Food and Diet

BREAKING: Petco Discontinues Sale of Dog & Cat Food, Treats with Artificial Ingredients

Nationwide pet supply store, Petco, has just announced big changes that will improve that lives of countless dogs and cats today and in the foreseeable future. The “big box” pet supply retailer is discontinuing the sale of all dog and cat foods and treats that are made with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.


In a letter from Petco’s CEO, Ron Coughlin, the retailer announced a plan to discontinue, and remove from store shelves, any dog and cat food or treats that contain artificial ingredients beginning in January of 2019 with a completion date in May.

Coughlin joined Petco as their Chief Executive Officer earlier this year and is already making big changes in the name of improving pets’ lives.

“We’re raising the bar and stepping out ahead of the industry. Not because it’s an easy thing to do, but because we believe it’s the right thing to do,” he wrote. “Our goal is better health and wellness for the pets we all love. And setting new standards for nutrition is just the beginning.”

This is a massive undertaking, but not the first big move by the major retailer to make feeding our pets easier and healthier. In 2014, Petco became the first national pet-specialty retailer to put pets before profits when they discontinued sales of all dog and cat treats made in China.

So, what exactly will be pulled from shelves?
According to their website, beginning in January 2019, Petco will begin removing any products containing artificial color, artificial flavor, or artificial preservatives as listed below:

Artificial Color – any dye, pigment, or other substance that can impart color to a food that is not derived from a natural source.

  • Labels that says “Artificial Colors”
  • FD&C Blue No. 1
  • FD&C Blue No. 2
  • FD&C Green No. 3
  • Orange B
  • Citrus Red No. 2
  • FD&C Red No. 3
  • FD&C Red No. 40
  • FD&C Yellow No. 5
  • FD&C Yellow No. 6
  • Titanium dioxide*

*We will remove titanium dioxide from most products by May 2019, with the exception of Pro Plan and Science Diet Urinary formulas for cats, as there is not yet a suitable artificial-free formula to address this common health issue faced by 1 in 10 cats.


Artificial Flavor – any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products.

  • Label Just Says “Artificial Flavors”
  • Acetaldehyde (ethanal)
  • Acetoin (acetyl methylcarbinol)
  • Aconitic acid (equisetic acid, citridic acid, achilleic acid)
  • Anethole (parapropenyl anisole)
  • Benzaldehyde (benzoic aldehyde)
  • N-Butyric acid (butanoic acid)
  • d- or l-Carvone (carvol)
  • Cinnamaldehyde (cinnamic aldehyde)
  • Citral (2,6-dimethyloctadien-2,6-al-8, geranial, neral)
  • Decanal (N-decylaldhehyde, capraldehyde, capric aldehyde, caprinaldehyde, aldehyde C-10)
    • Diacetyl (2,3-butandeione). Ethyl acetate. Ethyl butyrate.
  • 3-Methyl-3-phenyl glycidic acid ethyl ester (ethyl-methyl-phenyl-glycidate, so-called strawberry aldehyde, C-16 aldehyde).
  • Eugenol
  • Geranoil (3,7-dimethyl-2,6 and 3,6-octadien-1-ol)
  • Geranyl acetate (geraniol acetate)
  • Glycerol (glyceryl) tributyrate (tributyrin, butyrin)
  • Limonene (d-, l-, and dl-)
  • Linalool (linalol, 3,7-dimethyl-1,6-octadien-3-ol)
  • Linalyl acetate (bergamol)
  • 1-Malic acid
  • Methyl anthranilate (methyl-2-aminobenzoate)
  • Piperonal (3,4-methylenedioxy-benzaldehyde, heliotropin)

Artificial Preservative – Chemical substances added to or sprayed on the outside of food to retard spoilage, deterioration, discoloration, or contamination by bacteria and other disease organisms. Does not include preservatives that are derivatives of natural compounds.

    • Benzoic acid – synthetic preservative
    • Erythorbic acid
    • Thiodipropionic acid
    • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) – synthetic preservative
    • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – synthetic preservative
    • Calcium sorbate – synthetic preservative
    • Ethoxyquin – synthetic preservative
    • Dilauryl thiodipropionate
    • Methylparaben
    • Potassium bisulfite
    • Potassium metabisulfite
    • Propylene glycol
    • Propylparaben
    • Sodium metabisulfite
    • Sodium propionate
    • Sodium sorbate
    • Sodium sulfite
    • Stannous chloride
    • Sulfur dioxide
    • TBHQ – Tertiary butylhydroquinone

About the new standards for pet nutrition in their stores, Petco said, “we believe quality food leads to healthier, happier pets. We’d rather remove pet food containing artificial ingredients, than wait to find out if they’re harmful.”


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