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Purina sues Blue Buffalo over 'false' pet food claims

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Purina announced May 6 that it is suing Blue Buffalo, claiming its cat and dog food competitor is “not being honest” about the ingredients in its products.

The lawsuit, which Purina filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, charges that tests by an independent laboratory found “substantial amounts” of poultry by-product meal in several Blue Buffalo “Life Protection” products, despite Blue Buffalo's claims in advertising, packaging and promotions that it uses no such ingredients.

According to Purina, the tests also found that Blue Buffalo “LifeSource Bits” contains corn, another ingredient that Blue Buffalo insists it does not use, as well as poultry by-product meal. Purina also says that several Blue Buffalo products marketed as “grain free” were found to contain rice husks.

“With tens of millions of dollars in advertising and a small army of in-store marketers, Blue Buffalo has built a brand targeted at ingredient-conscious pet owners,” the lawsuit contends. “It has become increasingly clear, however, that Blue Buffalo’s brand is built instead on a platform of dishonesty and deception.”

To compensate for lost sales allegedly caused by Blue Buffalo’s "false statements," St. Louis-based Purina seeks to be awarded “damages to be determined at trial.”

Blue Buffalo, of Wilton, Conn., had no immediate comment on the lawsuit, but a company representative told Examiner.com that a statement is being drafted. On Blue Buffalo's Facebook page, several people who appeared to be customers urged the company to respond.

"Please tell me this isn't so and you're not using animal by-products," one posting says.

"There better not be any truth to the claims Purina is making," says another. "Let's hear the truth from Blue."

The Purina announcement comes six weeks after the National Advertising Division, part of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, accused Blue Buffalo of unfairly disparaging its competitors in some of its advertising. The division recommended that Blue Buffalo modify the ads. Blue Buffalo said it would file an appeal.

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