|Type||Private fully owned subsidiary|
|Founded||1926 as Nutro Products in Industry, California, USA|
|Headquarters||Franklin, Tennessee, USA|
|Area served||Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and USA|
Nutro Products, Inc., a subsidiary company of Mars Incorporated, is the developer and manufacturer of the MAX, NATURAL CHOICE and ULTRA brands of dog and cat food, as well as GREENIES treats. The company is headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, USA.
John Saleen purchased a dog food company from a British businessman in 1926 and changed the company name to Nutro Products. Moving to Industry, California, it was a family-run business with products only available locally until the company was purchased in 1976 and expanded its market. Nutro Products are now available in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Europe.
In 1985, with the help of Dr. Sharon Machlik, they developed and introduced their MAX line of foods which made use of a chicken, lamb and rice formulation. Instead of traditional advertising, the company chose to produce large amounts of literature on the dietary needs of dogs and cats, with comparative information on their ingredients versus the ingredients of other brands, and provide this to their retailers, as a marketing tool.
Nutro develops several different diet formulations, including canned, soft foods as well as bagged, dry kibbles. They have MAX CAT and Natural Choice lines for cats, and the Nutro Max, Natural Choice, and Ultra lines for dogs. Each line has a selection of flavors and formulations for age range. The Ultra line was specifically created with the intent of creating a high-end holistic dog food.
In 2006, it was announced that Nutro's Adult Lamb and Rice formula had become the #1 lamb and rice dog food in America. This earned the company a blue ribbon on their food.
Food safety and criticism
In 1998, two samples of Nutro Premium (together with various other brands) were subject to qualitative analyses for pentobarbital residue by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) due to suspicion that the anesthetizing drug may have found its way into pet foods through euthanized animals, including cats and dogs. DNA test for all the samples failed to detect cat and dog DNA but Nutro's two samples tested positive for the drug, presumably from rendered cattle. The CVM stated that due to the low level of exposure, the risk of adverse effects is low.
In April 2008, consumeraffairs.com reported multiple cases of diarrhea, vomiting and other intestinal problems in pets fed Nutro products. Nutro stated that their products undergo rigorous safety testing and are 100% safe. Some customers have backed the company, saying that their pets are not having any problems with the food. Veterinarians interviewed states that it might not necessarily be the food that is causing problems. In September 2008, the Pet Food Product Safety Alliance (PFPSA) tested samples of Nutro dog food in response to the consumer complaints on consumeraffairs.com and found levels of copper in excess of AAFCO recommendation. Zinc levels were approximately 2-4 times the minimum recommendation of 120 ppm but still within the maximum recommendation of 1000 ppm. The PFPSA has criticized the recommended zinc levels as excessive as even the minimum recommended levels are 10 times that of adult human requirements(based on body weigh). PFPSA has also stated that the symptoms of zinc toxicity are consistent with consumer complaints regarding Nutro dog food. Nutro rejected PFPSA's claims stating that both zinc and copper levels were within recommended levels, reiterating that their products undergo "rigorous quality assurance testing".
In May 2009, Nutro issued a recall of selected dry cat food due to excess levels of zinc and low levels of potassium which the company blames on a production error by a premix company. Nutro stated that it received no complaints related to the recall. Symptoms includes "reduction in appetite, refusal of food, weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea." Both consumeraffairs and PFPSA have claimed a link between this incident and earlier complaints and also questioned Nutro's claim of quality control and product testing. In June, lab tests of a sample of Nutro Max Cat Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor showed zinc levels at 2100 ppm. Dr. Stephen Hansen, a veterinary toxicologist and senior vice-president of Animal Health for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) described the zinc levels as "awfully high". While he stated that the long term effects of such levels are not known, he mentioned the possibility of "significant intestinal upset and liver and kidney damage." Unlike the 1000 ppm maximum for dog food, the cat food maximum set by AAFCO is 2000 ppm. In comparison, the European Union's maximum for all animal feed is 250 ppm with a recommended maximum of 150 ppm.
Nutro Products, Inc. has been criticized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for hiring below–par animal testing laboratories to test their products. The company denied that it employs animal testing.
- Mars, Incorporated to Acquire Nutro Products, Inc.
- "Frequently asked questions". Nutro Products, Inc. 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
- Survey #1, qualitative analyses for pentobarbital residue:Dry dog food samples purchased in Laurel, MD, area, March - June 1998 FDA/Center for Veterinary Medicine
- Report on the risk from pentobarbital in dog food FDA/Center for Veterinary Medicine
- Menu Foods Recall
- String of Illnesses Afflicts NUTRO-Fed Pets
- High levels of zinc and copper in Nutro products? Petfoodindustry.com
- PET FOOD PRODUCTS SAFETY ALLIANCE RESPONSE TO NUTRO STATEMENTS
- Re: Zinc and Copper Levels in Natural Choice Nutro press release
- Press Release: Nutro Products Announces Voluntary Recall of Limited Range of Dry Cat Food Products
- NUTRO Recalls Dry Cat Food Sold in 11 Countries Consumeraffairs.com
- News update: May 22, 2009
- Tests Find 'Sky High' Zinc Levels in NUTRO Cat Food Lisa Wade McCormick. Consumer Affairs. June 18, 2009.
- PETA: Nutro Products, Inc. "Contracting With Killers"