Why I Take Complaints Against Blue Buffalo Pet Products Seriously

November 11, 2015

A few days ago, I posted about a Blue Buffalo® cat treat recall on this site.  A few people have asked me over the last year why I don’t like Blue Buffalo® pet foods and why I refuse to write about their all-natural, healthy pet food. They quote the company’s very effective television ads as proof of their great products.  Those ads show graphics that reflect the pure ingredients used in their cat and dog foods.  So…why don’t I want to feed this company’s products to my pets?

It was only last year that we read about the lawsuit and claims by Nestle Purina that Blue Buffalo dry pet foods contained by-products, when their advertising clearly said they did not.  Nestle Purina claimed false advertising. Blue Buffalo denied it, repeatedly, until the Purina lawyers presented solid proof from their scientific testing that some Blue Buffalo pet foods did indeed contain meat by-products.

Blue Buffalo tried to blame it on a supplier that accidentally made a mistake.  Said supplier questioned that claim at first and then said nothing.  Call me a skeptic, but I find it difficult to believe this large pet food manufacturer didn’t conduct their own testing of their products to ensure the excellent quality control they advertised.

In another quarter, the Consumer Affairs website lists thousands of consumer complaints about Blue Buffalo’s dog and cat foods.  (www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/blue_buffalo.html  and  www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/blue_buffalo_html?page=2)  While there are some positive comments, the majority of posters are writing about dogs and cats that became very ill after eating the Blue Buffalo pet foods.  More information on this subject can be found here.

Complaints range from gas and digestive issues to vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss.  Some animals just refused to eat the food.  Some consumers noticed a change in the appearance of the Blue Buffalo kibble and wondered if this was related to the illnesses suffered by their pets.  Many found that the Blue Buffalo company was not interested in hearing their complaints.  When thousands of pet owners approached the company asking for answers and/or help after their pets developed serious symptoms from eating the products, they received a cold shoulder.  Ignoring those inquiries and treating the consumers as if their products could not possibly be responsible for the illnesses doesn’t generate a lot of confidence in the products they produce.  I realize that companies are in business to make money, but truly concerned pet food producers care about the quality of the products they release to the public.

Just a few days ago, word came from the Food & Drug Administration that Blue Buffalo has voluntarily recalled one lot of their Blue Kitty Yums Chicken Recipe Cat Treats™ because the FDA found propylene glycol in the tested products.  Propylene glycol is banned by the FDA for use in cat food.

Propylene glycol affects cats differently from other animals.  It is a toxin, “a form of mineral oil, even an alcohol produced by fermentation of yeast and carbohydrates.”  This is how manufacturers can use it as a carbohydrate in foods.  (www.naturalnews.com/023138_propylene_glycol_products_natural_html#)

In pet foods, propylene glycol is used as a humectant in the semi-moist foods to help them retain their taste and texture. (truthaboutpetfood.com/pet-food-and-treat-ingredient-propylene-glycol/)

Also on the Truth About Pet Food site, I found a quote from the FDA:  “Propylene glycol causes Heinz Body formation in the red blood cells of cats…Studies have shown that propylene glycol reduces red blood cell survival time and renders those cells more susceptible to oxidative damage and has other adverse effects on cats consuming propylene glycol at levels found in soft and moist food.  In light of these new data, CVM amended the regulation to expressly prohibit the use of propylene glycol in cat foods.” http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/resourcesforyou/ucmo47113.htm

I’m going to state the obvious here.  How could a company not know that a banned substance was included in their cat treat recipe?  Also, how can only 1 lot of a product contain that FDA banned substance and not the rest?

Perhaps Blue Buffalo makes wonderful dog and cat food.  I can’t prove or disprove that, but the facts speak for themselves.  There are problems with honesty to consumers in a business that swears its products are natural and do not contain unwanted ingredients. Then truth comes out that they do.  I do not believe that the thousands of complaints from pet food owners on the www.consumeraffairs.com site are baseless.  There is enough smoke here to make me suspicious and I don’t want my pets anywhere near their products.  Because of this, I won’t recommend them to readers.

 

 

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony Bennie November 11, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Dear Carol, Thank you for your thoughtful and, yes, COURAGEOUS, response to the latest Blue Buffalo “recall blues.” One of the things that really upsets me is that after all of these years trying to truly educate pet guardians to look BEYOND THE MARKETING BULLS*&#, and learn about the companies themselves, what their track records are, and then to really READ LABELS and understand the basics of ingredients and the nutrients they are intended to provide, and also to scope out ingredients that serve NO nutritional purpose in a product, but are used only to cheapen the cost of manufacturing. Ironically, and to the detriment of animals, the cheaper the cost of manufacturing the more MARKETING and ADVERTISING a company can throw at the public through internet and traditional media like TV commercials. Not only do I refuse to even acknowledge the validity of propylene glycol as a legitimate ingredient for dogs OR cats, we won’t even use the so-called natural alternative to propylene glycol, GLYCERIN. Have you noticed how many products that gleefully declare themselves as “all natural” are loaded with glycerin or so-called “VEGETABLE” Glycerin which confuses consumers even more since the word “vegetable” is usually a nutritional plus, not an adulterant. But make no mistake about it- GLYCERINS are related compounds to propylene glycol, and are used for the same reasons- humectant preservation for moist products, and they convey a sweet taste that can “hook” some animals on that chemically induced sweetness. Dogs and cats DON’T NEED SUGAR and SHOULD NOT GET A SWEET TOOTH from a chemical like glycerin. I could go on and on, but there are a bunch of articles that I’ve written about the deceptive practices of SOME pet food companies and they are available here:
http://www.clearconsciencepet.com/about-us/founders-articles

And for a discussion of glycerin and some information about propylene glycol as well, check out this white paper that I wrote a few YEARS ago:

http://www.clearconsciencepet.com/about-us/founders-articles/231-why-clear-conscience-pet-won-t-use-glycerin-in-our-products-a-ccp-white-paper

It’s frustrating that we can’t get the time of day from so-called “natural pet retailers” because we don’t have national advertising driving people into the stores asking for Clear Conscience Pet treats, chews, and SuperGravy. I think that they are afraid that if our products are there, most of the other things they sell would instantly lose credibility. If we diverted that kind of money from our products and cheapened them to buy all of that advertising, we wouldn’t be the most award-winning animal nutrition company in history, and we wouldn’t be making the impeccably pure CleanLabel products that we offer our beloved animal companions. So thank you, Carol. for being an honest voice FOR THE ANIMALS, keep up the great work that you do.

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Carol North November 11, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Thank you, Anthony Bennie, for your comments! While I am disturbed about the bad ingredients included in many foods, I am even more disturbed about the deception and dishonesty inherent with many of the pet food companies. I appreciate the links you added to your articles and I hope our readers will take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about glycerin and why it is not good for our furry friends. Carol

* To our readers: Anthony Bennie is co-founder of Clear Conscience Pet Treats and well-known for his knowledge of the pet food business. He has seen all sides of it over the years and the products his company sells reflect his knowledge of what pets should eat. We can all learn a great deal from this gentleman.

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Ileana November 11, 2015 at 10:04 pm

Good article. Thank you for spreading the word. Just because BB is on TV claiming their natural healthy products does not mean they are being truthful about their product. After their reactions to previous incidents, I feel they are just like all the others. All about the money. Very sad.

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Carol North November 11, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Thanks, Ileana! Unfortunately, too many manufacturers are like that.

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