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May 23, 2014
Pet Food Wars: Purina vs Blue Buffalo
Recently (5-6-14) the multibillion dollar pet food giant Purina, sued their billion dollar pet food rival, Blue Buffalo. The suit alleges false advertising, commercial disparagement, and unjust enrichment. Purina claims that Blue Buffalo has built their business on a platform of "dishonesty and deception." Each of the four bulleted "promises" in the "TRUE BLUE PROMISE," is false or misleading, according to the suit.
Purina says that Blue Buffalo (backed/owned by Invus investment group) spends some fifty million dollars in advertising and has a fleet of salespeople who dress like clerks in pet food stores. In support of the idea that Blue Buffalo’s products are misbranded and adulterated, Purina references the fact that Blue Buffalo does not actually manufacture their own products. Further, that Blue Buffalo's advertising besmirches competitors by leading consumers to believe that companies other than Blue Buffalo hide the truth.
Purina takes particular issue with Blue Buffalo's central theme of no by-products, no corn, etc. Purina says that not only do Blue Buffalo products have by-products and other ingredients they say they do not, but Blue Buffalo presents no evidence that by-products are somehow deleterious and not nutritionally beneficial. Purina points out that Blue Buffalo has built a billion dollar company on this claim that has no factual support. (Click here to see Wysong's position on such claims.)
In addition, similar issues are taken with Blue Buffalo's "LifeSource" (a trademarked name Blue "borrowed" from Wysong—see our packaging below) bits.
Wysong LifeSource product line founded in 1985; Blue Buffalo was founded in 2002
Blue Buffalo says these LifeSource bits are "cold formed," evidently to give the impression of raw, but will not identify what they mean by" cold." (Anything processed above 118 degrees, the temperature at which enzymes are inactivated, is not cold.)
Curiously absent in the suit thus far is Blue Buffalo's use of patented probiotic technology (a patent Blue Buffalo does not hold) without any apparent indication of licensing. (Patent infringement is illegal and puts anyone who sells or uses such products at legal risk.)
Purina argues that Blue Buffalo's consumer pricing is inflated, given the actual cost of ingredients – "ultra premium prices built on...false attributes," as the Purina suit says.
In their suit, Purina points out that Blue Buffalo has also been challenged by Hills (3-11-14) in a complaint to the National Advertising Department (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Purina says that Blue Buffalo by and large ignored the NAD ruling against them.
Purina is invoking the Lanham Act and other legal remedies to force Blue Buffalo to pay attention; Blue Buffalo is at risk of disgorgement (giving up) all profits and a treble award for damages, costs, and attorney fees. (Lawyers are always sure winners in such battles regardless of outcomes, and the millions that will likely be spent by both sides in this matter ultimately end up in the cost of products to consumers.)
Blue Buffalo is moving toward an IPO offering (becoming a publicly traded stock company), which, according to reports (prior to the Purina suit), could double the company's value. Blue Buffalo's financial risk plus the damage to their reputation and IPO offering could threaten the very existence of the company. But Purina appears unsympathetic; taking the position that Blue Buffalo's advertising has irreparably damaged Purina and could potentially destroy it and other pet food companies.
Blue Buffalo has countersued, claiming that Purina's claims are false and that the suit is nothing more than an attempt by Purina to use defamation and its fleet of lawyers to stifle competition. Blue Buffalo says Purina is being hypocritical and points to one of Purina's products in which the "front of the bag features real beef, chicken or fish, while the ingredient listing features corn and chicken by-product meal as the leading ingredients..."
People are increasingly suspicious of pet foods, even more so than human foods. We make both human and animal foods and letters of concern about pet products outnumber those for human products by a factor of about 50!
This is primarily because people have bought into the myth of "100% Complete and Balanced" pet foods and are feeding processed products exclusively, making people totally dependent... and vulnerable. This, and the Internet where anyone can be an expert, generates endless urban legends based on paranoia rather than facts.
A new pet food company springs up almost every week with a new angle to scare consumers into buying their products. Most such companies are begun by someone with a story about how their pet was sick and they tried every brand to no avail. So they cooked up something in the kitchen and, like magic, their pet was cured.
There is only one solution. Consumers, who are not billionaires, must get informed. Not with snappy sound bites, beguiling images, popular trends, or scary tales. Any criterion you use to choose foods for you, your family, or pet must be based on evidence and logic, and no food should ever be fed EXCLUSIVELY. That is the only path to truth and the only way you can be a wise steward of health.
On a related note, there have now been about 6000 dog illnesses and 1000 dog deaths due to feeding certain dog treats. Some cats have been affected and three human illnesses have also been linked to eating the treats. This has been going on since 2013 and the FDA still has not been able to identify the cause.
Most of the treats were made in China and some of them were under a Purina label – which, of course, Blue Buffalo is pointing out in their rebuttal to the Purina suit.
Obviously, foods made in China cannot be trusted. But neither can any food produced anywhere be guaranteed safe. Danger lurks everywhere, even in your backyard garden and chicken coop. Moreover, what is safe for one, may not be safe for another. And, neither can U.S. technology be relied upon since, even with the limitless resources of the FDA, they are still flummoxed as to the cause.
The only solution is to not feed any one food continuously – no matter where it comes from – since it is the dose that makes the poison and nobody can know for sure what poisons (natural or synthetic) lurk within foods.
Variety, rotation, fresh foods and competent companies committed to health, not just the market, is the only prudent course.
The Wysong Directory of Alternative Resources is a guide to alternative sources of health care, self-improvement, environmental improvement and much more. Over 335 Resources. This is where you turn when you have a problem that is not being solved, want an alternative medical second opinion, and want help getting control of your own health destiny. Updated weekly and currently over 60 pages front and back.
Below is a sampling of the helpful resources you can use to take control of your own health destiny, listed in the Wysong Resource Directory:
I was very upset to hear this about Blue Buffalo and HOPE it isn't true. Wonder why there is no agency to see what pet food manufacturers are really putting in their pet food to see if they are lying or not. I feed Blue Buffalo dry and some of their cans, but I do rotate flavors and other brands of canned food on a daily basis, as your article suggests. However, we still need someone policing the issue.
The Wysong Healthletter is now well into its third decade of continuous publication. It is offered free to help you make a better you and a better world.
I long ago came to realize that the most worthy role of any doctor is to teach people how not to need them. This led me away from practice where treating symptoms is the primary tool and a misinformed public has come to expect magic bullet cures. But no disease is ever caused by the lack of a drug, and no treatment—save that for trauma or defect—ever improves an organism. Medical intervention is, in fact, now the number one cause of death and suffering in our modern world.
Illness, in large part, comes from wrong thinking. Health requires an open-minded, fact-based philosophy of life and an ambition to make yourself the best you can be. Thoughtlessly following convention and laziness are irreconcilable with health.
Wellness requires a deep respect for the great unknowns of life and the power of natural healing forces. Pretending that we can command nature and that the body is a mere machine that can be manipulated with impunity by "experts" is an illusion of both professionals and the public.
So it is my hope that this newsletter will help you to take control of your own health destiny, trust the healing powers within and in nature, and understand that ultimately wellbeing is about what you do to yourself, not what someone else can do to you.
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Disclaimer: This information has been created solely for educational purposes. It is the sharing of knowledge gained through decades of Dr. Wysong's experience and research. Dr. Wysong and others at the Wysong organization are not engaged in giving medical advice or services. The information provided is not to be construed as a relationship of diagnostician/prescriber (Wysong) and patient (you), but as educator (Wysong) and information seeker (you). Wysong information is not intended as medical advice or to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. The reader understands that everything done or tried as a result from reading this information or anything on the related websites is at his or her own risk. Dr. Wysong and his staff shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage or injury caused, or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information provided. It is fully the reader's choice as to how they act or don't act upon the educational information Wysong presents.
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