P&G Innova's "upgrade".... ha!

Remember back in April, 2011, when we decided to discontinue the Natura brands of dog and cat food (California Natural, Innova, Evo) because they were bought by Proctor and Gamble? Well, we are SO glad we did. Since P&G took over, there have been reports on forums all over the web about the food looking completely different and pets reacting very differently to it but the bags staying the same (indicating the formula has NOT changed. I guess they don't have to change the bag/ingredients list for up to 6 months after changing the formula... Shouldn't that be illegal???) Most pet food rating sites have downgraded or no longer recommend the foods, for the same reasons we decided not to carry them. I hate to say I told you so, but I TOLD YOU SO! I'm so glad that most of our customers were able to switch to better foods from more ethical companies in time to avoid any issues with the Natura products.

Anyway, P&G has finally announced an "upgrade" in their Innova food line. Seriously, after everything I listed above, does P&G expect us to believe that they're making the food formula BETTER? Here's what they say they changed:

  • more poultry and fish
  • greater variety of colorful, whole and fresh ingredients
  • new fruits and vegetables (including pears, blueberries, green beans, and parsnips)
  • whole grains including brown rice and oats
  • removal of white rice and potatoes, allowing them to offer more antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins

Fresh poultry and fish sounds great, right? But what most people don't know is that when you switch out "fresh" poultry and fish for meat meal, your ratio of protein to carbohydrates jets way down. "Fresh" meat contains 70% water. In other words, fresh meat can be at the top of an ingredients list by weight, but once you remove all the water (to make a processed kibble), the protein level (only 12% of fresh meat) goes way down.

I've been putting "fresh" into parentheses because to most of the larger pet food companies, fresh meat doesn't really mean fresh meat. These meats are still mainly leftover scraps; in the case of poultry, bones are allowed, so “chicken” consists mainly of backs and frames—the spine and ribs, minus their expensive breast meat. The small amount of meat left on the bones is the meat in the pet food. So-called “4D” animals (dead, dying, diseased, disabled) were only recently banned for human consumption and are still legitimate ingredients for pet food. What makes you think that a company like P&G wouldn't use euthanized animals or even roadkill in their foods if it made them a little more money?

It's nice that they're including new fruits and vegetables, but generally they are so low on the ingredients list that they don't make much of a difference. Innova has always included fruits and veggies, so adding these new trendy types seems more like a marketing ploy than anything else. (They look really pretty on the front of the bag and in their new ads - "More whole, fresh ingredients in every color of the rainbow". Adding peas (which have vegetable protein) also makes you wonder what percentage of the protein requirement comes from meat in the new formula. Dogs just don't get as much from vegetable proteins.

Innova adult dog food has always included brown rice and barley as their 4th and 5th ingredients. I'm willing to bet they just added "whole grain" to their label because it's trendy. If they weren't always using whole grains, if they were using rice hulls or brewer's rice or some other grain by-product for example, they should have listed it as such on their labels.

What does removing potatoes and white rice have to do with being able to offer more antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins? And even if there WAS some connection, why are the vitamins so much lower on the ingredient list?

When comparing the first few ingredients (the ones that make up the majority of the food) in the old and new formulas, most of them have stayed almost exactly the same or gotten worse. In the large breed puppy formula and senior formulas, they have actually listed the grains ABOVE the chicken meal, and in the weight management formula, they don't even include chicken meal anymore! This is concerning - even large breed puppies and overweight dogs need protein. The cat formulas have the chicken meal below the "fresh" meats, and include many more grains (which cats REALLY don't need).

Anyway, I'm not particularly surprised by these changes. It seems like a cheapening of the formulas through rose colored "upgrade" glasses. P&G is hoping its customers are too dumb to look past the pretty rainbow colored pictures and look at the back of the bag of food. Anyone who does will quickly realize that Innova is going downhill.

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