Amid continued questions about the honesty of Blue Buffalo’s advertising practices, Nestle Purina PetCare Company (Purina) last night filed an amended complaint in its false advertising lawsuit against the company, alleging additional false advertising in the marketing of Blue Buffalo’s pet food, treats and cat litter.
In a follow-up to Purina’s original May 6 false advertising lawsuit, the amended complaint includes new testing showing that:
- Despite intensive advertising to the contrary, Blue Buffalo’s touted “LifeSource Bits” actually have lower levels of some key nutrients than the standard kibble found in Blue Buffalo pet food.
- Blue Buffalo’s claims that its cat litter products have “three times the absorption power” of the leading clay-based litter, and “1.5X-8.5X More Odor Control” than leading clumping litter, are also false and misleading against Purina’s litter products.
In addition, the amended complaint highlights the fact that Blue Buffalo’s own ingredient listings show that its “Jolly Joints” dog treats contain inadequate levels of glucosamine to provide the joint and hip health benefits they claim.
“Pet owners deserve more than just ‘smoke and mirrors’ when it comes to the food they feed their pets,” saidSteven Crimmins, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Nestle Purina. “Sadly, the closer you look at Blue Buffalo’s advertising claims, the more you realize that it’s not about an honest relationship with pet owners.”
“Testing shows the nutrition in the LifeSource bits isn’t what Blue claims it is,” Crimmins continued. “For many key nutritional components for their pets, owners would be better off without the LifeSource Bits.”
As to dog treats, the amended complaint alleges that a medium-sized dog would have to eat hundreds of Jolly Joints treats a day to get the health benefits Blue Buffalo promises based upon published research. “There’s nothing ‘jolly’ about that,” Crimmins said.
In conjunction with the filing of a second amended complaint in U.S. Federal Court in St. Louis, Purina also released the results of earlier independent testing of Blue Buffalo pet foods, which showed the presence of poultry by-product meals, grains and corn in some of its best-selling products. The preliminary report, by Windsor Laboratories of Mechanicsburg, Pa., can be found on a website Purina created to provide information about the lawsuit: petfoodhonesty.com. 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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The new amended complaint comes just weeks after an appellate panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) upheld the March 25, 2014, NAD decision determining that Blue Buffalo’s advertising claims targeting other pet food companies were unsupported and recommending Blue Buffalo discontinue and/or modify such claims. In response, Blue Buffalo stated that it will abide by the NARB and NAD recommendations in future advertisements and has already revamped its “True Blue Test.”
Purina’s complaint estimates that Blue Buffalo spent approximately $50 million in 2013 – and will spend that or more in 2014 – to advertise its claims that Blue Buffalo ingredients are superior to competitors. Blue Buffalo is majority owned by Invus Group, a $4 billion private equity firm with offices in New York, Paris and Hong Kong.
Purina has been a leading provider of pet food and pet care products for more than 85 years, and Purina pet food is quality- and safety-checked multiple times before it is sold. Purina also maintains strict quality control over its manufacturing process – 99 percent of Purina pet food sold in the United States is manufactured at Purina plants in the United States.
The case is Nestle Purina PetCare Company v. Blue Buffalo Company Ltd., Civil Case No. 4:14-cv-00859.
A copy of the amended complaint, test results and other key information regarding the lawsuit can be found athttp://petfoodhonesty.com/.