Pet food maker Purina is struggling after a surge of online allegations that their Purina Pro Plan products are causing pets to fall ill and even die after suffering symptoms including “lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, seizures, rapid weight loss and rectal bleeding,” NBC News reported.
The rumors began spreading in Facebook Group Saving Pets One Pet @ A Time. A group administrator says she has received reports of Purina Pro Plan sickening 969 cats and dogs, with 234 reported deaths. As often happens in the social media sphere, the rumors spread beyond their initial home on Facebook and onto TikTok, where the algorithm stoked them into a wildfire.
But Purina says it can’t find evidence of a problem.
In a statement posted to their website this week, the Purina team wrote:
In light of the rumor, our Quality Assurance team has reviewed all incoming consumer contacts, manufacturing, and quality assurance data (this includes ingredient testing, analytical data throughout the production process, and quality assurance post-production testing) for the past year, and we have found no data or trend that would indicate an issue. We continue to stay on top of this situation, and rest assured that if the possibility of a real issue arises, we will act immediately and make sure our consumers have the information they need.
Purina also says that the Facebook Group administrator has refused to share data, including food samples and vet records, that it says would help them investigate properly.
“Without more information, we simply cannot investigate despite being more than willing to do so,” a Purina spokesperson said.
Why it matters: What a nightmare scenario, especially for the people who have lost beloved pets. Whatever the cause of the deaths, no one can find it without cooperation. If Purina is to blame, the company can’t find the source of the problem without more information and cooperation from pet owners. If Purina isn’t to blame, the fixation on them is keeping everyone from finding the real culprit while pets sicken and die.
Purina’s statement was clear, expressing empathy for pet owners and their fears while not mincing words: It wasn’t them. The brand explained precisely how its teams had gone about investigating the incident, including looking for patterns in the data, and made it clear they were ready to act if they did find an issue.
This issue won’t go away for Purina soon, it seems. Its path forward requires continued transparency and consistent messaging about its actions, as well as keeping up social listening to understand if a true problem arises and how the accusations have been connected to the brand.
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