My Photo

Keep Up


    christiekeith's items Go to christiekeith's photostream

« Dogs on drugs: FDA warns of dangerous drug interaction | Main | The unexpected beauty of snakes »

02 July 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Diana L Guerrero

I wouldn't have been able to shut my mouth...:-)

The whole food animal processing situation needs to seriously change--and so do the regulatory agencies.

Regarding the nodding heads (sheep behavior)...

We currently drive two hours each way to get to a decent veterinarian. She was pro raw diet--unusual.

I find that I can no longer refer to any animal professionals in my area. They don't seem to go beyond the status quo and fail to question tradition or the current mainstream focus.

When I was a clinic associate at an innovative clinic in San Diego (mid-1990s) we took all kinds of heat for teaching alternatives to accepted practices.

In the clinic is was normal to provide (and teach classes on) raw diets, holistic veterinary care, humane behavior modification, animal communication, Feldenkrais for animals, and cryobanking.

I don't want to rant on all the insanity I've been noticing in the veterinary professional around these parts but I'll leave you on a funny note--and a true story.

One of the local veterinary technicians told a client that she could not move up into the mountains with her parrots because they would pop at the high altitude...

I grimaced and groaned before I laughed...she apparently has no sense and never watches the birds that migrate back and forth to this area.

Gina Spadafori

>I wouldn't have been able to shut my mouth...:-)

It's sometimes very, very difficult, to be sure.

But when you are there with a media credential, you are there to cover, not participate. You take notes, get names and numbers and ask your questions directly of the speaker, later. Them's the rules.

Bernard J. (Bernie) Starzewski

I think it was CBS news that aired some sting tape a while back that showed workers taking wheel barrows of guts out thru hanging carcases and bumping them as they went.

You need to go back and read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle if you have never read it or read it again. While it is certainly not that bad today you can see the same forces at work, re: a focus on low cost without regard for quality.

The lack of time breeds bad practices that are born out of expedience. And in the process seemingly simple processes are simply overwhelmed by the volume.


The problem is the speed of processing and the dangerous working conditions in abbatoirs, especially in the High Plains.

If demand would slow down, then the whole chain of events from birth to death could slow down with it.

The deer hunter above is processing one animal a year, very carefully. Were he processing hundreds a day he too might slip with the knife now and then.


I think I'll have a double cheeseburger while bathing in wine. I'm a vegetarian but it just sounds so deliciously decadent, I can't resist.

Bernard J. (Bernie) Starzewski

Just and FYI: McDonald's double cheeseburgers... At $1.00 a great bargain! Both Scout and now Trigger love them! Except Trigger doesnt care for the pickles.

Bernard J. (Bernie) Starzewski

Well, I have to say that Im impressed with the collective ability here to poke holes in the BS.

I've complained here many times about the UW Madison vet program using pet food consultants to run the ENTIRE nutrition program (consisting of a whole 2 or 3 lectures if that) at that school.

Here we have again, a private and obviously biased interest controlling the subject matter in the complete absense of any science and nobody but the non-vet says anything about it. This people ARE DOCTORS, right? They studies scientific method along the way somewhere?

Last fall I had almost the same lecture given to me by a pet food rep in the very store where I bought that Sprout Beef Cuts & Gravy for my Brandy that ultimately did her in.

This woman has handing out free samples and when she approached me I told her about Brandy and how I would never feed that crap to an animal I loved again. Then, almost verbatim to what Chrisie related here she goes into this spiel about how my dog might not be getting the right suppliments and such...

I asked her whether she thought that 10,000 years ago there might have lived a now extinct wooly rabbit that was nutritionally superior to the prey species available today.

I went on to beat her up (perhaps a little too much) about what the RDA is for melamine and cyanuratic acid and if that was what she meant by "suppliments". I really made her feel bad I think because I could see it in her face. She was not the evil corporate empire. She was just some schmuck house wife trying to make a few bucks by hostessing a taste test party for dogs at the store that happended to be the one that sold me that crap and after learning that it may have killed my dog but still had lots yet not on the official list PUT THEIR REMAINING STOCK ON SALE!!!!!!!!!

You are 100% right. Just how does the bacteria know that its going to the dog and not the oven? Does the bacteria cut dogs slack when they bury the bone and come back and chew on it later?

When I drop a hot dog on the floor is it safe as long as he obeys the "5 second rule".

Finally, as for "poop on the food". Well, obviously cattle are full of poop. They are walking poop factories. The whole art of butchering is that of extracting the poop mechanisms and their contents from the cow while getting as little of its contents all over everything.

The issue is not whether this is going to happen but when and how much and much more importantly, how well the carcas is washed. You know.. that thing you do with soap and water - or at least clean water on meat. There's this thing called refridgeration too.

I once read a story about how when Pasture (sp?) discovered bacteria in water people previously thought was pure nobody wanted to even wash with it any more much less drink it. Wine quickly came into short supply. The pitch of this woman sounds a great deal like a wine merchant deriding the horrors of water.

The bottom line is, where there is a commercial interest, keep your hand over your wallet and walk the other way.


You should have asked those questions. I think they are totally appropriate. If feeding animals is so specialized and dangerous, how can we, mere mortals, consider preparing food for our children?

Someone has to think outside the box and the vets at the convention sure aren't.

Promise us you will ask at the next convention. We're depending on you!!!

H. Houlahan

I wanna know.

If I (and hundreds of thousands of other hunters) can shoot an unrestrained deer at 50 yards, (something I do once a year)and never, ever rupture the digestive track, why can't a trained slaughterhouse worker who does it hundreds of times a day manage the same feat on a cow that is standing still in a squeeze chute under the captive bolt?

If I can field dress (eviscerate) a deer who was eating two minutes before, outdoors in freezing weather, cold-fingered, poorly-lit, and using only a folding knife and a piece of string, and never, ever contaminate the muscle meat with fecal matter, gall, or stomach contents, why can't a team of trained slaughterhouse workers, working in well-lit OSHA-compliant conditions and equipped with specialized hoists, knives, hoses, and other tools manage the same feat on a cow that was fasted for 24 hours prior to slaughter?

If I can drag that same deer out of the woods, hang it from a tree in my back yard, skin it, and then butcher it into my desired cuts of meat and grind the scrap into burger on a patio table, then package, label and freeze it all, outdoors, surrounded by eager dogs, again in cold, poorly-lit conditions, using only a few tools (two knives, a cleaver, a cheap home grinder, a few rags, a garden hose if it's not below freezing, and a home vacuum sealer), and never ever contaminate the meat with anything then why can't the trained workers from slaughterhouse to butcher shop to wholesaler to supermarket or restaurant manage to avoid getting their own poop into the meat?

What are the employers doing that is creating this problem?

I'm a gardener too. How come I don't have a problem with poop in the lettuce?

Jillian Koeneman

Excellent post! It's sad to see so many of this countries that have been brain-washed by Pet Food companies into thinking that a kibble diet is the only way to go. I laughed out loud at your sentence "That’s why we never had any dogs prior to the invention of pet food a hundred or so years ago."


Those are legit questions and I can't imagine you embarrassing Pet Connection by asking them. It does put me in mind of George Carlin's "You are all diseased" bit from about 10 years ago though. Now playing THAT in the middle of that speech would have been possibly uncomfortable but it's also based on good science and delightfully appropriate!


"Measurable levels of bacteria", eh. How horrid. C'mon people, low level bacterial exposure is what keeps our immune systems healthy. I am NOT about to start autoclaving my dinner dishes! I don't feed my dog a raw diet, however I feed myself one occasionally: carpaccio, ceviche, sushi, steak tartare. Those dishes would all be much easier to prepare if I didn't have to be so picky about where the ingredients came from what with all the poop in the food!


Take me to the next conference please! I promise not to sit next to you and will ask those questions {grin} I really doubt I would have been able to hold my tongue or laughter, you're good!

I will say though, having a couple of freezers with stashes of meat for me and the pets has been wonderful this past year with the never ending beef recalls.


I wish I had been there, in the front row! I would have asked the PFC to explain about the contamination with salmonella in dry dog food. Than I would have asked about the FDA directive re: handling that kibble. Let's see... oh yes and than there's the issue of all that kibble not accounted for. And than the PETCO problem. How about the 4 D's?

Factory farming.. hormones,antibiotics,cramped facilities, packing houses with poor sanitation, etc...and not to forget the diseased and sick cows being forced into slaughter; all reasons for meat to be bad for us - meaning human, canine, etc. Why the PFC thinks a human is immune and canine isn't....

The "sheepish crowd", I don't quite understand how they can go along with it or believe it? Even without a decent course in nutrition; they have had biology,chemistry,bacteriology,etc. They should know when the "wool is being pulled over their eyes".

So the PFC thinks I'm doing my dog wrong.. But: No gas,no runny stool this past year,no gummy eyes,no itchies,no bad body odor,great blood work,healthy,alert,energetic... guess they are just jealous.



" likely to translate into higher prices for food that is produced safely, on a safe scale, by workers who are paid well for their professionalism, given the correct tools and conditions to perform their craft, and supervised with cleanliness and safety as paramount concerns."

Bingo. Food is too cheap, wages are too low, regulations are too lax around both food and worker safety. Using the term 'professional' in this instance is way too much of a stretch for an already overused term imo.

As for the media thing, if there was no scrum, then it makes sense that you didn't ask.

It's still a very good question, though and one I plan to file away.

H. Houlahan

"The problem is the speed of processing and the dangerous working conditions in abbatoirs, especially in the High Plains.

If demand would slow down, then the whole chain of events from birth to death could slow down with it."

If demand were to slow down, cutting into profits maximized by economies of scale, I expect that employer pressure on workers to go fast would increase.

Something else needs to happen. I don't trust either markets or the good will of meat packers to make it so.

The deer hunter above is processing one animal a year, very carefully. Were he processing hundreds a day he too might slip with the knife now and then.

"He" was trying to make the point that, typically, something that someone does very frequently will be performed with more skill than something that someone does once a year, and under poor working conditions.

So if the job is not being done better by the professionals, we as consumers have the right to know the reason why.

"The reason why," if addressed, is likely to translate into higher prices for food that is produced safely, on a safe scale, by workers who are paid well for their professionalism, given the correct tools and conditions to perform their craft, and supervised with cleanliness and safety as paramount concerns.


{waving hand wildly in the air!}

I know! I know!

It's because YOU don't work for the gov'mint!


It has to do with the amount of time that the employees are allowed to take with each carcass. Time is money and the faster they can slaughter cows the more money the packing plants make. That leads to a sloppy job of processing the carcasses and bowel contents on the meat. I seem to remember some articles on the subject in the late '80's/early 90's when Jack in The Box in Washington had E-Coli burgers. Some friends of mine lost their young daughter during that one. Research suggested that a slow down in processing would keep the meat clean.

On the subject, Kroger has a ground beef recall going that they've just expanded into the PNW.


It would have been worth the embarrassment just to see the looks on their faces.

It's a very good question.

Gina Spadafori

Ha, and I was just going to call and tell you a story that ACTUALLY RELATES to this.

Had a friend come over to look at my little flock of suburban hens. While she was here, I picked up three eggs that had been laid since I checked last, about three hours before.

"Fresh eggs!" she says. "Now, what do you do to avoid salmonella?"

"Easy," I said. "I avoid salmonella by not buying factory farmed eggs."

The unflippant answer to that question, in case anyone wonders:

I also practice good husbandry, keeping the chicken area clean, cleaning their food and water dishes daily, making sure clean, fresh hay is in their laying boxes and checking for eggs about three times a day. I toss out any egg I'm not sure about or that got smeared with chicken poop. Usually about one egg a week gets thrown out, out of three dozen laid. I also watch the hens for signs of illness and at the very least would immediately isolate any chicken who didn't seem right. So far, they all look to be the very picture of chicken health, and I bet I don't spend a total of 10 minutes a day (or five hours a month), taking care of the nine of them.

How did I find out what to do? I Googled, and I bought a good reference book. I'm also lucky to have co-authored a book with one of the best avian vets in the world so I could always get an answer to any question -- although as yet, I haven't even told Dr. Speer that I have pet chickens!


This link is not intended as a comment on immigration, but rather, as pointing to one possible idea why employees at meat packing plants might not be receiving proper training thereby allowing adulterated meat into our food supply:


This is what I'd like to hear from a Vet sometime:

I am happy to advise you on what to feed your pet as long as you understand that nutrition is not a specialty of mine. I took a course in Vet school that was taught by a pet food company representative. I feed my own pets that brand of food I sell in the lobby. I don't have hours to spend reading journals and websites every week, trying to glean all the latest details available on the science of pet nutrition. I have to know how to fix broken bones, figure out what is causing Fluffy to itch, spay pregnant cats, be able to bring Fido around quickly if he runs into trouble under anesthesia, sew up bite wounds, treat snake bite victims, prescribe medications, on and on. I just don't have the time or interest to research pet feeding methods. I recommend you look for advice beyond just my - or any one person's - opinion. There are books at the library and online you can refer to as well as a number of websites.

As a client, I would have no problem with that answer.


My old vet did say pretty much what slt wishes to hear from a vet. And I agree, I love that level of honesty. Unfortunately for my pets but fortunately for the world, she just sold her practice and is headed for Africa with the peace corp.


Who's making light of contamination of food? No one here, that's for sure! We've all seen the damage it can do (both to critters and to human beings!)


I really think you should not be making light of contamination of food. Many resistant bacteria and viruses are increasing and they are resistant to drugs. We are not producing new drugs fast enough.Use your energy to effect more research. Those e coli you feed the dog may multiply in it and turn around and get you.


OK - what?

Gina Spadafori

I once had a writing teacher who was prone to saying things like, "I don't understand the point you're trying to get across here, but honestly my own hold on sanity is tenous, and therefore I beg that you not enlighten me as to the mess that is your brain."

That professor was the first thing I thought of when reading, "Those e coli you feed the dog may multiply in it and turn around and get you." There's a very messy brain at work behind such a statement.


Gina, I read this as I stopped to take a "brain break" from trying to edit/proofread a technical document written by one of my colleagues which has enough circular logic in it to have me reaching for my bottle of Dramamine as I attempt to disentangle it all. I so, SO want to use your quote on my colleague, but I suspect that wouldn't be the wisest thing to do . . . . . . .

(Love it, though!)


I guess I didn't realize I was feeding my dog e. coli. and even if I was, I surely was unaware they could multiply and form some sort of militia inside the dog with the purpose of emerging with a battle plan to seek revenge against me in the night.

I am right this minute going to change my dog's food from "E. Coli. Army Avengers Starter Kit" to a less threatening named brand.

Gina Spadafori

slt ... I think that would be wise.


Sure you guys - make a liar of me!

(Although that DID have me spewing-on-my-keyboard-lauging, slt!)


Colorado Transplant

Has anyone heard whether the NEW (they have printed on the package) Halo cat food and dog food is okay, as processed foods go.

I picked up some dry cat food by that name at Whole Foods Market and was wondering about the quality. The price was high enough and the package promoted itself. My Batman is still alive after a serving of it--so far.

Christie Keith

Colorado Transplant, did you ever see my article on weight loss for cats?

Colorado Transplant

Update on my experience with Halo Cat Food from the Whole Foods Market: Two cats said thanks, but no thanks. I would drather have the canned food.

My vet said yesterday at the vet's office that wet food (meaning canned food) will not damage the cat's teeth any more than dry food and has less carbohydrates. He also said that the cats do not need a lot of vegetables or carbohydrates. That was after I questioned him if it was a good idea for Science Diet to put sugar in the canned food. He did not like the idea of the sugar ingredient.

Batman was in for his checkup--the vet wants him to lose weight. I'll try, just like a did before the visit, but without success. Oh, well. If only he would stop begging me for food with his sweet little eyes!

Gina Spadafori

There's a Whole Foods in Fort Collins? WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY THIS YESTERDAY???!!! This changes everything!!!


"I am right this minute going to change my dog’s food from “E. Coli. Army Avengers Starter Kit” to a less threatening named brand."

What you need is Gutland Security! Comes complete with peas and pea shooters!

Could get some legislation passed too..............hmmmmmmmm, come to think of it, that's not a bad idea.....let's start with legislating feed in feed lots. Must be almost a decade now that they discovered a week of two of hay instead of corn corn corn in the feedlot before slaughter will take care of E. coli.

Christie Keith

Good to know he's in good hands. :)

I don't suggest rapid weight loss in ANY cat, specifically due to the risk of hepatic lipidosis. I believe in any species, slow and steady and sustainable are the keys to success.

Colorado Transplant

Christie, I did, but he is a 15yr old cat that has been radiated three times for thyroid disease and his reading is 2 on a scale of 1-5 being the normal reading.

I am cutting down, down, down. However, too much of a scale down too fast will cause his liver to fail and he will die. It happens in cats, my vet told me. So every day I try to do better. Thanks for your concern.

Colorado Transplant

Two minutes away from me, Gina, is Whole Foods Market and the College is about two to three minutes away.

Office Max is two minutes away, Best Buy is 7 minutes away. Macy's is 7 minutes away, Pet Smart is 10 minutes, etc., etc., etc...(:>)

This being a college town, you got stores and stores and stores.

I get better clothes for less, better health care. Instead of seeing a nurse practioner like I did in Boston because the doctors were too busy, I get a real doctor who will send me for tests if I want to take them.

I had to beg a nurse practioner to give me a cortisone shot when my leg was so swollen that the blood came out of my toes and my physician son had to call up from another state.

Here, no begging, no waiting, no depending on my son, they treat you for what you neeeed! Plenty of dentists, too. They like the environment here so they come.

Plenty of doctors, dentists, major chain stores, friendly and caring people, yard sales, thrift stores, etc.

I hate to brag because the people in Fort Collins do not want too many more people.

The downside for me no ocean, and the dryness in the eyes. But the friendly people make up for that (I come from Boston) for here they always smile at strangers, probably because of all the sunny days that make them feel good.

I hear population is about 100,000, but it big in territory and it definitely has a small town

atmosphere with people treating you like a human being, not a number. Remember, I come from Boston.

My daughter wanted us to be near her, as so did my son, but my daughter won out! Too rainy is Washington. Drag your parents or brother here and "Come on down"--as the Toyota jumping salesman on TV used to say!

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. Certainly, the real estate is much, much cheaper than California. Long posting, I know.


"Instead of seeing a nurse practioner like I did in Boston because the doctors were too busy, I get a real doctor who will send me for tests if I want to take them.

I had to beg a nurse practioner to give me a cortisone shot when my leg was so swollen that the blood came out of my toes and my physician son had to call up from another state."

WHOA! There are numerous studies that have borne out the fact that nurse practitioners provide the same level of care with outcomes that are NO DIFFERENT from doctors care! YOU got a lousy nurse practitioner....and you can just as easily get a lousy doctor. NP's aren't seeing you or anyone else because the doctor is too busy. Gee, that must be why I'm responsible for resuscitation, intubation, placement of invasive lines, chest tube insertion, ventilation management, diagnosis, plan of care, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, etc, etc for the sickest babies on the planet...the "doctors" are too busy to take care of these critically ill patients. Oh and that must be why I have a doctorate degree in my profession, I can care for the patients the doctor is too busy to see.....criminy!

Your comments are offensive and completely NOT about dog food.


Hi Christie,

re. the dangers of raw diets - what about salmonella in dry dog food?

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2008 May 16;57(19):521-4.

Multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections caused by contaminated dry dog food--United States, 2006-2007.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During January 1, 2006-December 31, 2007, CDC collaborated with public health officials in Pennsylvania, other states, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a prolonged multistate outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype Schwarzengrund infections in humans. A total of 70 cases of S. Schwarzengrund infection with the outbreak strain (XbaI pulsed-field gel electrophoresis [PFGE] pattern JM6X01.0015) were identified in 19 states, mostly in the northeastern United States. This report describes the outbreak investigation, which identified the source of infection as dry dog food produced at a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania. This investigation is the first to identify contaminated dry dog food as a source of human Salmonella infections. After handling pet foods, pet owners should wash their hands immediately, and infants should be kept away from pet feeding areas.

Vet Microbiol. 2007 Jan 31;119(2-4):316-23. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

Salmonella Montevideo outbreak in military kennel dogs caused by contaminated commercial feed, which was only recognized through monitoring.

Schotte U, Borchers D, Wulff C, Geue L.

Zentrales Institut des Sanitätsdienstes der Bundeswehr Kiel, Laborabteilung II, Veterinärmedizin, Kopperpahler Allee 120, 24119 Kronshagen, Germany.

A large outbreak of canine salmonellosis in military watch dogs due to Salmonella Montevideo and/or Salmonella Give was only recognized through a monitoring program, implemented by the military forces. In 51 out of 80 exposed dogs (63.8%) from four kennels Salmonella was isolated from fecal samples. The prevalence per sampling day ranged from 5.6 to 77.8%. Clinical disease with mild diarrhea but without fever appeared only in nine dogs (11.3% of study population, 16.9% of cases) from one kennel (***P < 0.001). Risk analysis identified "dog food A" (odds ratio 3.33 [1.12 < OR < 10.06] *P < 0.05) and "dog food C" (odds ratio 3.40 [1.07 < OR < 11.22] *P < 0.05), two commercial dehydrated dog feeds, as suspected infectious sources. Feeding "dog food C" alone or together with "dog food A" was significantly associated with clinical disease (***P < 0.001). S. Montevideo and S. Give with similar plasmid profiles and PFGE-restriction patterns were isolated from the suspected dog feeds and fecal samples. This outbreak demonstrates not only that Salmonella infections in dogs occur without clinical symptoms but also that large outbreaks occur after feeding dehydrated dog feeds. Especially in households with known risk group patients this finding demonstrates a particular risk for their owners, as they often live in close contact with their animals.


This poor woman:


Thanks for letting me express my opinion as well. I realized after I made it that I was almost 2 years too late! The subject of pet food is very important to me, but the one statement about nurse practitioners made me forget what else was written in the article. I appreciate the different viewpoints presented by the writers of your publication.

Gina Spadafori

Hey, I LOVE nurse practitioners. :)

Amy Suggars

The only thing I have to say in response to the speaker at the vet dogs supplement their meals with poop by choice and preference. They eat their own poop, cat poop, rabbit poop, deer poop, goose poop, etc. despite my best efforts to stop them. They will eat dead mice & moles my cat leaves on the front stoop. All of this is raw. A little bacterial contamination in my kitchen is not going to be the primary source of gastrointestinal issues in my dogs.

I guess the vets at that conference never had clients ask about their dog's coprophagy. And isn't it normal for a bitch with young puppies to clean up after them herself? And what about drinking from puddles and ponds? My point is that pets are exposed to bacteria in so many ways that vets deal with regularly that food contamination has to be waaaaay down on the list.

I understand that vets are exposed to so much information that they simply cannot be an expert at everything. As an entomologist, I cannot and do not know everything about all insects. However, I am able to remember insect stuff and still process other information logically. Maybe those vets who were nodding and taking notes were actually nodding off or doodling. That's what I would have been doing!!


The off hand remark about nurse practitioners was not appreciated. I am a nurse practitioner and my husband is a physician. We both agree I know more about internal medicine, although he knows more about surgery. I think we all know that each provider, including vets, is an individual with different skill sets. It was an unfair representation and did not have anything to do with pet food. Please be aware your audience is made up of more than writers and vets.

Gina Spadafori

Please be aware your audience is made up of more than writers and vets.

Comment by Nancy — April 10, 2010

Please be aware that our commenters are welcome to their own opinions, as long as they're not trolling.


"In fact, this vet said that even when you wash the dishes used to prepare your dog’s raw dinner in a dishwasher set on sanitize, even if you wash them in bleach and hot, soapy water, they still have measurable levels of bacterial contamination on them after washing. Even the glass or stainless steel dishes."

I bet she had read this study

...which actually reads....

"This study does not confirm the risk of transmission of Salmonella spp. in households where raw diets are fed;"


"The clinical relevance of Salmonella spp. contamination of food bowls, at any level, in terms of animal and human health is unclear, and it is possible that reduction in numbers, not complete elimination, is the most important factor in most households."


"The difference between scrubbing followed by soaking in bleach and dishwasher cleaning was not significant. "

I guess if salmonella can't be killed in the kitchen, we're all in trouble.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner