Raw ingredients for pet food at Mars Petcare plant allegedly poisoned many employees

It really doesn’t surprise me that allegedly (and I use the word “allegedly” simply to protect myself from a possible lawsuit) some employees at the Mars Petcare plant in Joplin Minnesota were poisoned by phosphine, a pesticide commonly used to kill insects and rodents on grains and meat meal ingredients of pet food.

And it doesn’t surprise me either that Mars Petcare did all they could to suppress their alleged ill-treatment of their employees by doing nothing about it, forcing the employees to sue the company because neither did the authorities do anything about it. The employees were abandoned to fight their own case. This implies that big business such as Mars Petcare work in league with the authorities…as if we didn’t know it.

The seedy and shocking story is set out in full on the Truthaboutpetfood.com website written by Susan Thixton, who is frankly a heroine in the fight against the massive pet food manufacturers who allegedly place profit before the health and welfare of not only pets but their employees. If you go to the Mars website the company presents to the world the exact opposite. It is full of wonderful soundbites about ethics, morals and how they improve the world blah blah blah.

Here is some detail. Documents show that pets were becoming ill from eating pet food manufactured at the Joplin plant. It is also documented that many employees at the plant including subcontractor employees suffered serious health problems through their work at the plant including cancer, lung disease and heart disease. Mars Petcare should have known of the dangers and taken steps to protect employees.

The plant closed in June 2013, allegedly as the ultimate way to suppress further embarrassing information being disclosed. Mars say it was closed for economic reasons. Leading up to that time – less than nine months prior to the plant closing – the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request from Mars Petcare employees in Joplin to confidentially evaluate the health hazards at the plant.

NIOSH had concerns about the facility. They recognised the danger of phosphine to human health (and I presume pet health). NIOSH requested an inspection of the plant. At this time, as I understand it, the employees had already commenced a civil action against the company for compensation due to their serious health problems emanating from working in a facility where they were forced to ingest, allegedly, phosphine and perhaps other insecticides on grains.

As a consequence Mars had employed lawyers to defend them. It became very difficult to arrange an inspection of the plant and as I further understand it, the plant was shut down temporarily before an inspection and cleaned. Clearly, Mars were being pushed into a corner and were doing everything they could to suppress damaging information which indicated that they had compromising the health of both pets and humans.

Before the matter could develop any further Mars shut down the entire plant paying off their employees with six months pay provided they kept quiet under a gagging contract.

The information for this story comes from documents legitimately obtained through a freedom of information request and which were provided to Susan Thixton. A lot of the documents, as expected, were redacted (parts deleted or blanked out). Susan describes it as a jigsaw puzzle with some pieces being blank or missing.

The story itself, however, is another piece in the overall jigsaw that is the pet food manufacturing industry which in the eyes of many fails to set sufficiently high standards of ethics and pet food quality.

In a previous post I talked about a similar subject and included in that article reference to the fact that in some instances euthanised cats and dogs are used as raw ingredients for pet food and the euthanasia drug sodium pentobarbital survives the manufacturing process and therefore ends up in the product.

Clearly more needs to be done to improve pet food and, as I mentioned, people like Susan Thixton are modern day heroes in the fight to achieve that objective. Susan has been threatened for years. In 2012 Mars Petcare sold $16,650,000,000.00 worth of pet food.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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