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Purina files Litigation Against Blue Buffalo for Deceptive Advertising

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:

  1. Blue Buffalo is not being honest with consumers about the true ingredients of Blue Buffalo products.
  2. 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)
    25%, 24%

    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.

  3. 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.
  4. Blue Buffalo even has a staff of salespeople who dress similarly to pet store employees and approach consumers in pet store parking lots…
  5. 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.
  6. In actuality, Blue Buffalo’s “LifeSource Bits” do not contain enough nutrients to effectively deliver the claimed health benefits.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

The important consideration for Freckled Paws customers is Blue Buffalo Grain Free recipes DO NOT meet the “Grain Free” diet we recommend for our canine discoid lupus clients.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Christine October 9, 2014, 12:56 pm

    I hate to say this but I disagree with much of what you said. I worked for Blue for almost two years, and I found them to be a great company to work for and as far as I am concerned Purina peddles garbage of the worst kind. I was thinking of purchasing your products but after reading this I have changed my mind. Sorry you lost a customer.

    • Bob Sherman October 9, 2014, 1:32 pm


      Difficult to respond as you do not specify what you disagree with in the article. Blue Buffalo being a good company to work for has no relevance. Also, I never said anything about Purina or the quality of their product. I simply reported the facts of the story.

      I would be doing a disservice to pet owners if I did not mention that over 50% of dog foods were inaccurate in their labeling in an independent study. The pet food industry is an unregulated mess where it appears to be totally acceptable to outright lie about ingredients etc. It is also a fact that once a high quality dog food brand sells the quality frequently goes downhill.

      We used to feed Solid Gold. They sold and almost immediately had to issue a recall, for the first time. Brands build up good reputations and parley that into lucrative sales prices to larger companies which frequently use cheaper ingredients, possibly move the manufacturing location (Solid Gold went to Diamond Pet Foods, the source of many recalls) and maybe even change the recipe.

      My main issue with Blue Buffalo is their response to the media. Purina did not do the testing, an independent lab did the testing. Reading Blue’s response, you would think Purina did the testing and fudged the outcome. I find Blue’s advertising to be just as deceptive as their response to the legal action. I suppose this is the part you disagree with as it is the only portion of the article where I write anything other than simple reporting of the facts.

      I do find it disturbing that you would allow your dog to suffer by not using our product due to not agreeing with this article. If your dog has lupus, good luck…if you can afford $25 per day, Protopic is your only other solution other than our product. It works, though. Don’t waste your time, money and hope on anything else.


    • Bob Sherman October 26, 2014, 3:38 pm

      Blue admits to misrepresentation. The following is taken from discussion on LinkedIn:

      Is it enough that Blue now simply says sorry?

      Blue has formally acknowledged that indeed their foods may have contained products which were not advertised or declared on their packaging.

      This, on the back of further evidence of wide scale misrepresentation in other pet foods, suggests that things may be ready for a shake up.

      How does Blue redeem their brand when this supplier is the same source of earlier problems for Blue? What will it take for YOU retailers, service providers and marketers to confidently recommend the brand to your clients?

      Your thoughts?

      The pet food business is a mess. Especially when consumers cannot trust product labeling to be accurate. Even the business we are in is out of control. Several “All Natural” brands have been exposed mislabeling, some even adding the drugs they are supposed to be replacing.

      Until there is accountability for their actions, pet product dishonest manufacturers will continue to place profit over product quality, safety and truth in advertising, consumers and their furkids will pay the price. The FDA obviously can’t handle the job taxpayers fund it to accomplish.

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