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Greenies Responds

Greenies Responds

Greenies pet treats/chews and The Nutro Company has provided a response to my questions. Here’s that response, and my reply sent back to them.

A confusing statement was found on the Greenies pet treats website. When a call was made to their customer service department, Greenies ultimately refused to speak to me stating I would ‘twist their words on my blog’. I was told on this call that I would receive a phone call from media relations. That didn’t happen, but I did receive the follow message from Greenies via email.

Monica Glass, Sr. Corporate Affairs Manager, The Nutro Company

Hello Ms. Thixton,

I wanted to provide a response to your question about information on the GREENIES website. GREENIES Dental Chews are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult dog maintenance. We believe that pet owners should have a choice when they are offering treats. Choosing to replace calories from your pet’s main meal with a treat that’s complete and balanced is a better choice. While it’s not required that we label or even formulate our treats to be complete and balanced, we believe it’s important to our consumers, and to their pets.

Thank you, Monica

 

And I responded to Ms. Glass of The Nutro Company…

Hello Monica,

Thank you for your response. However I’m still a bit confused by the nutritional adequacy statement on the Greenies website. I understand Greenies concept of replacing calories from a complete and balanced pet food with the calories from a complete and balanced treat, however AAFCO regulations do have some additional requirements for a treat making a complete and balanced claim.

PF8.c states “Specialty pet food, including snacks or treats, labeled as complete and balanced for any or all life stages, as provided in Regulation PF7(a), shall list feeding directions on the product label. These feeding directions shall be adequate to meet the nutrient requirements of the intended species of specialty pet as recommended by the AAFCO-recognized nutritional authority. These directions shall be expressed in common terms and shall appear prominently on the label. The frequency of feeding shall also be specified.”

I’m sure you can understand the confusion when consideration is given to all of the AAFCO established regulations regarding a complete and balanced food claim. Based on labeling requirements, does the Feeding Guidelines stated on your website mean that one Greenie per day would provide a dog with 100% complete and balanced nutrition?

The Feeding Guidelines on your website states “Feed one GREENIES Dental Chew per day. Not suitable for dogs less than 5 lbs. or dogs less than 6 months of age. Fresh drinking water should always be available.”

National Research Council recommends a 30 pound adult dog consume approximately 700 calories per day (based on an inactive dog). Your website states that one Greenies provides “85 kcal/treat ME (calculated)” and recommends one chew per day. Thus you can see that something doesn’t quite add up with the nutritional adequacy statement on your website.

Again, I understand Greenies concept of replacing food calories with treat calories. However existing pet food regulations don’t appear to provide that opportunity on labels. At least not when making the ‘AAFCO Nutrient Profiles’ statement.

This was the basis of my questions that your customer service representative refused to answer. Since Greenies/The Nutro Company seems to have red flagged my phone number, can I ask why this has occurred? Why wouldn’t I be able to ask questions of your customer service representatives on behalf of consumers? Certainly I am biased towards consumers, but I ask the same questions of any manufacturer. And since I am familiar with the 500+ pages of regulations in the AAFCO OP, and the FDA Compliance Policies that govern pet foods, I might know a bit more how to respond back to any customer service representatives claim (holding them accountable for their response) than the typical consumer.

All pet food customer service employees should be making factual statements to consumers, but this is not always the case as I’m sure you can imagine. Like it or not, I advocate for consumers. My goal is not to ridicule or disparage the reputation of any manufacturer, my goal is to assure all pet food manufacturers/pet treat manufacturers are abiding by federal and state regulations not only with the actual pet food in the bag or can (or treat), but as well with the advertising and labeling information/claims provided to consumers.

This advocacy isn’t well liked by industry or most regulatory authorities, but consumers deserve it none the less. I have been forced to jump through hoops representing pet food consumers that no other industry stakeholder representative has. Rest assure, regardless to how difficult regulators and industry makes it for us, consumers are never going to stop speaking up for their pets nor will they blindly trust any company from now on (actually from 2007 on). Your spokesperson (Shannon) stated Greenies wouldn’t talk to me because I might twist her words. Well, we (consumers) feel it is industry and regulators that have twisted the regulations and laws so extensively we no longer know what we are feeding our pets. We feel regulators protect industry far more than they do consumers. And we feel industry as a whole has looked at our pets only as a source of great profit.

Consumers and consumer advocates are not going to stop asking questions – even if you flag our phone numbers. I sincerely hope you understand consumers deserve answers and reconsider flagging the phone calls of any consumer or representative thereof.

There is still this issue of a food claim on a treat. Can you respond to the points I discussed above regarding PF8.c or if there is a regulation I’m missing or not aware of that would support Greenies use of a food claim without the proper feeding instructions, please let me know of that regulation.

 

Should I receive a follow up response from Greenies/The Nutro Company – it will be posted.

 

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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20 comments

  1. Excellent response, Susan. It was articulate, well referenced and stated without condescension. Greenies should welcome the opportunity to support their claim to such a large and educated community.

  2. To treat or not to treat? Whilst this is the question, there are much larger and more important issues at stake. Please, let’s all focus on those. Best regards to all.

  3. WOW! How did our precious dog & cat children get such an amazing advocate going to bat for them?! I have followed your website for such a long time & love what you do for them & us. This is the first time I have posted anything, anywhere, but I couldn’t just read your info day after day & not thank you for what you do. You deserve our thanks & support & so much more! We rescued our pit bull mix, Miss Kitty, 6 years ago & she is the love of our lives! I don’t know what I’d do if anything ever happened to her. I will continue to follow your website & tell everyone I know about what you do. Thank you again & God Bless. Ruth Thomson in Arizona aka Kitty’s mom!

  4. Your response and questions were great and shows how their labels are very misleading. Thank you for all of your hard work!

  5. Kenneth Kalligher

    Bravo Susan! Unfortunately’ the answer provided by Ms. Glass is gobbledygook. This is the kind of response that underscores the need for pet owners to be educated and well-informed. But, sadly, most consumers just don’t give a damn. The companies have always dazzled us with invective that says nothing and we are just too lazy to “check it out” and become responsible pet owners. Just this past week I had a service person in my home, and, after meeting him at the front door and advising him of my pets presence ( 3 large German Shepherds), unfortunately it was a very unpleasant day, I told him they are well-behaved and very easily controlled. He had no problem so we continued in. He was quite impressed with the animals behavior, but he remarked on how large they were and their apparent superb physical condition. He stated he had a German Shepherd, but it was a fussy eater and small and was not anything like the Shepherds he was looking at. I asked what he fed his dog and he said, “Old Roy.” He must have noticed my face and said, “Is there something wrong with it?” I answered, “You can’t do much worse.” He said, “Oh.” He never asked what I was feeding mine and the conversation just went dead! Seems like a great opportunity was missed to me. But it points out just how little many pet owners care. If the ad looks good or the package is striking…that’s good enough. User complacency plays into the marketing strategy of the large pet food companies and I see the answer given by Ms. Glass would be totally acceptable by many consumers, no matter that it is nonsense, it was an answer. Honestly, Ms. Glass was way in over her head with you and you will not get a phone call from her…you got what you are going to get…nothing!

    • Marcia Husband

      Good try Kenneth! Try working a job (as I did) to talk to pet owners in the big box pet stores about what they are feeding their pet, and see them still buy Purina, Beneful, Royal Canin and Science Diet — all foods I believe contain poor, low-grade ingredients and are way overpriced considering their nutritional benefits. [Come on Science Diet: "animal fat?" Really?]

      Many pet owners are so naïve and believe that the food manufacturers are truly interested in their pet’s nutrition. For a majority of the pet food companies (and people food companies as well), it is all about the money!

      Yuck… Old Roy! 90% corn. And then customers would ask why their dogs eat their own feces! Dogs (cats/humans) do not digest corn! The dogs are just eating the same crap that is in the bag of Old Roy!

  6. Wow! Great going Susan!

    I wonder how someone gets to the level of “Sr. Corporate Affairs Manager” at any company, much less Mars, with such poor grammatical skills?

    I worked for Nutro before it was purchased by Mars, and I cannot recall from any of our product meetings ever being told that Greenies could substitute for a complete and balanced meal! Quit the opposite, in fact, as we were told it was a treat! I am old enough to remember when Greenies were recalled and forced to change their formula because the “treat” was not dissolving properly and was getting lodged in the intestines of dogs and cats! I think that was in the late 1990′s?

    I would steer customers away from them in the pet stores. Wheat is the first ingredient, and I don’t think dogs or cats need wheat in their diet!

  7. Susan, you are the greatest. I too remember Greeiens prior to the Mars buy-out. I used to feed my cat Greenies, but only as a treat. They never were intended to replace food. I use Hartz Mountain dental and hairball treats. HM has been around a long, long time. (I’m in my late 70′s and it has been around longer than me.) Thank you for all your excellent work on behalf of we pet owners. I have a 22 lb. Maine Coon Cat.

    as ever,

    dearcat

  8. This would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so sad. Here they go: reading this “horrible” blog and blacklisting the phone number. Obviously this blogger is “bad” enough to be blacklisted. So, not your average little blog hardly anybody reads.

    One would think that a written response would be carefully crafted. For one, the company knows WHO is asking. Not your average pet parent, but somebody with considerable knowledge. It also seems quite likely that said response is going to be published on that blog.

    But one would think wrong, as the response shows us. What a way to erode even more consumer confidence while providing a good laugh at the same time.

    Some village is missing the you-know-what.

  9. I have got to the point where I bake/make all my boys treats and cook them their meals as I no longer trust anything any of the companies say regarding their products anymore. If I cook it and make it I KNOW what is in it as I use fresh ingredients and will be using veggies from my own garden this year so even better. Their coats are shinier then the ever have been and they have more energy and are healthier then they have ever been. I am sorry but they have back paddled and lied one to many times for this little red duck.

  10. It should read on the label “Greenies make up 85kcal of your dogs daily requirement.”- of course with all their OTHER statements being factual. But then I question pink slime being appropriate for human consumption also.

  11. Susan-
    The reason your number is flagged in their system is exactly what you stated in your response. It is because your “goal is to assure all pet food manufacturers/pet treat manufacturers are abiding by federal and state regulations not only with the actual pet food in the bag or can (or treat), but as well with the advertising and labeling information/claims provided to consumers.” How dare you question a company that is in business to make tons of money at the expense of the health or our pets? Quite a while ago I fed each of our dogs one Greenie and they all had diarrhea from them. No more Greenies for them! Instead, today they get raw meaty bones every day which are actually good for them and far less expensive. They are getting real nutrients and their teeth benefit in the process. I continue to move as far away from commercial products as possible, especially those manufactured by the conglomerates. Sadly it is not just pet owners that could benefit from the work you do and the information you provide. Many “dog people” who show and trial their dogs are sorely lacking in knowledge. They believe everything their vets tell them and that all of the foods, treats, supplements, vaccines and medications sold by their vets are actually good for their dogs. I post links to many of your blogs on my FB group and hope that people are sharing your information. Thanks, and please keep up your good work!

  12. Thank you Susan! Reading your letter has convinced me that you are extremely well-informed and really articulate. You are a rarity and I hope you will continue your work for many years to come.

  13. Great work Susan. As usual, you have them on the run, wondering now how they are going to do damage control. I wouldn’t use Greenies as treats for my dog, that is for sure! Remember just a few years ago, they came under question when dogs were dying from intestinal problems when they broke apart and didn’t digest and clogged their insides. Hmmmmm, they sure do make a good product, don’t they?………………….NOT! Again, THANK YOU for your tireless work.

  14. Hi Susan!

    I find the back & forth rather interesting. I would *expect* that the labeling is poorly worded, and they’re trying to two-step around not having to admit it.

    It probably should have said, as mentioned above, that the Greenie can account for 85 calories of their daily diet.

    I must admit that while I do use Greenies as treats, I’ve never actually read the “feeding directions” on the label, as I considered them just that – TREATS.

    I do, however, think that they should be held to a proper (legal) “standard” of labeling, and that the issue of your phone number being “blacklisted” should be formally addressed (there might even be some legal recourse there as well).

  15. Hi Susan and All! I do very much appreciate your fantastic knowledge base, and hard work to help us, as consumers! However, I am now quite concerned, because I thought it was OK for my 2 German Shepherd, adult dogs to have Greenie treats?

    You see, I did read about the fact that these treats can and do cause digestive blockages in small pets and puppies. But, I understood that these were made in USA, and safe for my large breed dogs? Please advise me, as I’m quite upset and confused at the moment?

    • Vicki H.
      I am a CVT and I do not recommend Greenies. There are many natural options (ie; real raw meaty bones) that are much safer for dogs and cats. They even do a better job than any man made dental treat I’ve ever seen.
      You need to decide for your self what is best for your babies.
      I think it would best help you decide if you see the reviews on Consumer Affairs (Consumer Complaints and Reviews) that have been posted by pet parents like us. Sadly they are not good at all. In many cases the pets passed away after eating these treats.
      Good luck, and I wish the best for you and your babies.

  16. Thank you again Susan for being on top of things. I just want to chime in and hope Nutro reps are reading the comments. As a trainer I am in the position to assist owners with their feeding choices, and help them I do. As a feeding educated trainer there are many more commercial foods I send clients away from verses send them towards. When stuff like this comes up I start looking deeper into why a company feels the need to react and then respond like they did in this case. And when that happens that means they have things to hide, otherwise the response would not have gone like that. Period.
    Nutro…………owners do read, follow and support Susan. You shutting her off means you are shutting us off and shame on you for doing so. That is even a bigger then then the GREENIE issue itself. We see and know this and refuse to allow you to treat us like we are stupid any more. Do with this what you want, but we are watching you, and how you come back from this single, seemingly small thing, will determine how we feel about you as a whole company.

    Kim Willis, Master K9 Trainer
    Retired VB Master Police Officer/Detective
    City of Chesapeake Community Emergency Response Team: K9 Operations
    Leader/Trainer, Operational K9 Teams, CISM K9 Trainer/Coordinator, Animals in Disaster Coordinator
    State Certified Professional Ground Searcher
    Man Tracker Level I
    North American Police Work Dog Association, Associate Member, and Associate
    Member East Coast SAR Liaison
    Chesapeake Community Animal Response Team “CART” (co-founder), Supported by Virginia State Animal Response Team “SART”
    FEMA’s National Preparedness Coalition
    Association for Truth in Pet Food member
    Owner/Operator http://www.kustomk9training.com

  17. Never liked the ingredients so didn’t use them. Same with jerky treats, they just don’t make sense to me.

  18. Wow, what a well informed reply on your part! I think these pet food companies don’t think anyone is concerned enough to pay attention to what they are feeding. The sooner they realize that these animals are just as important to us as people, maybe they’ll be more focused on quality than profits. I sure am glad we animal lovers have you as our advocate. Keep up the good work! Susan B.

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