By Dr. Mercola
Did you know that over the past year, nearly 10 percent of the entire swine population in the US has been wiped out by a highly lethal virus? The virus, called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), has been—at least in part—traced back to pig's blood used in piglet feed.
On June 5, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that a federal order has been issued, requiring swine farmers to notify the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) if they suspect PEDv on their farm. The USDA is also allocating $4 million for research, and the development of a vaccine against the disease.
Dried blood plasma is a relatively new pig feed ingredient, described as a "unique protein source for early-weaned pigs" in a paper1 on swine nutrition by Professor Gary Cromwell.
In recent years, it's been employed as an immune booster, and to enhance the growth rate and feed intake during the postweaning phase. In his paper, Professor Cromwell explains the process as follows:
"Most of the dried plasma is produced by American Protein Corporation, whose headquarters are in Ames, Iowa. This company collects and processes blood from a number of large hog slaughter plants throughout the country.
At these plants, blood is collected in chilled vats and transported by insulated trucks to processing plants where the plasma is separated from the red blood cells. The plasma is then carefully spray dried.
It is then shipped to ingredient suppliers and feed manufacturers throughout the feed industry for use in pig starter feeds. The red blood cells are also dried and shipped to ingredient suppliers and feed manufacturers."
For a quick review of the hazards of CAFO's, please take a few minutes to watch the video above. It's important to realize that the factory farm system is NOT a system that ensures food safety and protects human health. On the contrary, it makes the food system far more vulnerable to pathogenic contaminations that have the capacity to kill. Processing plant (i.e. plants where meat is cut or milk is pasteurized, for example) are primary culprits when it comes to the spread of pathogens.
Additionally, many of these plants are owned by a small number of companies, and in many cases, larger processors are vertically integrated and also serve as the retailer or brand-name wholesaler. Due to regulations, traditional farmer-to-consumer practices have been outlawed. Now processors run the show and cut out the farmer's share, which has decimated small farmers and created this industrialized mess. According to US Department of Agriculture data:13
- A mere 14 plants account for the majority (greater than 55 percent) of US slaughter of cattle
- 12 plants account for the majority of hog slaughter, and
- Four plants account for the majority of sheep or lamb slaughter
Rethink Your Shopping Habits to Protect Your Family's Health
I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat. By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you're promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will benefit everyone, including all the animals. The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is another important part of "ethical meat." The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:
- Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
- FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.