Purina refutes “online rumors,” says pet food safe for dogs and cats

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Purina is refuting “online rumors” that have raised safety concerns about its Pro Plan pet food, after some social media accounts alleged that the pet food maker’s products had sickened hundreds of animals, mostly dogs but also cats. 

The company last week moved to dispel concerns shared in TikTok videos, some of which were viewed by the thousands, as well as in a public Facebook group with nearly 67,000 members called Saving Pets One Pet @ A Time

The posts related accounts of dogs having seizures, diarrhea and vomiting, with some allegedly dying, which the pet owners claimed occured after the animals ate Purina Pro Plan food. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have a recall listed for any Purina products.

“The false statements may be creating unnecessary stress for pet parents. There are no health or safety issues with any of our products, and they can continue to be fed with confidence,” the St. Louis-based subsidiary of Swiss conglomerate Nestlé said last Friday in an online statement responding to what it called “online rumors.” 

As of January 11, the public Facebook group had received 729 anecdotal reports of sick animals (547 dogs and 182 cats) in the U.S., Ireland, U.K, Serbia, Hungry and Canada, including 177 pet deaths, according to efoodalert.

Those behind the posts included “well-intentioned pet parents who are genuinely concerned and trying to be helpful, while others may be trying to create chaos and distrust of certain brands as an opportunity to sell their own products,” Purina said in its statement.

Purina has investigated the claims made online, and “we have found no data or trend that would indicate an issue,” a company spokesperson told CBS Monday on Friday in an emailed statement. The scenario “exposes a dark side of social media and how it can be used to scare people who don’t deserve it,” the spokesperson added.

Purina’s products feed 114 million dogs and cats a year, and the company conducts more than 100,000 quality checks a day across its factories to ensure its pet food is safe for animals, according to the company.

The company in March 2023 recalled Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental prescription dog food due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D.

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York.

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