Sunday, March 18, 2007

Nutro: Same as a Supermarket Brand?

I've been holding my virtual tongue since I read yesterday that Nutro, makers of Nutro Max and Nutro Natural Choice cat foods, is on the list of brands being recalled by Menu Foods. I can't hold back anymore.

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?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was feeding my cat the Wal-mart Brand Special Kitty, because it was the only kind I could get him to eat. Unfortunately he died Sunday morning after becoming sick on Thursday. His kidney's shut down, and he had a dark brownish drool. I was so upset to know that I might have killed him by feeding him the same food I had been giving him for years. It makes you feel really bad. And unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it. By the time you hear, it's too late.

Anonymous said...

Glad you love you cats. I understand.

I've worked in the pet care industry in R&D, and have seen a lot. You are probably naive about Wellness and Wysong. I'm pretty sure that Wellness makes little (maybe none?) of their own products. Buying petfood is like buying sausage or hotdogs. You have to get clear about who do you trust day-in, day-out, as you really don't know the facts of what really goes in and the manufacturing standards used (equally important in handing foods).

Many, if not all of the small 'health-nut' brands in specialty stores are more marketing and they don't have the manufacturing plants and nutritionists on staff to assure qualitiy day-in and out.

Good luck. Glad my kitty and cockapoo were not eating any of the foods mentioned from Menu.

Steve

Riley & Tiki said...

I'm definitely with you. I've tried a bunch of other stuff, but our 2 cats and our dog like Nutro best (wet & dry), so that's what we've fed them. They all like chunks in gravy. So many brands just have pate options which none of them like. I lost Vincent to kidney failure and they told me it was because I only fed him dry. Now we are sick to think we may have harmed Riley, Tiki, & Kesey. They seem fine, but we are taking them to the vet as a precaution.

RTM

Anonymous said...

I too thought Nutro was a higher grade cat food since I was first introduced to it at a cat show. I feed my little guy primarily dry food, but every evening he gets a pouch of Nutro as a "treat" and also because I felt he should have more liquid in his diet. I called his vet and was told that even though he hasn't yet exhibited any of the symptoms, I should bring him in to get him checked as a precaution since symptoms often don't show up for awhile. I'm worried sick and so disappointed that I couldn't rely on the product's claims for "natural" and "wholesome" quality in their food.

socidoc said...

Well, so far at least, we haven't heard anything about any of the Nutro Natural Choice or Max Cat *non* chunks in gravy canned foods. But you can be sure, I'll *never ever* buy this brand again. I'm so disappointed in them. I'm going back to my local "natural pet" store where they stock only brands they have actually looked into and are convinced they are OK. DON'T BUY CAT FOOD AT PETCO, PETSMART or any of the national chains!!! I think that may be our most safe choice. I pray for all those cats and dogs and their human companions who are suffering because of this horrible tragedy.

socidoc said...

And P.S.
Even if you don't like PETA's tactics... you should check out their website www.peta.org, because they have lists of various products (including cosmetics, etc) which DO and DON'T test on animals. I've used this resource for years to help me decide on various consumer choices.

Anonymous said...

For nearly a decade I worked in the warehousing and you'd be amazed at just how many brands are turned out by the SAME manufacturer. Now I'm talking human consumption foods, pineapple, mushrooms, olives etc. So I can imagine just how many brands of pet food are just relabled and sold individually. It was only a matter of time for the public to find out that almost all the various brands of wet pet food were the SAME ingredients.

greg said...

Right on Thanks for the heads up......i met a woman who cooks chicken for her dogs everynight, she buys it bulk and freezes it...cooks it in a slow cooker..adds brown rice.....carrots and lentils......this might be the way to go......!!

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