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Pet Food Ingredient Giant Wilbur-Ellis facing Criminal Charges

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  1. joan johnston

    Should I Thank Purina?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      That’s up to you (I didn’t) – but it is because of the Purina lawsuit that we learned of this and the supplier will be held accountable.

  2. Ellen

    As you state, ” at the very least, one pet food ingredient supplier is being held accountable.” So maybe a baby step, but it’s certainly a step!

  3. Doug Marlitt

    Susan,

    Thank you so much on behalf of my Doodles! Keep up the good fight! Slowly, but surely, the lowlifes are getting the message. As nobel as Purina sounds, I ‘spose that was all just CYAing.

  4. Marianne English

    Are they currently supplying false ingredients or was this from the original investigation years ago? Thank you for the information. Again I am counting my blessings that my dogs are raw fed.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      These charges were based on the investigation coming from the 2014 lawsuit (Purina v. Blue Buffalo).

  5. Nancy

    Does Blue Buffalo still receive they meat ingredients from this or other secondary supplier

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      We don’t know.

  6. Linda

    Progress. 🙂

  7. landsharkinnc

    Let’s hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg~~

  8. B Dawson

    Wilbur-Ellis has been charged with misdemeanors. Interstate fraud only warrants misdemeanors! What exactly will the penalties be – few thousand dollars and a slap to the hand. This after they charged for premium ingredients and supplied low-quality cheap ones. W-E’s business will go as usual without and corrections in their policies precisely because they know how rare it is to be caught. They also know that the marketing fallout will be nominal because it’s not like the NY Times is going to put this on the front page. And it’s not like consumers can sue. How many people keep their receipts or UPC labels for years on end?

    Hopefully food companies who rely on co-packers to buy-in huge quantities of unrecognizable powders and ground ingredients will start demanding random sampling of ingredients prior to use in manufacture. This is the only way to stop the substituting of proteins. Spray-dried meals can hide anything. Protein concentrates are ubiquitous powders – which is how China got away with substituting melamine for rice protein concentrate.

    1. D. Haven

      Misdemeanors are a ridiculous charge. Plus, he’ll probably plead no contest and pay a fine.

      Adding insult to injury:

      “No information was provided within the court documents disclosing which pet food companies purchased…it is unlikely this information will ever be disclosed to the public.”

    2. Cheryl Bond

      You are 100% right! that kind of charge/fine is nothing compared to what they got away with.

      I agree that Co’s should be demanding random sampling of ingredient’s before agreeing to go forward w/ manufacturing.

      If the hen isn’t guarding the chicken coop… The fox IS going to take advantage!

      Co’s need to take responsibility & know that if they want consumer trust & loyalty, that they need to PROVE to us, that they are doing EVERYTHING in their power to assure that what they advertise on the packaging of their products, better be what’s inside the packaging. This means not blindly believing what the manufacturing plant tells them something is, they MUST make the burden of proof on themselves.

      If it’s their product, it’s their responsibility, period.

      1. B Dawson

        Unfortunately the brands themselves lack accountability to the customer.

        Addiction, in a phone conversation with my neighbor, REFUSED to reveal who cans their food in the US. Their website if filled with glowing descriptions of the NZ plant, but but mum on the US facilities. I know that Evanger’s makes their cans – I have it from an Addiction sales rep and the distinctive curved date stamp on the bottom is a give-away – but Addiction customer service reps who answer the phone at the Washington headquarters will not reveal that information to consumers. I sent an email on 25 Feb. to Kristine, the customer service rep my neighbor spoke with, expressing my displeasure with their secrecy and asking how they monitor that the quality of their product is being upheld. I have not had the courtesy of a reply.

        I emailed Party Animal a few days ago asking if they knew for certain that Evanger’s was handling their raw meat and organic ingredients properly. Since PA claims to independently source their ingredients and use a line separate from the Hunk of Beef hand packing line, I also asked if they had representatives on hand during the manufacture of Party Animal to make certain their high standards were being met. I have not had a reply from Party Animal either.

        Sadly, this is the sordid world of pet food – endless compromises and dodging. Now you understand why so few brands are willing to sign Susan’s Safe Food Pledge. They know their products may not be as advertised either because they themselves are occasionally switching out ingredients or the folks they buy the ingredients from pull the sort of stunt W-E did.

        1. Mary Sue

          Recently, Party Animal would not tell me who cans their food. Nature’s Variety did tell me who cans theirs – cans in Kansas through Simmons, and Instinct Raw line in their own facility in Lincoln, Nebraska.

          Several years ago I called a company (can’t remember which one) and asked who canned their food and they told me they couldn’t say for fear of sabotage. Really? I guess they had something to hide.

          1. B Dawson

            Many years ago, when I still owned a bricks and mortar store in Ojai, CA, the district manager for Merrick (back when they ONLY sold to independents and not big box stores) taught me all the identifiers for cans. I could look at the style of can and the date stamp and tell what US cannery had produced the food. Anybody in the industry knows who cans what.

            The only reason brands don’t want consumers to know who cans their food is because of what is currently going on. If you don’t know that their food is canned at the company currently under fire for bad manufacturing practices, then their brand won’t take a marketing hit. This is why Addiction is being so dodgy about their US canned products. They don’t want to get sucked into the Evanger’s debacle.

            The quality of pet food canneries in the US is pretty bad. None of them are a pretty sight and would most likely cause you to rethink buying anything that is produced by them. The better ones charge more and are hard to get production time at. You can blame the Enron scandal for a lot of that. When Enron artificially caused energy prices to spike, Chicken of the Sea, a Japanese owned company and major canner of pet food, closed their operations in San Diego and went back to Japan. It was actually costing more to can a product than Chicken of the Sea could charge to do it. The pet food industry was left scrambling to find other canneries and I’m sure a lot of brands held their noses when they signed the contracts.

    3. Reader

      As noted below (link provided) the rice flour was also tainted.

      It’s very, very hard to believe that ANY of these “revelations” are ever isolated! But our focus (in terms of the truth) shouldn’t be only on what to avoid, but what to support!

      This current story is necessary, yes, while people are missing the point. Except for the Purina/Blue Buffalo suit and (of course Evangers) how would ANY of these “revelations come to light for public access? The original crisis was in 2007!!! And SUPPLIERS are STILL an issue!! A lack of accountability is still an issue. Obviously the government isn’t going to do anything about it. Let’s ask, so what has changed in all that time? Seriously. Probably in terms of the PFI, only better ways to get away with all of it. Except for the few flukes that have caused a real investigation.

      We can write about this mess all day long. But consider this, ONLY the Readers tuned into TAPF (and how it is shared on Social Media) have any clue about what’s going on. And to those fully informed, the “generalized” comment I read most often here is, all commercial PF is crap. Period. Yet, people carry out bags and bags of 30# weight PF weekly from chain discount stores.

      I think it’s time we did something positive. And that would be to promote in a big way, companies who are doing the right thing, the right way. They should be ENCOURAGED to contact TAPF for exposure! Whenever I come across a promising lead, I tell them to contact TAPF. (Of course to be vetted). I used to believe in Mulligan’s Stew, but the company contact admitted to me straight up, they just couldn’t afford the quality anymore, while keeping the price point reasonable. In terms of the canned food, they were ethical enough to stop producing, before compromising. Surely there must be others, who should be discussed and promoted, over and over again. Until more people can be urged to patronize them. They should be as much a part of our conversation here, as all the bad companies are.

      We must help the “cream” rise to the top! To demonstrate a NEW trend which the PFI will need to match. Meaning that GOOD manufacturing should be discussed and celebrated just as frequently, with as much publicity that’s being given to the ones to avoid!

      People are looking for more “help” than ….. JUST what to avoid. Not everybody can home cook, or only feed raw.

      1. B Dawson

        “….Mulligan’s Stew, but the company contact admitted to me straight up, they just couldn’t afford the quality anymore, while keeping the price point reasonable.”

        There is the definitive reason why companies continue to provide inexpensive pet food manufactured with minimum quality ingredients with the full blessing of regulatory agencies. Americans buy on price. They buy cheap stuff that will not last, then throw it into the landfill and go buy more cheap stuff to replace it. They do this because they save money *in the moment* (or so the ads tell them).

        All the manufacturers know precisely how much consumers are willing to pay for a bag of pet food – not a pound of food, a bag. Why do you think the size of the bag (or can) gets smaller instead of the price increasing? Every company – no matter what the quality – struggles to keep their costs in line with the known price point. Food ingredient prices fluctuate with supply and demand. Ironically, the demand for so called “super premium” pet food has put substantial pressure on availability of quality ingredients. This actually started after the Great Pet Food Recall of ’07, the 10th anniversary of which is this year.

        Scarce commodities or elevated prices are one excuse brokers use to pull stunts like W-E, substituting ingredients without the brand’s knowledge. Better to provide any ingredient than lose the contract because you don’t have the proper inventory, right? China pulled the melamine for rice protein concentrate swap purely for profit of course, the other reason ingredients are fraudulently swapped. Only stiff penalties will discourage these fraudulent acts coupled with the brands themselves doubling down on testing. Unfortunately, what you test for has to be finite and will often be a game of catchup.

        Openly promoting specific brands of food could be problematic. Evanger’s has already falsely accused the site of funding bias in an effort to discredit Susan. Those looking for help in finding a “good” food already have that available to them.

        Susan provides information about companies who “do it right” with her list of foods she would feed her own pets. It is a short list of extremely high quality brands and costs a mere $10. I’m glad the list is available, but not everyone can afford those foods. Her informational list at Petsumer Report offers up information on a much wider selection of companies and allows consumers to make more informed choices across a range of price points based on what criteria is important to them individually. All this information is available for a very nominal membership fee and supports her consumer advocate work. It is neutral in it’s presentation and vetted in that the information comes straight from the companies themselves, not third parties.

  9. Mandy B

    Wasn’t a branch of Wilbur-Ellis also responsible for the adulteration of Blue Buffalo’s canned foods during the 2007 recall? I seem to recall that.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Chem-Nutra was the company that imported the melamine poisoned vegetable proteins in 2007.

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          Link doesn’t work – could you repost a link?

  10. Laurie Raymond

    Susan, I’d like to suggest an area of research that could yield useful information for pet food consumers and retailers: are feedlots, slaughter houses and rendering plants owned and operated by the same companies on the same premises? Is this legal? What is required by law and what is industry practice by way of enforcing separation of these two very different processing operations?
    Since the Evangers sodium pentobarbital debacle, I have been racking my brain to come up with a plausible scenario that would explain how meat from euthanized animals could possibly end up in products like Hunk of Beef, in which the meat is not rendered and is hand picked from butchered carcasses. Feedlots and slaughterhouses simply would not have sodium pen, nor any reason to use this expensive and highly regulated drug. They have other lethal means available which would not subject them to extreme liability. But rendering plants receive carcasses from just about any venue in which animals die or are killed “other than by slaughter.” The traces of sodium pen found over the years in kibble in very small concentrations were from the lowest quality rendered products: meat by product meals.
    Commodity meats (for human or animal consumption) are from those portions of the meat packing industry that slaughters and butchers livestock. Parts not legal for consumption go to rendering companies: bones, hides, hoofs, beaks, entrails and other body parts. But IF feedlot/slaughter operations ALSO operate rendering plants in the same location, it is conceivable that accidental or deliberate commingling of carcasses might occur.
    I have concluded after Evangers that as a retailer I have more investigations to conduct as part of the due-diligence involved in selecting brands for my customers. But I have found it is hard to learn about the full scope of operations in the meat and poultry supply chain. I do know, because of ongoing attempts to purchase locally raised humane, pastured meat products for resale that the meat packing industry consolidation of the last 30 years suggests collusion of government regulators (USDA) and Big Meat. Where there used to be small packing/slaughter operations in most regions, now there are only a handful of gigantic ones. I know of 2 local producers who invested heavily in state of the art mobile slaughter facilities to enable ranchers to process their own animals, yet they have faced delays of years for necessary USDA approvals. The giant companies hide behind lots of laws designed to prevent scrutiny by critics – they allege animal rights activists – but the regulators MUST know the basics of how this industry operates.
    It would help us understand the big picture as well as know where to apply pressure effectively if we could obtain this information. How about it?

  11. B Dawson

    Susan –

    Just as I hit the “post comment” button from my prior comment, I had a thought.

    Is it OK to forward this link to the NY Times news tips page? If not, can you supply the link to the documents and I’ll forward that.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Absolutely!

      1. B Dawson

        Done! I Bcc’d you on what I sent. Fingers crossed that they will investigate the entire industry and do a feature article.

        B

  12. Wayne

    Thanks Susan for article concerning the Purina lawsuit. It will be interesting to see what other companies are using the same product. Sure would like to know. Have a great day
    Wayne Hamilton

  13. Jeanette Owen

    What a bunch of garbage! Funny thing is my dogs really like a better cut of people meat compared to cheaper. I think they can tell the difference. Prime rib – they do summersaults! My Chi’s use to eat ” Instinct ” brand of kibble with meat, chicken etc mixed in & my one Chi – started peeing in one of the food bowls during the middle of the night. When I stopped the kibble – the peeing stopped. All kibble is probably really kinda horrid – ? What’s really in that stuff??

    1. Ian

      Yes… twice recently when I have tried to feed a “high quality” kibble to my 12 year old Shiba, she seemed to like eating it, but started peeing in the house. As soon as I put her back on home-made food she stopped peeing in the house. I think it has to do with how their systems handle the extreme dryness and the need to drink so much water to digest the kibble; her older system just can’t handle it.

      Another previous dog I had just started refusing to eat Purina kibble….knocking the bowl over with her nose and walking away…. bless her smart heart…. THAT was what brought me to Susan Thixton and TAPF. They are very wise if we get out of our own way and listen to them.

      1. Jeanette Owen

        My dog had excess to doggy door to go out on patio like usual. I think the kibble tasted terrible & yes, maybe in was interacting in a bad way with his body. He did this with Plaque Off also. Think he hated the taste. This is the chi who would pee on one of the three beds in the living room – right in front of the TV. He did not like it there. Too loud etc. So I got a “new” bed & moving it & all is fine! Yes – we have to listen to our pets. I do home cooked now & my dogs go crazy for their breakfast & dinner. Any dog who turns their nose up at “commercial pet food” – should “think” about that. All treats they get are Human or freeze dried like Stella & Cheweys.

  14. Hannie

    Maybe my memory is failing me but wasn’t W-E involved in the recalls of 2007? For some reason I think they were. I’ve heard that name before & not in a good way…….I know nothing about suppliers so I’m sure they were involved in something bad before this. This is why I home-cook for my dog, sadly I don’t trust any of them.

  15. Holly Rist

    Purina actually got sold chicken by product meal when they paid for chicken meal. Don’t remember where I read that though. I still want to know why Purina checked in the first place. Seems strange. Was someone at Wilbur Ellis being paid off to make the switch? If so, by whom?

    1. Jeanette Owen

      Interesting question. Who was behind it?? All I’ve read & videos I’ve seen – those slaughter houses are hell holes for animals. They hire the lowest of the low to work there. Beating up, torturing the animals & they laugh about it. One time at sprouts – one of the guys putting meat out in the cases – just laughed – he said he worked at a pig slaughter house. I could have cried. I guess mistreatment of the animals is the norm. So the bigwigs deny it – sometimes the workers get caught & it still goes on, so it seems like it’s anyones guess who did “the switch”. Maybe an honest mistake?

  16. Ian

    This lawsuit and the Evangers story really peels back another layer of the issues regarding the pet food industry. I have tended to focus exclusively on the problems with retail pet food companies but I can now see the issues go right to the base of the pyramid and the suppliers. It very much reinforces my feelings that if you are going to feed commercial food, using a brand that also manufactures their own product is marginally better. I would love to see a requirement that pet food companies disclose who actually manufactures their food because it is REALLY difficult to get this information. One company I tried to question about this was very evasive as they proudly trumpeted their private production facility but it turned out only a fraction of their products were actually made in their own facility– the majority were made in co-packing plants but they would not disclose which were made where. This should be a requirement on labeling.

    1. B Dawson

      Be careful with the assumption that a company who manufactures their own product is even marginally better. For example, Purina and Iams make their own food. When Natura (Innova, CA Natural & EVO) was privately owned they produced their own kibble to very high standards, even pioneering the grain free process. But since they were bought out by P&G and then later sold to Mars I wouldn’t trust the quality anymore.

      And remember that most companies don’t own a cannery. That’s really expensive both to build and run.

  17. MZee

    Many thanks for your continued vigilance, action and reporting to us! We’re now doing home made (arrggh) – no more questions as to content….and worth the (!) extra work!

  18. Diane & Gracie

    “…We can thank Purina Pet Food…” –No, Susan, we can thank YOU!! Yes, Purina may have opened this “can of worms”, but it is all the hard work, determination, and tenacity you have shown on behalf of the buying public and our pets that is causing the industry to take a closer look at itself…and more importantly, to take you and its customers more seriously. Thank you one hundred times over for all you do.

  19. Sharon Bilotta-Testa

    The more people start believing that ANY dry food and many canned food industry is nothing but cheap crap maybe they’ll stop buying it only we the ones who are concerned and want to feed our pets a better alterative make a HUGE impact on bankrupting the pet food industry or at least make so drastic changes to clean their crap up!

  20. Jan Clare

    When you make it yourself you know what’s in it and when it was made. The pet food industry is now all about he money. Between pesticides and herbicides sprayed on everything, we’re poisoning our animals and the big food companies are not being held accountable. Read the labels!!!!

  21. Lonnie

    “we do not know who else Wilbur-Ellis sold to??? it is unlikely this information will ever be disclosed to the public” If the information is unlikely to be disclosed to public…Are there legal channels the public can use to request/obtain this information? …freedom of information act? Could Wilber Ellis be forced to disclose the names of their customers?
    just curious

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      No – not with a private company. Unfortunately.

  22. Pacific Sun

    So glad B. Dawson “plugged” Susan’s resource lists! Meaning what’s positive and so useful for education.

    Sometimes people stop reading at the headline (“oh another bad pet food”). But they need to know HOW to navigate around the frustrations! Susan doesn’t sell anything, accepts no advertising, and doesn’t do endorsements. Period. Never has, never will. I’ve been following nearly 10 years. Don’t care about Evangers (or WDJ’s) silly claims either. People won’t find (that I know of) another website with this kind of messaging, but no advertising on the page!

    Researching articles provided Susan with the knowledge of what questions to ask, and what to look for in products. She interviews companies, and lets them declare whatever they wish. The more transparency, the more owners will seek them out. Over a very long period, Susan has built an index of PF variables, including how they apply to brands. Which is maintained in the Petsumer Report (200+ brands/recipes). Kind of like a “library” at this point. Because (virtually) “all” products are listed, it is for the pet owner to read objective comparisons, in order to make their own decision! As the list grew, because there came to be such a demand for which manufacturers were doing things above and beyond the “standard”, some brands were isolated, for easier reference. Which became the “List.” Another helper is the “Pledge to Quality” where a manufacturer signs off on complete transparency. Which helps in terms of more supplier accountability. (Find it here: http://truthaboutpetfood.com/31-pledges/)

    Just one change to your comment. Susan doesn’t sell her “resources” in terms of profit making. The membership fee for the Petsumer Report is to make sure the information remains proprietary, and does NOT turn into public “promotion” or “condemnation.” But, with or without materials made available, donations maintain the advocacy work. And that’s what makes the TAPF distinctive! Because the effort is the only voice pet owners have! The AAFCO manual is very expensive! Every AAFCO/FDA meeting has a substantial fee. Travel is expensive. The website (security and services) are expensive. Research (all the hours spent) that would otherwise represent a normal day job, benefit readers for FREE. The website is (obviously) non-subscription based. And how many times are readers welcomed (if not encouraged) to forward on key information … also for free!.

    You’ve spoken about your Retail Store. The PF Supplier (who I patronize) sounds very similar in philosophy. Giving the owner the best education and options. For 10 yrs. have learned from ethical suppliers! In fact this store has expanded their raw food FREEZERS yet again, meaning there must be 20 of them along the wall. Whenever I overhear a conversation between an (uninformed) pet owner and the store’s owner about a dog’s food issue, raw food is always suggested, (sometimes beginning with freeze dried). Even my aging dog (prone to pancreatitis) benefitted.

    It is disappointing to see, but what’s pays their rent (I guess), are other brands (given this supplier issue) which I question. Not chain store varieties, but a few that disappoint upon further research. Like those with pea ingredients. By the same token, they’ve brought in novel manufacturers that people would otherwise never know about. They go to all the Trade Shows, in order to keep learning. They are even hosting an “Animal Nutritionist” (in Northern Calif.) for a 2 hour seminar in April! (I will take notes … 😉 ). It important for PF store owners to have this kind of drive, and communication with their patrons. They’re the middle man between false advertising and true product benefits. I thank all the ones who are doing it right!

    1. B Dawson

      Apologies if my comments made membership in Petsumer sound like a profit making venture. That wasn’t my intention at all! One the major benefits of this site is that there are no “plugs” or brand promotions to sully the information. Every single reader needs to support Susan in her efforts.

      Although I no longer own a store, I valued the one or two reps that I could trust and learned as much as I could from them about the industry. What they taught me sometimes kept me up at night, but it enabled me to educate customers both in the store on a day to day basis and to give lectures to breed clubs and other organizations. The independent store owner can be a huge resource for the general public and should be supported at every possible opportunity. Just look at all the digging Laurie Raymond has been doing. That’s dedication!

  23. Alex Alejandre

    So does that mean I shouldn’t buy Blue Buffalo? The protein content is great I’m assuming they rectified this situation? Or is their image and quality tainted forever? Should I go with Wellness? Or stick to Blue Buffalo? It’s for a puppy

    1. B Dawson

      Alex-

      As recent recalls have made all too obvious, brands use common suppliers for their ingredients. After recalls, they claim to be as much a victim as the consumer and make a big show of “firing” the suppliers who sold them the tainted or fraudulent ingredients.

      Unless the brand itself – Blue Buffalo, Wellness or whomever – puts procedures in place to assure that what they are using is actually the ingredient they contracted to purchase, there is no way of knowing if the food is as advertised.

      Part of the problem is that testing for every possible scenario of contamination or substitution is costly and would raise the price of commercially made pet food. As I have commented before, who would have imagined that a supplier would substitute melamine for rice protein concentrate?

      So, what food to buy for your puppy?

      There is no slam dunk answer to that. Foods that I used to swear by – Natura (Innova/CaNat) comes to mind – have been sold and re-sold and have descended into junk food. Mars Pet Care for instance, continues to buy up more and more brands including vet hospital chains and pharmaceutical companies, infusing their overall philosophy into the quality of previously independent-minded quality conscious brands. That is one of the reasons for Susan’s efforts on this site. It is an overwhelming task to keep up with the pet food industry’s vacillations, certainly more than most consumers can do on their own.

      In general, I encourage people to avoid brands found in mass markets including Petco/Petsmart, Walmart or in grocery stores. Any company who can supply enough food to fill the shelves of thousands of big box stores is at a much higher risk of quality control errors.

      Find a small independent pet store run by someone who is knowledgeable. You judge this by how they help you decide on a food. I’ll start with the answer I always gave in my shop:

      The best food for your dog meets the following criteria…
      1) your dog must eat it. Nobody’s going to be happy if you have to struggle to get your pet to eat,
      2) you must see a pet who is healthy eating the food – bright eyes, energetic, shiny coat,
      3) you must be able to afford the food.

      Notice I start with your pet, not a brand. Any store clerk who immediately points you to a brand is pushing what has the best profit margin or has only educated themselves with company propaganda. And ALL company marketing information is spin. Honestly, when is the last time any company said anything other than “this is the healthiest, tastiest, highest quality food you can buy!”? A store owner should be doing independent research so that she can separate the marketing spin from the facts about a food. Store owners have easier access to information that the average consumer would have to spend hours ferreting out. When you’re told, “this is the best food”, ask why. Drill down for the specifics and if the only answer you get sounds like an ad in Dog Fancy magazine, walk away.

      Have you tried thinking “outside the bag”? If raw is a bridge too far, look at dehydrated products like Honest Kitchen. Grandma Lucy’s is another brand. Freeze dried products like Primal are an option, too. These products are as easy to make as adding hot tap water and serving. It takes 5 minutes more than putting a scoop of kibble in a bowl and they are shelf stable so if you travel it’s a snap. The very nature of the product discourages ingredients that aren’t as advertised.

      Hope this helps.

      B

    2. Reader

      Hi Alex,

      The brands you’re speaking of sound like they’re in a chain pet food store. Quite often certain brands (especially BB) with have a Sales Rep in the store. While it looks like they’re helping, they’re selling their product. So the background overview of PF manufacturing (provided by B Dawson) is good. Point being, a company could have the most outstanding customer service, marketing and website. And still no proof (validation) of quality control. That’s where BB got into trouble. Many others too.

      My bias towards websites is that they should offer a “Contact Us” (by phone) feature. And allow you to click (in succession) on species, products, ingredients, guaranteed analysis BEFORE “herding” you over to the “Buy Now” tab. If they don’t …. move on! Because some brands don’t want you to focus on the ingredient list. The key question to ask about a PF (sometimes only by calling) is asking if the protein is USDA Approved (fit for human consumption). If they say yes, ask for a written confirmation. Unfortunately, secondary ingredients have far less assurances as to the quality and origin.

      In truth, almost NO pet supply store (including independent) is 100% objective. We’d like to THINK they are, by doing the level of research required, but it could be to stay ahead of the game. Meaning by understanding marketplace (consumer), they can counter issues with alternatives. (Like replacing grain with pea). And that’s because it’s very hard being an independent dealer! Store owners can’t afford to lose ANY customers, or suffer poor word of mouth. Their goal is to make a customer happy. And to send them out the door with “something.” Mine comes closest, because they promote RAW as a number one option.They will support the owner throughout the process of feeding. They have 20 freezers full of multiple brands. They go to Trade shows to stay current with new products, and to hear all the buzz about trendy.

      But keep in mind, whatever information a store does give you, it will never be at the level of the Truth About Pet Food. (I’ve tested, and for example, even mine didn’t flinch at Evangers recall). Like I said, every store wants to make a customer happy, and won’t scare them away with I call too much “truth.” The useful point already offered, is too stay away from the Chain, Grocery, Warehouse, Discount market place. Avoid on-line sales from internet distributors (like Chewys, etc.). You want accountability and recourse provided by the manufacturer.

      So back to helping YOU! You might not be near an independent store, or a knowledgeable or a trusted one. Am assuming you have a large breed puppy, because you said BB protein content is great (assuming high enough). A puppy does require specific nutrition. Giant breeds also have special needs. Also be aware of bloat.

      One PF that seems to have been vetted is Open Farm, and will give you the example of what to look for in a PF (link: https://www.openfarmpet.com/dog-food-recipes/pasture-raised-lamb-grain-free-dog-food ). Which means the questions owners should ask, have been done, in this case. Such as, is the protein USDA Approved, fit for human consumption, and other sourcing questions. Guaranteed Analysis is 30/14. And you might be able to augment with whole meat.

      So the second part of your effort is finding a Vet who will confirm the Nutritional Analysis of your selection, is suitable for YOUR dog. Finding that Vet will be the hardest part of your effort. Do NOT permit a Vet to settle your questions, anxiety, or insecurity with Science Diet, Purina, Royal Canin, etc… Just move on to the next practice who won’t up-sell. Your breeder (if enlightened) can also be helpful.

      Behavior shaping (training) is another aspect of feeding. Many dogs are sensitive enough to reject an inferior, or defective product and will refuse to eat. Honor that instinct. But, by the same token, once you find a trusted food (you’re confident with) don’t permit a dog to develop preferences. You will turn into running a 24 hr. Diner. Some dogs do crave variety however. It’s good to train them to accept variety. So rotation can be a good thing. I believe any dog should have access to “some” red meat for a natural amino acids complex. Which can be used as a “topper” (actually being mixed very well into the food).

      If you choose raw (instead of kibble), it should be in conjunction with a knowledgeable provider. For example, in my region there is a RAW Feeding Consortium with countless options and experienced providers. Feeding a puppy, if very young, if a Giant breed, will require additional support. Vets do not support RAW.

      Without going that route, a kibble (plus wet) fresh food will work. For primary feeding, I like to serve 2 (or 3 if very young) meals, to monitor consumption, to make sure the right balance of nutrition is being eaten, offered for about an hour, then removed. Easier to housebreak. Discourages picky eaters. Some puppies do well with a “side dish” of dry food to “snack” on during the day.

      In summary, and for your immediate question, the best overall tip for YOU, is subscribing to Susan’s lists. Ask for the “2016 List” and access to the “Petsumer Report.” By looking at the Petsumer Report (PR) a comparison of over 200+ brands, will identify what to avoid (but most importantly) WHY! It really should be used as a learning tool. To make clear what issues are consistent for most all pet food. And what to avoid (like animal fat).

      By contrast, the “2016 List” will help you decide what TO feed, instead.

      The point of TAPF is not about making any profit (and doesn’t) but donations permit the advocacy work to continue. Which provides readers with on-going insider tips and general education needed to make the best decision for every pet! Hope you’ll continue being a Follower.

      (I don’t sell or profit from any product).

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