Are the dead being liquified & fed to the living?

We came across several Twitter posts claiming that the dead are being liquified and fed to the living in the United States (US).

In support of the claim, the posts reference a video posted on the social media website, Rumble, accompanied by the caption “Breaking News, the dead are liquified and are fed to the living”.

In the video, a voiceover narrates, from their perspective, the process of aquamation, and how corpses are liquified and “recycled” into the municipal water supply in most major cities across the US. In addition, the narrator insinuates that ground-up bones of the dead are used in the production of food, such as in vitamins. The video also features a man who appears to be showing the equipment used for aquamation.


Are the dead being liquified?

An initial Google reverse image search of a screenshot from the video did not result in any matches. We then conducted another search based on a screenshot of only the male in the video and found a Daily Mail article from 2017 on dissolving bodies into ash and liquid.

The article details the process of alkaline hydrolysis, which has been used by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA uses alkaline hydrolysis as part of its Donated Body Program to dispose of donor bodies after they had been studied for medical research.

Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as aquamation, is a form of cremation that does not use fire. Essentially, aquamation speeds up the natural process of decomposition by using components such as water, alkaline chemicals, heat, and sometimes pressure and agitation, leaving behind a sterile liquid, and bone fragments which are then turned into ash. Contrary to the claim by the video, the ashes are scattered in the ocean or returned to family members, and not used in food production.


By-products of aquamation

The liquid which is left after aquamation is sterile and far cleaner than most wastewater. The Cremation Association of North America has highlighted that the sterile liquid that is left behind after aquamation does not contain human remains, tissue, or DNA but rather basic organic compounds such as amino acids derived through the cremation process.

During flame cremation, compounds that are formed in the process, such as carbon dioxide, are released into the air. In the case of aquamation, the sterile liquid is released to a local wastewater treatment facility, similar to procedures in funeral homes, and does not go straight into the drinking water system.


Why alkaline hydrolysis?

Alkaline hydrolysis may be preferred over traditional flame cremation due to its lower carbon footprint. However, the process is not legal in all states in the US. Since caskets are not required for aquamation, some casket companies have opposed the idea of legalizing aquamation in their states, in fear of its effect on their businesses.

Currently, in Singapore, aquamation appears to be available for pets only.


How did they tamper with the video?

The video linked to the Twitter posts had been edited. Original videos from the Daily Mail and WIRED UK, reporting on alkaline hydrolysis in 2017, show Dean Fisher, the Director of UCLA’s Donated Body Program at that time, explaining the process of alkaline hydrolysis.

While Fisher is the same person that appears in the edited video, the original audio had been removed, a voiceover had been added and another related video explaining alkaline hydrolysis had been combined to produce a longer video.

A “Breaking News” caption had also been included in the edited video, which was only recently uploaded to Rumble, potentially to make the post seem current despite the original video by Fisher being over 5 years old. This shows that viewers must exercise caution even if viewing content that might be labeled as news.

Hence, while the sterile liquid from the aquamation of the dead is sent to municipal wastewater treatment facilities, it is false that the liquified or ash remains of the dead are fed to the living.

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