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Will Beneful® kill my dog?

By Molly Ingram

Last week, the media picked up a story about a class action lawsuit which has been filed against Purina’s Beneful® brand dog food by a California gentleman who says the dog food killed two of his pets.

The issue seems to be primarily about one ingredient – propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is similar to ethylene glycol which is found in anti-freeze and we know is toxic. However, propylene glycol is approved as a food additive in human food and in feed for animals, except cats, in the U.S. and Canada.

Having said that, propylene glycol is the ingredient that caused a recall of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky® in Scandinavia recently and is in more common food and drink items for humans than you’d think.

There has been no FDA recall of Beneful® nor any “proof” brought forward to substantiate this allegation to date. Purina says, “Ethylene glycol — not propylene glycol — is the active compound in most automobile radiator anti-freeze solutions, and is toxic to animals and humans when ingested. Propylene glycol has a different molecular structure, giving it different properties and allowing it to be used safely in animal feed, except for cats, as well as in human foods, such as cake mixes, salad dressings, soft drinks, popcorn, food coloring, fat-free ice cream and sour cream.” And to be fair, Purina does maintain high quality control standards for all of it’s’ products.

So for me the question comes down to two things. First, do you want to risk your dog’s health in any way? And secondly, is Beneful® a high quality dog food to begin with? Here is the ingredient list for Beneful®:

Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, rice flour, beef, soy flour, meat and bone meal, propylene glycol, sugar, tricalcium phosphate, salt, phosphoric acid, potassium chloride, animal digest, sorbic acid (a preservative), mono and dicalcium phosphate, dried spinach, dried peas, dried carrots, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, Red 40, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, Blue 2, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.

Being good consumers, we have learned how to read ingredient lists on the back of all food packaging and know they are listed in the order of “most” to “least” percentages of that item appearing in the product. For me, there is way too much “filler” in the above list of ingredients and I would opt for something different for my dogs. But you need to decide for yourself. My recommendation? Keep reading those labels.

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