Who Protects Consumers Against Misleading Pet Food Commercials?
Recently, TruthaboutPetFood.com took a look at three pet food television commercials and asked questions of the manufacturer regarding statements made or images within the commercials. Two of three have admitted a great deal, the other isn’t talking yet. Who protects pet food consumers?
Three pet food commercials were exampled on TruthaboutPetFood.com recently, below are responses from two of the three manufacturers…
At about twenty seconds in to this FreshPet 30 second commercial, you see this image…
It’s clear, the chicken is chicken breasts and they are grilled. There are clear ‘grill marks’ on the meat. TruthaboutPetFood.com asked ‘Does FreshPet grill their chicken – before it is processed into pet food?’ Kathryn of FreshPet told me “no, the chicken is not grilled”.
So – although the FreshPet’s award winning television commercial portrays grilled chicken, and in fact some of the product labels shows an image of grilled chicken – there is no grilled chicken in the pet food.
In fairness, other questions of FreshPet regarding this commercial were responded to with fair and appropriate answers.
In the Iams commercial, at about fourteen seconds into the commercial, you see this statement…
However, Iams responded in an email stating something a bit different…
Thanks for your questions. Here is the information you requested:
Your new television commercials state Iams never adds glutens. But your foods contain corn meal. Can you explain the difference between glutens and corn meal?
Glutens are dried protein sources. Gluten remains after the bran has been separated and removed and a large portion of the carbohydrate and germ have been removed. Corn meal is the entire kernel of corn, ground up. It’s mostly the endosperm, but it also includes the gluten and bran. Gluten–as in corn gluten–is the protein portion of the kernel that would eventually become a plant.
In our products, we use corn meal for its benefits as a carbohydrate source. Since we are using the whole kernel, there will be some gluten present, along with the bran, germ, etc. But we do not add gluten separately to meet our protein requirements; we choose to use animal-based proteins instead.
Iams Pet Care Team Member
With the Iams commercial, although Iams makes the broad statement “Iams never adds glutens”, Iams admits in their response there IS gluten in their pet foods. While Iams did not add the specific ingredient ‘gluten’ they did indeed add gluten to the pet food by means of another ingredient (corn meal).
The Whiskas pet food commercial looked at in the previous commercial made the statement “Highest Level of Protein”. Whiskas has not responded to inquiry of what ‘highest level of protein’ means. If this statement is meant to imply Whiskas cat foods have the highest level of protein of all cat foods, it is not an accurate statement. As example – Whiskas Meaty Selections Cat Food Dry guaranteed analysis states 31.5% protein. But, Acana Wild Prairie Cat & Kitten food dry guaranteed analysis states 35% protein; Wysong Epigen Cat Food Dry guaranteed analysis states 60%. Because Whiskas did not respond to questions to explain “Highest Level of Protein”, we don’t know for certain if their statement is misleading to petsumers.
The FDA often issues Warning Letters to food, drug or cosmetic companies if they cross the line making false or misleading statements in advertising (Examples: Lap Band, Lasik) – but the FDA has not issued any warning (to my knowledge) regarding any misleading pet food commercial.
I called my Florida FDA Complaint Coordinator and asked if the FDA is the agency a potential misleading pet food television commercial should be reported to. It turns out, yes – he stated the FDA would be the right agency.
Pet food safety is a team effort. So I ask everyone, if you see a pet food television commercial that could be misleading, please become part of the ‘team’ and do the following…
1. Pay attention to pet food advertising. If the advertising is in a pet store, take pictures with your cell phone.
2. Follow up with the pet food or pet treat manufacturer; Ask questions about what you believe is misleading. Ask them to fully explain the statement or claim made in their advertising. If the explanation does not satisfy your inquiry, report the advertisement and the response to the FDA.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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