Direct Lie or Simply Misleading?
Marketing claims of pet food often s-t-r-e-t-c-h the truth. You decide – did these two pet food press releases directly lie or are they just misleading consumers?
From a recent press release on Diamond Pet Food’s brand 4health sold exclusively at Tractor Supply stores titled “Tractor Supply releases super premium pet food brand”:
Untamed’s meat-first formulas have important health benefits for dogs and cats, according to Alexia Heldman, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist for 4health. “You will never see starchy fillers, artificial flavors or unhealthy additives that can cause allergies or digestive problems — only delicious, real food sources filled with the nutrients and quality your pet deserves.”
Notice that the “board-certified veterinary nutritionist” for 4health stated the new pet foods do not contain “starchy fillers”. No starch?
The ingredients for 4health Untamed Red Canyon Recipe Buffalo & Lentil Formula Dog Food (one of the no starchy fillers pet foods) is as follows:
“Buffalo, Beef Meal, Lentils, Chickpeas, Peas, Pea Flour, Sunflower Oil, Pea Protein, Tomato Pomace, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (Source of DHA), Salt, Choline Chloride, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Reuteri Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source Of Vitamin B1), Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Preservative), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source 0f Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.”
Ingredient #3 Lentils: The USDA nutrient database tells us lentils contain 63 grams of carbohydrates (starch) per 100 gram serving; lentils are more than 50% starch. The pet food also contains multiple other starchy vegetables – Chickpeas, Peas, Pea Flour and Pea Protein.
Again – a press release on this pet food claims “You will never see starchy fillers…” – a claim made by a “board-certified veterinary nutritionist” – but the pet food contains many, many starch ingredients.
Do you consider this a marketing lie or is it the typical misleading marketing? The 4health veterinarian did add the term “fillers” – does adding fillers to the ‘no starch’ claim make it a legitimate claim (“You will never see starchy fillers…”)?
Another recent press release titled “Breakaway from Texas Mills Will Revolutionize the Healthy Dog Food Market” contains some interesting statements as well.
FYI: Breakaway Pet Food is a new pet food manufactured by Texas Mills, LLC. Texas Mills is also the owner of Great Life Pet Food.
From the press release:
According to officials at Texas Mills, figures are indicating that every 15 minutes another consumer switches to Breakaway for their canine companions thanks to its low cost and top-quality formulation.
This pet food company is claiming almost 100 people a day switch to their pet food. Quite a claim for a brand new pet food.
The press release continues with:
Breakaway is available in beef and chicken and in grain-free lentil and brown rice formulations. Francois stated, “Breakaway uses a single-source protein, which means that the proteins all come from one single source rather than being sourced from different spots all around the country.”
“Single-source protein” sounds great, but is it? If any pet food manufacturer purchases their chicken from the same supplier – example Tyson – they could make this claim. Tyson would be the ‘single-source’ chicken provider.
To an unknowing consumer, claim #1 and #2 could sound tempting. With claim #1 – no evidence was provided for the claim of 100 new customers a day. Is this a wishful thinking or is it legitimate? Claim #2 is probably true because most pet food manufacturers get their meat ingredients from the same supplier (example Tyson). The claim has nothing to do with the quality of the pet food – such as human grade. Was the claim made to make unknowing consumers believe the pet food is of higher quality? Is it a misleading claim?
Chewy.com provides this image of the Breakaway Grain-Free Chicken Meal & Lentils Dry Dog Food:
Note the label claims the pet food to be “Low Carbohydrates”. The ingredients of Great Life Breakaway Grain-Free Chicken Meal & Lentils Dry Dog Food are:
“Chicken Meal, Lentils, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Tapioca Starch, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Flaxseed, Tomato Pomace, Dicalcium Phosphate, Freeze Dried Chicken, Salt, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D Supplement), Dandelion Greens, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Green Lipped Mussel Powder, Pumpkin Seeds, Dried Kelp, Dried Carrots, Dried Blueberries, Dried Spinach, Dried Kale, Dried Papaya, Dried Zucchini, Turmeric.”
Guaranteed Analysis is “Crude Protein 30%, Crude Fat 14%, Crude Fiber 5.5%, Moisture 10%”. Calculating carbohydrates (100% minus crude protein %, fat %, fiber % and moisture % = carbs%), this pet food is an estimated 40.5% carbohydrates. Would you consider an estimated 40% carbohydrate pet food to meet the claim “Low Carbohydrates”? Is this a misleading label claim or a direct lie on the label?
Do not buy any pet food based on marketing – this includes the website, press releases and pictures on labels. If the pet food interests you, verify the claims. Using the examples above – ask the pet food to explain how Lentils, Chickpeas, Peas, Pea Flour and Pea Protein would not be considered starch? Or ask the company to explain the ‘single source’ of chicken or beef – what is the name of the supplier? Ask the manufacturer what is their definition of ‘low carbohydrate’? If questions are ignored or full responses are not provided, don’t purchase the pet food.
Regulatory authorities do not hold pet food manufacturers accountable for their marketing claims. It’s up to us. Question first, buy later.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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