Just when you think the pet food industry can’t stoop any lower – they do. This time, plans are in place to recycle poultry industry sludge into – you guessed it – pet food.
The plan is to develop a “novel recycling operation,” just south of the Wilmington Delaware, upcycling poultry sludge into proteins and fats from poultry processing wastewater sludge for use in the pet food industry. A company, whose mission it is to supply “novel proteins and fats to the pet nutrition market.”
The locals aren’t too thrilled about the Green Recovery Technologies plan, mainly because it involves chicken shit – and lots of it – especially as the company is seeking a Coastal Zone permit to construct and operate the facility.
While the local government is mulling over whether to give it the thumbs up, they fear it will just bring them a shit-storm of complaints. Complaints they already have over their existing troubled, odor-plagued industrial scale food waste composting businesses.
It’s hard to say which is more revolting: Wastewater, sludge, or the fact that they want to feed it to pets. In case you are wondering what exactly is “wastewater sludge” – get ready – because it’s just about as bad as you imagine, but worse. Much worse. Just Google it, I dare you.
Poultry producers have long struggled to manage sludge and other solids from slaughter operations and wastewater plants, so they thought, “Hey! Let’s feed that shit to pets!”
Then some whacky scientist figured out how to extract an edible ingredient from what is otherwise is known as just plain ol’ shit, into something that the pet food industry might just buy and pass off as something edible – edible for animals, that is.
Green Recovery Technology came up with a proposal that would take in about two truckloads of processing wastes daily, steaming it in a closed system with a solvent to extract about a truckload protein and two tanker truckloads of fat-containing liquids. A toxic chemical solvent, dimethyl ether, would be used as a solvent in a system shielded with inert nitrogen gas to prevent fires.
This isn’t the first time the idea of feeding chicken shit to animals has occurred. In fact, the unfortunate practice of feeding poultry litter to cattle has gone on for decades. Official numbers on just how much poultry litter ends up in bovine diets is hard to come by, but one estimate claims that 2 billion pounds of chicken litter are consumed by cows each year, in other words – a shitload.
While the practice of feeding animal waste to animals is revolting, inhumane and just plain wrong, it is deemed “safe” to do so as long as the shit meets certain specifications required by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO has established standard names and definitions for three processed waste products as follows:
74.1 – Dried Poultry Waste-(DPW) — a processed animal waste product composed primarily of feces from commercial poultry…
74.2 – Dried Poultry Waste-NPN Extracted — a processed animal waste product composed primarily of feces from commercial poultry which has been processed to remove part or all of the equivalent crude protein…
74.3 – Dried Poultry Litter-(DPL) — a processed animal waste product composed of a processed combination of feces from commercial poultry together with litter that was present in the floor production of poultry…
Litter, otherwise known as manure, excreta, feces, or just plain ol’ chicken shit, surprisingly has quite a few nutrients in it, along with a bunch of other shit (I’m wondering how many times I can use the word ‘shit’ and get away with it).
However, rest assured, should ingredients extracted from wastewater ever be used in pet food, they will simply be labeled ‘poultry fat’, ‘animal fat’, ‘chicken by product’, or ‘meat meal’. And none will be the wiser.
While the story about this particular company, whose plant is not yet in operation, is only one of a vast network of waste processors that work in conjunction with agriculture industries to extract ingredients from animal waste for the pet food and animal feed industries.
However common its use we are still left with the question of whether using the by-products of animal waste as food for animals is humane.
The answer might be obvious to anyone who loves and cares for animals; that such practices are abhorrent, but, sadly, these practices are emblematic of the value our society places on animals.