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Blue Buffalo Food Fight Heats Up

Company faces claims of false advertising



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A year after Nestlé Purina filed suit against Blue Buffalo they have filed a response in court admitting that some of their products contained poultry by-product. But they have also accused the giant Swiss-based food conglomerate of launching a smear campaign against them.

This week Blue Buffalo put an open letter to its customers on its website to provide, “a quick update on the legal front.” In it they say that they are now suing suppliers who mislabeled ingredients that were shipped to their plants.

“As a result of this misconduct,” Blue Buffalo says in court documents, “some Blue Buffalo dry pet food products manufactured using the mislabeled ingredients contained poultry by-product meal.”

Blue Buffalo, of course, has made the fact that other companies used poultry by-product while they did not, a cornerstone of their marketing.

But then they launch into Nestlé Purina. “Unable to compete on the merits of its ingredients or products…Nestlé Purina has decided to launch a nationwide smear.”

They also attack what Nestlé Purina had claimed was independent testing of Blue Buffalo products, which had revealed that it contained by-product. “Its tests were conducted by a single individual working out of his basement who faked his credentials and whose methods and conclusions are utterly unreliable.”

Purina, not surprisingly, is not taking this lying down. Company spokesman Keith Schopp, quoted on petfoodindustry.com, said: “Despite this admission, Blue Buffalo has still 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.”

Blue Buffalo counters that Nestlé Purina’s flagship brand, Purina Dog Chow, lists corn as its first ingredient, along with corn gluten meal, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, and numerous artificial color additives and preservatives. And that Purina’s popular Beneful Original dog food’s first four ingredients are ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, and wheat flour; the product also contains propylene glycol (a preservative that is a key component in certain types of automotive antifreeze) and numerous artificial colors.

With the amounts involved expect this fight to go on. Schopp says Blue Buffalo spends $50 million a year on advertising while Blue Buffalo says, “Nestlé Purina is itself a corporate behemoth. It is the largest pet food company in the United States with a 33% market share, which is more than twice that of its next competitor.”

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