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
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
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 hospital.
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.”
What Is It?