Filed in court today (5/6/14).  Purina Pet Foods is suing Blue Buffalo Pet Foods because (Purina says) they aren’t being honest about their ingredients.  Gloves are off.

On the new Purina website – www.PetFoodHonesty.com (no kidding – this is a Purina website) – Purina makes a bold announcement they are suing Blue Buffalo “because we believe the Blue Buffalo is not being honest about the ingredients in its pet food.”  Purina shares that Blue Buffalo’s advertising and packaging state “NO Chicken/Poultry By-Product Meals”.  Purina is challenging this statement through “independent laboratory” testing that found “Blue Buffalo’s top-selling ‘Life Protection’ pet food products actually contain substantial amounts of poultry by-product meal.”

And Purina claims that independent tested showed “Blue Buffalo ‘LifeSource Bits’ contain poultry by-product meal and corn.  In addition, several Blue Buffalo products promoted as ‘grain-free’ actually contain rice hulls”.

Some of the highlights of the complaint filed in court today (5/6/14)…

Nature of Action
1. In short, Blue Buffalo is not being honest with consumers about the true ingredients of Blue Buffalo products.

2. Spending roughly $50 million per year on advertising…
Investigation and scientific testing by an independent laboratory completed in April 2014 reveals as follows:
Blue Buffalo Product Claimed to Contain no Poultry by-Products
Life Protection Indoor Health Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
Percentage Poultry by-Product Meal in Kibble (Two Samples)
25%, 24%

Remarkably, for some Blue Buffalo products, chicken/poultry by-product meals comprise upwards of 20% of the product by weight, despite the “NO Chicken Poultry By-Product Meals” wording on the label.

7.  Blue Buffalo’s behavior is unlawful and just plain wrong.  Through this legal action, Purina seeks to halt Blue Buffalo’s pattern of false advertising and consumer deception.

25.  Blue Buffalo even has a staff of salespeople who dress similarly to pet store employees and approach consumers in pet store parking lots…

28.  Blue Buffalo has created what it calls “LifeSource Bits” that it represents as being “vitamins, minerals and antioxidants” that are allegedly “cold-formed” pieces of kibble included in its pet food.  Blue Buffalo touts its LifeSource Bits as offering a series of special health benefits for pets.

29.  In actuality, Blue Buffalo’s “LifeSource Bits” do not contain enough nutrients to effectively deliver the claimed health benefits.

34.  Numerous other Blue Buffalo advertising claims relating to the LifeSource Bits in its pet food are false and misleading. For example, Blue Buffalo claims that its LifeSource Bits contain Taurine “for healthy eyes and heart.” The LifeSource Bits, however, contain little or no Taurine. Likewise, Blue Buffalo touts Vitamin D in the LifeSource Bits “for healthy bones and tissue.” But the LifeSource Bits actually have less Vitamin D than the remaining kibble component. Similarly, Blue Buffalo cites L-Carnitine in the LifeSource Bits “for endurance and fat metabolism.” In actuality, there is little or no L-Carnitine in the Blue Buffalo LifeSource Bits. All in all, Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits are falsely advertised as having many qualities and benefits they simply do not have.

(k) Ordering Defendant to pay Purina:
i.  Treble actual damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 1117;
ii.  Blue Buffalo’s profits and cost savings from sales of its products resulting from its false advertising practices; and
iii.  Pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.

(l)  Awarding Purina such other and further relief as this Court may deem just and proper.

Purina also asked the court for a trial by jury.

If these charges Purina has filed are true – Blue Buffalo should be held accountable.  But there are some significant issues for both of these pet food parties (and all pet foods)…

Pet Food Honesty?  Who are they trying to kid?  The entire pet food (regulatory) system is set up to mislead all consumers.  Pet food manufacturers are allowed to violate federal food safety laws (FDA Compliance Policies), pet food is not required to disclose country of origin of ingredients, or grade of ingredients, or if a preservative (such as ethoxyquin) or denature agent (such as crank case oil) was added by the ingredient suppliers.  Chicken in pet food is a completely different definition than what chicken means in human food.  Calories are calculated differently.  Images on pet food labels have been allowed to mislead consumers for years.  Pet food label guarantees disclose ONLY minimums of protein and fat.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Killer.  At the top of Purina’s PetFoodHonesty.com website is the statement:  “Purina:  Where Honesty is our First Ingredient”.  And at the bottom of the homepage of this site it states:  “At Purina, what goes in the bag goes on the label.”  Knowing that pet food regulations allow all pet foods the ability to lie to consumers – the pot calling the kettle black comes to mind.

Purina…good for you for holding Blue Buffalo accountable (should your claims be verified in court), no pet food should be allowed to mislead consumers.  But…since you (Purina) laid down the ‘honesty’ gauntlet…how about providing your Pledge to Quality and Origin?  You talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?  Be honest – give consumers your Pledge.  We’re waiting.

 

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

What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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