Purina Pet Foods is suing Blue Buffalo Pet Foods for deceptive advertising practices. Purina announced they are suing Blue Buffalo “because Blue Buffalo is not being honest about the ingredients in its pet food.” Purina allegations include Blue Buffalo’s advertising and packaging that state “NO Chicken/Poultry By-Product Meals”. Purina is challenging this statement through “independent laboratory” testing that found “Blue Buffalo’s top-selling ‘Life Protection’ pet food products actually contain substantial amounts of poultry by-product meal (24%-25%).”
And Purina claims that independent testing showed “Blue Buffalo ‘LifeSource Bits’ contain poultry by-product meal and corn. In addition, several Blue Buffalo products promoted as ‘grain-free’ actually contain rice hulls”.
Nature of Action:
- Blue Buffalo is not being honest with consumers about the true ingredients of Blue Buffalo products.
- Spending roughly $50 million per year on advertising…
Investigation and scientific testing by an independent laboratory completed in April 2014 reveals as follows:
Blue Buffalo Product Claimed to Contain no Poultry by-Products
Life Protection Indoor Health Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
Percentage Poultry by-Product Meal in Kibble (Two Samples)
Remarkably, for some Blue Buffalo products, chicken/poultry by-product meals comprise upwards of 20% of the product by weight, despite the “NO Chicken Poultry By-Product Meals” wording on the label.
- Blue Buffalo’s behavior is unlawful and just plain wrong. Through this legal action, Purina seeks to halt Blue Buffalo’s pattern of false advertising and consumer deception.
- Blue Buffalo even has a staff of salespeople who dress similarly to pet store employees and approach consumers in pet store parking lots…
- Blue Buffalo has created what it calls “LifeSource Bits” that it represents as being “vitamins, minerals and antioxidants” that are allegedly “cold-formed” pieces of kibble included in its pet food. Blue Buffalo touts its LifeSource Bits as offering a series of special health benefits for pets.
- In actuality, Blue Buffalo’s “LifeSource Bits” do not contain enough nutrients to effectively deliver the claimed health benefits.
- Numerous other Blue Buffalo advertising claims relating to the LifeSource Bits in its pet food are false and misleading. For example, Blue Buffalo claims that its LifeSource Bits contain Taurine “for healthy eyes and heart.” The LifeSource Bits, however, contain little or no Taurine. Likewise, Blue Buffalo touts Vitamin D in the LifeSource Bits “for healthy bones and tissue.” But the LifeSource Bits actually have less Vitamin D than the remaining kibble component. Similarly, Blue Buffalo cites L-Carnitine in the LifeSource Bits “for endurance and fat metabolism.” In actuality, there is little or no L-Carnitine in the Blue Buffalo LifeSource Bits. All in all, Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits are falsely advertised as having many qualities and benefits they simply do not have.
- Ordering Defendant to pay Purina:
i. Treble actual damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 1117;
ii. Blue Buffalo’s profits and cost savings from sales of its products resulting from its false advertising practices; and
iii. Pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.
(l) Awarding Purina such other and further relief as this Court may deem just and proper.
Purina Pet Foods has a new website, Pet Food Honesty, where the tagline states, “Purina: Where Honesty is Our First Ingredient”. Obviously, the gloves are off. It will be interesting to watch this case and the possible ramifications on truth in labeling and advertising for the pet food industry. We have posted before concerns about pet food labels containing inaccurate ingredient lists. One study showed that over half of the labeled “Grain Free” dog foods actually contained significant amounts of grains. Unfortunately for pet owners, the FDA is doing little to enforce accurate labeling of pet food products.
I must say, I was skeptical of Blue Buffalo since they first appeared on the scene. I thought their “meat is the first ingredient” was deceptive, at best, from the start. The fact is there is nothing wrong with chicken meal if it is high quality chicken meal. In fact, high quality chicken meal is preferable to low quality meat. Blue Buffalo changed ownership a while back as well. From past experience with pet food companies changing ownership, quality can go down hill extremely fast. Your favorite “boutique” pet food could have their manufacturing location moved to Diamond Pet Foods, ground zero for many pet food recalls, after an ownership change and you wouldn’t know about the move unless you were keeping an extremely close watch on where your pet food is being manufactured.