Iams vs. Nutro: An Update
After reporting on court filings, we heard from both parties in a dispute.
It’s unfortunate that The Iams Company was not given the opportunity to provide relevant background information and a scientific point of view prior to the publication of “Iams vs. Nutro: A Dog Food Labeling War,” in the May 2001 issue. Here are the facts.
For more than 50 years, the Iams Company has manufactured premium pet food, and our company mission is to enhance the well-being of dogs and cats by providing world-class quality foods.
The feeding guidelines for Iams Dog Foods are based on: (1) extensive experience making, testing, and selling our premium products; (2) the professional judgement of Iams veterinarians and research nutritionists; (3) the collective judgement of independent experts at universities throughout the U.S.; and (4) direct feedback from Iams Customer Service representatives who respond daily to consumer questions about feeding. If dogs were having problems from underfeeding of Iams products, we would be the first to know.
Veterinarians, pet owners, and statistics from across the country tell us that obesity is a serious nutritional problem for dogs, which can lead to a variety of ailments. Proper feeding management plays a key role in helping dogs maintain a healthy weight, and The Iams Company creates feeding guidelines with the dogs’ well-being in mind. These guidelines are carefully designed to help dog owners feed the right amount of food to achieve the best outcome.
Two years ago, we began updating our feeding guidelines for Eukanuba and Iams Dog Foods – lowering the amount of food we recommend dogs be fed each day. Feedback from pet owners, veterinarians, and breeders over the past two years has reinforced the fact that we made the right decision.
Why would a pet food company recommend consumers to feed less of its food? Iams made that recommendation with the health of its consumers’ pets in mind. The allegation that Iams reduced the recommended feeding quantities to lower the cost of feeding is false. The vast majority of Iams’ advertising involves building consumer awareness and brand recognition. We focus on educating pet owners about the nutritional benefits of feeding Iams and Eukanuba products. The cost or value message has never been the focus of our advertising.
While the misinformation about feeding guidelines is unfortunate, it’s not surprising given that Iams’ recent growth and success in the pet food industry has affected our competitors. Today, Iams’ is investing more in research and development, manufacturing, selling and marketing our premium quality products than ever before.
Ultimately, pets and their owners are the real winners as it relates to our feeding guidelines. We take our business very seriously and we will continue to take appropriate steps to protect our reputation as a world leader in dog and cat nutrition.
We appreciate this opportunity to set the record straight, and we encourage any pet owners who have questions about Iams and Eukanuba products to contact Iams Customer Service at (800) 863-4267.
-Daniel Carey, DVM
Director of Technical Communications Research and Development
The Iams Company, Dayton, OH
We read with great interest your article “Iams vs. Nutro.” We feel compelled to point out a few things relevant to the last sentence in your article, which states, “It seems that opportunities for corporate profits will always prevail over the needs of consumers and the health of their animals.” This may apply to Iams, but not to Nutro and other competitors who should not be painted with the same brush. Nutro’s objective was and remains to ensure that consumers are provided with accurate information with which to make informed purchasing decisions. We do not expect you to believe it simply because we say so, but ask you to consider the following:
1. When Nutro discovered and confirmed the misrepresentations being made on the Iams label and in related advertising (and confirmed the unhealthful weight loss suffered by dogs fed off the Iams label), Nutro did not seek a competitive advantage by going to the marketplace with this information. Instead, Nutro went to Iams and appealed to Iams privately to correct its statements to the benefit of consumers and their animals.
2. Kal Kan, another competitor, filed a similar lawsuit concerning Iams’ false and misleading feeding instructions.
3. A consumer class action was also filed in California seeking to vindicate harm to consumers that resulted from Iams’ false statements.
Nutro’s conduct, Kal Kan’s conduct, and the consumer class action in California all have as their central objective ensuring that consumers receive accurate information. That is far different from Iams’ conduct, which clearly evidences support for your concern that “opportunities for corporate profit will always prevail over the needs of consumers and the health of their animals.”
-Jerold I. Sicherman
President, Nutro Products, Inc.
City of Industry, CA
Interesting, isn’t it? We’ll keep readers posted on developments in this conflict.