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Pet Food’s Customer Service

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  1. Laurie Raymond

    If it were me, I would appreciate a detailed account of what they determined the metal to be and how they searched for its source, determined what part was worn (or whatever) and replaced it. I want to know they didn’t just dismiss it as of no consequence because it was small! If machinery is shedding shavings of metal, the company should have appreciated that the customer’s complaint was a valuable indicator of a potentially serious problem. That customer was frightened, worried, and took some trouble to contact the manufacturer. She deserved to get the full story, a letter of appreciation and explanation, and a coupon book for multiple products, as well as a refund. Being given a detailed explanation of what they looked for, what they found, and what they fixed, as well as reassurance about future preventive steps might have made all the difference.

  2. pat chesney

    Manufactured food, whether for human or animal consumption, is considered to be safe with some amount of “debris”; when you think about a large plant you can imagine that there will be dust, bugs, rodents and other things that become part of the manufacturing process of the food for all us. Therefore, the less processed the food is, whether animal or human, the less items of “debris” there will be.

  3. sharom

    Firstly, I do NOT want to see anything like that in my dogs food, my cats food or my food. I only have to see something once to never go near that product again. There is nothing they can do to make me unsee that. A piece of metal could get embedded anywhere from the gums to the intestinal tract and end up causing $$$$$$$. You would be vet broke before you found the cause. My only suggestion is that they pay a lot more attention to start with and not let that happen. It seems that the same companies keep having problems over and over.

  4. Jane Eagle

    I completely agree with Sharon, when she said “Firstly, I do NOT want to see anything like that in my dogs food, my cats food or my food. I only have to see something once to never go near that product again.” This is one reason why you cannot pay me to buy any Purina product, and damn few Nestle products.

    If this was found in human food and caused injury to a human’s mouth, there would be an extremely profitable lawsuit. Once past the mouth, it would be extremely difficult to prove the source of injury or toxicity…so why should Nestle/Purina worry? Because word is getting around, and some day you will notice that profits are falling. You are getting a reputation for selling unsafe human and pet food.
    I used to be a small business owner; if I ever had a complaint of something unsafe like this, after I finished apologizing, I would make damn sure it never happened again: replace machinery, whatever was required. Perhaps Nestle/Purina’s machinery needs to be serviced or replaced more frequently. I personally find corporate acceptance of this problem to be chilling…and telling.

    1. sharon

      Please believe me when I say I haven’t fed my dogs or cats any Purina products for years. I also haven’t touched a Diamond product either. I don’t think anything foreign should turn up in “food” of any kind.

  5. Laura U

    Holy cow!!! That could cause big problems in the GI tract. I think they (Purina) ARE dismissing the issue too lightly. My decision would be to avoid that company completely. We (humans and animals) are all at risk with a manufacturer’s attitude like that.

    Laura Uran

  6. Kim

    My thoughts exactly Susan. I would like to add that it suspiciously takes me back to when the issue was companies allowing rendered pets in the pet food with collars. This did happen in the past and I hope it still is not going on, but perhaps it is.

    That is what comes to my mind instead of some machine malfunction. We as consumers have been lied to and left in the dark for so long that it will take a lot of work on their part to build that trust up. Thankfully we do now see some very good companies working hard to do that, but some have a long way to go.

    So each and every complaint needs to be treated like it came from the President of the US. And over time we will start to listen, but right now we will remain skeptical as to just how much a company does to fix a problem.

    That is actually how I feel. If they look at that for what really does happen to consumers when an industry tries to rule just to make money instead of serve its buyers… and analyse how to fix that, then they will be on the right road. And this means not doing things just because the FDA is in bed with them, and does not enforce what they should, but it means doing it right, because that is what we want, and without us there would be no company.

    The end.

  7. Lisa Parker

    You can choose to publish my comment or not, and I would certainly understand, so pardon the language, but I say, what Purina says is pure bull shit.

    The sad reality is that how many pet parents actually LOOK at the “kibble” they feed their animals. Most dump it into a giant food dispenser such that it’s probably rancid by the time the poor animal eats it anyway. Those of us who are conscientious enough to care for our pets watch for these things. And I’m not judging these people, they are trusting that the pet food companies are giving them decent food for their money and people lead troubled and busy lives these days. But Purina is simply paying lip service to a loving pet owner who took the time to try an investigate the problem, I’m sure in part, so that others would not have to suffer for it. Thank you, Megan for taking your time to do the right thing.

    Purina says they have “strict quality control” and “sophisticated food safety programs”. Seriously? Apparently not. Or someone in quality control needs to be fired.

    Sorry, I mad as hell about the pet food industry and have to rant every once in a while. Frankly, right now, I’m on a tear about the lack of training in vet “techs” and some of the procedures they do in Veterinary offices that should be done by lazy Veterinarians who have the education and experience to do them. But there is no licensing or regulation in this area and we have had 2 different cats on 3 different occasions almost die at the Vet’s at the hands on unskilled people. That is a cause for another time I suppose. One I may take up one day. But very few people actually go to school for veterinary technician training, they’re usually just on-the-job trained and handle our precious pets like meat.

  8. Samantha C

    I have worked in 2 different food plants, ordering parts for these huge machines that processed chocolate candy bars in 1 building, the other processed macaroni and rice products next door. I know how expensive this equipment can get….VERY, VERY expensive, so, replacing the equipment would probably be out of the question. And I know how much money each company can lose on down time in repairing all the equipment.

    But I also know that there are ways to keep metal scraps from getting into the food. When the mechanics and electricians repair this equipment, they sometimes just need to replace a roller bearing or a motor, or whatever. But sometimes they might need to drill holes in different places to install the newly purchased part, motor, etc. Or sometimes they would have to shave off some metal to make room for the motor they had to install, whatever. Anyway, all this drilling, boring, and scraping on any kind of surface will leave wood, metal, or rubber shavings around the conveyor belt or wherever food gets dumped into bags or cans or bottles.

    Now, if every food processing plant actually took the time to have an employee (or more if necessary) to clean in, around, over, under, and through where they know food will be, then I don’t think we would find shavings of any kind in anybody’s food….EVER. I think the main problem there is that the food processing plant doesn’t want to waste ANY food, be it dog food, cat food, or people food. And because of this reason, they don’t oversee that this is done, and has some lame employee to scoop up any food on the conveyor belts so it can be thrown in with the good, new food. That’s my theory of why metal shavings got into Megan’s dog kibble.

    I think Purina should have done more than apologize to Megan and issue her a refund. This Terry DeMent should not have made it a point that it was just “2 kibbles” and that it was “such tiny amounts of aluminum” as if to minimize the case, and made it seem as if Megan were being petty, and her problem unimportant. Also, in reading Ms DeMent’s response, she comes across to me as being defensive.

    There was no mention about hoping Megan’s dog was okay. There was nothing about making sure that this doesn’t happen again, or at least TRY to make sure it didn’t happen again. There was no empathy for Megan or her dog in this letter. I would want more empathy for me and my pet. There shouldn’t be any defensive attitude in a response from a food processing plant in any negative experience.

    That’s the kind of customer service I would hope to get if I were in Megan’s shoes.

  9. Jane

    It’s not surprising, although completely unacceptable, for Purina not to give further information and address concerns about their pet food. We would like to know what their solutions are to improve quality control and eliminate problems that are brought to their attention. Considering the contaminants that area allowable in human food according to the FDA, and considering that we can’t even get pet food manufacturers to define pet feed and be transparent about their products, levels of contaminants must go well beyond what can legally be found in human food. We can only guess what is in pet food, much less expect more information unless food might sicken or kill our pets. Sometimes not even then.

    FYI: On the FDA website, you can find the “Defect Levels Handbook–The Food Defect Action Levels–Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans”. Its latest update was 2014.

  10. Jude

    I wouldn’t be thrilled to find foreign objects in my dog’s food, but people find such things in their food, also. Given that my dogs have always chosen to supplement their diets with grass, dirt and anything that smelled good enough to eat, but not quite rotten enough to roll in, I wouldn’t freak out, but I would write to the company and expect a response. We have a metal roof, so I’m not concerned that the dogs prefer to drink water that falls from the roof rather than drink fresh water from our well that is always available to them. And puddles, yes, they’re really tasty. As they age, they seem to lose their desire for wild tastes, but they still love to dig big holes in shady spots in the lawn and lie in them in the summer. My neighbor’s Lab ate a flashlight and apparently was none the worse for it.

    I’m not trying to belittle the importance of having concerns about metal and other foreign objects in the pet food. Their quality control should be on top of this at all times.

    1. Pacific Sun

      Beg to debate the natural foraging instincts of our furry canines. True some seem to have nine lives (oops that would apply to felines instead) but not all. Some drink from puddles, but some water can be too stagnant or unclean which can lead to Giardia. Regular eating of grass isn’t such a good idea if the lawn has been routinely sprayed with chemicals. And one of my dogs is dumb enough to eat mushrooms! I live in a settled suburban area, but wouldn’t want mine to eat road-kill either. Who knows what that animal ingested! Regardless of whether or how our pets will survive in spite of accidental consumption, we have a RIGHT to quality PF products, transparency, best practices, safe processing and transport. Our dogs are exposed to way too many other environmental concerns not to be making PF a number one priority to help fortify their overall survival odds.

      1. Jude

        I sure don’t want my dogs to drink from puddles or eat nasty dead things or fill their bellies with grass and dirt. We live in a rural area and have some land, part of which is fenced for the dogs (50’x50′) and half of that is grass and the rest under a large pine tree and is covered with wood chips. We don’t fertilize our grass and we patrol our yard for gross things as we pick up poop several times a day. There are cats in the neighborhood, as well as squirrels, skunks, etc., and coyotes in the nearby woods. Our dogs are on leads when outside the fence, but they can be quicker to grab and swallow gross things than I can be to stop them.

        But our dogs don’t eat Purina and they never will. I try to educate my friends about what kinds of foods they shouldn’t feed their dogs and tell them why I feed what I do. I respect my friends’ rights to feed their animals what they want and sometimes I just have to swallow hard and let the topic go. It’s hard to change people’s thinking, but I still try. Look at how hard Susan works to make changes to protect animals, and she makes baby steps, sometimes toddler steps. We all need to work to educate people and get them to do the same.

  11. Anthony Hepton

    Once again, Purina is showing another weak spot. Customer complaints should be seen as opportunities, in this case the customer has identified wear and tear on a piece of equipment. This should have been identified and fixed with those actions being shared with the customer.The metal pieces found are just the tip of the iceberg, there could be other larger pieces that have not been found and more could be produced in the future.
    Purina should discipline both it’s QA manager in charge and those responsible for maintaining the equipment, these are management issues that should not be so casually dismissed.

  12. sharon

    Maybe a Purina boycot would get their attention where they would notice it.

    1. Jude

      A Purina boycott would most certainly be good for any dog.

  13. Lisa Parker

    No disrespect intended here, because I realize the people don’t know until they know, that something is bad for them or their pets. But I wouldn’t even consider feeding our pets ANYTHING sold by Purina, Nestle, or any of the garbage sold in the grocery stores, walmart or sam’s. So the question that comes to the forefront of my mind is why are so many people on here talking about Purina? Unless you came to Susan’s newsletter/blog/site because you had a bad experience and are learning, people shouldn’t be feeding this garbage in the first place. I also realize the cost can be a consideration, particularly in today’s times. But for us, we would rather eat on a budget and purchase healthier food for our pets since it pays off in the long run for their health and lack of problems due to what’s just like McDonald’s to us. There’s no nutrition in it. So please don’t shoot the messenger here, I am only asking the difficult question of why so many are familiar with Purina and feeding it to their pets. Sharon mentions a Purina boycott. I haven’t fed this garbage for over 20 years.

    1. sharon

      I think I already mentioned that I do not feed Purina. With 6 dogs and 5 cats I have a considerable food bill but I don’t mind. I also cook for the dogs which is more than half of their diet. They so look forward to meals that it makes it enjoyable.
      I digress–I was just thinking that there should be a Purina boycot since I see so much of it in shopping carts. Dogs and cats would benefit and maybe Purina would hear that and improve their products.

  14. Pacific Sun

    People are so “funny” about their pets and what is acceptable. Somebody once said that what a person spends the most time and expense on is what they most care about. So the topic here is “customer service” and this is my point.

    The car industry is huge and worth billions of dollars. They saturate the media with advertising and image building. They go to the bank based on “name reputation” which is virtually beyond reproach for some like (Honda, Toyota, Suburu, BMW, etc.). . And they would do anything for your business!! After research or maybe just from experience and market visibility you decide to buy a new car from a well known manufacturer. But the dealership is deteriorating. Their premises are shoddy, the salesmen are rude, customer service laughs in your face. Then they try to convince you the vehicle you want to buy, even though it has a few dings on the bumper, and airbags are on recall, is no “big” deal and doesn’t affect the drive-ability or the usefulness of the vehicle! And after all, a lot of dealerships have the same problems.

    Would YOU do business with this Provider?

    Well no, because what you drive is IMPORTANT and you want your investment to last a long time.

    But what your pet eats (if it’s Purina or Science Diet for example) doesn’t seem to be a blip on the radar. You see tons of this food going out through Costco and through your Vet practice. And even though the problems (ingredients, processing methods, toxins) are now being evaluated and reported through objective sources (and not just this website) it’s still hard to understand WHY a Pet Food company wouldn’t have “your” pet’s best interests at heart. So do you really have to know “why” to change your preferences?

    I propose the car industry has far more to lose than the pet food industry. Because people won’t hesitate to bring suit against defective car products. Is every driver or passenger in danger from every car (brand) made? Of course not. Will every bag of pet food make every pet sick? Of course not. But reliability and best practices and quality is what we expect in exchange for any of our purchases. Anything less that is considered defective.

    So why do we value transportation over pet food safety?

  15. Anthony Hepton

    Lisa, There is a very good reason for focussing on Purina as an example, they are one of the largest marketers of pet products, they assure everyone using their products, that they are 100% safe and they keep pumping thousands of bags of potentially deadly pet food on a weekly basis. There is a lack of information for the general public to see to make informed decisions, unfortunately I was one of them and since my pet died in April of this year Purina has failed to recognize or admit that their product is problematic and until a national lawsuit forces them to change or a publicly distributed expose reveals their deceptive practices, thousand of additional pet being fed by uninformed owners will meet an unfortunate demise. I for one will not let Purina rest until they acknowledge their product has potential defects and they make appropriate changes. We as a pet loving community deserve nothing less.

  16. Pet Owner

    Country dogs are most fortunate. City and suburban dwellers overlook the natural opportunities some dogs are fortunate enough to enjoy. Kudos for keeping the grass fresh, and surveying for nasty roadkill, fresh water and the like. Our dogs do what they can get away way, certainly behind our backs sometimes, and yet they survive.

    That’s why it’s such a shame that commercial pet food such as Purina is undermining their best interests long term,

    It may seem like Susan is taking baby steps in Advocacy work, but not so. Over 8 years you would not believe how much progress has been made. From appearing to be just another fanatic blogger fighting off all the “doubters” to receiving an incredible following of “believers”, being a stakeholder at AAFCO meetings, and certainly a communication channel into the FDA. Whether all listen is another story. But they certainly understand the consumer’s perspective. And if they want to build on that market opportunity, then they certainly know how to do it. The trick is never letting up. Always being present. And sharing the Truth, nothing less.

    1. Jude

      Thank you for your comments. As dog owners, we do everything we can to provide the very best of care for our dogs, just as we would to our own children. I wasn’t trying to belittle Susan’s progress, just reiterating her frustration in having come so far and the FDA still not accepting the changes that would at least inform dog food purchasers of the actual ingredients in the food that they are giving their pets. I think Susan’s work is tireless, important, vital and necessary. It is still frustrating that the FDA gives more weight to the pet food industry than to Susan and her allies and to the consumers they represent.

  17. Monica Kenealy

    I found a piece of plastic in the bag of dog show. I shutter to think if my dogs would of eaten it.

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