Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods is owned by Del Monte. Their product lines include Natural Balance Alpha, Fat Dogs, Fat Cats Limited Ingredient Diets, Original Ultra, Synergy, Vegetarian, and Delectable Delights. Natural Balance has had 17 pet food recalls since 2005 resulting in approximately 7.45 million (7,449,358) recalled units (bags/cans/pouches).
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. 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”. In response, ANI issued a press release denying any deliberate or intentionally wrongful conduct, claiming that “customers specifically required rice-based formulations”. 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, back 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. – Source
In June, 2010 there was a recall for two dry dog food products due to Salmonella.
In May 2012, there was a recall for approximately 30 products due to Salmonella
In 2007, Natural Balance recalled 7.3 million (7,362,302) units according to the FDA report. These units are in the form of bags, cans, pouches, etc.
In 2010, Natural Balance recalled 5,600 bags for Salmonella. There were 2,576 recalled 28 lb bags and 3,024 recalled 5 lb bags.
In 2012, Natural Balance recalled approximately 87,000 bags of food for Salmonella.
Since 2005, Natural Balance has had approximately 7.45 Million recalled units.
Natural Balance Complaints
There are a large number of complaints about Natural Balance products on the web. One site to find them is Consumer Affairs. Natural Balance has a 2 star satisfaction rating with 69% of ratings consisting of 1 star and 2 star.
Natural Balance Testing
In 2008, Natural Balance announced that they have invested in laboratories for testing their products. They claim:
The health and safety of your pet is our first priority. Every production run of Natural Balance pet food is tested before distribution so that you can “Buy With Confidence”. Not only do we test all products in our state-of-the art in-house laboratory for nine known contaminants before they reach store shelves, but simply enter the product date code below to find actual laboratory results posted in real-time. –Source
They started testing in 2008 but have had over 90,000 recalled bags of food since they claim to test every product before they reach store shelves. So why are they not catching the Salmonella before it reaches store shelves? Was this just a publicity stunt?
Purchase By Del Monte
In 2013, Natural Balance was purchased by Del Monte. As we have seen with other small brands that were bought out by large publicly traded corporations, the quality of the products is likely to decrease to increase profits. This will be seen in the form of increased consumer complaints. These large companies rarely issue recalls (which are effectively voluntary).
While Natural Balance is not the worst offender for recalls, it is one of the more frequently recalled brands. The number of consumer complaints, especially ones with pictures of moldy products, indicates that there are problems with ingredient/product quality and testing. Despite the claim that they test all products for Salmonella prior to it arriving on store shelves, over 90,000 bags have been recalled for that reason. We are also concerned about the purchase of Natural Balance by Del Monte. We hope they won’t follow the pattern of decreasing quality and increasing profits as we have seen in prior cases.