Animals In Print
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10 July 2010 Issue

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Farm Animals Eat What?
The Reality Of Feed At Animal Factories

Meet Your Meat, Why You Should Become Vegetarian

Meet Your Meat, Why You Should Become Vegetarian

When many Americans think of farm animals, they picture cattle munching grass on rolling pastures, chickens pecking on the ground outside of picturesque red barns, and pigs gobbling down food at the trough.

Over the last 50 years, the way food animals are raised and fed has changed dramatically—to the detriment of both animals and humans. Many people are surprised to find that most of the food animals in the United States are no longer raised on farms at all. Instead they come from crowded animal factories, also known as large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Just like other factories, animal factories are constantly searching for ways to shave their costs. To save money, they've redefined what constitutes animal feed, with little consideration of what is best for the animals or for human health. As a result, many of the ingredients used in feed these days are not the kind of food the animals are designed by nature to eat.

Just take a look at what's being fed to the animals you eat.

Same Species Meat
Diseased Animals
Feathers, Hair, Skin, Hooves, and Blood
Manure and Other Animal Waste
Drugs and Chemicals
Unhealthy Amounts of Grains

Are these ingredients legal? Unfortunately, yes. Nevertheless, some raise human health concerns. Others just indicate the low standards for animal feeds. But all are symptoms of a system that has lost sight of the appropriate way to raise food animals.

Same Species Meat, Diseased Animals, and Feathers, Hair, Skin, and Blood

The advent of "mad cow" disease (also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE) raised international concern about the safety of feeding rendered[1] cattle to cattle. Since the discovery of mad cow disease in the United States, the federal government has taken some action to restrict the parts of cattle that can be fed back to cattle.

However, most animals are still allowed to eat meat from their own species. Pig carcasses can be rendered and fed back to pigs, chicken carcasses can be rendered and fed back to chickens, and turkey carcasses can be rendered and fed back to turkeys. Even cattle can still be fed cow blood and some other cow parts.

Under current law, pigs, chickens, and turkeys that have been fed rendered cattle can be rendered and fed back to cattle—a loophole that may allow mad cow agents to infect healthy cattle.

Animal feed legally can contain rendered road kill, dead horses, and euthanized cats and dogs.

Rendered feathers, hair, skin, hooves, blood, and intestines can also be found in feed, often under catch-all categories like "animal protein products."

Manure and Other Animal Waste

Feed for any food animal can contain cattle manure, swine waste, and poultry litter. This waste may contain drugs such as antibiotics and hormones that have passed unchanged through the animals' bodies.

The poultry litter that is fed to cattle contains rendered cattle parts in the form of digested poultry feed and spilled poultry feed. This is another loophole that may allow mad cow agents to infect healthy cattle.

Animal waste used for feed is also allowed to contain dirt, rocks, sand, wood, and other such contaminants.


Many animals need roughage to move food through their digestive systems. But instead of using plant-based roughage, animal factories often turn to pellets made from plastics to compensate for the lack of natural fiber in the factory feed.

Drugs and Chemicals

Animals raised in humane conditions with appropriate space and food rarely require medical treatment. But animals at animal factories often receive antibiotics to promote faster growth and to compensate for crowded, stressful, and unsanitary living conditions. An estimated 13.5 million pounds of antibiotics—the same classes of antibiotics used in human medicine—are routinely added to animal feed or water. This routine, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics speeds the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can infect humans as well as animals. Antibiotic resistance is a pressing public health problem that costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year.

Some of the antimicrobials used to control parasites and promote growth in poultry contain arsenic, a known human carcinogen. Arsenic can be found in meat or can contaminate human water supplies through runoff from factory farms.

Unhealthy Amounts of Grains

One last surprise. While grain may sound like a healthful food, the excessive quantities fed to some animals are not. This is especially true for cattle, which are natural grass eaters. Their digestive systems are not designed to handle the large amounts of corn they receive at feedlots. As a result of this corn-rich diet, feedlot cattle can suffer significant health problems, including excessively acidic digestive systems and liver abscesses. Grain-induced health problems, in turn, ramp up the need for drugs.

Want to Change What Animals are Fed?

The rise in animal factories over the last 50 years has led to a system that is out of control. Mad cow disease, increased liver abscesses, and the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are just some examples of the damage that comes from unwise and often inhumane approaches to raising food animals.

As a consumer armed with information, you have the power to promote a modern approach to raising animals that is both productive and healthful. You can help to effect change by supporting systems and producers that feed animals the food they were meant to eat.

You can:

Avoid factory farmed animal products altogether by choosing plant-based foods.

SOURCE ; of Concerned Scientists
National Headquarters
2 Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA 02238-9105


Over the past 30 years, we have made changes to our nations' food supply that are greater than any other period in human history. We have moved our country away from traditional food and into a world of factory farmed and factory produced food that is not only harmful to our environment but is killing Americans.

Today, there is very little food in our grocery stores that is real food and that is healthy to eat. People now think that food comes in boxes with hundreds of different ingredients. When eaten, these foods slowly poison people until they develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, auto-immune system diseases, and many other serious diseases including obesity. This poor quality food is creating enormous health care costs.

Across America is a sea of fast food and restaurant chains that are serving the same meals in a thousand locations. How can they do this? They accomplish this by creating cheap, prepackaged food that contains a toxic mixture of sugar, chemicals and preservatives. The food is nutrient-poor and the meat products are made from animals that have been raised inhumanely and not sustainably. The food is then cooked in harmful disease causing fats such as hydrogenated oil which is high heated and used over and over again.

Our government has allowed for this to happen to our society through legislation. Our government allows for companies to continue to "create" food using ingredients that are known to cause diseases so that this created food can last for very long periods of time on shelves. Our government allows for drugs to be used as artificial sweeteners in food and drinks. Our government allows for harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers to be used in farming that poisons our environment, food and water supply. Our government allows inhumane corporate farming practices that are the most horrible practices that our nation has ever seen. Animals are being fed unnatural diets consisting of animal waste by-products, saw dust and other substances including toxic fungal infested grains that are not deemed safe for humans. Animals have only been raised in these animal factory farms over the last 25 years in order for food corporations to keep up with the demand for animal meat to supply the fast food industry. Our government allows for over 125,000 cattle to be crowded into one feedlot. Our government allows for anabolic steroids to be placed into the ears of cattle to make them grow bigger and faster. These steroids are linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer and even early childhood development. Our government allows for chickens to be bred in ways that creates species with breasts so large they cannot stand up. Our government allows for animals to be raised in such poor conditions that their immune systems are so weak that they cannot live outside. Factory farming practices are the reason why we are seeing diseases like swine flu and mad cow disease. In addition, these factory farms create over 3 trillion pounds of waste manure each year. This is 10 times the amount of waste produced by humans. These huge waste lagoons contaminate our fresh food and water, and are a leading cause of global warming. And what about the fish? 70% of our world's fish population has been over fished. Why are endangered fish still being sold in restaurants and in markets? Why does our government allow for all of these things to happen?

Food is an external substance that is taken in internally. Food affects every cell in the human body. Food is necessary for people to live and for their bodies to function and maintain good health. The quality of food and nutrients people consume determines the physical and mental condition of their body. All calories are not created equal and consuming unhealthy food and animal products leads to unhealthy diseased people. We will never have a healthy society if we continue to monetarily subsidize and support a food industry that is disease causing.

It is no mystery why people are sick. I see clients every day who have long lists of symptoms and illnesses who are often taking more than 20 medications at the same time to address their multiple symptoms – and this too will kill them. At the root of their health problems is BAD FOOD AND POOR DIETS. Sadly people have no idea that their diet is so unhealthy. The food industry works very hard to prevent people from knowing the truth about how their food is made and where it comes from. And because the food that people are eating is also supported by both the United States Department of Agriculture and the American Dietetic Association, people assume their food is safe and healthy for them to eat.

Fake food has become the norm of our society. People, including young developing children, are existing on already prepared and packed foods that have been highly denatured, are nutrient-poor, and contain toxic ingredients. These toxic foods have made their way into our school systems and into our hospitals where they are fed to people who are sick and have weakened immune systems.

We cannot continue as a society based on profit and greed. We must work together to change this destructive path that we are on. The health and welfare of our society, animals and the only planet that we have to live on is at stake. Only when the truth about our food industry is exposed and changes are made to our food policies can America’s epidemic of disease be prevented.

Please write your congressional representatives and express the need for better food and food polices in America.

SOURCE:Three Decades to a Sick Nation
By: Danielle Heard, MS, HHC

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