For a second time, Science Diet Pet Food takes aim at Blue Buffalo Pet Food through the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD). Here’s the complaint from Science Diet and what NAD decided.
Science Diet Pet Food has a history of arguing with competitor Blue Buffalo. Science Diet challenged Blue in 2009 for advertising claims, and they have challenged Blue again recently. For the most current argument between these two pet food manufacturers, Science Diet feels Blue Buffalo’s advertising is less than truthful and shows competing brands in a bad light.
Here is a sample of what Science Diet takes offense to…
Science Diet felt these ads were unfair because they convey “the same falsely disparaging and inflammatory message – that ‘big name’ pet food manufacturers (including Hill’s) are actively try to conceal the fact that they include chicken by-product meal (instead of real meat) as the first ingredient.”
The NAD agreed that Blue Buffalo “has not provided any evidence that “big name” pet food manufacturers (or, at the very least, the companies listed in the True BLUE Test which includes Hill’s) are actively concealing the truth about the ingredients in their products.” And “while real meat is undisputedly a high quality ingredient and nutritious, the advertiser has not provided any evidence that meat by-product meal is not a high quality ingredient or that it is not nutritious, or that products which include meat by-product meal are less nutritious than BLUE’s or similarly positioned products that do not.”
And below is another complaint of Science Diet – from the Blue Buffalo website – the “True Blue Test”. One of the complaints Science Diet has with Blue’s pet food comparison is the lighter shade check mark when a competitor pet food (in this case Science Diet) does meet the Blue comparison method.
Science Diet also had complaints with the “ALWAYS” and “NEVER” comparison used by Blue Buffalo. Feeling that this comparison does not take into consideration that some foods of a competitor do include ‘real meat as the first ingredient’ and some do include ‘veggies and fruit’. The NAD stated “There are wide disparities in the nutritional profiles based on the given brand. For example, with respect to the question of meat as the first ingredient, some brands have no products that contain meat as the first ingredient but others have meat in 50 percent and, in some instances, over 90 percent of their products.”
After the NAD ruling, Blue Buffalo agreed to edit their True Blue Test and edit their advertising.
I thank the NAD for holding Blue Buffalo accountable for their advertising claims, but there is a larger issue that perhaps the NAD needs to be aware of. The use of rejected for use in human food meats, vegetables, grains, and fruits in pet foods – pet grade ingredients – with no warning to the consumer. One manufacturer might source 100% USDA certified human grade ingredients, while another uses 100% pet grade ingredients which could include diseased animal tissues, filth contaminated grains, and/or pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables. And again – the consumer is NOT provided with a clear understanding on the label of which is which.
To date, the only assurance to actual quality/grade of ingredients pet food consumers have is the Pledge to Quality and Origin – a pet food transparency effort from our consumer group Association for Truth in Pet Food. Pet food manufacturers can argue all they want through the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau, but the real truth in pet food lies in actual grade/quality of ingredients. Are they pet grade or are they certified human grade?
“Big name” pet foods mentioned in the Blue Buffalo advertising as well as Blue Buffalo itself has not provided pet food consumers with full transparency to the grade/quality of their ingredients…
Provided Pet Food Consumers with Pledge to Quality and Origin
100% transparency to grade of ingredients (USDA inspected and approved certified human grade)
Country of origin of all ingredients including supplements
Signed as truthful and accurate
But as of today (4/1/14) – 22 pet food and pet treat companies have provided their Pledge to Quality and Origin. Click Here to view those companies and Pledges.
Thank you to the National Advertising Agency for providing me the report (there is typically a fee charged but the fee was waived because I report to pet food consumers).
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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