Pet food consumer Robin T. recently shared with me her experience of purchasing Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free cat food from Petsmart. The problem…when she got home and opened the bag, the kibble was completely different. Small dark brown kibble typical of Blue Freedom Grain Free was suddenly ‘X’ and heart shaped light brown kibble. Here’s the story and the response from all parties.
Pet food consumer Robin T purchased a bag of Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free on 2/12/13 – in Texas. The Blue Buffalo website shows this image of the pet food:
But this is the picture Robin T sent me of the Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free she stated was purchased at Petsmart:
Bad gets worse. Robin T returned the food to Petsmart. She shared the store manager and another employee “recognized it as Fancy Feast” – in a Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free bag.
Robin T has cats that have serious issues with a cat food including grain. She informed Petsmart and Blue Buffalo “I for one have a stroke survivor kitty and another prone to crystals that need to have grain free food, so had I been unfamiliar with the shape of the food, my cats could have had significant health related issues with the substitute since in their cases, Fancy Feast Dry can be a death sentence for them if fed on a regular basis.”
Petsmart told Robin this issue “will be investigate both at the store level and at the manufacturing plant. Furthermore, we have received no other reports of this, and do not expect it is part of a larger issue.” Blue Buffalo told Robin “I’m sorry to hear about your recent experience. I do appreciate the product information you provided and have sent it to our QA Team for further research.”
Robin T shared this story with me Wednesday February 20, 2013. Thursday February 21, 2013 I happened to be attending the Global Pet Expo (pet food trade show) in Orlando, Florida. So…I went to the Blue Buffalo booth and asked them about this incident.
When the story was explained, the Blue Buffalo representative in the booth told me “we don’t live in a perfect world”. He explained that perhaps the die at the end of the extruder wasn’t locked in properly, perhaps some of this kibble was pressing out the side of the die.
Me: No, this was a lighter color, ‘X’ and heart shaped kibble – it was a formed kibble in a completely different shape.
Blue: “accidents happen”.
Me: Yes, they do. But doesn’t this scare the begebees out of you? (yes…I used the word begebees).
Blue: “Well, it’s like cars, they break down.”
Kim Kalendar of Murphy’s Pet Food – friend and fellow pet food safety advocate – was with me at the Blue Buffalo booth. Kim stated to the Blue Buffalo representative “Yes, but this isn’t the attitude you have in your marketing to consumers – that accidents happen. Pet foods advertising is far from accidents happen.” The Blue Buffalo representative gave us the same ‘accidents happen/no body’s perfect’ response.
I ended the conversation with…Ok, I just thought you would want to be aware of this situation, I felt this was a serious issue Blue would want to know about. The Blue representative promised he would investigate and provide Robin T will a full explanation.
So what did happen with this pet food?
Not knowing for certain, we can only assume that the wrong kibble – not a Blue Buffalo kibble was packaged in a Blue bag by a co-packer. Blue Buffalo stated to me “they use multiple co-packers (other manufacturers) for their pet foods.” It could be that one of the co-packers makes an ‘X’ and heart shaped kibble and packaged the wrong food in a Blue bag.
Something to remember for everyone…
Each bag of kibble (or can or fresh frozen or raw or treats) that you purchase, make certain the food looks the same and smells the same as the previous one. If anything is different – caution flags should arise. Don’t feed the food – that looks or smells different to your pet. Call the manufacturer and ask if the formula has changed or shape of the food has changed. Report the food change to the FDA and to your State Department of Agriculture as well.
Accidents do happen. And some accidents could cost you the life of your pet. Thanks to Robin for sharing her story with us. It could be a life saver for many.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Association for Truth in Pet Food
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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