Would you feed animal waste to your dog or cat? Probably not. It's dirty, disgusting and intuitively just seems wrong. Unfortunately, not all animals are so lucky. In areas of the United States where large cattle and poultry operations coexist, chicken waste (or, more accurately, 'poultry litter') is routinely fed to cows. Poultry litter consists primarily of manure, feathers, spilled feed and bedding material that accumulate on the floors of the buildings that chickens and turkeys. It can contain disease-causing bacteria, antibiotics, toxic heavy metals, substances that cause Mad Cow Disease, and even foreign objects such as dead rodents, rocks, nails and glass.
Surprisingly, this unhealthy and inhumane practice is legal and poorly monitored -- creating unacceptable risks to human and animal health. The FDA needs to ban the use of animal waste as animal feed before human and animal health is further compromised. For more information, check out http://www.filthyfeed.org/.
Many prominent groups have endorsed our efforts to elicit an FDA ban on feeding poultry litter to cattle, including:
Center for Food Safety
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Consumer Federation of America
Food & Water Watch
Humane Society of the United States
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
National Consumers League
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Safe Tables Our Priority
Union of Concerned Scientists
We the undersigned strongly urge the Agency to immediately ban the use of poultry litter as cattle feed.
In the United States, poultry legally can be fed ruminant meat and bone meal, which may contain infectious prions that are responsible for serious neurological diseases. When this poultry litter is fed back to cattle, the cows are at risk of contracting Mad Cow Disease. Humans who eat contaminated beef products are at risk for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative and often fatal neurological disease. Feeding poultry litter to cattle carries other serious health risks as well, including those related to: (1) disease-causing bacteria and viruses; (2) drug residues; (3) antibiotic resistant bacteria; and (4) heavy metals and other toxic substances.
The practice of feeding poultry litter to cattle continues today without adequate surveillance or regulation. With so much at stake, the federal government no longer can afford to turn a blind eye to dangers posed by filthy cattle feed.
In the interest of human and animal health, we urge the Agency to act in a timely manner and ban the feeding of poultry litter to cows. Thank you for taking immediate steps to address this serious threat to our nation's health.