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Blue Buffalo sues Purina over ‘smear campaign’

Blue Buffalo, which makes Blue-brand pet food, is suing rival Purina for defamation.
Blue Buffalo, which makes Blue-brand pet food, is suing rival Purina for defamation.
Marc Selinger

Pet food maker Blue Buffalo announced May 14 that it has filed a defamation lawsuit against rival Purina, which has publicly accused Blue Buffalo of lying about its ingredients.

The lawsuit asks a federal court to order Purina to halt its “smear campaign” against Blue Buffalo and pay damages to its competitor, according to Bill Bishop, Blue Buffalo’s founder and chairman.

“In our lawsuit, we demand that Nestle Purina be held accountable for their actions, and that they stop their carefully orchestrated [public relations] campaign designed to erode the trust that pet parents place in our Blue brand,” Bishop said in a statement. “Product quality has always been at the center of everything we do at Blue Buffalo, so we are not about to let Nestle Purina make derogatory and unsubstantiated claims about our company, our people and our products.”

The legal battle began when Purina announced May 6 that it was suing its competitor for false advertising, contending that independent laboratory tests found by-products, corn and rice husks in Blue Buffalo products even though Blue Buffalo insists it uses no such “undesirable” ingredients. The test results "show that Blue Buffalo is not being honest with pet owners about the ingredients in their pet food," Purina asserted.

Blue Buffalo countered that Purina's claims are based on "voodoo science."

“I can assure you," Bishop said, "that we’ve never purchased one kernel of corn or one ounce of poultry by-product meal -- two ingredients that Nestle Purina claims to have found in our food.”

Each company’s lawsuit was filed in federal court in St. Louis, the city in which Purina is based. Blue Buffalo, which is headquartered in Connecticut, called itself "the nation's leading natural pet food company" and described Purina as "the largest pet food company in the United States."

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