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Product Reviews

The Natura Tour

As promised, here is a review of my tour of the Natura manufacturing facility.

The Natura plant is located in Freemont, Nebraska. It’s where the dry kibble for all of their brands (Innova, California Natural, HealthWise, Karma, Evo) is produced. The treat biscuits (including Mother Nature) and canned foods are manufactured elsewhere.

from younglovellc.com

The plant was built in 2003 with recent additions made. It was designed to be efficient and to limit the introduction of contaminants. We were told that all ingredients brought to the plant are tested for contaminants before being accepted. The design of the plant itself was meant to reduce the likelihood of infestation. The concrete structure also makes it easy to clean. Indeed, I didn’t see one speck of dust, even on the baseboards.

The manufacturing process is automated. According to the P&G executives, it takes fewer than 25 people per shift to keep the manufacturing process going. Ingredients are mixed, air pressure moves the product through the line, and product is tracked by computer to guarantee the first manufactured is the first out.

Ingredients are not human-grade. Below is a pic taken by P&G staff of the line where the carrots and apples are introduced. The chicken comes into the plant pre-processed in large containers with signs indicating it’s not human-grade. When asked why, we were told something to the effect that such labeling was required for pet food. Of course I didn’t learn until later about the class-action lawsuit (Ko v. Natura Pet Products, Inc. (No. 5:09-cv-02619)) settled by this company regarding advertising claims made about the quality of the food.

We also toured the company’s Health and Nutrition Center. That’s where they keep the dogs and cats that test their products. We were told the testing was non-invasive and was limited mostly to palatability (which food tasted better) and stool firmness.  We were told there were currently 35 dogs and 24 cats on-site for testing with more dogs to come.

The cats were kept in two rooms. We were told the cats are caged when fed, and for longer when testing foods (to get those stool and urine samples), but the rest of the time they are in the rooms. There was not much room for exercise and certainly not enough to run in. There was a staffer in one of the rooms waving a toy around, but there did not appear to be much interest in the activity from either the cats or the staffer.

I can’t say much about the dogs because we weren’t allowed to see them. There were three dogs on the grassy area we saw with two staffers. We were told the dogs get exercise for up to an hour per day broken up into increments.  The dogs are kept in kennels but are given recreational time in groups of up to six.

The animals used for testing were originally rescued animals but the company now buys animals from breeders. Once finished with the animals, they are adopted out.

So  for those of you looking for pet food designed to provide balanced nutrition or to accomodate special dietary needs, like DeDe, this company has products you may find appealing.


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About rumpydog

I am a malamute that was rescued by Jen. I live with June Buggie the cat. I blog about animal welfare and responsible care of companion animals at rumpydog.com. You can follow me on Twitter - @RumpyDog. And don't forget to LIKE my Facebook page! Thanks!

Discussion

32 thoughts on “The Natura Tour

  1. Sadly they don’t sell those products up here.

    Posted by Doggy's Style | May 29, 2012, 3:11 AM
  2. Thanks for the info! We will have to check it out!
    xoxo Chloe and LadyBug

    Posted by bichonpawz | May 29, 2012, 3:58 AM
  3. The late Dr. Z ate innova senior it was one of the few products that she tolerated.

    The rest of us eat orijen

    urban hounds

    Posted by Urban Hounds | May 29, 2012, 4:59 AM
  4. Interesting info on the plant Jen…..wish they could devote a little more space and time to their “food tasters”….but at least they’re kept in a clean environment and are well fed!

    Pam and Sam

    Posted by onespoiledcat | May 29, 2012, 6:18 AM
  5. Hi Jen! *paw waving* Thanks so much for this interesting info!!! To be honest,
    I didn’t know how our food was made before I read this post. I did’t know that there were some dogs and cats who were tested for our food, either…..We have to thank for them as we can have safe and healthy food because of them. Nature seems to keep their manufacture very well organized and clean!
    I hope that the circumstances of the dogs and cats at the Health and Nutrition Center improves a little bit better!!!! :)

    Posted by eripanwkevin | May 29, 2012, 6:52 AM
  6. What are you thoughts Jen–we’re sad that the dogs only get exercise for a total of an hour per day (broken up into increments)? That seems like a very short amount of time. x Berner Girls

    Posted by Moxie Dogs | May 29, 2012, 7:59 AM
  7. Sounds really fun. I like such place.

    Posted by cocomino | May 29, 2012, 8:07 AM
  8. Interesting info! Thanks!
    Purrs…

    Posted by Texas, a cat in New York | May 29, 2012, 8:49 AM
  9. Looks like a nice clean environment. As for the animals, at least they are adopted out after. It would be nice to see them living a little happier life while they are there though.

    Posted by Bassetmomma | May 29, 2012, 9:53 AM
  10. VERY interesting!! THANKS.

    Posted by Frankie Furter and Ernie | May 29, 2012, 10:01 AM
  11. cool! my pancreatitis means special food….pretty interesting to see how it’s all done though…i never know they actually have animals to test the products on….good to know they get to be adopted out:)

    Posted by Scrappy | May 29, 2012, 10:03 AM
  12. Glad you saw the plant. It looks clean. I do have concerns about the animal testers – not just about quality of life, and who adopts them later – but sizes and types of breeds. Do appreciate they invited you out – and glad it works for DeDe. It’s always a problem when a pup has tummy issues. Thanks for the review.

    Posted by philosophermouseofthehedge | May 29, 2012, 10:38 AM
  13. Thanks for posting this…most interesting. We feel sorry for all the test animals used everywhere….but we guess it has to be done for the safety of all our pets and people too. It seems the test animals at this plant are treated better than others we have heard of. We think they all should be treated like royalty. Hugs and nose kisses

    Posted by Chancy and Mumsy | May 29, 2012, 1:24 PM
  14. Hmmmm I must say you sound less than thrilled. This was interesting because their packaging and commercials would lead one to think that they would “test” in a different manner. I don’t like at all what I read about the cats. That saddens me. This is part of the reason why I so far have turned down tours of pet food plants. I am afraid it will upset me too much

    Posted by CarenOsrinGittleman (@CatChatCaren) | May 29, 2012, 1:52 PM
  15. I wish there were better conditions for the animals. While I’m happy to hear the testing is non-invasive I feel bad for any animal spending it’s life caged. Did you get any indication of how long each animal is kept for?

    Posted by Jodi Stone | May 29, 2012, 2:28 PM
  16. wellll…I am glad you were asked to tour…concatulations on being recognized as someone who has influence in the cat and dog world! I am a bit skeptical of the conditions under which their product tasters are housed and the environment in which they ‘cared for’…i.e. exercise, interaction with people, play time, etc.

    Posted by Savannah's Paw Tracks | May 29, 2012, 5:30 PM
  17. We do love our California Natural. Hopefully they will stay off the bad list. Wish they could do more for the kitties and dogs that help them.

    Woos – Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

    Posted by Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning | May 29, 2012, 8:10 PM
  18. Hmmm, me is very happy to NOT be a Natura test cat.
    Kisses
    Nellie

    Posted by catfromhell | May 29, 2012, 8:12 PM
  19. I’m always fascinated by how things are made. If all those brands are made in the same place with the same equipment when do they introduce different what’s the difference in the brands.

    The others are right – the dogs need more exercise and more room. Why do the buy dogs from breeders? Makes me sad.

    Posted by Lynda | May 29, 2012, 8:46 PM
  20. I used to think the Natura line was in the top 10. That was until P&G took over. They assured the retail stores they would not sell to the big box stores…..they didn’t keep their promise. They also had made small recipe changes when they took over and didn’t announce it. The rule is you have 6 months after you change formulas to tell the public. Overall now that P&G are in charge they have cheapified and increased the price.

    Posted by Lisa | May 29, 2012, 9:18 PM
  21. oh boy… it kinda saddens me that there are dogs and cats on-site for testing… i really hope they get enough play time out in the sun and are treated well. And even better if they too have squeakies of their own. Still… thank you Rumpy for sharing the knowledge :) It was good to learn more about how furkids’ food are manufactured. By the way Rumpy, did you know that Mom and I passed on an award to you some time back? :) It’s here! :D

    http://fluffypopcorn.com/2012/04/23/ooooooo-one-lovely-blog-award-o-o/

    Posted by fluffypopcorn | May 30, 2012, 6:35 AM
  22. Natura does seem like a more human and organically-oriented pet food company than many others. We appreciate this information very much.

    Posted by granbee | May 30, 2012, 4:30 PM

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