Monday, February 16, 2009

Chemicals in pet food Part 2: Marketing campaign indicates: Unhealthy, chemically enhanced pet nutrition is here to stay

A few weeks ago I started writing a comment titled Chemicals in pet food can lead to bad behavior, says top vet Part 1. It discussed efforts of researchers in England in an attempt to show that the chemicals currently being added into commercially available mass marketed pet foods are not just bad, but ultimately over the long run can be fatal for our pets. While the article talks about pet food on the European market, quite similar problems exist here on our own shores.
A marketing campaign started during the past couple weeks here in the States is currently making it into many expert blogs. It also got my attention and I figured this would be a good introduction to write today’s sequence on the subject of unhealthy pet food ingredients. I am talking about the “Pupperoni” dog treats. If you haven’t seen the commercials yet, help yourself here: While it is really no news that marketing and especially pet food marketing works on the emotions of pet owners, Sabine Contreras of “The Dog Food Project” asks straight forward on her home page: “Do you really want to feed this junk?” While studying the labels, she came up with the truth, which is simply that, except for one ingredient, which is (in only some of the various formulations) the first listed one on their ingredient listing and is a meat (how much of meat can there be in a treat), these treats appear to be made of nothing but unhealthy garbage, synthetic ingredients and chemicals. You notice that I changed Sabine’s “junk” to “garbage”. Here is an incomplete list of ingredients common to all flavors of the Pupperoni treats: Meat Byproducts, Soy Grits, Sugar, Liver, Salt, Propylene Glycol, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Natural Smoke Flavor, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Red 40, BHA, Onion Extract. Theoretically I could go on and list a lot more, but I think in general you get the picture.
Susan Thixton on her Truth About Pet Food site says in her “Pup-Peroni Dog Treats kicks off an $8M Advertising Campaign article”: “You decide about the quality of this soon to be highly advertised pet treat. Del Monte Foods, producer of Pup-Peroni Dog Treats announces an $8 million national ad campaign. Pup-Peroni Dog Treats is about to be advertised on televisions everywhere; Del Monte Foods is spending the largest amount of money ever on the treat. The new commercials “will highlight consumers’ strong conviction that their pets can communicate and empathize with them.” “This program also underscores the company’s commitment to making strategic investments in our key brands and to driving growth,” said Bill Pearce, Del Monte’s chief marketing officer.” I see, lets play the game of touching the pet owners’ soft spot to satisfy our need for growth, market position and increased shareholder value, all at the expense of these “oh, so cute” animals. Let me tell you, this company could care less about our “cute” animals. I am convinced after being fed this stuff for a while, those cute doggies will be having a lot of problems, but at least your vet will be happy and laughing all the way to his bank. I keep repeating, I have no problem with companies making money. That capability is substantial to the functionality of our great system. What I do have a problem with is how it is being done. If a company tries to achieve this goal by risking our own or our pets’ health then, at least in my opinion, that is wrong. The problem is that these people get away with what they are doing. The 2007 recall result: A settlement costing the manufacturers involved a lot of money, but really, was it enough? I don’t know. I am not talking about the irreplaceble fatalities. I am talking about the issue if there was a lesson learned. Apparently there is still enough money left that one of them is in a position to start a humangeous, senseless lawsuit against Wysong, a pioneer in the field of healthy, natural pet food. Others decide to just shut their doors before it is too late, like the Peanut Company Files for Bankruptcy. What an easy way out. I wish there would be that much creativity when it comes to creating healthy products. But then again, why? We Americans are forgiving and easily forget. Time heals wounds. Just as Susan Thixton says in “Pet Food (Industry) Must Think 2 Years is Sufficient Mourning Period”: “It’s been two years since the deadly 2007 pet food recall. We can assume pet food manufacturers feel it’s ‘time’ to shove their products in front of our faces again; two years must be their allowable mourning period after the deadliest pet food recall in history. Pedigree just spent $3 million for a 30 second Super Bowl commercial… Mars has handed over its Nutro Pet Food line to BBDO Worldwide, an advertising agency that’s been handling the campaigns for Cesar and Sheba pet foods. Purina advertising group Fallon Worldwide has been awarded an estimated $1 to $2 million campaign to promote Alpo dog food; Fallon currently works with Purina promoting Dog Chow and Purina One products. … Barely two years after the deadliest pet food recall in history, pet food advertising is gearing up to attract new customers. No new safety regulations have been developed, many pet food manufacturers continue to purchase ingredients from China. Nothing has changed, except now, the advertising.”
Enough of this, I made my point. Now, what’s really the problem with those ingredients, you may ask? Which ones are the problem ingredients I should stay away from and why? What reasons do the manufacturers have (aside the ones just noted) to distribute such dangerous goods? That’s what I wanted to talk about to begin with. But then I guess tonight I got carried away in a little different direction. So just be patient and stay tuned for more about unhealthy pet food ingredients to follow soon.

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