Doggies Denied Green Pig Penis Treats

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Cindy Skrzycki, Washington Post
Saturday, March 2, 1996

This little piggy went to market . . . at least most of him did.

Until a few months ago, one of Oink-Oink Inc.'s best-selling products was a pet treat called Pork Tenderloin. Made from hog penises, Pork Tenderloin was processed by the Detroit-based company into a doggie delicacy that was sold for $3.99 a piece at specialty pet stores. Dogs loved them.

But sales of Pork Tenderloin were halted last year when the Iowa Packing Co., Oink-Oink's supplier, was told by a Department of Agriculture inspector that it had to dye the pig penises green, a ''denaturing'' that characterizes them as not fit for human


That put an end to the production of Pork Tenderloin because R. Miles Handy, president of Oink-Oink, thought the green dye made the tenderloins look unappealing. Besides, he didn't know how or if the dye would affect pets. So he stopped making the product, losing about $100,000 in sales. ''It killed the product.''

''It's one more way the government is in our face,'' Handy grumbled. Or, maybe it's the government sticking its snout in the affairs of small businesses. ''We have dog owners going crazy because we're out of this product.''

Handy said he got the idea of making pig penises into pet treats around the time of the Lorena Bobbitt trial. He and his staff were sitting around the office, cracking a few jokes, when a light bulb went on. Oink-Oink was already using ears, hoofs, snouts, hearts, feet and livers of pigs. Cow parts were processed, too. Why not pig penises?

Handy, however, avoids the P word when describing the product's ingredients. ''You know what it is,'' he said modestly. ''The product is not revolting. It's not disgusting. We made them clean and nice for animals.''

Handy, a 30-year-old entrepreneur with an $8 million pet treat business, got so upset over the green penises that he wrote his congressman, Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich., who took the whole thing pretty seriously, too. He wrote a letter to USDA demanding to know why the penises suddenly were showing up green.

The Agriculture Department said some animal parts have to be marked with green dye or charcoal powder if they are going to a non-federally inspected plant to be further processed. It's a sort of green alert.

Daniel Ochylski, president of the Iowa Packing Co., said an inspector at the company's Des Moines plant got snippy over shipments of the product to Oink-Oink and told them to use the dye.

Iowa Packing had been selling ''pizzles'' - as it prefers to call them - to Oink-Oink for about a year before the Agriculture Department stepped in.

Handy said he hopes the government will make an exception for him and let him go back to making Pork Tenderloins. If not, he says, he'll be forced to import foreign pig parts.

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