Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tainted Pet Food Teaches: Fancy Brand Labels May Be Scams

As a dog owner, I've been actively scanning the growing list of tainted pet food brands. I want to make sure that our dog "Scruffy" does not eat the food that has killed or sickened many other pets.

But beyond the food product scare, the tainted pet food case offers one major lesson on labels, marketing and consumer dollars. For instance, one pet food manufacturer produces dog and cat food for dozens and dozens of name brand and private label companies. That production scenario explains why so many different brands have been hit by the tainted pet food. This story provides an excellent summary of the situation.

"...some of most premium pet-food brands in the U.S. use the same manufacturer that processes dozens of low-price private-label products, according to"

--Monsters and

The bottom line: As consumers we pay different amounts of money ---sometimes dramatically higher-- for basically the same products that are dressed up with fancier labels, celebrity endorsements and big-ticket marketing campaigns.

Beyond pet food, the same production scenario exists in cosmetics, household products and food products for people. While researching one story about private label foods, I was surprised at the number of big label names that also made private label products using the same formula.

A father of friend once supervised the production of candy for a private label company. His daughter shared this insight with me: The two different versions of the candy sported the same recipe, but different labels and prices. Likewise, a television makeup artist once told me that cheaper cosmetic labels are often identical or similar to higher-priced brands.

So why pay more?

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Ronia said...

I did feel like I'd been hoodwinked when I saw Nutro Natural Choice and Science Diet are made at the same place as the generic brands - and that they have at least some common ingredients. I still wonder if some pet foods aren't healthier than others, but I'm going to be doing nutritional analysis instead of packaging and brand name.

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