Archive for February, 2010

26th Feb 2010

Does Your Pet’s ‘Natural Pet Food’ Contain Toxins from Sewage Sludge?

If your pet’s food isn’t certified organic,* it most likely contains toxins from sewage sludge that has been used to fertilize the crops grown for ‘conventional’ (i.e., non-certified organic) ingredients or that were fed to the non-organically raised animals used as ingredients.
* [Certified organic pet foods have to be produced without ingredients that were grown with or raised on sewage sludge-treated feed.]

Hm… so what exactly is sewage sludge? It doesn’t sound good for sure…
Here is what Sludgenews says about it:

“Sewage is the mix of water and whatever wastes from domestic and industrial life are flushed into the sewer. To retrieve the precious water, the sewage is then “treated,” that is, “cleaned,” in what are called “treatment plants.” The ideal of the treatment plant is to take out of the sewer water all the “wastes” that sewering put into it. The water is “cleaned” in the degree to which the pollutants which had turned the water into sewage are removed by treatment-primary, secondary, or tertiary-and concentrated in the sludge.
We must note that, though the aim of sewage treatment is to produce clean water, it is never to produce “clean” sludge. Indeed, the “dirtier” the sludge-the more complete its concentration of the noxious wastes-the more the treatment has done its job. If there are industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, hormones, nano particles, prions, hospital wastes including antibiotic-resistant bacteria-and there will be all of these-you want them to end up in the sludge. Every waste produced in our society that can be got rid of down toilets and drains and that can also be got out of the sewage by a given treatment process will be in the sludge.

Sludge is thus inevitably a noxious brew of vastly various and incompatible materials unpredictable in themselves and in the toxicity of their amalgamation, incalculably but certainly wildly dangerous to life.

The policy of disposing of sludge by spreading it on agricultural land-a policy given the benign term “land application”-has its inception in the Ocean Dumping ban of 1987. Before 1992, when the law went into effect, the practice had been, after extracting the sludge from the waste water, to load it on barges and dump it 12, and later 106 miles off shore into the ocean.

But many people who cared about life in the ocean knew that, wherever it was dumped, the sludge was causing vast dead moon-scapes on the ocean floor. New EPA regulations for “land application” were promulgated in 1993. With the aid of heating and pelletizing and some slippery name morphs along the way, EPA claimed sludge could be transmogrified into “compost”: compost, the sacred substance of all real farmers. And this “compost,” this Trojan Horse replete with the most complex array of toxic materials industrial civilization has ever known, would “fertilize” America’s farmlands.

To carry out this plan EPA made a “win-win” deal with some solid-waste hauling corporations. In return for taking the sludge off the hands of municipalities, the corporate haulers would get the tax dollars that had previously gone to pay for dumping the sludge in the local landfill. This deal was indeed a “win” for municipal authorities who had suffered the mess, and worse the liability of sludge; it was a “win” for the corporations which, besides getting the tax dollars, wouldn’t suffer from the liability either because that, amazingly, was transferred to the farmer on whose land the sludge is spread.

But the land “application” of sewage sludge represents a clear lose-lose-for people and for the environment-on a scale staggering to contemplate. It will pollute the whole chain of life for which soil is the base.”

What can you do about this?
The first and easiest thing is to inform yourself more about sewage sludge and how it applies to agriculture and the food you and your pet eat. The second step is to avoid adding to the toxicity of the sewage water. The third step is to choose certified organic food products, for yourself and your pet so that neither of you falls victims to hidden toxins in your food. This will also support (certified) organic agriculture and (pet) food manufacturers, which in turn will help put an end to the abundant use of toxic sewage sludge in conventional agriculture. The fourth step is to urge your legislators to prohibit the use of sewage sludge in agriculture and to prevent toxins entering sewage systems to begin with.

As another Green America-approved business friend pointed out: “Non-certified organic products shouldn’t just be called ‘conventional’ products – they’re supposed to be called ‘toxic’ products.” He’s right.

The important thing is to be educated. One needs to understand that many pet foods that aren’t certified organic but marketed as ‘natural’ are more likely pet foods that are laced with many more toxins than pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or GMOs.

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Organic Pet Food Standards Comments Comments Off

25th Feb 2010

Onesta Organics Veggie-Hides to be Featured in “The Green Life”

Our Onesta Organics Veggie-Hides are going to be featured in “The Green Life” Sierra Magazine, March 2010 issue.

Here is a preview:

Veggie-Hides © Sierra Club

“Call it the canine Clif Bar. The Veggie-Hide, by ONESTA ORGANICS, is a meatless, wafer-thin snack made with all-organic ingredients–including spinach, flax, and quinoa–that are GMO-free and fit for humans. The company also makes vegan treats for rabbits, rodents, and birds.”

From Sierra Club

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Onesta Organics Pet Foods Comments Comments Off

18th Feb 2010

Pesticides and Pets

More than 500,000 kg of approximately 600 different pesticide chemicals are applied annually in the US, while approximately 2.5 million tons are used throughout the world (Pimentel 1996).

The World Health Organization reported in 1992 that about three million pesticide poisonings occur in humans annually and result in 220,000 deaths worldwide.

Our pets are more vulnerable to pesticide poisoning than their human companions since they are in closer and direct contact to pesticide-treated areas such as the grass in the dog park, and because they keep licking themselves clean.

Peppi © Heidi JungerLawns
A study published in 1991 found that dogs whose owners’ lawns were treated with the herbicide 2,4-D at least times per year, were twice as likely to develop canine malignant lymphoma than dogs whose owners did not use this herbicide. Exposure to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens also increases the risk of bladder cancer by more than four times in dogs.
Good ways to help prevent pesticide poisoning in your pet is to keep pesticides off your property and to routinely wash your pet’s paws after he spent time outside.

Insect repellants
Many pets are treated with flea and tick repellents. Research studies link hyperthyroidism in cats to flea powders or sprays and lawn pesticides. A World Health Organization study linked allethrin, a common ingredient in home mosquito and other home insect repellant products, to liver disease in dogs. Chronic exposure to abamectin, a commonly insecticide used on fire ants was shown to affect the nervous system of dogs, including lethargy and tremors.
A great way to avoid pesticide poisoning of your pet is to give natural pest control measures a good shot before using synthetic ones in your home or on your pet.

Pet food
Pesticides accumulate in our pets’ bodies also if they eat foods that have been treated with synthetic pesticides (i.e., the non-certified organic pet foods) or fish which have accumulated these toxins in their lives. Pesticide contamination in pet foods has been shown to increase the risk of hyperthyroidism in cats.
The safest way to avoid feeding your pet pesticides along with her food, is to choose certified organic pet foods, which per law have to be grown and processed without toxic chemicals.

Electric Blue © Heidi JungerPesticide in water and fish
Pesticides that are applied to agricultural or landscaping areas often wash off through irrigation or rain into our waterways such as rivers, lakes, and oceans. After fish take up the pesticides from the water through their gills, guts, and skin (which also covers the scales), these toxins are stored predominantly in the fish’s fatty tissue. The older the fish gets, the more toxins, including pesticides, accumulate in its fatty tissue.

Omega-3 in fish
Omega-3s offers excellent health benefits; however, if they are derived from fish, they come from the fish’s fatty tissues which accumulate pesticides to a great extent. Problems occur when pet guardians who want to improve their pets’ health naturally, choose omega-3 rich fish-based foods (e.g., those containing fish meal) for their pets which consequently can unknowingly ingest high amounts of pesticides.

Pesticides ingested and accumulated through eating fish can cause significant health problems. Organochlorines are known endocrine disrupters which interrupt normal hormone processes which are essential for every biological process. Organochlorines, even at very low concentrations, interfere with reproduction, growth and development.
To avoid pesticide poisoning when feeding omega-3 rich foods, select foods that are prepared from small fish, give fish oils which have been shown to contain fewer organochlorines, and consider feeding your pet also other omega-3 rich foods such as flax seeds.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Learn more about pesticide toxicity on the Beyond Pesticides website (

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Organic Pet Food Standards Comments Comments Off

17th Feb 2010

Natural Pet Food

Are isolated supplements; Isolated supplements © Heidi Junger… It is almost shameful that we nowadays use, or if you are a real natural pet food manufacturer, have to use, the term ‘natural’ to describe pet foods. Pet food should be natural without having to make a big deal out of it. However, time is always changing! And so are advertising claims and marketing needs…

What do they mean if they say their pet food is ‘natural’?
In most cases they mean that no (obvious) synthetic chemicals are used as ingredients, such as synthetic preservatives or artificial colors. Is this good enough to call it natural? Not necessarily.

If a pet food manufacturer includes ‘refined’ ingredients such as ‘rice’ instead of whole rice, or ‘quinoa flour’ instead of ‘whole quinoa flour’, or ‘honey’ instead of ‘raw honey’, the food already isn’t natural any more because it contains food fragments instead of the entire whole food. Nutrients in whole foods act in synergy, that means they enhance, buffer and balance each others actions. Nutirents in most food fragments loose this natural synergy between nutrients which can lead to health problems such as insulin resistance, gluten insensitivity, and their associated disease symptoms.

If a pet food manufacturer uses isolated minerals and vitamins to supplement their foods so that they fulfill AAFCO requirements for a ‘balanced’ or ‘complete diet’, these foods also are no longer ‘natural’.

Why would that be?
Because the vitamin and mineral supplements used for pet foods aren’t really natural (i.e., whole food-based) but synthetic. For example, most vitamin E supplements (even the ‘natural’ versions and those marketed as ‘100% natural’) are derived from genetically engineered soybeans. Genetic engineering of ingredients simply isn’t natural; and as increasing numbers of studies show, this technology renders foods unhealthy.
Synthetic supplements can also contain harmful contaminations that accumulate during the chemical manufacturing processes. Furthermore, synthetic supplements, unlike naturally occurring nutrients, are also often not bioavailable, have unpredictable biological actions, or they can accumulate in the body to unhealthy levels. But nobody seems to like to talk much about this.

If a pet food contains conventional instead of certified organic ingredients, these ingredients can be loaded with artificial and toxic chemicals such as pesticides, can be irradiated, genetically engineered, or all of the above. Even if you omit synthetic preservatives from such foods, these foods are a far cry from ‘natural’.

So, what would I call a ‘natural pet food’?
In my view, both as a biologist and pet food manufacturer, ‘natural pet foods’ are certified organic, unrefined, minimally processed and whole food-based.

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Organic Pet Food Standards Comments Comments Off

17th Feb 2010

Onesta Organics Loves Animals …

Onesta Organics' Bird Friends © Heidi Junger… and animals love each other and Onesta Organics pet foods!

Greenchi and Peppi are fed fresh foods and some supplemental certified organic pellets. They also love our Onesta Organics Pet Pasta treats for ‘pocket pets’ and our hypoallergenic Veggie-Hides dog treats!

When we first took these birds in, Peppi’s feet were infected and the rest of his skin was unhealthy; his beak was cracked and dirty. Before, he was on a ‘seed diet.’ Greenchi’s feathers were dull and broken when we found her, her skin was terrible, her beak was cracked, and for two weeks after coming to us, she continued to eliminate in the same red color as the artificially colored seed/pellet mix she received.

Within a month, the new, real food diet improved these birds’ skin, feathers, and beaks.

“You are what you (do and don’t!) eat.” And our bird friends are not only healthy and happy, they are also very beautiful!

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Onesta Organics Pet Foods Comments Comments Off