Vet Goes Against the Grain to Recommend Home Cooking

The American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend that pet parents cook for their own pets. But veterinarian Judith K. Herman is going against the grain.

She recommends to her clients that they do the same. “Number one, you have control over the ingredients,” she said. “Number two, the quality is the same stuff you eat.”

“When I switched my animals to homemade food, I saw a big difference in energy level and in their coats and in their stools and in their overall health.”

(Via Howl911)

21 Responses to “Vet Goes Against the Grain to Recommend Home Cooking”

  1. Don says:

    While Dr. Herman may recommend home cooking for pet owners, as long as people can avoid ingredients like peanut butter, spinach, lettuce, Taco Bell, and all of the other human food ingredients in which e coli, salmonella, etc., as been found, her recommenadtion is terrific. But let’s be practical and realistic.

    In reality, no taxpayer-funded regulatory agency, congressional hearing, corporate or private industry, trade association, oversight commission, or preparing home-cooked food, etc., will ever provide a 100% guarantee against a contaminated food supply – for pets or humans!

    Food supplies are tested for previously known toxins ONLY- ones that have already been associated with unintentional or intentional contaminations. It would be impossible and impractical to expect that all food products could be tested for all of the earth’s known toxins regardless of what continent they come from.

    More government regulation is not the answer. Regulatory agencies have shown us over and over again that they are ill equipped to protect the public on a broad scale. Simply take a look at how Katrina was mishandled.

    I have no doubt that the pet food recall will highlight the glaring lapses in what has been an inherently weak system comprised of incestuous subsidies between the food manufacturer’s and their vendors. But that isn’t the problem. The problem is that the consumer is expecting the impossible and those in charge, industry and government, do not have the fortitude to tell them the truth.

    There CAN BE NO 100% GUARANTEE whether pet or human food is purchased off the shelves of the most discriminating stores or prepared under the careful guidance in our own kitchens.

  2. susanne says:

    Don, If I have a choice to feed my dogs fresh, organic meat that I eat myself, washed, fresh organic fruits and veggies that my dogs love, freshly cooked rice, flax mill, and healthy fats versus commercial foods which contain 4D meat, rendered animal which may include old, outdated packaged meat including the packaging, road kill, and dead dogs and cats, cheap corn fillers, rancid fats, and preservatives, I think it’s a NO BRAINER. People have a choice. If you feed yourself well, then you have time to feed your animals well. The national discusison isn’t about 100% protection - it is about feeding ourselves and our animals the healthiest, safest, most nutritionally sound foods that are available. The pet food recall scandal and how it has been handled on all levels just highlights the problems with self-regulation. In addition, it sheds light on an industry that is as disgusting as any industry can be. It is NOT about pet health and nutrition - it is ALL about how multi-national corporations can use unuseable waste - old, unsafe, unhealthy, poor quality “ingredients” to make “pet food” which adds to their profit margins. Then they add in some slick marketing, and a few bought vets to give the thumbs up to digusting waste called pet food who have the shear audacity to call it nutrition. SICK, SICK, SICK…why is pet food unsafe for human consumption, Don? Why??? If it’s not safe enough for me to eat, it sure as hell isn’t good enough for my pets.

  3. menusux says:

    The consumer has the right to reasonably expect that the next loaf of bread or any other food item for humans or animals is not going to contain toxic substances. Teddy Roosevelt thought so, and this is why the Food and Drug Administation came to be in 1906 under his presidency. There was no federal agency at the time to oversee food or medications–unscrupulous people could literally urinate in a bottle, label it and sell it as a cure-all. Toxic supstances like arsenic were openly sold as being good for the skin; a look at copies of the old Sears and Wards catalogs advertise Dr. X’s Arsenic Wafers and face powder with arsenic for a clear, white complexion.

    Yes, the system had its flaws, but basically, most of it seemed to be working fairly well until cheap food imports hit the fan. When what was produced in the US was put on the store and supermarket shelves of this country, one heard very little about unsafe food and recalls for that reason.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/s.....2-18-50-22

    Inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are able to inspect only a tiny percentage of the millions of shipments that enter the U.S. each year.

    Even so, shipments from China were rejected at the rate of about 200 per month this year, the largest from any country, compared to about 18 for Thailand, and 35 for Italy, also big exporters to the U.S., according to data posted on the FDA’s Web site.

    Chinese products are bounced for containing pesticides, antibiotics and other potentially harmful chemicals, and false or incomplete labeling that sometimes omits the producer’s name.

    Small farms ship to market with little documentation. Testing of the safety and purity of farm products such as milk is often haphazard, hampered by fuzzy lines of authority among regulators.

    [Our system is overtaxed by the sheer number of imported food products in need of inspection, and theirs is nonexistent:]

    Worried about losing access to foreign markets and stung by tainted food products scandals at home, China has in recent years tried to improve inspections, with limited success.

    The problems the government faces are legion. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used in excess to boost yields while harmful antibiotics are widely administered to control disease in seafood and livestock. Rampant industrial pollution risks introducing heavy metals into the food chain.

    China’s Health Ministry reported almost 34,000 food-related illnesses in 2005, with spoiled food accounting for the largest number, followed by poisonous plants or animals and use of agricultural chemicals.

    [Other countries have resorted to banning the import of certain items produced in China:]

    Excessive antibiotic or pesticide residues have caused bans in Europe and Japan on Chinese shrimp, honey and other products. Hong Kong blocked imports of turbot last year after inspectors found traces of malachite green, a possibly cancer-causing chemical used to treat fungal infections, in some fish.

    Those who are importing all of this potentially unsafe food are the producers and manufacturers, who are either trying to hold their bottom line or increase their profit margin by buying questionable products and introducing them into an overloaded system which may or may not be able to stop dangerous ones before they harm anyone.

    We, as consumers, appear to be caught in the middle of this. Heaven knows what it will take to get a viable Chinese system (it may be impossible), and if one can be implemented, it surely is many years off. We can increase our inspections of goods entering this country, but we know it will not be sufficient to detect every possible tainted product which might come to out shores.

    So it’s up to the consumer, then, to use the old adage of “Fool me once, shame on you–fool me twice, shame on me” and let producers of food items know their importation of questionable products is NOT acceptable.

    If people stop spending their money on items sold by companies whose practices are to place the users of them in possible jeopardy, these companies will simply have to purchase their ingredients from other, safer suppliers of them–or risk losing their “profit margin” entirely. They will stop importing c**p from China once they realize that people are going to spend their money on products which don’t carry the additional risk–to stay afloat they will have to.

    Nothing is fail-safe, but I think the odds of food products being safe need to be VASTLY improved–for pets and people. If we can’t inspect enough or regulate Chinese food exports by law, consumers can “regulate” them entering this country by taking their dollars to companies who realize that cheaper comes with a h**l of a lot of risks too.

  4. Deanna says:

    I find the above comments both inspiring and informative.

    I have been home-cooking for my dogs for the past little while now…and I feel more confident that they are being fed a better diet than the commercial one that they were on previously. I realize that, not being a Vet or Nutritionalist, I have a lot of homework to do on the diets L will continue to provide for my dogs. I am very lucky to have the services of a Vet who is more than happy to assist me with making sure that they’re diet is a balanced one.

    No more crap for my wonderful dogs…..they deserve the best and I’m going to go out of my way to make sure that they get it!!!…..So far I am not really finding it much more expensive that their previous diet….nor am I finding it that inconvenient. Thanks to the Petfood Industry, who is dragging their arses during this crisis,…..I’ve been provided plenty of time to practice and get things down to a well running system.

    I’ll NEVER go back to commercial foods…..there’s not reason to go back, but plenty reasons to continue home-cooking……they love it, lots of pep, great coats and sparkly eyes…..and finally, I have control of what’s going in their precious little tummies!

  5. Jan says:

    Menusux:

    First of all, have to smile each time I see your name…..too funny.

    I say “right on” to all your comments…..let’s all put our anger into something positive & boycott all these big name companies that put so much disgusting crap into our animal’s food. Man oh man, I had no clue but I foolishly trusted that they would not do this to my baby….my eyes have been opened big time. I will never again buy anything from any of these companies, including treats. I pray everyone else does the same.

    There was a little piece on the news about either Petco or Petsmart, don’t remember which, & when asked how their bottom line had been affected by this food recall, they refused to comment (does that tell you something?)….sorry, but I cheered. As if that isn’t proof enough, they have now added an entire section on all natural & organic pet food. That tells you all you need to know about how fast the other food is selling.

    Good for all of us…..let’s keep this going & show them a thing or two about what united pet owners can do to their bottom line…..& where they can put all their pet food.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Suzanne,

    You are taking an anecdotal occurance of tainted wheat gluten that got into the production flow of a company that happened to co-produce pet food for a number of major ones that resulted in the deaths of an undetermined number of pets including MINE!

    To suggest however that the entire system is corrupt sounds a little “chicken littleish,” to me.

    While I would agree that we should all expect and deserve reasonable levels of oversight, you and I will come across as many different definitions of what is reasonable and cost effective. I believe that this is what the “national discussion,” will become - the definition of “reasonable,” and “cost effective.”

    Why is pet food unsafe for human consumption - probably for the same reason KFC, Twinkies, Double bacon Cheeseburgers, and all of the other human junk food containing hydogenated fats that are so popular in our country, would be if fed to our pets. On the other hand, ALL pet food is not unsafe for human consumption any more than ALL human food is unsafe for pet consumption. It is sweeping generalities like this that will stand in the way of holding accountable those responsible for negligence and incompetance.

    Shall we put all of the food companies out of business and go back to growing ur own.

    I think “menusux” makes many good points as you do - but I think we need to keep the scope of what has happened here in perspective. Clearly it is a tragedy that will have a lasting and hopefully remedial impact on those responsible.

  7. susanne says:

    Anonymous - read the bags and cans. It states “unsafe for human consumption”. I e-mailed many, many pet food companies. Only one could stated that they did not used rendered animal or 4D meat. I think that’s all that’s needed to be said. If you are willing to feed your pets 4D & rendered animal, that’s your perogative. I choose not to.

  8. Jody says:

    I’m no expert on cat nutrition, but I had a friend whose cat died, horribly actually, as a result of eating the contaminated pet food. So I became skeptical. I’ve always called the canned food “glop” and reffered to it as scrapings off the slaughterhouse and cannery floors, even though I didn’t know for sure what was in the canned glop. Now I’m feeding dry food still, but instead of all the wet food, I get meat I cook up three times a week, chicken and turkey, and I’m growing their cat grass they love to eat, as usual. It’s a low tech simple change endeavor, nothing fancy, nothing expensive, but my cats seem healthier and more playful than ever.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Susanne;

    …but the fact that twinkies, awesome blossoms, donuts, and the rest of the hydrogenated human food doesn’t state, “unsafe for human consumption,” makes it safe? I’d be willing to bet that our country spends far more in healthcare costs due to clogged arteries, heart attacks, diabetes, etc. that are tied to poor nutrition from our MOST consumed human foods than what we as pet owners spend on tainted pet food.

    I’m going to switch my pets to Ring Dings - the “new and improved” packages says that it is an excellent source of calcium and vitamins A &B and meets all of the FDA’s minimum daily requirments! The best part - they are not made by Menu Foods.

  10. Don says:

    If one does not have the time to prepare homemade food, what do you all suggest as an alternative. I’ve returned my Hill’s Science Diet Senior and am now feeding my two labs Flint River Adult Kibble Plus. Is there something even better or safer?

  11. Ben says:

    Don, check out our forum: http://www.itchmo.com/forums
    Lots of good discussion on good foods there.

  12. menusux says:

    It’s not me who started suggesting that the system is in trouble. What about the reporter who gathered the information for the Associated Press story here?

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/s.....2-18-50-22

    And he quotes the director of the Center for World Food Studies:

    “This really shows the risks of food purity problems combining with international trade,” said Michiel Keyzer, director of the Center for World Food Studies at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit.

    The China director for the US Grains Council used the word “HOPE” when he was interviewed for this-

    “”You just have to hope that your system is strong enough and your producers are careful enough,” said Todd Meyer, China director for the U.S. Grains Council.”

    If all of this is so anecdotal, then why do the FDA’s statistics regarding what was turned away for one good reason or another state that China has the largest rejected shipment rate for any major exporter to the US?

    “Inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are able to inspect only a tiny percentage of the millions of shipments that enter the U.S. each year.

    Even so, shipments from China were rejected at the rate of about 200 per month this year, the largest from any country, compared to about 18 for Thailand, and 35 for Italy, also big exporters to the U.S., according to data posted on the FDA’s Web site.”

    http://www.fda.gov/ora/oasis/ora_oasis_ref.html

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    Import Refusal Reports for OASIS

    http://www.fda.gov/ora/oasis/3/ora_oasis_c_cn.html

    Refusal Actions by FDA as Recorded in OASIS for China (Mainland)

    http://www.fda.gov/ora/oasis/3.....y_lst.html

    215 from Mainland China in March 2007.

    http://www.fda.gov/ora/oasis/o.....l_rpt.html

    Violation Code translation–this tells one what kept the shipment from being delivered into the US.

    Even without the code link, you can easily read “FILTHY”, “UNSAFE”. “PESTICIDES”, “NITROFURAN”, “SALMONELLA”, and even “POISONOUS” all right here at FDA OASIS–these are the shipments which were rejected-

    http://www.fda.gov/ora/oasis/3/ora_oasis_c_cn.html

    If there wasn’t something seriously wrong over there, c**p like what’s on the FDA OASIS March 2007 list would not be arriving in the US to need to be refused. There’s a LOT of human food products on that list–

    Huangyan Canned Food Factory
    Taizhou City Zhejiang , CN NYK-DO 241-9229027-8/1/1
    20GEE06 MANDARIN ORANGES
    23-MAR-2007 PESTICIDES

    ZHEJIANG DAISHAN BAOFA AQUATIC PRODUCT CO., LTD.
    ZHOUSHAN CN-33, CN 316200 NWE-DO EF1-0041407-9/1/3
    16KGT05 FROZEN BREADED SHRIMP
    22-MAR-2007 FILTHY

    Tu Hung Trading Company aka Doanh Nghiep Tntm Tu Hung
    Ho Chi Minh City , VN LOS-DO GL5-0803373-2/3/1
    24BGT03 Grounded Chilli
    21-MAR-2007 SALMONELLA

    Tai Shan Craft Design Center
    Taishan Guandong , CN LOS-DO 040-0254382-7/1/2
    03HGT99 COOKIES-ALMOND COOKIE
    30-MAR-2007 UNSAFE COL
    LIST INGRE
    FALSE
    LACKS FIRM
    LACKS N/C
    NUTRIT LBL

    China Fujian Light Industrial
    Fuzhou , CN NYK-DO FS2-8006932-9/3/1
    21HGT05 Dried Dates
    30-MAR-2007 FILTHY

    Most of these are supposed to be “healthy foods”……

  13. Debbie says:

    ANONYMOUS, if you believe that the whole pet food industry (truly safe ones aside) hasn’t been corrupt - and hype as well in their ads and labels - then it seems you hadn’t seen the Senate hearings on C-span when the FDA, AAFCO, and the Exec. Dir. of the Pet Food Industry VERY RELUCTANTLY owned up to the horrible truths about themselves…as co-erced by Sen. Durbin. And it seems neither have you read the transcripts on this site…or believed the impact of over 3,000 pet parents who are now dealing with their pets’ illnesses or deaths. I wouldn’t view any of that as being “chicken littleish.”
    I have had occasion to experience on boards like this becoming infiltrated by pro instead of anti, in this case perhaps, the pro defensive pet food companies themselves.?????

  14. Debbie says:

    DON, good for you that you returned Hill’s—very good! I had not been familiar with truly safe brands bec they were overshadowed by the ad hypes of the popular “safe and healthy for your pet” (poison) brands. Now that this recall has occured, I’m not familiar with the brand you mentioned, but I have become familiar with “Natural Balance,” which I purchased, and there’s “Canidae,” and “Evanger’s”—-which unfortunately none are advertised on tv…yet. I wrote to “NB” several times to urge them to take this opportunity to start advertising so that more people know about it.

    Sometimes other people have mentiontioned safe brands on this board, but those brands are not available in some areas like mine. But when you find out, you can always order them over the internet. Hope this helps.

  15. susanne says:

    Debbie:

    I just think you called a spade a spade - very astute observation.

    If anyone scratched even the surface of the pet filth industry, I hardly think they would make the statements made by Mr. Anonymous - Menu Filth Apologist and possible Troll Extraordinaire…

  16. Don says:

    Debbie,

    Thank you. Since the first delivery of Flint River took several days, I tansitioned my two old girls to Natural Balance (just to get them off of Science Diet.) Thank goodness I chose the Organic because I just noticed on Itchmo’s home site that Natural Balance is recalling their venizon dry dog foods. (not due to the wheat gluten situation) http://www.itchmo.com/

    They love the Flint River kibble and they seem to be doing fine with it. The ingredients look fine to me and I checked all of them against the Dog Food Project which is an excellent site.

  17. Debbie says:

    SUSANNE, that last part was funny! : ) LOL. Yes, I have taken notice that once in a while someone will throw in a monkey wrench in order to try to cause friction and division among this group, who really needs to stick together. (I guess they need their few seconds of fame). Anyway, it’s us against the poison pet food companies…and we should not be challenging each other, as you know who TRIED to do. : )

    DON, take note of what I said to Susanne. A similar thing is happening under the “Natural Balance” recall heading that you are talking about. Apparently the issue is being magnified by someone who needs to be “noticed.” Ironic that there is more negative flap about “NB” from that person than there is about any poison brands. In fact, it’s stupifying that the poison brands have even gained some status again by some.
    Anyway, I still trust “NB,” and as an animal activist I certainly wouldn’t steer you wrong to the best of my knowledge.

    TO BOTH:
    I have come across something like this before where the “other side” used to throw in outrageous comments just to get their thrills by inflaming or magnifying the issue and/or taking the focus off the issue totally. Susanne, I think you went throught that experience.

    Anyway, from my blogging experience, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that the poison food co’s. have commenters on here trying to throw some curves or will have them.
    But what I resent for all of us is that everything is confusing enough the way it is…and we don’t need antagonists. Take care & hang in there!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I did in fact watch the entire coverage of the Senate hearings together with the shills that showed up representing the pet food companies. These bumbling and fumbling so-called authorities are as out of touch with reality as Senator Byrd is. My point however is that ultimately any changes that come out of all this, for them to be truly effective, need to be measured, carefully defined, cost effective, and consistently applied rather then approaching them from a knee-jerk reaction. A solid first step occurred when all pet owners finally got to see for the first time the pathetic state of some of the country’s top pet food watchdogs during the hearing. How outrageous.

    And yes, I am one of those pet owners who lost my cat because of a Hill’s product and possess just as much contempt for the pet food manufacturers as anyone else. However, I recognize that vitriol, foot stomping, and chest pounding isn’t going to correct the situation. A well-organized, national boycott by all pet owners against the major manufacturers would send a very civilized and strong message that as pet owners, we demand immediate changes.

    Finally, there is no need to resort to name-calling on this or any other site. I don’t represent Menu Foods - in fact I consider them a “defendant,” nor am I a troll as was suggested in an earlier post.

  19. susanne says:

    Mr. Anonymous,

    Good to know you’re not a troll, but don’t feel bad, I’ve been called troll and worse on forums.

    I think your approach is very reasonable, intelligent, and caring - when you are dealing with reasonable, intelligent, and caring people and entities (which clearly you see that we are not).

    First and foremost, BOYCOTT (Love the market!!). That is the single simplest, most effective method for an individual to help force change - one way or the other. The only thing companies know is the bottom line $$$$. That is **ALL** they care about. But as customers, we really don’t have to appease them on their terms, as you suggest (implicitly) by meeting them half way on the many issues. They had their chance(s) to do the right thing over and over for the past few months and perhaps years. As of today, even more food is being recalled, which suggests to me, that many companies are starting to feel the heat, worried about their reputation or litigation, and do recognize that their pet food sucs (if there was nothing wrong with their pet food, there really wouldn’t need to be a “voluntary food recall in an abundance of caution”…The cat’s out of the bag. It’s very likely that pets have been getting sick from their food for many years. It took an epidemic of illnesses and deaths to uncover the underbelly of the industry.

    In addition to BOYCOTTING commercial pet foods, all enlightened pet owners and animal lovers must STRONGLY denounce the industry by whatever means is necessary - education, activism, petitions, lobbying, blogging, etc… This will naturally include vitriol, foot-stomping, and chest pounding. When I go to investigate a product to purchase (say windows, for example), I always read the customer reviews. Although there are always good and sometimes not so good reviews about almost all window lines, there is one window that incites absolute vitriol, foot-stomping, name-calling, chest-thumping, litigious hatred towards their company by many, many consumers (this is a high-end, well known window name by the way). Do you know what I did? I immediately took them off the short list and would never consider purchasing their windows. If a company and a product can incite such highly inflammatory, emotional, hate from their customers, that tells me two things: The product sucks and the company IS NOT taking any responsibility for making it right. The third thing it tells me is that the company doesn’t give a rats ass about their customers or maintaining a relationship. It also tells me that the company thinks that they can live off their well-known name and perhaps previously earned reputation. I didn’t need to further investigate this company and I didn’t want to waste my time. The complete and total hatred of many customers was good enough for me and something I trust much more than the slick salesman that would try to convince me to purchase their product. So, as you can see, the highly inflammatory approach saves innocent, unknowing people from wasting their time and money. A good company has a good reputation and happy customers (by and large). You will see many more positive comments if people are satisfied with the product and service. Where there is smoke, there is generally fire…

    ALL PET OWNERS UNITE, GO FORTH AND SPEW THE UNABASHED HATRED THAT YOU FEEL!!!

  20. susanne says:

    test

  21. Don says:

    The attached 4/16/2007 communique from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota reveals the extent to which China - a major suppler of pet and human food ingredient exports to the U.S. will go to help us prevent a worldwide pandemic.

    Why are we exporting anything from this country?

    China said to be withholding H5N1 virus samples

    Apr 16, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – While Indonesia has drawn the media spotlight for withholding H5N1 virus samples for several months, China has been withholding H5N1 samples from humans for much longer, according to a Canadian Press (CP) report published yesterday.

    Keiji Fukuda of the World Health Organization said China has not shared any human H5N1 virus samples in about a year, according to the CP story by Helen Branswell. The country provided some H5N1 samples from birds in late 2006, the story said.

    Researchers need samples of the virus to monitor its evolution and spread, test for resistance to antiviral drugs, and develop vaccines.

    Indonesia revealed in early February that it had stopped sending H5N1 samples to the WHO to protest the use of the samples by drug companies to make vaccines priced out of Indonesia’s reach. In late March, the government promised to resume sending the samples in return for a WHO pledge to develop new guidelines for sample sharing and an interim promise not to share samples with drug companies without the source country’s approval.

    China sent its latest shipment of human H5N1 isolates to a WHO-affiliated laboratory in the spring of 2006, according to the CP report. The newest sample in the shipment was gleaned from a patient in late 2005 or early 2006, the story said.

    The report also said China in late 2006 provided the WHO with some H5N1 samples collected from birds, but they dated back to outbreaks that occurred a year earlier, in late 2005.

    Fukuda told CP the WHO has been negotiating with the Chinese health and agriculture ministries and remained hopeful that the talks would lead to a system for timely sharing of H5N1 samples.

    “We can sort of sit and try to hit countries over the head and say: ‘You should do this, you should share viruses or whatever,’ but it’s really not so helpful,” Fukuda said. “What is helpful is listening to what are the issues, trying to address those. And it’s become clear that part of the issues have to do with making sure that the access to [pandemic] vaccines is more equitable.”

    Fukuda also said that China, while withholding virus samples, has shared a significant amount of H5N1 information generated by its labs and has deposited whole or partial genetic sequences of a number of H5N1 viruses in public databases, according to the story.

    The CP report says access to vaccines may not be the reason for China’s reluctance to provide virus samples, because China, unlike Indonesia, makes flu vaccines for birds and humans. A Chinese company, Sinovac, has reported good results in trials of an H5N1 vaccine for humans.

    In other comments, Fukuda said the tone of discussions about the H5N1 problem is changing to reflect a growing realization that it is not an immediate emergency, as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was, but potentially both an urgent and a long-term problem.

    “It’s not business as usual, but it’s not like the house is on fire—it’s somewhere in between,” he told CP.


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