Purina: Where Honesty Is Our First Ingredient

For Immediate Release:

PURINA RESPONDS TO BLUE BUFFALO THIRD AMENDED COUNTERCLAIM

Statement of Keith Schopp
Spokesman, Purina PetCare

ST. LOUIS, MO (May 21, 2015) – Keith Schopp of Purina issued the following response to Blue Buffalo’s Third Amended Counterclaim in the false advertising lawsuit brought by Purina against Blue Buffalo in Federal District Court in St. Louis. On May 6, 2015, Blue Buffalo admitted in court that a “substantial” and “material” portion of Blue Buffalo pet food sold to consumers contained poultry by-product meal, despite pervasive advertising claims to the contrary:

“It is not a smear campaign to tell the truth and let consumers know what is actually in the pet food they are buying, nor to require a competitor to follow the law when advertising its products. But this is the classic Blue Buffalo playbook: deny responsibility, deflect attention, and distract the public from the truth.

“It is a sideshow designed by Blue Buffalo to deflect attention from a stunning admission: that over the past several years Blue Buffalo sold millions of bags of pet food that contained exactly what they said it did not. Through a $50 million annual advertising campaign that flooded airwaves and pet food aisles alike, Blue Buffalo told consumers over and over, emphatically and without qualification, that its products never contain by-product meal. This was false.

“We note that Blue Buffalo still hasn’t revealed to its own consumers how many bags of Blue Buffalo were affected, how long this mislabeling went on for, or if any of the mislabeled products are still on store shelves. Nor have they explained how they plan to compensate customers for the mislabeled product. Instead, they sit back and blame their suppliers, claiming they had no way of knowing the bags contained by-product meal. This, again, is not true. A manufacturer is responsible for knowing what’s in its product, and a simple audit of its supply chain would have revealed what we discovered after reviewing their documentation.

“By-products are a nutrient-rich ingredients that we proudly use in many Purina pet food products. This case is not about by-products. Truth-in-labeling and advertising is the issue. We once again urge Blue Buffalo to be transparent with the public and accept responsibility for its false advertising and mislabeling.”

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For Immediate Release:

A YEAR TO THE DAY AFTER BEING SUED, BLUE BUFFALO FINALLY ADMITS BY-PRODUCT MEAL IN A “SUBSTANTIAL” AND “MATERIAL” PORTION OF THEIR PET FOOD

Purina Sued Blue Buffalo for False Advertising; Evidence Developed In the Court Case Forces Blue Buffalo to Admit the Truth

ST. LOUIS, May 7, 2015 – Purina issued the following response to Blue Buffalo’s admission in court yesterday that a “substantial” and “material” portion of Blue Buffalo pet food sold to consumers contained poultry by-product meal, despite pervasive advertising claims to the contrary. Blue Buffalo asked the Court for additional time to file an Amended Complaint in the litigation, naming its ingredient suppliers as Defendants.

“Despite this admission, Blue Buffalo still has not informed consumers of the presence of poultry by-product meal in Blue Buffalo pet food, refuses to accept responsibility for the product it sold, and is instead blaming its suppliers,” said Keith Schopp, a spokesperson for Nestlé Purina Petcare.

On May 6, 2014, Purina filed a lawsuit against Blue Buffalo for false advertising after testing revealed the presence of poultry by-product meal in some of Blue Buffalo’s top selling pet foods. Blue Buffalo’s CEO responded by immediately claiming the testing was “Voodoo Science” and assuring their customers that “Blue Buffalo does not use chicken by-product meal or poultry by-product meal in any of our products.”

According to Schopp, “Only when faced with undeniable evidence from the lawsuit has Blue Buffalo admitted the truth to the court: a ‘substantial’ and ‘material’ portion of Blue Buffalo pet food sold over the past several years contained poultry by-product meal. It is unclear to us if or when this practice stopped, or whether any Blue Buffalo pet food containing by-product meal is still on store shelves.”

No small company, it is estimated that Blue Buffalo sells over a billion dollars of pet food at retail and well over 10 million bags annually.

“Through a $50 million annual advertising campaign that flooded airwaves and pet food aisles alike, Blue Buffalo told consumers over and over, emphatically and without qualification, that its products never contain poultry by-product meal,” said Schopp.

Blue Buffalo also attacked “big name pet food companies,” insinuating that they were somehow misleading consumers. Consumers paid a hefty premium for Blue Buffalo products based on these claims.

“Yet none of these claims were true,” said Schopp.

Schopp added: “Blue Buffalo now claims it had no way of knowing the bags contained by-product meal. A manufacturer is responsible for knowing what’s in its product, and a simple audit of its supply chain would have revealed what we discovered after reviewing the documentation.

“Blue Buffalo owes consumers an apology for all the false statements, false labels, and false advertising. More than this, it is time for Blue Buffalo to be transparent with the public and prove to their ‘pet parents’ that no mislabeled product remains on shelves.”

Relevant transcript excerpt from the May 6th hearing appears below.

About Nestlé Purina PetCare

Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Schopp
Nestlé Purina PetCare Company
(314) 982-2577
Keith.Schopp@purina.nestle.com
For more information: www.petfoodhonesty.com



UPDATE: On November 12, 2014, Judge Rodney Sippel of the U.S. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri accepted Purina's Amended Complaint, but decided that the cat litter claims added to the complaint should be brought as a separate lawsuit and not be included in the pet food false advertising case before the court. Purina has the right to file a separate lawsuit related to Blue Buffalo's litter advertising at any time. Based on the court's order, Purina filed its Amended Complaint, removing claims related to cat litter, on November 13, 2014.

For Immediate Release:

PURINA EXPANDS CLAIMS OF FALSE ADVERTISING AGAINST BLUE BUFFALO TO INCLUDE PET TREATS AND CAT LITTER

In an amended complaint, Purina makes available results of new testing and earlier independent testing that showed presence of poultry by-product meals, grains and corn in many of Blue Buffalo’s best-selling products. The new testing shows Blue Buffalo is not being honest in claims for dog treats, cat litter and its LifeSource Bits, as detailed in the amended complaint.

ST. LOUIS, MO (September 19, 2014) – Amid continued questions about the honesty of Blue Buffalo’s advertising practices, Nestlé 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,” said Steven Crimmins, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Nestlé 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 Nestlé Purina PetCare Company v. Blue Buffalo Company Ltd., Civil Case No. 4:14-cv-00859.

A copy of the amended complaint, and other key information regarding the lawsuit can also be found at www.petfoodhonesty.com.

About Purina

Purina promotes responsible pet care, humane education, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. The North American headquarters for Nestlé Purina PetCare is located at Checkerboard Square in St. Louis, Mo., where the company was founded more than a century ago.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Schopp
Nestlé Purina PetCare Company
(314) 982-2577
Keith.Schopp@purina.nestle.com
For more information: www.petfoodhonesty.com



For Immediate Release:

PURINA SUES BLUE BUFFALO FOR FALSE ADVERTISING AND DISPARAGEMENT

Independent testing shows Blue Buffalo is not being honest about its ingredients

ST. LOUIS, MO (May 6, 2014) – Nestlé Purina PetCare Company (Purina) today announced that it has filed a lawsuit in federal court in St. Louis against The Blue Buffalo Company Ltd., for false advertising, disparagement and unjust enrichment – including violations of the Federal Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. §1125(a)).

A copy of the complaint and exhibits can be found at a website Purina has created to highlight its concerns: www.petfoodhonesty.com.

“This is not an action we take lightly,” said Steven Crimmins, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Nestlé Purina. “We believe consumers deserve honesty when it comes to the ingredients in the food they choose to feed their pets.”

“Our commitment to owners and their pets is not a marketing ploy or advertising slogan,” Crimmins added. “At Purina, what goes in the bag goes on the label.”

Blue Buffalo’s promotion, advertising and packaging repeatedly and unequivocally state that its pet food products contain “NO Chicken/Poultry By-Product Meals.” In its complaint, Purina alleges that testing conducted by an independent laboratory revealed that several of Blue Buffalo’s top-selling “Life Protection” pet food products contained significant percentages of poultry by-product meal. Testing was done from samples of multiple formulas of Blue Buffalo pet food purchased at retail stores on both the East and West Coasts. Further details on the testing can be found in the complaint.

Further details on the testing can be found in the complaint.

The complaint also alleges that testing shows 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, despite Blue Buffalo stating on its website that its “grain-free” products will “free your pet from the grains and glutens that cause allergic reactions in some dogs.”

The complaint estimates that Blue Buffalo spent approximately $50 million in 2013 to promote its claims that Blue Buffalo ingredients are superior to competitors. As a result, Blue Buffalo charges premium prices for its products – significantly more than the pet food products they use for comparison purposes on the Blue Buffalo website.

The lawsuit follows a March 2014 decision of the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which found that Blue Buffalo is engaging in misleading advertising practices with respect to its claims about competing products. The NAD decision recommended that Blue Buffalo correct its television ad campaigns by removing all of its allegations that Blue Buffalo’s competitors are misleading consumers.

A copy of the NAD decision was attached as an exhibit to the Purina complaint.

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. By contrast, 100 percent of Blue Buffalo pet food is outsourced to third-party manufacturers.

Purina’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis. The case is Nestlé Purina PetCare Company v. Blue Buffalo Company Ltd., Civil Case No. 4:14-cv-00859.

About Purina

Purina promotes responsible pet care, humane education, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. The North American headquarters for Nestlé Purina PetCare is located at Checkerboard Square in St. Louis, Mo., where the company was founded more than a century ago.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Schopp
Nestlé Purina PetCare Company
(314) 982-2577
Keith.Schopp@purina.nestle.com
For more information: www.petfoodhonesty.com