By Rachel Naba
Source: The Earth Center
A pile of dead animals covers the floor of the rendering plant, covered with maggots. The humming of the flies swarming around the bodies is mere background noise as mini-bulldozers gather the carcasses for processing. As the bodies are dropped into a large pot for grinding, their bones, viscera, eyes, brains, and fur or feathers become a giant mixture of "meat product". After the raw product is cut and shredded, it is loaded into a large cooking pot and cooked for anywhere between twenty to ninety minutes. The grease, often called yellow fat or tallow, is skimmed from the top of the cooked mixture, and the cooked meat and bones are processed further, dehydrated, and made into meat meal or bone meal. Farmers rely on this industry to dispose of their livestock waste (down or dead cows, sheep, etc), and slaughterhouses rid themselves of parts considered inedible for humans (feathers, cow heads, hoofs, viscera, etc), diseased meat, scraps, and contaminated products. Dead zoo animals and roadkill can also be found in the mixture, as well as euthanized cats and dogs from vet clinics and animal shelters. It is the rendering business, and it is one of the most behind-the-scenes businesses in the food industry. It has progressed almost silently for many years, and many people have been unaware of its existence or influence - until recently. News about Mad Cow Disease and other health problems has hit the streets, and eyes are beginning to turn to the rendering business and the uses of its products.
Meat is the main part of a meal for many Americans, and this practice is promoted by the meat and poultry industries. But, unlike more traditional and Earthly cultures, Americans have an extreme attitude of consumerism and waste. Unlike other cultures that use every part of an animal that is killed for food (the hide, hooves, ears, meat - everything is either eaten or made into other tools or products), consumers in "first world" countries use only a limited portion of each animal (roughly half of each cow and one third of each pig is considered waste material). The rendering industry, however, takes care of this waste problem. They take animal waste, diseased or rotten meat, dead pets and zoo animals, restaurant scraps and grease and convert it into "usable" products. The finished products: tallow/grease and meat/bone meal. Their uses: candles, soaps, pharmaceuticals, gummy candies, lubricants, pet food, livestock food, and much more.
The rendering industry boasts that it is the "original recycler". This recycling industry is almost completely self-regulated (unregulated) and has helped reduce "waste" and the cost of pet food and livestock feed - but at what price?
Most people have heard at least something about Mad Cow Disease that has caused major controversy in Europe. The current theory of its cause is that the feed that was given to cattle is what made them sick - feed containing rendered parts of sheep with an enigmatic neurological disease called scrapie. The disease was theoretically passed on to the cows and then to human beings who ate the cow meat. While cows are vegeterian animals which should not be consuming meat products of any kind, farmers and ranchers have introduced it into their diets. Human beings are attempting to change the nature of a cow by feeding them meat and, at the same time, are poisoning them with dangerous "meat byproducts" that contain many questionable substances.
An estimated 100 million pounds of waste material are picked up every day by the rendering industry. Diseased, poisoned, and otherwise inedible livestock are freely put into the grinder without treatment - tags, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, intestinal waste, fur - nothing is left out. Dicarded meat and seafood from supermarket freezers are added, along with the plastic wrapping and styrofoam trays. Dogs and cats are shoveled into mix with their tags and flea collars intact. The resulting soup is a concoction of meat, pesticides, horomones, drugs (the chemicals used to euthanize dogs and cats do not break down in the rendering process), disease, plastic, metal, insecticides... This is what our pets are eating, and this is what is fed to chicken, hogs, and other livestock. Pigs are eating pigs, chickens are eating chickens, dogs are eating dogs, cats are eating cats....and humans are consuming the livestock that eat this filth.
Because the rendering industry is hugely self-regulated and secretive, there are many issues that are kept from public eye. Have you ever wondered what the hospital does with a mother's placenta after it carts it away shortly after delivery? Research shows that human placentas have been found within the mixture of rendering pots!
When an animal dies in nature, for whatever reason, its remains are either eaten by predator animals or are left to decompose. The decomposition of the animal fertilizes the Earth and replenishes necessary ingredients naturally. Today, the rendering industry capitalizes on the American craze for meat and poultry and perpetuates the system of excess and waste. It is time that we reconsider our dietary philosophy and the treatment of our livestock. The safety of our food supply and, in turn, our own health, is at risk.