Fruits and Vegetables Poisoning Our Pets
A recent report by Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) makes for disturbing reading.
It reveals that the fruit and vegetables being given to young children as part of a government scheme aimed at promoting healthy eating habits, contained residues of 123 different pesticides.
These include suspected endocrine disruptors which interfere with hormone systems, known carcinogens, and organophosphates that can negatively affect children's cognitive development.
And there is every reason to believe that pets are similarly affected by the inclusion of non-organic fruits and vegetables in their food.
This has serious implications for dogs and cats health.
How bad is it?
12 years of residue data published by the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) was analysed.
The results showed unacceptable levels of pesticides present in the majority of fresh foods tested. And in many cases, multiple residues were found.
This is an additional area of concern, as there is little understanding about the complex interaction of different chemicals in what is termed the ‘cocktail’ effect.
Below are some figures highlighting the scale of the problem
There are a number of surprises here.
Three quarters of herbs (which are being added to more and more processed pet foods and raw) were found to contain at least one pesticide residue, with nearly as many testing positive for multiple pesticides.
Apples, bananas, spring greens and kale (a staple addition to many recipes) all scored highly, with more than half containing single and multiple residues.
Berries - generally considered to be a healthy addition to the diet - also showed levels sufficient to cause concern.
Here we see that even in the group with the lowest incidence of multiple residues, a large percentage still contain a pesticide of one kind or another:
Of particular note are onions (70%), sweet potato (58%), broad beans (43%), pumpkin and squash (31%).
Some of the worst affected foods - not unsurprisingly given the number of chemical treatments they receive throughout the course of cultivation and harvesting - are grains, especially oats, wheat and rice.
On the other side of the coin, many meats were found to be pesticide free - with the notable exception of processed chicken and pork, smoked fish, lamb and fresh water fish.
One startling result was that 37% of creme fraiche tested contained pesticides, but none of the yoghurt did.
A list of the top 50 multiple residue foods.
So what's the big deal?
Surely tiny amounts of pesticides in fruit, vegetables and other foods aren't a problem - otherwise they wouldn't be sold for human consumption or added to pet food (tinned, kibble and some raw), supplements and treats?
There are a number of problems with this point of view.
Firstly, many of the samples tested contained multiple residues - as many as 13 in some cases - little is known about the effect these chemical cocktails have on the body.
It's fairly safe to assume however, given that these compounds are designed to kill living organisms, that they're not having a positive impact on health.
Secondly, although there may be very low levels of any given active substance actually present, their effect is amplified by continuous daily exposure over long periods of time. And this is what happens when fruits, vegetables, grains and other non-organic ingredients are given to dogs and cats regularly, either as additions to the diet or because they are present in the pet food fed.
Thirdly, the much smaller bodies of dogs and cats compared to ourselves, means they are much more vulnerable to being damaged by even low concentrations of residues.
The Scale of The Problem
It's important to remember that pesticides are poisons designed to kill and harm living organisms.
And they do this very effectively.
However, pesticides don't just harm the creatures they are designed to control, they affect people and pets too.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) for example, estimates that over 350 000 people die every year from acute pesticide poisoning. This figure does not include deaths from cancer or other chronic diseases caused by pesticide exposure. Furthermore, the WHO believes that long-term exposure may result in upwards of 750 000 people suffering from specific chronic defects and cancers each year - and this number refers to developing countries alone
With toxicological studies in animals clearly showing the damaging effect that organophosphates and other pesticides can have on the liver, kidneys, nerves, immune system and other vital organs, it follows that pets are being harmed in a similar way.
What Can You Do?
If we want our pets to live as healthy and as long a life as possible, it's important to reduce the intake of toxic chemicals, and especially those present in the diet. This is particularly important when choosing a pet food, as these are typically fed day after day for long periods of time - which amplifies any harmful effects.
Taking the following actions, will help:
1. CHECK THE LABELS ON YOUR PET FOOD (and treats)
Under the list of ingredients on a product label, look for vegetables, fruits, grains, oils and botanicals which aren't organic (most aren't). If these are present, then a large proportion will contain pesticide residues (see tables above). If this is the case, it would be better to switch to a food that doesn't contain any of these.
2. BUY ORGANIC VEGETABLES
Dogs and cat need little - if any - vegetables in the diet (see 'A Critcal Look at Vegetables and Fruits'). If you'd like to add some for extra fibre, buy some organic carrots, cabbage or broccoli and add a spoonful or two these (best pureed nd raw) to the normal food.
3. SUPPLEMENT WITH SUPERFOOD
Fortunately, there are far healthier and better wholefoods than fruits and vegetables, which don't carry the risks that these do.
For example a spoonful of VITALITY:
- contains around 20 times the antioxidant beta-carotene as carrots
- has roughly x5 times the antioxidant ability as blueberries
- supplies as much calcium as milk
- is twice as rich in protein as meat
- provides and exceptionally rich supply of numerous amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, co-enzymes, RNA, DNA and many other potential important nutrients, important for THE VERY BEST OF HEALTH
And what's more, whereas most fruits and vegetables eaten simply pass out of the body in the stools, over 90% of the nutrients in VITALITY enter the bloodstream within several hours of eating.
Three Simple Measures - Numerous Benefits
And so, despite this alarming PAN UK report - which is well worth a read - the 3 simple measures above will not only radically reduce the risk of harm to your pet from pesticide residues, it will also result in a significantly improved and enriched diet which will have a marked impact on improving health in many ways.