71% of Pet Parents Would "Lose Trust" in Their Pet Food Brand If It Issued a Recall, According to Survey From Petful

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"When it comes to pet food, trust is everything," says longtime pet food safety advocate.

A new survey from Petful.com underscores the profound impact that pet food recalls can have on brands' reputations.

A whopping 71% of respondents in the Petful survey said they would lose trust in their preferred pet food brand in the event the brand had to issue a product recall — for any reason.

"This new survey confirms what we've long suspected: Pet parents today are carefully scrutinizing every aspect of their pets' safety, and that goes especially for pet food," said Dave Baker, publisher of Petful, who has been tracking U.S. dog and cat food recalls for more than a decade. "When it comes to pet food, trust is everything," he added.

The online survey of 1,320 visitors to Petful.com was conducted from June 10 to Aug. 24, 2020. The margin of error is +/-3%.

Respondents were asked, "Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Issuing a recall, for any reason, would cause me to lose trust in my pet food brand."

  • 46% said they strongly agree.
  • 25% said they somewhat agree.
  • 10% neither agreed nor disagreed.
  • 11% said they somewhat agree.
  • And 8% strongly disagreed.

On the bright side for pet food brands, 2020 so far has been an unusually quiet period for recalls in the United States. As of August 25, only three pet food recalls have been issued in 2020, versus seven during the same period in 2019 and 25 during the same period in 2018, according to research from Petful.

The three recalls in 2020 involved Icelandic+ pet treats (March 23), certain Natural Balance canned cat food (July 3) and a specific type of Nature's Menu dry dog food (Aug. 24).

Even though a brand's reputation can take an initial hit in the days after issuing a pet food recall, the company may be able to recover quickly, depending on how effectively it responds to the crisis.

"I tell our readers that any pet food brand can experience a recall — sometimes for very minor reasons. A lot of times, this means the company actually has stellar quality control and is on top of safety issues," Baker said. "Unless there's extreme negligence resulting in sickness or deaths, or a long history of really bad quality control and failed inspections, what matters to me is how that brand responds to the recall. Are they being open, transparent and cooperative, or are they trying to skirt responsibility?"

"What I want to see is the company quickly and fully own up to the problem and then clearly explain to its customers how the issues will be fixed going forward," Baker added. "What I don't want to see is stonewalling from the company — denying there's a problem, not learning from past mistakes, blaming suppliers instead of looking inward, slamming regulators for supposed overreach, or trying to sneak 'silent recalls' past consumers and the media. Those are all huge, honking red flags that tell me, 'This company puts profits over pets' safety.'"

About Petful

At Petful®, we are on a mission to give our readers the best, most accurate information to help their pets live happier, healthier lives. We do not take our readers’ trust for granted. We cut through the noise to offer them life-saving dog and cat food recall alerts; vet-approved health content; and well-researched advice on everything from feeding to behaviors, grooming, training and more.

About Dave Baker

Dave Baker, founder and publisher of Petful, is a journalist and editor who has worked at The New York Times and The Nation magazine. He was also part of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize–winning team at The Times-Picayune newspaper of New Orleans. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Petful is based. A longtime advocate for pet food safety, Dave has been passionately tracking U.S. dog and cat food recalls for the past 10-plus years, and more than 30,000 pet parents are subscribed to his free pet food recall alerts.

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