Purina Lawsuit: Is Beneful Dog Food Harmful to Dogs?

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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.

Ingredients

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):

Protein: 27%

Fat: 12%

Carbohydrates: 54%

 

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.
 

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36 Comments

  1. Great post! I can’t believe people just buy that crap without looking at what’s in it!
    Lauren Miller recently posted…Zoe Didn’t Feel Like Fetching!My Profile

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the food. I can’t stand this food, we have so many client dogs on it and try to educate them that it isn’t a good food but people think it’s pretty and good for them. I think they are going to have a hard time proving the dog food was the reason for some of the animals problems unless testing was done and they came up with some proof. We had a client call us and ask about this and that she was feeding her dog it and should she stop….well that’s for you to decide, if your at all concerned then yes you should pick another food, never mind the fact that you should pick another food because this food really is the most nutrient food for your pet. Hmmm not sure why she needed to call for that.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Tuesdays Tail’s~Ben The Chessie At CRROWMy Profile

  3. I wonder why the commercials are still on tv… I saw it yesterday… so tasty. so healthy. so happy.
    I better look twice on the backside of the packages…
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MISCHIEF MOANDAYMy Profile

  4. We’ve been irritated by the advertising of this product for so long. They make it sound like the most wonderful healthy food around yet it was obviously not for anyone who reads packaging. It is a shame so many pet parents don’t know any better and feed the junk foods to their pets.
    Emma recently posted…Does Squirrel Taste Like ChickenMy Profile

  5. I was leery of this one from the first time I saw an ad for it. I’ll just say I’m not a fan and leave it at that.
    houndstooth4 recently posted…Separation Anxiety In HumansMy Profile

  6. It’s worrying that somany of the big brands of dog food don’t really have the right ingredients for us doggies
    Misaki recently posted…SnoopervisingMy Profile

  7. When our vet first mentioned that Ducky needed to be on the prescription food for her issues, I nearly choked reading the ingredients lists. But the Beneful has always been suspect in my mind, even before I started reading the labels, if for no other reason than the artificial coloring agents. Like you said — dogs don’t care what color their food is. But I sure do if it has to be dyed to look “pretty”!
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Lazy Sunday MorningMy Profile

  8. Excellent post ~ it would NEVER occur to me in my wildest dreams to feed my pups a dog food containing artificial coloring, meat by-poducts without the source mentioned, and CERTAINLY not containing 54% of fiber! That’s ridiculous ~ we feed kibble containing no more than 4% in fiber.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…March Pet Events ~ Professional Pet Sitters Week, National Poison Prevention & More!My Profile

  9. You know, it’s funny, but I suppose not so funny, ALL the time on my FB group, people are always saying, my dogs has runny poops, or isn’t feeling well or this or that, and one of the first questions I always ask is, “what food are you using?” Their response? At least 8 times out of 10 it is Beneful.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…How to teach your dog to “Go to bed”My Profile

  10. Manufactures put food colors in the food to catch the eye of the buyer. They want to make our food look delicious. They do the same to human food. Many people, including my ma have a food color allergy. I would think that dogs could have the same reaction.
    If ma eats anything with yellow #5 or #6, it affects her heart rate to the point that she passes out. This is one of the reason that she makes sure that none of our foods have food color in it. Not for her safety but for ours.
    I do wish that food makers would make a chewy food that was good for us. There are dogs like sissy spaniel who are older (12-13 yrs) who don’t enjoy hard kibble or canned food. Sure we can mix them together to soften the food but she doesn’t like it.
    Carma Allen recently posted…BW- The WatcherMy Profile

  11. Great approach to the Beneful debate! If this were a healthy dog food brand that was accused of being harmful it might be worth debating, but anyone feeding this food should consider switching to a healthier alternative anyway.
    Elaine recently posted…Do Dogs Get Spring Fever?My Profile

  12. I cringe when I see these dog food commercials. I’ve never been a big fan of their food and looking at the ingredient list makes me like them even less. I think back in the day Purina may have been a good choice (when there were like only three or four brands available) and I think a lot of people are still stuck in that thought process.
    Jodi recently posted…The Snow Banks are Made of BreadMy Profile

  13. I have my doubts about the lawsuit (these class action suits tend to really only benefit the lawyers), but whether or not this food actually killed dogs, or if they can prove it, there is obviously nothing healthy about it. I hope the lawsuit at least brings that to light, and has people that feed this to their dogs questioning it. I have friends who feed it to their dogs and I have told them time and again that it’s garbage, but they choose not to listen. I really just can’t believe that people are sucked in by the pretty colors.
    Jan K recently posted…Fighting K9 Cancer Through Healthy LivingMy Profile

  14. I’ve had this conversation recently with someone that was feeding their dog this crap – I can’t even call it food. I think some people just want to believe what they want to believe. It’s amusing to me how many people know that I am really conscientious about what I feed Blueberry, how I train her, exercise her, etc and so they will come to me for advice. And then if what I tell them sounds too hard or too different from what they’ve been taught, they ignore me. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, nor try to convince anyone of that. So why do they ask if they don’t want sound advice? I wish people would stop to think about the fact that some of these companies spend a LOT of money trying to convince us of how great their product is. If it really is that great, it will speak for itself. That’s like the commercials that try and convince people certain sugary cereals are health or chips are wonderful and should be eaten all the time. Most commercials encourage the general population to do really unhealthy things. It would be nice to see people wake up and smarten up.

    I get that not everyone can afford the really top tier dog foods and will buy the best they can. But really? Beneful is right down there with Ol’ Roy (another truly awful dog “food”).

    Sorry, rant over.
    Blueberry’s human recently posted…Blue SkiesMy Profile

    • No problem – we’re glad to give folks a forum to rant 🙂 You are exactly right though, people ask for advice, but what they really want is validation that what they are doing is fine. HOpe this wakes some folks up.
      mkob recently posted…Purina Lawsuit: Is Beneful Dog Food Harmful to Dogs?My Profile

  15. So many popular dog foods are just full of crappy ingredients. As consumers, we really need to learn how to understand the food labels for kibble. I work with people on understanding nutrition labels and to start we always focus on the first five ingredients (since labels go in order from highest to lowest quantity – as you know). If a non-nutritious ingredient is in the top five, we avoid that product. This helps in the beginning as it can be overwhelming to learn how to read labels. The same practice can be applied to a dog food label to help people be more aware of what they are feeding their dog.
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…Look Who’s Happy All Year LongMy Profile

  16. You are absolutely right. Pet owners need to read labels. Many only look at the price tag. It’s unfortunate. I urge anyone who wants a dog to educate themselves on nutrition, training, and exercise. Our pets rely on us for life. It’s the least we can do.

  17. I’m torn between thinking this is a way for some lawyer to get rich and that Purina has produced a harmful product.
    jan recently posted…I have Walter Mitty type daydreams about running the IditarodMy Profile

  18. Check out Blue Buffalo brand. It has species appropriate nutrition without the fillers, colorings, sugars, etc. My Gracie is 9 and acts like a puppy on BB Healthy Weight.
    Patty Dayton recently posted…SlimDoggy | Mischief MondayMy Profile

  19. I shared something about this suit on FB not too long ago, and was surprised when a college friend reached out – totally unaware and confessed that not only was she feeding her dog Beneful but after reading the article linked to what I sent out, her dog was/has exhibited most of those symptoms. Scary stuff….

  20. Unbelievable that the propylene glycol is listed right there. Oh my… My dog, R, was poisoned at the time of the whole melamine fiasco while eating a high quality kibble – but that one wasn’t on the labels. It took 18 months for his blood work to return to normal. He’s been on a home-cooked diet ever since.

    Did you read the study of the genes for production of digestive enzymes, comparing wolves and domestic dogs? It was interesting because domestic dogs have evolved rapidly so that they have many times more production of enzymes that digest carbs than wolves have. It shows (I think) that dogs can digest carbs better than we might think. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that having a carb-based food is a good idea.
    KB recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – The Snow EditionMy Profile

  21. I avoid any food from Purina. And as I’ve shared with other bloggers, my daughter got a free bag of Purina’s “premium” food (she works at a vet office) and passed it on to us. Within three days our dog Kasey developed a reeking doggy stench. I promptly threw the rest of the freebie away, went back to our high quality food, and the odor disappeared again. I just have to think something in that food was not right.
    Amy recently posted…World Wildlife Day 2015!My Profile

  22. It is really frightening that consumers are bamboozled by food product ads, both animal and human. It is hard to know what is edible anymore. But it sure won’t be Purina or Nestle products for us!
    Ruth Cox recently posted…Dogs are Winners for Good ReasonsMy Profile

  23. It is frustrating that it takes something like this to make consumers more aware of what they’re feeding their dogs – but I suppose at the end of the day if this raises awareness it can be seen as a positive. Hopefully more pet owners will do a bit of research before choosing their pet food. I was really disturbed by what I saw at my local pet store this week; there’s a donation center for a local rescue and there were no less than 10 bags of Beneful in there that had been donated.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…13 Fruits & Veggies That Make Great Dog Training TreatsMy Profile

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