As with many pet food brands, many Purina Pro Plan pet foods include the claim “Real Chicken” or “Real Beef” as a leading ingredient. We asked Purina to provide us an explanation of what ‘real’ means: “On multiple products there is the statement “Real Chicken is the #1 ingredient.” What does ‘real’ mean? Are ingredients with the ‘real’ statement human grade? Or are they feed grade?“
The Purina Pro Plan website includes this bold claim:
What is ‘the most advanced nutrition’? We asked Purina: “Your website states: ‘Purina Pro Plan is the most advanced nutrition for your pet’s best life.’ Can you provide information on what this claim (“the most advanced nutrition”) is based on? If there is scientific evidence, can you provide that science?“
And Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus cat foods webpage includes this bold claim:
Extending the life of a pet is an amazing claim. We asked Purina: “And with regards to the Pro Plan Prime Plus formulas, your website states: ‘…breakthrough formulas that contain a proprietary blend of nutrients proven to improve and extend the lives of cats age 7+. (Findings based on cats exclusively fed a complete diet with the proprietary blend vs. cats fed the complete and balanced diet alone.)’ Can you provide the science that validates the claim?“
We sent these question via the contact form on their website on 5/2/22.
Purina responded promptly, the same day. However they did not respond to any of our questions. This was the first Purina response:
Thank you for contacting Purina.
Purina meets World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines. Every pet deserves the best life, and it’s our job to provide high quality nutritional options across our portfolio. We employ more than 500 scientists worldwide- including ACVN certified nutritionists, veterinarians, PhD nutritionists, behaviorists, engineers and food scientists who are devoted to ensuring high quality, safe, and nutritious pet food.
The majority of our diets have been through AAFCO feeding trials. Occasionally you will see on an OTC product that it is “formulated” which indicates that the product is likely a minor flavor variation of a product that has been through feeding trials. In addition to our nutritionists, and unique to the industry, we also employ a board-certified veterinary toxicologist who is knowledgeable regarding ingredient sourcing and interactions and can determine if feeding trials are required after a slight flavor change.
Should you have inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you!
Your Engagement Specialist,
Not one part of their response was what we asked about. We didn’t ask about WSAVA, we didn’t ask how many scientists work for Purina, and we didn’t ask about how products are formulated. So, we sent this response back to Purina:
“Hi Christine – I appreciate your response, but you didn’t answer any of my questions. Questions are copied below.
“On multiple products there is the statement “Real Chicken is the #1 ingredient.” What does ‘real’ mean? Are ingredients with the ‘real’ statement human grade? Or are they feed grade?“
“Your website states: “Purina Pro Plan is the most advanced nutrition for your pet’s best life.” Can you provide information on what this claim (“the most advanced nutrition”) is based on? If there is scientific evidence, can you provide that science?“
“And with regards to the Pro Plan Prime Plus formulas, your website states: “…breakthrough formulas that contain a proprietary blend of nutrients proven to improve and extend the lives of cats age 7+. (Findings based on cats exclusively fed a complete diet with the proprietary blend vs. cats fed the complete and balanced diet alone.)” Can you provide the science that validates the claim?“
Purina’s second response still did not respond to our questions, but their second response included a warning about human grade ingredients, a complete and balanced lesson, and another statement bragging of how many veterinarians work for Purina.
Thank you for contacting Purina.
We appreciate you reaching us back, and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Please know that just because an ingredient is human grade doesn’t mean that it’s automatically safe for your pet to eat. What may be considered edible to a human could be dangerous to your pets. For example, chocolate, grapes and onions, to name a few, are edible and good for humans but can be toxic to pets.
Pet foods have their own set of strict standards and regulations. At Purina, we formulate our foods based on their nutritious value for your pet, and the safety of your pet’s food is our top priority. That’s why we always meet or exceed the safety standards established by the FDA, USDA and AAFCO. Rest assured that all of our pet foods are formulated to be complete and balanced for a pet’s life stage, and every quality ingredient plays a role in delivering the nutrients dogs and cats need to thrive.
In line with this, please know that our foods are formulated by a team of nutritionists, PhD nutritionists, veterinarians, board-certified veterinary nutritionists, and other scientists. In fact, we have more than 70 veterinarians on full time staff in the Americas alone, including Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, who are dedicated to advancing pet nutrition.
We hope this information helps. Should you have additional concerns or questions, please let us know.
Your Engagement Specialist,
We followed up with Purina again, repeating our questions for a third time. But Purina did not respond to the third request.
Our questions were not difficult. We simply asked what the claim ‘Real’ means, and we asked for the science that validates two claims made on their website. It is unfortunate that Purina couldn’t/wouldn’t respond.
If pet foods want pet owners to believe their claims…they need to be willing to provide validation to their claims.
Wishing you and your pet the best –
Pet Food Safety Advocate
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