Natural Balance Pet Foods

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Natural Balance Pet Foods
Industry Pet food
Founded Pacoima, Los Angeles, California, United States (1989)
Headquarters Pacoima, Los Angeles, California, United States
Area served
Key people
Dick Van Patten
Products Dog food, cat food, zoological food
Owner The J.M. Smucker Company
Slogan "Food For a Lifetime"
Website Natural Balance Inc.

Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods, a subsidiary of Big Heart Pet Brands, is an American commercial natural pet food manufacturer with its headquarters located in Burbank, Los Angeles, California.[1] Established in 1989 by actor Dick Van Patten, the company markets itself as "Food For a Lifetime" and promotes itself as having "the finest food you can buy for your pet." The current President is Joey Herrick and Executive Vice President is Frank Koch.


Natural Balance began in 1989 when Van Patten was a guest on John Davidson's show.[2] Van Patten had lunch with the show's band drummer who rescued dogs and cats. Van Patten told him when he was a kid he had snakes, alligators, and every kind of animal you could imagine. The drummer and Van Patten had an idea of making a health food for dogs. At the time, Van Patten played tennis with a veterinarian and she said the best quality food should have no filler, no wheat, no corn, no soy and no by-products.

Many of Natural Balance's dry formulas maintain this initial ingredient list; others, such as the dog food rolls, include wheat flour and sugar.

"My partner and I started Natural Balance Pet Foods in 1989 with the intention of developing the finest, healthiest pet food on the market. We wanted a pet food based on sound scientific principles and truth, not marketing hype. We did it! Not only for dogs & cats, but for large carnivores, such as lions, tigers, polar bears, and wolves in zoos and animal reserves worldwide!"

— Dick Van Patten

Natural Balance lost money at first, but as they expanded their markets, things picked up when Petco opened 625 stores.[3] Then, more pet specialty stores wanted Natural Balance products when the "natural" segment started to grow.

On May 22, 2013 Natural Balance merged with Del Monte, maker of pet foods such as Kibbles 'n Bits, Meow Mix and Milo's Kitchen. In March 2015 The J.M. Smucker Company purchased Natural Balance and the Big Heart Pet Brands from Del Monte.[4]


According to Van Patten, Natural Balance products are made from high quality ingredients and carefully selected. The product line includes L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets, Original Ultra, Vegetarian, Organic, and specializes in zoological formulas as referenced below.

Pet food formulas[edit]

Natural Balance has a large variety of both dog and cat formulas in dry, treats or canned form. The product range includes reduced calorie, grain-free, limited ingredient diets, low allergy, and vegetarian (for dogs) formulations. Other products include dog food rolls, stews and treats. A chicken-based organic product named "Organic Formulas" is certified organic by the Organic Crop Improvement Association.[5]

Zoological formulas[edit]

Natural Balance was a member of Association of Zoos and Aquariums and has created zoological products that are formulated specifically for carnivores in zoos and wild animal parks and not sold to the general public. These foods were developed by Director of Zoological Product Research and Development Dr. Martin R. Dinnes, a founding member of the American College of Zoological Medicine.

Natural Balance's zoological formulas were used by, among others, Big Cat Rescue,[6] Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve, Toledo Zoo, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and SeaWorld. [7]


Natural Balance is the official dog food of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Arson Investigation and Explosives Detection Canines.[8]

Honoring Service Dogs[edit]

Natural Balance partnered with the Petco Foundation to raise money to honor service dogs across America. The organizations aspire to raise $1 million to honor guide dogs and military service dogs across America. Natural Balance and Petco are working to build a National Monument for Military Working Dogs, which will be dedicated at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, in 2013.[9]


Main article: 2007 pet food recalls

On April 16, 2007, Natural Balance informed the FDA that they had received complaints from consumers regarding a select amount of Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food and Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Food. Some animals were reported to have vomited and a few experienced kidney failures.[10] Natural Balance immediately issued a voluntary recall for all its Venison dog products and its dry Venison cat food after lab results showed that some of the products contained trace amounts of melamine. The source of melamine was believed to be from rice protein concentrate.

On April 27, 2007, Natural Balance issued a second recall for three canned dog food and one canned cat food. Like the first recall, the contaminants were melamine in rice protein concentrates. As with the venison based formulas, rice protein concentrate was not on the list of ingredients of the four products. This time, Natural Balance claimed that their canned food manufacturer American Nutrition, Inc (ANI) added the rice protein concentrate without their knowledge or consent, calling it a "manufacturing deviation".[11] In response, ANI issued a press release denying any deliberate or intentionally wrongful conduct, claiming that "customers specifically required rice-based formulations".[12] Along with Natural Balance, other pet food organizations such as Blue Buffalo and Menu Foods were affected by the contaminated products and issued recalls.

Additionally, in July 2007, a small lot of certain Natural Balance canned pet foods were recalled after it was determined that they may have been involved in a large-scale Botulism outbreak, associated with its producer Castleberry's Food Company. No illnesses were reported with the pet food.[13]

As a result of this recall, the company invested $800,000 to build a laboratory to test for melamine, acid, and other toxins. All of Natural Balance products are now tested for 9 known contaminants through the company's Buy With Confidence program,[14] and sold if the production run has passed testing.

Food safety[edit]


Natural Balance's Buy With Confidence laboratory uses ELISA to test for 5 mycotoxins Aflatoxin, DON, Zearalone, Ochratoxin and Fumonisin. Polymerase chain reaction is used to test for Salmonella and Ecoli. Melamine and Cyanuric Acid are tested for on a LCMS (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry). The Chemists and Microbiologists that are employed at the laboratory all hold their Bachelor's degree in a scientific discipline.

Testing protocol[edit]

According to Natural Balance, the accuracy and reproducibility of the tests have earned official approvals and third party validations, including:

Consumer reassurance[edit]

Natural Balance states that it is the first known pet food company to offer email notification regarding any pet industry news that could affect their pets. They are also the first known pet food manufacturer to offer data base test results on Aflatoxin, DON Vomitoxin, Zearalone (Mycotoxin), Ochratoxin, Fumonisin, Salmonella, Ecoli, Melamine and Cyanuric Acid to consumers through their website using the best by code on each food container.


External links[edit]