals, excessive carbohydrates, malabsorption, and problems with fish diets.
recipes are excerpted from Food Pets Die For. All material
is copyrighted by Ann N. Martin and NewSage Press. Permission to
reprint must be obtained from NewSage Press.)
Recipes for Cats
1 tbsp. nonfat dry milk
3 medium eggs
3 tbsp. cottage cheese
2 tbsp. grated veggies or sprouts
Mix the milk powder with a little water, add eggs, and mix together. Cook. Once the mixture is cooked, turn it over, and put the cottage cheese and veggies or sprouts on top. When this is firm, fold it over like an omelet. Cut into bite-size pieces for your kitties.
Finicky Feline Diet
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1/4 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup chopped broccoli and carrots cooked until tender
Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender with enough chicken broth to hold together. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Source: Ann N. Martin
Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables
2 cups of ground or chopped chicken, cooked
1 cup of cooked brown rice
1/4 cup grated carrots
Put chicken, brown rice and carrots in blender and mix well. If there is any fat from the chicken, pour about two teaspoons over
the mix. Serve at room temperature.
Cooking for Dogs
Many people have told me that they are terrified about feeding their dogs anything other than what comes out of a can or bag labeled "pet food." They worry they may be harming their animal companions by feeding them home-cooked meals or table scraps. A couple of pet owners have even admitted they believe their pets will keel over and die if fed a homemade diet.
Sadly, this fear reflects very effective marketing by commercial pet food manufacturers who portray themselves as the true authorities on what constitutes "a balanced and nutritional" meal for your dog or cat. If you review Chapter Two, and the ingredients that can legally be mixed into commercial pet food, I hope you will be convinced to try cooking for your dog. At the very least, try to incorporate fresh healthy food along with a high-quality pet food.
I have been cooking for my dogs and cats for nearly nineteen years and not one of my animal companions has died because of food-related problems. In fact, they have lived far longer than the expected life spans and I believe this is largely due to eating healthy, home-cooked food. My large dogs lived almost twice as long as predicted for large-breed dogs, and my cats lived more than twenty years on average. One of my dogs, Sarge, a German Shepherd, had been diagnosed with discoid lupus, and even he lived two years longer than the veterinarian had predicted.
Most veterinarians receive minimal education for dog and cat nutrition while in veterinary school, and generally are not well informed on good nutrition for pets. However, there are some veterinarians who specialize in holistic or naturopathic veterinary medicine and they understand good nutrition. If you are worried about cooking for your animal companions, find a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition. If your animal companion has a serious health problem, then first consult a holistic or naturopathic veterinarian before you try to cook for your pet. These holistic veterinarians can guide you on preparing a home-made diet, and how often to feed your dog, especially if he or she has health problems.
A Balanced Diet for Your Dog
In order to maintain health, your dog needs a combination of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fats. Ultimately, there are a lot of unknowns regarding a "complete and balanced" diet for dogs and cats, although there are many who claim they have the answers. Martin Goldstein, D.V.M., writes in his book, The Nature of Animal Healing, "Our pets, like us, are all individuals, all with different requirements. So what works for one may not work for another."1
The following suggestions for home cooking for your dog are not based on scientific evidence, but rather accumulated knowledge and sound advice from veterinarians and nutritionists knowledgeable about balanced and complete meals for cats and dogs. If you talk to ten different experts on dog nutrition, you will get at least half a dozen different opinions, or more. Some add supplements, some don't; some advocate less protein for kidney problems, some don't; some say feed your dog twice a day, others may advise three meals a day.
After talking with numerous nutrition experts, I concluded that the best combination of ingredients for my dog's meals is one-third protein, one-third carbohydrates, and one-third vegetables and fruits. I then add small amounts of high quality vegetable oil, which I discuss later in this chapter. If this combination I am suggesting does not work for your dog, then consult with a holistic veterinarian or pet nutritionist.
My dog and cats eat three meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My dog, Kodi, is a one-hundred-sixty-pound Newfoundland and in addition to three meals a day, Kodi gets two snacks during the day. These snacks might include homegrown sprouts, or maybe a piece of cheese, carrot stick, apple slice, or a dog cookie that I've baked. Depending on the size of the dog, and his or her dietary requirements, many pet owners feed their dogs two meals per day, usually in the morning and in the evening. With the giant dog breeds, it is easier on their systems if they eat three or four smaller meals a day rather than one or two large ones. More frequent meals also help protect against bloat, which can be deadly. (See Chapter 15 on bloat.)
Note to Reader: This chapter on dogs' diets also discusses what comprises a "balanced diet," ingredients for a basic home-cooked meal for your dog, supplements, food allergies, vegetarian dogs, and more.
Recipes for Dogs
Meat, Potatoes, and Vegetables
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 pound ground chicken, fried
1 cup grated carrots
3 tablespoons cottage cheese
Mix potatoes, ground chicken, and grated carrots together. Heat in individual muffin tins (Microwave 3 minutes, oven 10 minutes). Cool and top with 1 to 3 tablespoons cottage cheese.
Sweet Potato Fritters
1/2 cup nonfat milk
2 tbsp. whole-wheat flour
2 tbsp. wheat germ
2 cups raw sweet potatoes, finely grated
1 tbsp. olive oil
Beat eggs. Add milk. Mix in flour and wheat germ. Fold in grated sweet potatoes. Fry over medium heat until cooked thoroughly.
Source: Katie Merwick
People Food for Dogs
Dinner for Kodi
This is a recipe I make often for my Newfoundland, Kodi.
2 lbs. ground chicken or turkey, lightly cooked
2 cups couscous soaked in boiling water (or other favorite grain)
4 medium potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 apples, washed
1 cup parsley
Put the carrots, apples, zucchini and parsley through the food processor and mix with remaining ingredients. This can be put in individual containers and frozen.
Source: Ann N. Martin
Food Pets Die For
News That Didn't Make the News
Project Censored, sponsored by Sonoma State University, California, chose 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the United States' major mainstream media. "Food Pets Die For," an article by Ann N. Martin, based on her book, Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food, (NewSage Press 1997) was chosen by Project Censored for this journalistic honor in 1998.
Project Censored reviews articles for content, reliability of the source, and national or international significance. Every year Project Censored reviews more than 600 submissions from journalists, scholars, librarians, and concerned citizens worldwide. The goals of this organization are to inform the public, advocate for First Amendment rights, and spark debate on current events involving media monopoly.
"Food Pets Die For" is the result of a seven-year investigation by Martin into the multi-billion dollar pet food industry in the United States and in Canada. Martin uncovers the unsavory ingredients used for commercial pet food, including diseased and contaminated meat, euthanized companion animals, roadkill, moldy grain, and rancid fat, which are admissible according to government regulations.
"Ann Martin is to the pet food industry what Rachel Carson was to the petro-chemical-pesticide industry," states Dr. Michael W. Fox, a veterinarian and animal-activist. "In the same spirit of rigorous investigation, Martin has revealed what ingredients go into pet food and into the feed of most farm animals, whose meat and other produce we consume."
Martin's investigation began in 1990 when her two dogs became sick after eating a popular brand of dog food. Her attempt to understand the cause of their illness led Martin through a maze of government and industry stonewalling, denial, and outright lies.
The Animal Protection Institute of America has also investigated the commercial pet food industry, and has reached conclusions similar to Martin's. Regarding Martin's findings, Executive Director of API, Alan Berger, states, "Martin carefully and methodically reveals in great detail the serious problem with the ingredients present in commercial pet food. Even more amazing is that this is an industry that is almost completely unregulated. Martin is to be congratulated and thanked for her tenacity in taking on an industry with $20 billion in worldwide revenues."
Today Martin is considered one of North America's leading experts on the subject and is regularly consulted by veterinarians and pet owners worldwide.
OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR:
PROTECT YOUR PET: MORE SHOCKING FACTS