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…
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,
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