Dog Owners take note! After warnings and reports that GREENIES, the edible dog chew treat sickened and killed dogs, they rolled out a new, more digestible version.
Greenies - New Formula
Easier for dogs to chew and digest???
by Dave Twiddy, Associated Press, Oct 17, 2006
Top-selling dog treat Greenies, gets a makeover following complaints and lawsuits because it was making dogs sick or worse yet, killing them.
KANSAS CITY, MO. The makers of Greenies, the nation's top-selling dog treat, are rolling out a newly formulated version they say is easier for dogs to chew and digest.
The change comes months after a series of lawsuits and media reports claimed the treat sometimes sickened or killed dogs.
Officials with S&M NuTec, a Kansas City-based company that was acquired earlier this year by candy maker Mars Inc., said they had been working on a new formula even before the negative publicity, but they acknowledged they hope the updated Greenies win back skittish pet owners.
"We know there are perception issues out there about the original Greenies," said Kristy Vetter, consumer care strategy coordinator for S&M NuTec. "We think this will give pet owners confidence about what they're giving their dogs and help their dogs maintain happy, healthy lives."
Greenies are hard, dark green treats shaped like a bone on one end and a toothbrush on the other. The company claims the treats help scrub the dog's teeth, preventing periodontal disease and freshening the animal's breath.
The treats have proven extremely popular, with S&M NuTec saying it sold 315 million Greenies last year. Market research firm Euromonitor International said Greenies represented almost 20 percent of the U.S. dog treat market in 2005.
That dominance was threatened earlier this year when CNN and numerous newspapers began reporting stories from pet owners claiming undigested Greenies had caused throat and intestinal blockages that required surgery and were sometimes fatal. CNN estimated in February that at least 13 dogs had died, and a class-action lawsuit against S&M NuTec is currently pending in federal court in Missouri.
Company officials have repeatedly said the treats are safe when used as directed. They have also noted that owners must buy the correct size of Greenies for their dogs and must be sure their pets adequately chew the treats.
But Vetter said "any good business looks for ways to improve" and, with the help of Mars' researching arm, the company has added features to address many of its critics' claims.
She said the new treats have a chewier texture and "break points" built in to help dogs crunch the treats into smaller, easier-to-swallow pieces. The ingredients have also been changed to break down more quickly in the stomach.
Vetter said the reformulated Greenies are already on shelves in mass retailers such as PetsMart and Petco and should begin appearing in veterinarians' offices and independent pet suppliers by early November.
S&M NuTec also plans a major marketing push to encourage pet owners to get their dogs' teeth checked and cleaned regularly.
Alan Sash, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit, as well as a New York couple who sued the company last November after the death of their dog, said he was pleased the company was changing the formula.
"I doubt it's a coincidence, considering the timing of the change and the fact we asked for a change as part of our class action," Sash said.
Euromonitor analyst Beth Higgins said it's too early to determine how deeply the negative publicity this year hurt S&M NuTec's sales, but she said a new formula should help regain some lost ground.
"It looks like they've done a lot more research, probably more than any other pet care product," Higgins said. "If people are willing to read the label and see how it works, customers will be willing to come back to the product."
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