Let the pet food war begin. Blue Buffalo is fighting back and its getting ugly.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting (5/14/14) that Blue Buffalo has filed a countersuit against Nestle Purina “accusing the rival pet-food maker of defamation, unfair competition, false advertising and trade-practice violations.”
From the Blue Buffalo website founder Bill Bishop states:
I just wanted to let you know that today we formally addressed Nestle Purina’s unfounded attack on Blue Buffalo’s integrity and product quality by filing a lawsuit against this multinational giant. In our lawsuit we demand that Nestle Purina be held accountable for their actions, and that they stop their carefully orchestrated P.R. campaign designed to erode the trust that pet parents place in our BLUE brand.
Unlike Nestle, who has a history of favoring litigation over fair and open competition, this is not the way Blue Buffalo likes to do business. We’d much prefer an environment of transparency in which pet parents know the ingredients of every pet food, and decide for themselves which one they want to feed their dog or cat. This is exactly why Blue Buffalo’s advertising urges pet parents to compare ingredients, and why our products are only available in pet specialty stores, where an owner, manager or store associate is capable of providing shoppers with educated guidance on brand selection.
Nestle Purina, on the other hand, believes in “happy dog” advertising and is focused on selling their products in grocery and discount stores where no knowledgeable sales associate is available, and where impulse purchases are driven by pretty package designs that avoid the truth of what’s actually in the bag. Their Beneful brand is a great example of this type of sleight of hand, as the front of the bag features real beef, chicken or fish, while the ingredient listing features corn and chicken by-product meal as the leading ingredients…but, to be fair, salmon finally shows up as the 6th ingredient listed on their Beneful Healthy Radiance dog food…right after animal fat!
Personally, I believe many of the biggest names in pet food are guilty of misleading advertising in one way, shape or form. In response, many consumers have formed a blind faith in a pet food product based on marketing when the manufacturer provides no evidence to prove these claims. Regulatory authorities (FDA and each State Department of Agriculture) have sat back (for years) and allowed each manufacturer to up and up their misleading claims. And now manufacturers are fighting each other in legal battles all due to this regulatory neglect. Enough already.
I suggest the next AAFCO meeting have a special session specifically addressing misleading claims in pet food marketing. Further, the FDA needs to hold a public meeting that every pet food manufacturer is required to attend. The FDA needs to inform all manufacturers that misleading or false advertising will no longer be tolerated.
Images of ingredients on pet food labels must accurately portray ingredients in the pet food, marketing claims must be true and accurate. Pet food products with any form of misleading marketing should be pulled from store shelves immediately. The proof of each marketing claim should become public information (and should be required) – on each manufacturer’s website.
Prove it – or remove it. It’s that simple. FDA and each State Department of Agriculture must step up and protect the consumer from these misleading claims.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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