Purina has issued a response to Blue Buffalo’s admission in court on May 6, 2015, that a “substantial” and “material” portion of Blue Buffalo pet food sold to consumers contained poultry byproduct meal, despite advertising claims to the contrary.
Blue Buffalo has asked the court for additional time to file an amended complaint in the litigation, naming its ingredient suppliers as defendants.
“Despite this admission, Blue Buffalo still has not informed consumers of the presence of poultry byproduct meal in Blue Buffalo pet food, refuses to accept responsibility for the product it sold and is instead blaming its suppliers,” said Keith Schopp, a spokesperson for Nestlé Purina Petcare.
On May 6, 2014, Purina filed a lawsuit against Blue Buffalo for false advertising after testing revealed the presence of poultry byproduct meal in some of Blue Buffalo’s top-selling pet foods. Blue Buffalo’s CEO responded by immediately claiming the testing was “voodoo science” and assuring its customers that “Blue Buffalo does not use chicken byproduct meal or poultry byproduct meal in any of our products.”
Blue Buffalo has called into question Purina’s independent testing by Windsor Laboratories, saying that the research “does not even come close to meeting the basic requirements of a scientific test, let alone being something to use as support to make their outrageous, malicious allegations.” The lab, said Blue Buffalo, is actually a single individual with “dubious scientific credentials” who works out of a home lab. The analysis was performed “with a rudimentary microscope under less than optimal conditions with questionable methods and record keeping.” The company has conducted a report on the research, via Vinayak P. Dravid, PhD.
According to Purina, “Windsor Laboratories is a well-recognized laboratory specializing in microscopic analysis for the agricultural and other related industries, including the pet food industry. Its owner, Dr. James V. Makowski, is the author and lead editor of Microscopic Analysis of Agricultural Products (4th Edition, 2010), a training resource on the subject of microscopic analysis of agricultural products used by the US Food and Drug Administration.”
According to Schopp, “Only when faced with undeniable evidence from the lawsuit has Blue Buffalo admitted the truth to the court: a ‘substantial’ and ‘material’ portion of Blue Buffalo pet food sold over the past several years contained poultry byproduct meal. It is unclear to us if or when this practice stopped, or whether any Blue Buffalo pet food containing byproduct meal is still on store shelves.”
According to petfoodindustry.com’s Top Pet Food Companies Database, Blue Buffalo made US$750 million in sales in 2013.
“Through a $50 million annual advertising campaign that flooded airwaves and pet food aisles alike, Blue Buffalo told consumers over and over, emphatically and without qualification, that its products never contain poultry byproduct meal,” said Schopp.
“Blue Buffalo now claims it had no way of knowing the bags contained byproduct meal. A manufacturer is responsible for knowing what’s in its product, and a simple audit of its supply chain would have revealed what we discovered after reviewing the documentation,” Schopp said. “Blue Buffalo owes consumers an apology for all the false statements, false labels and false advertising. More than this, it is time for Blue Buffalo to be transparent with the public and prove to their ‘pet parents’ that no mislabeled product remains on shelves.”
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.