Sunday, March 25, 2007

Powerful Words: "Not Affected" versus "Not Associated"

Like many pet parents, I want nothing to do with Menu Foods. It's not enough to feed my boys products that weren't recalled or products that weren't produced by Menu Foods. I don't want to support a company that supports Menu Foods.

Over the past several days, I've been scouring the Web, looking for cat food companies that don't do business with Menu Foods. It's not always easy to find out which companies do business with Menu Foods and which companies don't. As a professional wordsmith, I have a tendency to read into the language that people or companies use when they communicate.

Let's look at two pet food company Web sites and how they describe their lack of involvement in the recall. Our first example comes from Old Mother Hubbard's Wellness site, which as of this writing, reads:
Wellness and Old Mother Hubbard products are NOT affected by the recent Menu Foods product recall.

If you click-through to a longer explanation, OMH uses the term "not involved," but they never say that they do with Menu Foods on their site. That said, in an email to me, an OMH rep confirmed that they use Menu Foods and they're proud of it.

Now, let's look at the home page for Natural Balance Foods:

NO Natural Balance® products are producedby ANY company associated
with the Pet Food Recall.

That's a pretty clear statement that Natural Balance Foods does not do business with Menu Foods. I see this statement from Natural Balance about not working with Menu Foods and also their message about animal testing and I want to buy their products:

Natural Balance® was built on the premise of helping animals, and we have never nor would we ever allow any testing that would be considered harmful to an animal. We do not conduct laboratory testing on animals, whatsoever. All of our feeding trials are conducted in the animal's own environment, in conjunction with veterinarians, kennels, breeders and pet owners, to ensure that all Natural Balance® products are extremely palatable, nutritious and the best possible formulation for the health of your pet. Our feeding trials are a positive experience and enjoyable for animals!
I think we have to appreciate that level of honesty and full disclosure from a company like Natural Balance. And I'll also give Old Mother Hubbard, the maker's of Wellness, some credit for owning up to their relationship with Menu Foods. I'll never buy their products again, but at least they were honest with me when I asked them about it.

As of this writing, I have emails out to a couple of pet food companies whose products I use or would like to use, asking them about whether they do business with Menu Foods or not. One of these is Blue Buffalo, makes of Spa Selects, whose Web site, as of this writing, ambiguously states:
We want to inform all of our friends that BLUE products are NOT part of the national pet food recall.

Ok, but are they made by Menu Foods or not?

The lesson of this recall is that pet parents need to know more than that to feel good about buying pet food. We need to know whether our money is helping Menu Foods. At least this consumer does.

17 comments:

socidoc said...

Avram,
A BIG THANK YOU for doing all of this research, that your blog readers will benefit from!! I am a big proponent of Natural Balance canned food (especially their "Indoor Cat Formula" which both of my kitties ADORE... and I wonder now about the dry food my cats both also LOVE... Innova Evo. I haven't seen their name associated in any way with Menu. And even my picky kitten LOVES it. I've also switched to Merrick canned (esp. the Thanksgiving Day and Grammy's Pot Pie, which get a GREAT reception from my two kitties). THANK YOU so very much for all of this info. You are doing a huge service to all of us feline-lovers out here.

Avram said...

I am a big fan of Merrick also and applaud them for manufacturing and taking responsibility for all of their own products.

If not dealing with Menu Foods is the only criteria (which perhaps it should be), then Merrick is an awesome brand. However, they don't say whether they do laboratory testing. I just dropped them an email to see what they say.

curator said...

I'm very impressed by your research and reporting into this whole sorry issue. Hopefully this will wake a lot of pet owners up to the importance of paying a bit more for good pet foods (I just started feeding mine Precise).

Anonymous said...

This information about Wellness (OMH) presents a big problem because Wellness is sold nationally at Whole Foods, which claims to be vigilant about not purchasing from producers who engage in animal testing. I have trusted what I buy there, but clearly this is shattered if OMH uses Menu. I feel like there is no way of knowing what to feed my kitties now. And can we really trust that Wellness is not part of this problem?

Anonymous said...

I live in Queens, and Trade Fair supermarkets has not pulled odd Iams off their shelves. In fact, it is on sale this week!

Syl said...

Apparently Bench & Field Holistic Cat food does not do business with Menu Foods according to this site. The Bench & Field site is more ambiguous, and state, "Our formulas have not been affected by the recall." This is a dry cat food sold at Trader Joe's. I also found Pet Promise at Whole Foods. Their Web site states, "Pet Promise does not use Menu Foods Inc., and is NOT affected by the recall". I was really disappointed that Innova does use Menu Foods. I specifically went out and bought some of their food because I thought it was safe. It probably is because of not using the wheat gluten, but I don't trust anything that came out of Menu Foods. There is a new company that has dehydrated food, The Honest Kitchen, that looks really good. I bought a sample, but the cats weren't thrilled. It smelled really good, so maybe they're just used to the stinkyness of regular pet food. I'll try again, because this can be a base to making your own cat food that is nutritionally complete.

Have you had your cats tested? We were feeding the Nutro pouches until early January when Lucian started throwing them up regularly. We stopped but he never got sick. We're taking him to the vet today to get his kidney function checked just to make sure. This whole thing makes me so angry and frustrated, mainly because so many companies that are supposed to be good use the same foods as the junk food.

cindy said...

Felidae is one that i use and the blue spa my cats love it I've also looked into natures recipe.
i used ot feed pro plan but I've noticed they do have wheat gluten in not just the canned but the dry as well.

http://www.canidae.com/index.html

cindy said...

http://www.solidgoldhealth.com/

this is another I'm looking in to.

NM said...

Syl,

Where did you see that Innova uses Menu foods? I tried to find if there was any connection and so far I couldn't. My Amelie eats Innova EVO and LOVES it, but i don't want to buy from them if they support Menu Foods. If you could point me to your source I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks!

socidoc said...

Yes, I'd also like to see the source for the claim that Innova uses Menu Foods. My cats LOVE Innova Evo dry, and I hate to give it up. Also, one of the staff of my local "natural pet" food store is actually going to the Innova plant in Kansas next week. I asked her specifically to ask them if they use Menu Foods (cuz she had already told me they don't) and she said she would. Of course I"ll come in here and post her results. Thanks again Avram for providing this forum and all the information you've gathered.

AND I'M SO HAPPY TO HEAR YOUR BOYS are OK!!!!!! :))

Avram said...

Petsiteusa says Innova uses Menu Foods:

http://petsitusa.com/blog/?p=210

Beau Beau & Angie said...

Thanks for all your information on this topic. We have been eating Natural Balance canned food and the dry food as a treat for more than a year. We decided to use their products because it was one of the only ones that didn't make us itch and the first ingredients are MEAT which is what we are supposed to eat.

Anonymous said...

I use Blue Buffalo Spa Select for my cats. They love it. In answer to the question about Menu Foods, Blue isn't associated with them at all.

Anonymous said...

I just double checked with Wellness. They only have the 3 seafood cat can flavors(crab, shrimp, sardine) manufactured at Menu Foods. All of their dry products and non-seafood cat canned products are manufactured in Utah, Canada, or Oklahoma.

Anonymous said...

Hi I would just like to inform everyone that Natural Balance does have rice gluten in it and some of natural balances products are being recalled by the fda website. Here is the link: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/petfoodrecall/brand_list.cfm?brand=Natural%20Balance%20%28RICE%20GLUTEN%29&pet=Cat

Also blue buffalo co. is being recalled for the same reason; due to rice gluten.
here is the link: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/petfoodrecall/brand_list.cfm?brand=Blue%20Buffalo%20Co%20%28RICE%20GLUTEN%29&pet=Cat

One would hope to find the best food available
I am looking for food that is in no way affiliated with menu foods and also does not contain any gluten of any type or melanmine.
Why is this so hard?

Anonymous said...

Really interesting! Natural food and wellness are great topics to discuss!

Anonymous said...

does anyone know if orijen food use menu food too?