Roadkill, dead pets, and pet food
Cats and BSE: the body count

Recycled pets and potential for TSE amplification

Assuming that a tiny fraction of cats with BSE-FSE ever get diagnosed as such (vestibular disorder more likely, no diagnosis at all likliest), there would be a potential for re-cycling the disease should these infected cats be non-discriminately rendered for pet food:

From Summer 1996 Earth Island Journal v11, #3 pg 27-31:

"The rendering plant floor is piled high with raw product. Thousands of dead dogs and cats; head and hooves from cattle, sheep, pigs and horses; whole skunks; rats and raccoons -- all waiting to be processed. In the 90-degree heat, the piles of dead animals seem to have a life of their own as millions of maggots swarm over the carcassess."

"Rendering plants process decomposing animal carcasses, large roadkill and euthanized dogs and cats into a dry protein product that is sold in the pet food industry. One small plant in Quebec renders 22,000 pounds of dogs and cats per week... The fur is not removed and dead animals are cooked together with viscera, bones and fat at 115 C for 20 minutes."

"Each year in the US, 286 rendering plants quietly dispose of more than 12,500,000 tons of dead animals, fat and meat wasts. ... Baltimore's Valley Proteins "hogger" vat contained an eclectic mix of body parts ranging from dead dogs, cats, raccoons, possums, deer, foxes, snakes, a baby circus elephant, and a police quarterhorse.... In an average year, Baltimore's pound hands over 21,888 dead animals to Valley Proteins [which] sells inedible animal parts and rendered material to Alpo, Heinz, and Ralston-Purina [US pet food manufactureres]"

"Valley Protein maintains two production lines -- one for clean meat and bons and a second line for dead pets and wildlife. However, VP President Smith reported, that the [final] protein material is a mix from both production lines. Thus the meat and bone meal made at the plant includes materials from pets and wildlife, and are about five percent of that product goes to dry-pet-food manufacturers."

Valley Protein responds

Gerald F. Smith, Jr., President of Valley Proteins, Inc. responds to your Wednesday, October 23, 1996 transmission at 10:45 a.m. as follows:

"I was misquoted in the article you referenced. Our plant in Baltimore, MD does indeed process dead domestic house pets which have been euthanized by veterinarians, animal control officials, humane societies and other animal protection organizations. This represents less than one-half of 1% of our Baltimore plant's business on an annual basis. Valley Proteins has a total of nine rendering plants in five states. Except for one pet food producer which purchased approximately 10 tons from our Baltimore plant on three different occasions during the last 12 months, we only sell animal proteins to pet food manufacturers from our facilities which are capable of recycling poultry by-products from poultry slaughter facilities. This pet food producer purchased less than one -half of 1% of our total Baltimore Meat Meal production. Therefore, during the last 12 months approximately 300 pounds of our animal protein containing by-products from dead domestic house pets entered the pet food market."

Listserve commentary 10.31.96

Since the renderer (Valley Proteins) mentioned is in the U.S., presumably the meat and bone meal so generated (if the story is true) must be used in pet food in a manner consistent with FDA and USDA regulations.

First of all, the pet food made must specifically reference the species name on the label. E.g., "chicken byproducts", etc. I personally have never seen "opossum byproducts" or "raccoon meat" or "cat byproducts" listed on ANY petfood I have ever seen.

Secondly, any diseased tissue is inelgible for use in petfood.

IF the story described is true, then most likely any recycled pets/roadkill would be used in fertilizer meat and bone meal. While this might the direct closed-loop feedback suggested.

--------------- The label on Hill's Feline Senior Science Diet includes among the more specific ingredients, "animal fat (preserved with BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid)" and "natural flavor".

Cats and BSE: the body count

1994: 16 1995: 8 1996: 6 so far
The first FSE case was reported already in 1990
(Wyatt et al (1990) Vet.Rec. 126, 513).
Wyatt and coworkers reported 5 more cases in 1991 (Vet Rec.129,233) and
sometime during 1992 the number of confirmed cases had reached 24.
"Since the first report <..> a further 23 cases have been confirmed
histologically (J.W. Wilesmith, personal communication).."
(quote from Journal of small animal practise (1992),33,10,471)
This leaves only a plausible discrepancy (of 28 cases) --
for further cases confirmed in 1992 and cases from 1993.
Maybe the single case reported from Norway is included in
the total count mentioned in Devins' article in THE INDEPENDENT?
Total count 72 diagnosed FSE cases can't be far off.
This leaves only a plausible discrepancy (of 28 cases) --
for further cases confirmed in 1992 and cases from 1993.

BSE in muscle and blood: see the article of I.H.Pattison and G.C.Millson, Distribution of the scrapie agent in the Tissue of experimentally inoculated goats, Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics 1962; 72: 233-44. It demonstrated the scrapie agent in blood and muscle.

D.H.Adams and W.M.Edgar described the transfer of scrapie with gingival in "Transmission of agent of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, British Medical Journal 1978; 1(6118): 987".