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Whole Foods has Some Holes in Their Answers

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  1. Carol

    Well, as of right now with what answers you’ve been given (or not given), I wouldn’t even try this food for my golden. Personally, I don’t like non answers to important questions, especially when it comes to my family.

    Thank you for doing what you do. All your hard work benefits all of us.


    1. James Hayward

      I agree, but the issue is that Whole Foods has such a good reputation that the perception is: Whole Foods would not sell ANYTHING unless it passed their review; thus it’s WONDERFUL!!!

      It’s issues like this that we can thank our luck that we have an advocate like Susan in our dogs corner……..we as owners need to insure we act on knowledge such as this while guarding our pets from the Nestles and Proctor and Gambles of the world.

      1. Hope

        That is the key problem: the products are really lousy but worse is Whole Foods, the company and the people behind the name, because they are capitalizing on their name to make a fast buck at the risk of our pets health. I’m truly fed up with no-name corporate biggy humans hiding behind their corporate status to make money for their stock holders while not giving a damn about people. And there’s a lot of that out there!

    2. A. H. Shea

      Hi Carol,

      I have a Golden that is the love of my life. After learning that 50% of Goldens die of some type of cancer, I started feeding mine about 1/4 t. of tumeric in his morning meal (I give him a tiny bit of wet food on top of his kibble and mix it into that). After he eats, I feed him a few slices of apple to keep his teeth white and clean, as well as freshen his breath…something I learned when I was working with Vet Organics. See blog post there on clean teeth and apples, etc….. I’m so glad I learned of this tip when he was young..his teeth are really still quite white despite the tumeric and apples do freshen their breath, along with help with digestion. Parsley’s also good for both of these.

      Hope these help you!


  2. Mike

    I did buy this for my older cat who needs to eat, topline foods she shuns, but she likes the store brand? She is 18 and she eats, so I am not complaining. I did notice some of the cans said manufactured in Canada. Hey Origiins comes from Canada. Thats top shelf in dry food..

    1. Ken Kalligher

      If you are referring to Orijen of Canada, I can tell you that they manufacture only for themselves. They do not produce canned foods nor do they private label either their dry or dehydrated product for anyone. They do everything in their own plant for themselves.

      1. Jonathan

        Are you sure about that? Years ago I asked about their “meals”(chicken meal etc)- they admitted they were made elsewhere, even though they had on their website that they do make everything themselves. They soon took that part off the website but maybe they have it back on and are indeed now making everything themselves.

  3. Mollie Morrissette

    What do these kinds of answers tell consumers? Not a “whole” heck of allot.

    But seriously, consumers weren’t born yesterday. Those kind of non-answers are clearly meant to obfuscate the truth, keep consumers in the dark, while they get to keep their secrets.

    It is so simple: Lack of transparency = lack of trust.

    When are manufacturers going to get it? Non-answers citing “proprietary” and “competitive” reasons just don’t cut it these days. Consumers are scared stiff, and rightly so, and they deserve proper answers to basic questions. Answers about country of origin of ingredients are NOT optional.

    As the leading health food store chain in the U.S., they missed a golden opportunity to show how a “health food store” does pet food. Instead, their answers sound just like the ones we are accustomed to hearing from Big Pet Food.

    It sounds as though Whole Foods has evolved from the groovy, progressive health-conscious store they once were, to the corporate giant we see today. Where once only real health food products lined their shelves, Whole Foods apparently has discovered the vast reservoir of wealth to be made from capitalizing on their health food store status to imbue their mediocre private label brands with their halo of healthy goodness with a price to match.

    Sadly, since WF has not told Susan otherwise, we can assume they are probably no better than the myriad of other mediocre mainstream Big Pet Food brands out there on the market.

    1. liz

      the problem is most consumers will not ask these questions;)

    2. Peter

      Non-answers to reasonable questions that any consumer needs to make informed choices = non-purchase.

  4. Hope

    Susan: I sent you a comment about this after I was sent a copy of WF’s press release announcing their private label pet foods. As I said then, I provided a comment at the end of their press release (as invited to do) that politely asked several of the questions you posed above in your article. I asked some of my pet retail friends to also read the press release and leave their comments. These friends emailed me, “where is your comment”? I went back to the press release and, no surprise, my comment had been erased. At that point I KNEW this was just a money making venture for Whole Foods not anything of value for pets or their humans. Sad, don’t you think?

    1. Regina

      Wow, Hope, this does scream “do not trust” to me! If they won’t allow honest questions to be seen by the unsuspecting masses, they are hoping to keep the masses unsuspecting.

      1. Hope

        I couldn’t up with any other conclusion either Regina.

  5. Carol

    I agree with you, this store has changed immensely since I first started going there. As a p.s. to my original comment on this topic, I was in my local store last week and checked the ingredient lists on all the dog biscuits they carried and I would not buy any one of them. Too much “stuff” in them for me. I am very interested in what answers they have to Susan’s questions and if they even do answer her.


  6. Debra

    Whole Foods’ non-answers tell me everything I need to know to avoid buying these products. I thought that Whole Paws had been around for a while because I wrote to Whole Foods before the 2007 pet food disaster about their Whole Paws and after spin that they put on their response, I pretty much ruled out buying their products.

  7. John Huff

    Thank you once again for providing needed information. We have stopped shopping at WF along time ago when we found some flaws in their human food. Now I see they will have similar flaws in their pet food.
    I share your concerns over hiding the truth and some of their controversial ingredients…but we (and all friends and family) will not purchase this food for our four legged family members.

  8. Robin

    My husband and I call WF “whole paycheck”. They are our least favorite natural foods store. A little research into this company shows they have a dark side.

  9. Yvonne McGehee

    I would be concerned about “natural flavors” being so high on the list in the kibbled dog food. Natural flavorings can be high in MSG, even naturally occurring MSG.

    Clearly they are not interested in transparency or answering serious questions, which is too bad.

    Though sodium selenite can be toxic at too high a level, animals can also die from lack of selenium, and I would prefer to see selenium added, than not added. Many things can be toxic at too high a level, yet they can still be essential.

    1. Hope

      Seems that a more bioavailable diet with selenium coming from food sources would be more appropriate than questionable source ingredients and synthetic v/m.

  10. Heidi

    UGH, the damn peas again, and the carrageenan, and guar gum, I don’t see anything special about this food, and the fact that they are less than forthcoming about the details makes me even more suspicious. Not impressed.

  11. Beverly

    I am certain Whole Foods has carried their own pet food under their label;’365′ everyday value. The brand was rated poorly by the ‘Whole Dog Journal’ within the past year or two. Not sure if they still sell this label or perhaps this is a case of renaming the same brand? Needless to say, I will not buy it.

  12. Leilani

    Very simply: don’t buy it.

  13. Iva Kimmelman

    Just what I suspected. Another yawn, “also ran, nothing new” food. Just what we need, right?
    I like Whole Foods to some extent, but would never feed their dog food.
    I am so happy with Nature’s Logic, they would have to pry the bags out of my dying hands to get me to switch!

  14. Mare

    Love you Susan!

    1. Susan Thixton Author


  15. Allison

    As for the carageenan I was shocked to see how high up on the ingredient list it was. Even ‘lower’ quality foods have it listed way lower (though this could be some kind of trick too…) My dogs eat raw so I’m not worried about them but carageenan has been showing up everywhere lately..even in ‘healthy’ human food. I recently became a vegetarian again and was trying to find an almond beverage without carageenan in it…I couldn’t find one!

    1. Pacific Sun

      I am looking at the ingredient list on a carton of SILK PUREALMOND almondmilk Dark Chocolate (non-GMO). Unless they are not being truthful, I do not see “Carageenan” listed. Ingredients are: Almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), Cane Sugar, cocoa (Dutch Process), Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum. Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Ascorbate (Vit C) Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (B2) Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2. This is not necessarily an endorsement of the product.

      1. Hope

        Carageenen is replaced by the gums in your product. Both of used as thickeners.

        1. Jay Smith

          Yes.. and look carefully at the Gellan Gum, a algae derivative through fermenation using bacteria. Its nutritional properties are not documented, but it is a long chain polysaccharide that withstands temperatures up to 176 degrees F, or higher without losing its molecular bonds.

          Translation: Pure ENGINEERED carbohydrate.

  16. Regina

    I used to shop at WF years ago, a friend turned me on to them, and they were convenient. But nowadays, I hear enough negative stuff about them, I really see no reason to go there. I’d rather go to a smaller store that hasn’t strayed so far from their original plan. I really think they’re trying to lure their regular customers out of “pet specialty” stores, with the naïve notion that if it’s at Whole Foods it must be good. Their food looks similar to stuff you’d see in places like Petsmart and Petco, and will probably cost more for having the Whole Food brand on it.

  17. Batzion

    I am new to this site and can only say “Thank You!” to Susan and to all the people who leave comments. You have opened up a whole new world for me regarding pet food, and I am so grateful for all of you.

  18. Kristi

    Whole Foods in Monterey, CA was giving free samples of their new pet food this week. As for so many people, for years I have been hoping for a very high quality organic dog food from a company with integrity. There is a huge market for this – why hasn’t any company stepped up to provide it, especially those with the resources (such as Whole Foods) to develop and market such a product? Based on this information, I am not even going to feed my dogs the sample. The knowledge (check this site) is there about what to feed or not feed our pets. Why is no one using this knowledge to develop a wonderful, healthy product for our pets?

  19. audree berg

    Thanks again, Susan, for working so diligently on behalf of pet owners! WF unwillingness to disclose who actually manufacturers their food is not surprising. But for them to not assure that none of their products come from China – inexcusable! If they didn’t have something to hide, they wouldn’t!

  20. Daniel

    Complete BS is my response to their answers. Co-packing information and origin of ingredient sourcing is in no way proprietary, it is nothing more a stone wall hoping no one finds out the answer, of which there are ways to find out the information.

    We can assume it is any of the big co-packers for now. We can assume their ingredients (at least in part) come from China.

    We can assume their fish meal is preserved with ethoxyquin.

    We can assume their foods are processed using genetically modified ingredients.

    If you aren’t going to be up front about who makes your food, and where it comes from, no consumer on earth should have any trust in you.

    1. Reader

      Agreed. You would have to Google the following phrase “Whole Foods Controversy” to understand why their marketing strategy is so deceptive. They are not what they seem. There are several articles, but one pointed out 11 examples of what they would like you to think, which isn’t true at all. I’m glad TAPF posted about this, because now it is included the search people may be doing for more information about “Whole Paws”. When will these Companies begin to respect the power of social networking and enlightened consumers??

  21. Veronica

    If they can’t be honest, and answer all the questions, and share information, they do not deserve my business. I will only feed my animals food that I know is safe, and in which all information has been disclosed. Shame on Whole Foods!!

  22. Rita

    Whole Foods is just another large greedy corporation. According to a former employee, they teach their employees to lie about GMOs:

    I was in their store when they were giving samples of a new “healthy drink”. I noticed it was sweetened with beet sugar so I asked the employee if there were GMO ingredients in the drink. He said “no, it is all natural”. I asked him if he was aware that almost all beets are GMO and that the drink was most likely sweetened with GMO beet sugar. He just stared at me blankly and then kept telling customers it was a healthy, all natural beverage.

    I won’t shop there anymore and I sure won’t buy their crap pet food. Guess they wanted to get in on the high profit pet food industry, they sure didn’t do it to improve our pets’ health.

  23. Victoria

    I have 2 older cats showing signs of IBD. They had been eating grain-free kibble and FF. After reading Lisa Pierson’s site I got them off the dry food which ended the dry skin and shedding problems and their eyes look more clear. I have recently been adding Mercola Complete Probiotics which seems to have stopped the barfing. I just got a couple cans of Whole Paws grain-free cat food and a can of dog food because the ingredients sounded decent and I am desperate to find a healthy yet affordable replacement for Fancy Feast. The WF-WP cat food looks like Friskies crap but they actually like it. They will occasionally eat Cats in the Kitchen Chicken Frick-A-Zee but not always and I went through a lot of “healthy brands” to get that close (I can’t believe how many of them including Wellness have carrageenan. Hell, I can’t believe it’s also in all the organic whipping creams). I was thinking of buying a case of the WF canned cat food but trying to find solid info including the ingredients on the internet is sparse. I was hoping for a contact number so I could try to get the kcal info so I could add the info to my Dr. Lisa Pierson list. There’s more here than anywhere else and this thread is bumming me out. I did find this name, a WFs buyer, Lauren Winstead who helped develop Whole Paws.
    I think they replaced the carrageenan with potato starch because neither the cat or dog food listed it. Here’s the ingredients of one of the cat food cans I bought: Grain-free Shredded whitefish, Chicken & Tuna Dinner in Gravy – Fish broth, whitefish, chicken, chicken liver, tuna, dried egg whites, potato starch, dried egg product, natural flavor, fish oil, sodium phosphate, salt, guar gum, potassium chloride, minerals (zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, cobalt amino acid chelate, potassium iodide), vitamins (thiamine mononitrate, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), calcium carbonate, taurine, choline chloride.
    What stood out to me besides wondering what “natural flavor” means is salt/sodium. I don’t recall seeing it on other labels. Is this bad? I may go ahead and get some because it’s gotta be better than FF doesn’t it? They like the w/gravy which is probably why they like the WF-WP but FF uses wheat gluten. I wonder if the natural flavor is like fortiflora animal digest. I’ll be checking back to see if you get those other questions answered. I can’t believe they won’t tell you who’s making it, I mean Petco is cool with us knowing Weruva makes their food. What’s the word all the cop shows use, It sounds a little hinkey.

  24. Victoria

    OK, this is weird. In my internet search for more info I came across this:
    From 2/2009
    “Whole Paws has an impressive ingredient list and excellent consistency, and I once picked up a whole ton of it at a great price at Big Lots. But – the label said “Made in China.” (This was long before the major pet food recall and melamine scare.) My cats loved it and there was no indication of health-related issues, but domestically-manufactured foods have better regulation and safety (in theory).”

    Now the can I have says product of Canada plus WF only came out with this recently but after having just read about WJLA news busting their 365 brand being mostly made in China (and WF’s response to it), including their California greens I have to wonder if this stuff is actually made in China it may not be better than Fancy Feast even though FF is mostly garbage meat. The inside door of every exam room at my vet warns of chicken jerky and all chicken products from China. I don’t know what to think. I finally find a canned food they will eat and I may be back to square one. I did try to track down the chinese Whole Paws from 2009 (figured I could cross ref ingredients or find some clue if or not they are related), but apparently it no longer exists. I wonder if that Lauren Winstead is here in Austin and if she can or will give me any answers/assurances.

    1. Victoria

      About a month after I posted this I stooped buying this stuff. The cats got bored with it and more I looked at it the more it looked like pureed potato soup. starch city. When I went to WF I went to customer service and tried to get a phone number for whoever would know how much carbs are in it and he said he would take my number and they would get back to me. Nobody called. A couple weeks later I tried tracking someone down by phone and I was given an email address that came back undelivered. By then I had come to my own conclusions, that it’s starchy crap and have gone back to Cats In The Kitchen (which I’m surprised is not on your list of the best, especially the Chicken-Frick-AZee), and FF Classic mixed in when they won’t eat it straight and when all else fails, a little tuna water. Really disappointed in WF. They certainly don’t seem to care about the good health of pets.

  25. Jack

    my dogs ate the first couple of whole paws dog food then decided not to eating it anymore. They’ve gotten really skinny. I have to go back and return the 4 big bags I bought from whole foods. I also get paranoid about the dog food due to the big recall of dog food a couple years ago, dogs kidneys crystalizing is nothing to play around with. Dogs have a powerful nose. I’m taking they’re dislike of this food very seriously. Wished I would’ve found this site sooner.

  26. Danielle F

    Could you recommemd an rganic dry dogfood fr my soon to e 8 year oild dog? She is 40lbs & active still. I want to buy her quality food. She isn’t picky..she’ll eat I guestimate that she eats about 30lbs of food a month, so I would need to find one that is relatively affrdabe ($60 is too much $)

      1. andrea

        Yikes! I can’t afford that Dr. Harvey’s!

    1. Jo

      Here’s an idea, Danielle…buy Susan’s awesome Pet Food List! I did, and it’s chock full of high quality, trustworthy brands!

  27. Lester

    I bought Paws Whole Paws Chicken and Rice for my dog. She has has such bad diarrhea from it, I had to take her to the vet. The vet said she has seen a few dog react badly to the diet, and she thinks the ingredients are bad. I just grew the remainder of the bag out.

  28. andrea

    I just bought this dog food and gave a bowl of it to our dog tonight. Now I wish I hadn’t. We had been feeding her Castor & Pollux Organix (grain free) for almost two years without issue but then she started having soft stools and full anal glands. We switched to Wysong Epigen but after we went through one or two bags, they changed the ingredients and the soft stools resumed. Plus, she had horrible gas. So then we went to Organix, regular adult (not grain free) and there were not major problems but it was still soft stools. So, after feeding her the Organix soft foods for a few days, we gave her the Whole Paws tonight. She drank a TON after finishing the bowl. I have not seen any “results” yet to judge this but I’m starting to be at wit’s end. I like the Wysong philosophy but her system just doesn’t like it. I don’t know if it’s too rich or what. She really likes the Organix and she’s very healthy on it, except for the soft stools. Does anyone have any ideas? I feel like I’ve been doing nothing but researching and researching. Where is the simple ingredients, preferably organic, at least 30% protein food that she would like?? It’s got to be out there somewhere!

    1. Hope Williams

      Please give some thought to going to a locally owned pet supply store and asking about raw food and probiotics/digestive enzymes. From a distance I think you’re expecting your dog to be healthy on highly processed mostly carbohydrate dry kibble food. Though some are grain free the grains are substituted with other carbs like potatoes and peas, etc. Check out or and there are others. Good luck with your fur child and their diet for long term health.

    2. Kelley

      A few years ago both my dogs who ate the same brand (but a different recipe each) of an exceptionally high quality very expensive kibble had pudding like stools. For cleaning purposes if I can’t “pick it up” that’s a real problem for me!

      My older dog had been fed that brand for years. Then the recipe changed. Since the older dog, and now the very young dog (same breed, different backgrounds) both had exactly the same results I knew it was the PF. The company wouldn’t admit it. It took a ton of research to figure out their protein/fat ratio (38/18) was waaay too high considering they eliminated the pysillium fiber (or natural binder) which some dogs need, or all that (remember it’s extruded and not natural!) protein will go through them like “soup”. The lentil & pea fibers they used instead were not solving the problem. The pumpkin I added was not a solution either. I experimented with 2 more brands (NL & A).. Both had very high protein/fat ratios and not enough binder. Same stool results. Then I realized (for my dogs at least) 26/10 was more than enough as long as the ingredients were trustworthy. I found a brand from Susan’s List. Unfortunately the maker of that (baked, not extruded) PF has since retired the kibble and only sells canned.

      I returned to making my own food (yet again) and just to make sure my dogs didn’t have any digestive issues I used plenty of (human 1st quality) pure protein (baked whole beef, canned salmon, tuna, sardines and eggs). but offset with enough binder (like baked sweet potato, oat bran, pumpkin, THK for example) so that my dogs (young and old) have PERFECT stools. Also, when my older dog used to eat kibble, he would drink a ton of water all day long. Of course the more water they drink, especially if they’re not metabolizing that high protein correctly, then the looser the stools will become. When I home cook there is enough natural moisture in the food (my recipe turns out like a pate consistency) he doesn’t need a lot of drinking water. Now whenever I feed kibble for backup/travel, because they’ve been eating a healthy whole food diet, meaning their intestines are not stressed, the stools stay firm. Bottom line is the dogs have to have a broad array of natural fresh nutrients to keep their metabolism balanced and running well.

      I am searching for a new backup kibble.

  29. Leo

    Why are you questioning whole foods? They are probably the 1 company that has more integrity and honestly than all the other “dog food” companies combined. Whole Foods was right to stick up for their rights. They do not have to tell you anything for ethical and legal reasons. The “USDA Organic” symbol on the packaging tells you everything you need to know. You simply asking them nosy questions is ridiculous. Why dont you go ask other companies that pump their dog food with BHA, byproduct, GMO and artificial ingredients. In all seriousness, why would you assume evil things against Whole Foods? They are professional and 2 steps ahead of the game. They dont disclose important information to random consumers like you. Do you now see why? Because people like you would go and misuse the information to try and start mess, like you are doing now. I dont need so stand up for Whole Paws, no one does. They have amazing products and help expose the other horrible dog food companies.

    1. Longtermwholefoodcustomer

      Deeply disappointed by Whole Paws canned cat food.
      I usually feed weruva.
      But the whole foods crap has made my cat very ill. throwing up for last day.

  30. Nouble

    I wouldn’t trust this brand. Aside from a few ingredients, it doesn’t seem too bad. However, if a company doesn’t want to be transparent, I’m not trusting them. In this day and age, we need companies to be transparent.

  31. LJK

    Had been buying same brands for a few years, then our trusted brand was sold and then dropped. Saw this food. (I have one pet that can’t have barley so I have to look at the list of ingredients twice.) On a search of their ingredients online, they appear to be from EVOLVE brand with a few changes like barley in one vs. rice bran and oatmeal. We tired a sample of Evolve a few years ago and it was not received kindly in my house. So I have o pass on this one too even if it has no barley.

  32. Faye Jaworski

    I hope you are asking these questions to Science Diet, Iams and Purina. Those are the crap foods you should be investigating. As well as their prescription foods!!

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