Nutro Pet Foods: Toxic Zinc? Toxic Denial?

For many consumers, pet food company transparency is key to earning trust in their products. Pet owners want honest answers to direct questions – not the runaround “We can’t tell you, that’s proprietary info” which companies used to get away with prior to the 2007 recalls. Despite this, and in response to a mounting body of complaint evidence against their foods, Nutro’s mantra seems to be: deny, deny, deny.

Here’s an overview of Nutro complaints and responses:

A July 2007 story about an owner who requested vet bill reimbursement from Nutro after her dog (who was fed Nutro) died. Nutro denied the claim.

ConsumerAffairs.com wondered if there is any link between reports of sick/dead pets who ate Nutro foods and the foods themselves in a series of articles starting April 18, 2008, with updates on June 23 and August 6, 2008. In addition, the site has been collecting ongoing consumer experiences with Nutro foods, many of which describe pets who became ill while eating Nutro products but recovered after the owner switched to a different brand.

On August 14, 2008 Pet Food Products Safety Alliance (PFPSA) posted an update detailing independent lab test results they received on Nutro foods which reveal excess copper and zinc.
Their lab results are available in pdf here and here.

Nutro has responded to Consumer Affairs postings of pet illness/death and PFPSA’s test results on their website. They basically state that all the food is fine, never has been a problem and they have lab test results to prove it. Notably absent: the lab test results which prove it. Hmm.

PFPSA responds to Nutro’s website posting and asks concerned pet owners to compare the complaints posted at Consumer Affairs with the symptoms of zinc toxicity and decide if they are consistent.

As pet owners, all of us need to form our own opinions based on the facts as we can obtain them. It’s challenging enough to filter out possible bias on both sides so I for one am grateful to PFSPA for posting their independent lab test results. This gives me something solid to examine which I can consider to be at least somewhat free of bias. Nutro, if you have independent lab test results which document that your foods do not contain excess copper and zinc, I know many of us would love to see them. Got a scanner?

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