Bogus Warning May Just be a Clash of the Pet Food Titans

In July of 2018 the FDA jumped the gun and announced they conducted an investigation suggesting grain free food contributed to DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). This investigation was launched based on a blog written by Lisa Freeman (a vet on Purina’s payroll) not a research paper, not a scientific study, a blog!

The FDA went so far as to list specific brands consumers should avoid (see image) which sent pet parents running to purchase grain inclusive food, conveniently the same food Purina, Colgate Palmolive and Mars (Purina ProPlan, Hills and Royal Canin) manufacturer. These are the same foods sold in our veterinary clinics.

Unfortunately, many of our vets aggressively promoted this information and warned pet parents on the dangers of feeding grain free diets.

Fast forward to December of 2022 where the FDA recanted their original statement after significant research was conducted and in a nut shell said “Legumes, including pulse ingredients, have been used in pet foods for many years, with no evidence to indicate they are inherently dangerous. FDA has received reports of non-hereditary DCM associated with both grain-free and grain-containing diets.”

What they’ve actually concluded is there is no single cause of DCM and it is a multifaceted issue. A lack of taurine, an amino acid only found in meat, is the front runner for what they believe is the dietary cause of non-hereditary DCM.

Unfortunately, there’s a huge push on spreading this bogus information again! This FDA “warning” is all over social media, causing a major uproar. Could it be another clash of the titans?

Mars just acquired Champion, one of the most popular grain free foods on the market. Previous to that, Purina was in talks to buy Champion. Mars won that round! Is this another attempt from Purina to discourage pet parents from buying grain free food and ultimately “hurt” Mars now that they own one of the most popular grain free foods?

Mars and Purina together make up 70% of all pet products on the market. Even before the Champion acquisition, Mars had more of the market, with the acquisition they just increased their market share! Is Purina fighting dirty to impact Mars?

Regardless of the reasons why this bogus warning is making waves again on social media, you can rest assured, grains do not support the heart. Whether you choose to feed grains or not, is entirely up to you. The foods listed in this “warning”, though not all necessarily great choices, are not the cause of DCM.

Pet industry professionals, sharing this information are doing so to try and warn pet parents which is admirable, unfortunately it’s also irresponsible in this case because they haven’t done their homework or they’re choosing to disregard the latest science disproving the information they’re sharing.

What this “warning” caused in 2018 was almost every grain free pet food manufacturer to come out with a grain inclusive line. It didn’t fix any problems, it caused massive confusion for pet parents as they got pulled in a million different directions regarding whether or not to feed grains! We hear every day from pet parents who have been told by their vet, they must feed grains. No you mustn’t! That choice is entirely up to you! We’ll say it one more time for the folks in the back, grains do not support the heart!

Sadly, this “warning” flooding social media again will only cause more confusion for you, the pet parent wanting to do the best thing for your furry family. As was stated early, DCM is a multifaceted issue that is continually being researched and not one single cause has been identified, including grain free foods! Remember the FDA has said “Legumes, including pulse ingredients, have been used in pet foods for many years, with no evidence to indicate they are inherently dangerous.” And if they were so dangerous, DCM as a problem would not be isolated to the US! We’d see it everywhere around the world.

As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to do what is best for your pet. It’s tough when you’re pulled in a million different directions, but we want to ensure you that feeding your pet a grain free or grain inclusive food is not something you need to worry about. The quality of your food is what is important and feeding a diverse diet as close to a biologically appropriate diet is all you need to focus on!

We are always happy to help answer any questions you have. So if this “warning” has floated across your screen and you have questions, we’re happy to help!

If you want to read the entire Q&A on the recanted FDA statement, you can find it here

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