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Freshly roasted ass: What a rendering plant smells like

Have you ever wondered what a rendering plant smells like? People who have grown up near the Vernon, California, home to several rendering plants, are used to the smell of what they call, “freshly roasted ass.”

Rendering plants, for the unfamiliar, are evil-smelling factories that break down animal carcasses for by products that go into making pet food.

The Toxic Tour

If you’ve ever wondered where ingredients for many pet foods come from and you have a strong stomach, there is a cure to quell their curiosity:  The Toxic Tour.

The tour winds it way through neighborhoods where the stench is the ripest, prompting customers to clutch at their barf bags, the indescribably putrid, foul smell of dead animals descends on the grossed-out group.

A local community environmental group in Vernon set up the Toxic Tour to raise awareness about the quality of life in pollution-heavy South Los Angeles, started giving their Toxic Tours in 1995.

The gritty, three hour guided tour includes a bus ride, a barf bag and plenty of wet wipes. The tour showcases the region’s worst environmental offenders: oil refineries, toxic recycling and rendering plants next to schools and residential communities.

While you’ll never know for certain if the pet food you feed your pets has rendered ingredients, one sure-fire way to avoid them is not buy any pet food with these ingredients:

  • Meat and bone meal
  • Meat meal
  • Animal fat
  • Animal digest
donate poisoned pets

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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