Purina Lawsuit: Is Beneful Dog Food Harmful to Dogs?
In case you haven’t heard the news, Purina was recently named in a class action law suit due to alleged harm caused by its Beneful dog food product line. CNN.com has a good summary of the suit here.
Historically, there have been many consumer complaints about Beneful products. The customer complaint website Consumer Affairs contains over eight hundred complaints by pet owners whose pets have developed seizures, diarrhea, skin problems and even liver failure, allegedly after eating Beneful dog foods.
This suit focuses on the ingredient propylene glycol (used in anti-freeze, and in pet food as a sweetener and moisture enhancer, among other things) and mycotoxins, a toxic grain mold. Now, I do not want to play judge and jury here and I would imagine that legally proving this case will take some doing even with the high volume of consumer complaints about Beneful, both historically and as part of this suit.
However, I think it is worth looking at the Beneful product line and examining the ingredients that Purina puts into this food. Is it really, as Purina spokesperson Keith Schopp claims, “a high-quality nutritious food”?
Beneful Original Dry Dog Food
First, let’s look at the ingredients, as reported by Purina, and the dry matter estimate of macronutrients of the Beneful Original Dry Dog Food.
Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, rice flour, beef, soy flour, meat and bone meal, propylene glycol, sugar, tricalcium phosphate, salt, phosphoric acid, potassium chloride, animal digest, sorbic acid (a preservative), mono and dicalcium phosphate, dried spinach, dried peas, dried carrots, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, Red 40, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, Blue 2, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.
Dry matter basis estimates (self-calculated):
Lawsuit notwithstanding, this food does not appear to be a species appropriate diet for a dog. Dogs are carnivorous (although some classify them as omnivores), and their bodies are meant to eat diets high in animal based proteins, moderate in fat, and low in carbohydrates. Yet, we see that this food contains twice as many calories from carbs as protein.
As far as the ingredients are concerned, this food is made up of mostly fillers, like corn and corn gluten meal, wheat flour, rice flour and soy flour. The meat proteins include chicken byproducts and, finally, beef, which is the 7th ingredient listed. Also included are meat and bone meal (what kind of meat?), and animal fat and animal digest (what kind of animals?).
Besides propylene glycol, this “high quality” food also includes sugar, and not one, not two, not three, but four artificial colorings. Yes, artificial colorings, even though dogs don’t care what color their food is.
What am I missing here? How is this dog food recipe species appropriate for dogs? How could one classify this as a high quality and nutritious dog food product?
Love your Dog? Look at the Dog Food Ingredients!
At the end of the day, dog owners are responsible for the health and well being of their pets. And they have every right to trust that a pet food company will sell foods that are safe for their dog to eat. We shall see how the courts decide on this in the current lawsuit.
With that said, it seems that there are far too many pet owners who don’t take the time to do their research on the food they are feeding their pets. Rather, they assume that the marketing pitches and pictures of active dogs on the labels and commercials mean that a food is appropriate and devoid of anything that might have a negative effect on their dog. Although there is really no way for a dog owner to know if mycotoxins are lurking in their dog’s food, they can certainly take the time to research the ingredients and macronutrient profile of their dog’s food before serving it. In this case, ignorance is NOT bliss.
We're joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol's Notes: