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Petco says ‘no’ to artificial food ingredients

Manufacturers are invited “to join us on this journey,” an executive says.

Petco says ‘no’ to artificial food ingredients

Petco, North America’s second-largest pet supplies chain, intends to pull from store shelves all dog and cat foods and treats that contain artificial ingredients.

The move, which also applies to Petco’s online sales, is set to start in January 2019 and conclude by May.

The San Diego-based retailer said the policy change would make it the “first and only major retailer of pet food to not sell food and treats with artificial ingredients.” Its top brick-and-mortar competitor, PetSmart, could not be reached to comment.

“Some may question whether this makes good business sense, but putting pets’ health first has always been the right thing to do for Petco,” CEO Ron Coughlin said. “This is both a major step forward for pets and a natural next step on our journey to become a complete partner in total pet wellness.”

Petco and PetSmart in 2014 stopped selling China-made treats in response to pet illnesses and deaths that some experts blamed on adulterated ingredients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated the reports but has not reached any conclusions.

Food and treats free of artificial ingredients have grown more popular among pet owners. The market research firm Packaged Facts reported in 2017 that 69 percent of dog owners and 64 percent of cat owners agreed with the statement “Fear of pet food contamination/product safety is a key consideration in the dog foods/cat foods I buy.”

Packaged Facts estimated that natural pet food accounted for about one-fourth of the total pet food market.

Among the artificial ingredients Petco is targeting are FD&C Red No. 3, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hytroxytoluene (BHT), glycerol tributyrate and benzaldehyde.

“We’re inviting pet food companies to join us on this journey, even working hand in hand with some to pursue potential ingredient changes to meet our new stringent ingredient standards,” said Nick Konat, Petco’s co-chief merchandising officer for Petco.

“In cases where an existing brand is unable to update some or all of their products to meet our criteria by May of 2019, we will not carry either specific products or the brand entirely.”