Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wellness Rep: Menu Foods is "One of the Best"

A few days ago, I wrote a note to Old Mother Hubbard, the makers of Wellness Cat Food, to ask them why they would use a company like Menu Foods to make their products. Here was their rep's response in its entirety from Wednesday (I didn't notice it amongst my mail until today):

Dear Avram,

We are aware that Menu Foods has initiated a recall. No products made by Wellness & Old Mother Hubbard are affected in any way.

Again, no Wellness, Old Mother Hubbard, or Neura products are part of this recall.

Menu does make some of our foods, although they do not make any of our dry foods.

There are two very important factors in determining the quality of a food. The first is the manufacturer. In this case, Menu Foods is a top notch manufacturer that receives excellent scores for food safety and quality systems. They make a consistent product which is exactly what the company asks for. Frankly, they make product for so many companies because they are one of the best..

The second factor is formula. Ingredient selection can make or break product quality. Certain ingredients can be allergens to certain pets. Other ingredients can be sourced for either their quality or their price. Chicken ingredients, for example, can be sourced at various prices. Low ash chicken, which is better for a cat, can be sourced at a higher price. Those are the types of ingredients we use, because they are of higher quality. So I would not assume all companies are created equal. If you'd like to learn more, please call us. We have much more information where that came from!

(emphasis is mine)

I appreciate OMH's candor here. They clearly chose Menu Foods for a reason and they have no regrets. While I believe their food is high-quality stuff, I'm deeply troubled by their continued support of a company which conducts deadly animal tests, produces poisoned food, and then sits on information which could have saved lives in an attempt to save face.

I'm also concerned by OMH's position on animal testing. Here is an explanatino of the animal testing policy from the OMH Official FAQ:

Q: Why are you not on PETA's "Do Not Test List"?

A: In order to be placed on PETA's "Do Not Test List", we would be required to sign a contract that states that we approve of everything that PETA does and that we cannot alter or change our formulas without informing them first. While we have great admiration and respect for PETA's agenda, upon legal consultation, we were advised that it was not in our company's best interest to sign their contract.

I'm going to try to contact PETA and ask about their requirements for getting on the "Do Not Test List," but on the face of it, this just doesn't sound right to me. If you look at the PETA list, there are plenty of products on it. Are they all running their formulas by PETA on a regular basis?

Is Old Mother Hubbard actively doing bad things to animals? We don't know. Here's what they say in the FAQ:
Q: Why can't you give me the information on the animals that you use to test the food? Are they kept in cages? What about the kennel? Can I contact them?

A: The animals that are used are privately owned and kept in kennels for a period of 4 days for the feeding trials to see how they like our food. For any further information you would need to contact AAFCO.

Let's assume for a second that the privately-owned kennel, which we know nothing about, is incredibly humane. The fact is that Old Mother Hubbard does business with Menu Foods and, as a business partner, is helping Menu Foods stay in business. Menu Foods has a track record of killing dogs and cats, whether through inaction or animal testing.

I am sorry to have to do this, but I think I'm going to have to switch brands. I can't have my money supporting Menu Foods.


Anonymous said...

i was shocked to learn that canned wellness is also manufactured by menu foods. i used to feed my kitties wellness and evo dry foods b4 the youngest developed urinary stones (not due to the dryfood, i think it would've happen w/ most foods) and b/c of it, both of my kitties have to eat prescription royal canin SO now. i have in the past fed them canned wellness however but decided after my youngest got sick to only give them certain flavors of merrick canned foods b/c they seemed the best non-prescription food to feed my cat's urinary needs. there were some non-rx urinary tract control formulas at petsmart/petco but i felt that the ingredients weren't as healthy as merrick which i have to buy at a specialty store. i wouldn't support menu foods now either after hearing about how cruel they are to the animals they use for testing

Tara said...

Mom has already also decided not to support Menu foods, although I love Nutro Natural choice kitten kibble. Today she came home with Natural Balance Ultra premium dry food, and I'm trying it out.


Fritzamus Maximus said...

I must admit that I was also surprised to discover that Wellness brand is made by Menu Foods. I am also disturbed to find that Wellness is standing by Menu Foods after the news that Menu Foods was receiving complaints from consumers for months. As a result, I will not support any Menu Foods brands in the future.

That said, I don't expect any pet food brands I purchase to appear on the PETA "do not test" list. I think that certain kinds of animal testing, such as palatability tests, are not always as bad as disease related studies. I think it's unfortunate, but certain kinds of animal testing may be a an ugly, but necessary part of the industry. Without it, I think the consumer's pets become the "test animals."

My cats, Fritz and Ernest, have been eating Felidae dry food and Merrick wet food for a couple of years now and enjoy them both. I heartily recommend both foods. They are also a couple of NYC cats and I invite you to see their photos on Ernest's blog.

I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on PETA's "do not test" list.

jen said...

Great job covering this story. Wow...I've been giving my three little kitties Wellness for close to a year, wet and dry food. I was, I'll admit it, smug...about purchasing a "higher quality" product...but now that I know they do business w/ Menu Foods, and they don't have a problem w/ their animal testing!...I am definitely NEVER going to buy their products again. I'm all for a boycott of Menu Foods and anyone who uses them for processing...UNTIL they change their ways. This is the time for all cat and dog lovers to use our purchasing power...Money talks....Go PETA!

Sara said...

My cat died from Kidney failure, May 2007.

My cat was always on wellness brand, but I had recently purchased two new cases of Old Mother Hubbard wellness pet food, in March, around the time the recall was announced.

My cat was very fussy about eating The new cans of wellness food. She would eat some then stop. This seemed unusual.

After a few days she completely stopped eating it. She would only eat real meat. She also started urinating and drinking a lot more than usual.

I made a vet appointment, and I switched to a home diet, with a multi-vitamin and added Taurine to ensure nutritional completeness because I feared the Wellness food may be contaminated, too, despite the companies denial.

A few days later, a day prior to her vet appointment, she had seizures. Testing showed kidney failure. She had to be euthanized.

The timing seems suspicious to me, and the fact that Wellness brand sources some products from menu foods is very upsetting.

The fact that they are supporting Menu food by claiming they provide high-quality products, is also upsetting.

I do not now trust any pet food company.

I urge people to discuss feeding their dogs or cats a properly prepared and balanced homecooked diet.


Brainy Blonde said...

I too was concerned about Wellness food and called them a few days ago. They ensured me that they did home testing and sent food home with the employees for their pets. They mentioned nothing about any kennels and said no, when I specifically asked about them. Scary!

jen106 said...

I can't imagine wanting to be on PeTA's anything list. Why on Earth would you support an organisation that aligns itself with terrorist organisations (ALF among others) and that supports an agenda of "total animal liberation?" Look it up; this means NO pets, NO farm animals, NO animals for to help the mentaly or phsyically handicapped, and NO animal or animal products for consumption.

Gates-wellness dog food said...

While some pet food manufacturers use every scrap of meat from animal renderings, Wellness dog food limits ingredients to only quality sources for what the animals need for good nutrition. A balanced combination of protein, grains for fiber and fruits for antioxidant protection are included in all varieties of Wellness dog food to help the pet remain healthy and active.

peterrabbit said...

From all that I have read I can only conclude we must find another way to feed our pets. Dogs are easy to feed,cats more complicated. However, the old BS from the industry/accepted wisdom that 'cats are finicky' is also BS. Example: the many reports by members here and my own personal experience over 25 plus years of owning [and losing to cancer etc.] cats of ctas suddenly refusing a previously loved variety bears out the truth of the matter: just never know from lot to lot what is in those cans! My message to 'the industry'...I wish the same fate visited on so many well loved pets on all of one spared! Angry Cat Lover

peterrabbit said...

For Sara: Will you please suggest the home cooked diet you are feeding your cats...along with the added supplements and in what form? Thanks....