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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Natural Balance Dog-Friendly Culture
Breeds Committed Pet Food Makers

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Meet My New Friends at Natural Balance

You know how you can walk into a business's facility and immediately form an opinion? Of course you do! Today I toured Natural Balance. As I walked past reception and into the the hallway the first thing that was front and center was the pet-friendly culture. Nearly every office door has a doggie gate. One office was shared by 4 pups who were thrilled to have me visit and say hello, although none no more thrilled than I was.

The General Manager's dog, Chloe, joined us in the conference room for a couple of
meetings and chose my lap--yes I was smiling--to hang out on. Let's say we bonded. There was a moment there when I wasn't sure but what she'd be smuggled out in my tote bag :)  I'm pretty sure Tanner and Oliver would have approved.

Our tour, enjoyed together with The Dog Files', Kenn Bell, covered all the usual stuff--the
Kenn Bell of The Dog Files
office, manufacturing, warehouse and distribution, and the best part, the Buy with Confidence Lab. I've mentioned this before but never actually gone into the process in detail. I'll do that in a follow up to this post, as it is even more comprehensive than I anticipated. To say I was impressed would be downplaying my opinion of what they are doing--raising the bar on the pet industry's communication of product quality assurance.

The Lab and Quality Assurance Director, Steven Lunetta, shared the story of why the Buy with Confidence Lab is so important in a multitude of ways. Raising the bar on industry standards not withstanding, he very loyally stated that the existence of the lab is largely due to providing a sleeping pill for Joey Herrick. You may laugh, but he was serious, and the sentiment was sincere. Here's the story as best as I can retell it. My apologies to Steve if I botch any details:

A number of years back the Melamine recalls flooded most of the pet food industry, after beginning in our human food supply. Natural Balance's Joey Herrick voluntarily paid for 22 dogs to have Dialysis treatments for the remainder of their lives when the damage to their kidneys was permanent. Not every pet food brand can say they were that dedicated to their customers' pets during this disaster that struck many pet food companies. 

As the story goes, the whole mess kept Joey up nights, and the Buy with Confidence Lab concept was born as a way to help him sleep, worrying less about potential hazards like this catastrophic incident. Today it is much more than a sleeping pill for Joey. 

The company chose to redouble their efforts to assure that virtually nothing gets out of the warehouse unsafe. Every batch of food delivered is tested thoroughly for  nine toxins and released only when cleared for every single one. Samples of each 80,000 lb. batch of food are taken from numerous spots in the batch, and to my surprise, the ENTIRE batch is dumped if this co-mingled grouping of samples tests positive for any of the toxins. There is zero tolerance for any of the items on their target list. More about this in my next post that covers the Buy With Confidence Lab results in more detail.
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As a member of the 5-person NB Insiders, I was invited to visit and tour the Natural Balance facilities, taking as many photographs as I wished to take. While this trip and tour were paid for by Natural Balance, I have not been told what to say, or asked not to share anything that I saw. The information in my posts about this experience comes wholly from my perspective. I was encouraged to ask questions and probably asked too many :)


Unknown said...

Carrie, I like your blog. I loved it on

Dawn said...

Retesting is a great idea! You never know what could happen to the ingredients while in transport.

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