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Petco Plans to Stop Selling Food and Treats with Artificial Ingredients


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By May 2019, Petco will no longer sell food and treats containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives for dogs and cats.

“Since our first store opened in 1965, Petco has been dedicated to ensuring the well-being of pets,” said Ron Coughlin, CEO of Petco, which has U.S. headquarters in San Diego. “That commitment continues today, with our decision to not carry food and treats for dogs and cats containing artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. Some may question whether this makes good business sense, but putting pets' health first has always been the right thing to do for Petco. 

“This is both a major step forward for pets and a natural next step on our journey to become a complete partner in total pet wellness,” he added. 

In January 2019, Petco will begin removing dog and cat foods and treats with artificial ingredients, both from store shelves and e-commerce, with a commitment to complete the process by May 2019. Some of the more than 40 artificial ingredients Petco is eliminating include FD&C Red No. 3, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated hytroxytoluene (BHT), Glycerol tributyrate and benzaldehyde, among others.

“We’re inviting pet food companies to join us on this journey, even working hand-in-hand with some to pursue potential ingredient changes to meet our new stringent ingredient standards," said Nick Konat, co-chief merchandising officer for Petco. "In cases where an existing brand is unable to update some or all of their products to meet our criteria by May of 2019, we will not carry either specific products or the brand entirely—and we'll help pet parents affected by such a change to safely transition to a new food or brand that we believe is healthier for their pet.”

Petco has worked closely with in-house and consultant veterinarians, nutritionists, and wellness experts to inform its decision and its new standards for pet nutrition.

As part of this initiative, in 2019, Petco will also launch the Petco Pet Wellness Institute: a coalition of experts from all spectrums of pet health and wellness. Together, veterinarians, nutritionists, pet psychologists, academic researchers and other credentialed leaders will ensure Petco is offering the best information, education and services—not only for nutrition, but for a wide array of topics and issues impacting pets' overall health and well-being, according to company officials. Part of the institute's mandate will be funding evidence-based research to help further understand and define industry-wide issues, including the impact of food and ingredients on pet health. While data around pet wellness is currently limited, the institute will help provide clarity and inform Petco's initiatives, ensuring the brand is continuing to meet the demands of modern pet owners.

While Petco's transformation will affect certain brands, and ideally motivate companies to change ingredients, the company already carries a full range of high-quality, specially formulated foods that already meet and even exceed its new standards, officials said. 

"The goal here is superior health and well-being for the pets that bring so much love and joy to our lives," Coughlin said. "Our bold nutrition stance combined with our continued expansion of veterinary services in our stores, are great examples of the many ways we're evolving to meet the needs of modern pet parents."

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