FROM A FORMER TRACK VETERINARIAN:
"When cattle die, regardless of what infectious or contagious
disease, the carcasses are often salvaged by rendering plants. The
cadavers are boned out, the flesh ground and frozen. It is not heated,
cooked, or sterilized in any way. The rendering plants are not USDA
inspected but they are 'monitored' and are required to add charcoal to
it to keep it out of the human food chain. They label it 'unfit for
The greyhound people feed each animal a ration of this 'pathogenic
smorgasbord' daily. They have the erroneous idea that when greyhounds
are fed raw meat they run faster. Of course, the meat may contain many
pathogens that killed the cattle in the first place as well as many of
the drugs that were used to treat the sick cattle before they died.
As a member of the Iowa Veterinary Public Health Committee I made a
strong effort to have this problem addressed, but was unable to
accomplish anything. The committee chairman stated that he wanted to
The Racing Commission told me not to be concerned. The Bureau of
Animal Industries office in Des Moines told me that they have no
intention of enforcing the laws on the racetracks of America and that
this was the duty of the state vet. The state vet told me that he had no
jurisdiction because the Racing Commission was set up by the legislature
to be a self-regulating entity and that it was up to veterinarians like
myself (who had contracts with the Racing Commission) to see that the
laws were compiled with."
Dr. Arthur Strohbehn, DVM
Former Track Veterinarian
Council Bluffs, Iowa
What Is It?
4-D meat is the ultimate by-product of commercial rendering plants.
Some of it is sterilized by boiling and becomes a product known as
"tankage," which is a protein source for animal feed. What
remains, raw and unsterilized, is packaged in plastic-wrapped rolls and
sold to greyhound racetracks and trainers around the country.
While many kennels feed their greyhounds a quality meat and vegetable
high-protein diet, the standard industry feed for the racing greyhound
is raw 4-D meat. The four D's stand for animals, primarily cattle and
horses, that are dead, dying, diseased or down (disabled) at slaughter.
Cattle that are sick and near death are pumped full of drugs like
penicillin, procaine, and trimethoprim in a desperate attempt to save
them. These drugs, as well as the infectious or contagious pathogens
that killed the food-source animals, remain in their systems after
slaughter. The meat rendered from them can also carry anthrax, botulism,
lockjaw, tuberculosis, salmonella, and other diseases.
The feeding of 4-D meat also affects state-mandated urine tests on
racing greyhounds. Procaine, an anesthetic used to deaden pain, can be
injected into a dog prior to a race, affecting the dog's performance.
Positive results from a drug test after a race result in a fine and
bitter complaints from the trainers, who argue correctly that there is
no way to determine the source of the drug in the urine - whether from
pill, injection, or 4-D meat.
A racing greyhound requires one to two pounds of meat per day and the
advantages of 4-D to the trainer are availability and price. It's cheap.
At about 45 cents per pound, that translates to less than a dollar a day
per dog. The average size of a racing kennel at a mid-sized track is 60
greyhounds. Since 4-D meat is served raw to racing greyhounds, the
health hazards to the dogs range from gastro-enteritis, an inflammation
of the stomach and intestines, to food poisoning and death. Dogs are
often unable to race due to the onset of acute vomiting and diarrhea,
known in the industry as "blow-out."
Who Makes It?
4-D is produced by animal rendering plants. Many of the larger
companies such as Qual-Pet, a subsidiary of National By-Products (parent
company: Holly Farms Corp.), provide perks including freezers and
jackets displaying the company name free of charge to kennels that
continue to purchase their product. Another brand of 4-D is Monfort, a
subsidiary of Conagra, Inc., which also owns Beatrice Foods and the
Swift Meat Packing Company. Monfort, with headquarters in Greeley,
Colorado, has plants in Iowa, Alabama, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas.
Is It Legal?
The feeding of 4-D meat violates state animal welfare laws that
require a "wholesome" diet for animals in commercial
establishments and enterprises. Production of 4-D meat violates state
laws that require the bodies of dead animals to be disposed of by
cooking, burning, or burying. Section 301 of the U.S. Food, Drug, and
Cosmetic Act prohibits interstate commerce of adulterated food, defined
in Section 402 (342) of the Act to be food that is "in whole or in
part the product of a diseased animal or of an animal which has died
otherwise than by slaughter," or "if it consists in whole or
in part of any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance..."
Think You're Safe?
Think again. Kennel workers who handle 4-D meat are exposed to the
same health hazards as the dogs. The frozen meat is left out on counters
to thaw, and workers routinely mix itwith their bare hands. There is a
documented case of one kennel worker in Iowa who became quite ill and
was diagnosed with salmonellosis after he sought treatment at a local
Racetrack patrons are also at risk. Flies, attracted to the
serosanguinous fluid exuding from the thawing meat, travel from the
kennel area to the track food stands.
Despite the "monitoring" efforts of the USDA and the
required addition of charcoal to insure 4-D meat is kept out of the
human food chain, consider the following article which appeared in the
April 12, 1993 edition of USA TODAY:
"Oakland - Federal agents have closed Coast Sausage
Company, seizing 100,000 pounds of sausage made from cattle
officials labeled 4-D - diseased, disabled, down and dying. 75% of
the sausage was sold to military bases, agents said. Coast officials
couldn't be reached."