Unless you've been hiding under a rock this weekend, you know that there's a major recall of wet cat and dog foods manufactured by the Menu Foods Inc.
Haven't heard of Menu Foods? That's because they are the not-so-secret manufacturers of North America's lowest-quality pet foods, including over a dozen supermarket housebrands. Until Friday, I'd never heard of them. A quick search for the Menu Foods name reveals that they are infamous among animal rights groups, because of their penchant for cruel animal testing.
Like many of you who read this blog, I think of myself as an obsessive pet parent. I try to feed my boys the highest-quality food that money can buy. I feed the boys Wellness Super5 Mix dry food and a mix of wet foods. Unfortunately, Nutro Natural Choice pouches have been a big part of that mix.
So far the boys have been ok and we have gotten rid of our Nutro pouches, but I'm still worried that symptoms may appear later on or that there may be long-term effects. Nobody really knows what was wrong with the food and I last fed them Nutro on Thursday.
I know that Nutro isn't as good a brand as something like Wellness or Wysong and I know that gravy pouches aren't as good as canned fare, but I fed the boys Nutro Natural Choice Turkey and Giblets, because it was one of the few wet foods they would eat. I thought to myself, "ok, this stuff is not as good as the $1.50 a can stuff, but it is a quality brand and it's the best brand you can get at chain stores like Petco and Petsmart." Boy was I wrong about the "quality" part.
Until this recall, Nutro never mentioned on their site or on their product packaging that their food is actually being churned out in the same factory as world-renowned cat foods like "Price Chopper Housebrand" and "Save-A-Lot." The home page of their site says:
For over 75 years, Nutro has created, tested, and produced the finest pet foods on the market. Our philosophy is simple: we constantly strive to provide better ingredients and better nutrition for better health, no matter what the cost.
Are they really providing "better ingredients" than Price Chopper or Save-a-Lot? The news is sketchy right now and we don't know for sure whether all the brands manufactured in that plant use the same ingredients. The AP (via CNN) reports that "the recalled products were made using wheat gluten purchased from a new supplier." To me that says one simple thing: Nutro products were made using the same gluten as cheap, low-quality cat foods. If they are using the same gluten as Foodtown supermarket's cat food, how many other ingredients do they have in common?
Is Nutro just putting a fancy package and snazzy name on the same low-grade cat food you get off the supermarket shelf? I've been feeding my boys Nutro products since they were kittens. The entire first year of their lives, Arthur and Beowulf had Nutro Natural Choice dry food every single day. I've been feeding them Nutro canned foods and pouches. Was I actually feeding them slop the whole time?
For those of you who aren't cat food snobs, I submit this analogous question. How would you feel if you were concerned about car safety so you bought a $40,000 Volvo and then years later found out it was manufactured in the same plant, using at least some of the same parts as a Yugo?