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Reconsidering Purina - Input Junkie
January 6th, 2012
10:27 am

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Reconsidering Purina
madfilkentist wrote very sensibly:
I've seen strong evidence that Amazon suppresses negative reviews if the product seller wants them suppressed. Most don't ask for censorship, so there are still a lot of hostile reviews, but I don't consider Amazon reviews a trustworthy measure.

It's also possible for a competitor or someone with a grudge to flood sites with libelous reviews under different names and IP addresses, so you can't tell much from that either. I don't worry until I see something from identifiable, somewhat trustworthy sources.

I poked around, and found some evidence that amazon sporadically censors negative reviews, though I haven't seen the strong evidence.

Consumeraffairs.com has a very neutral wikipedia page-- nothing about whether it's apt to be used for completely false campaigns.

I checked the Better Business Bureau about Purina, and they just had a few complaints listed-- only two of them had details, and neither of them were about extremely bad pet food.

Metafilter had something about the salmonella recall, but nothing about serious current problems. Neither did Snopes.

I've googled on [purina maggots] and [kit and kaboodle complaints +purina] and turned up very little.

I find it bizarre that there might be an energetic anti-purina campaign which is limited to consumeraffairs.com, but that seems like the best explanation so far.

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From:sturgeonslawyer
Date:January 6th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
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Yeh, Amazon reviews definitely skew positive, and there are a lot of possible explanations for that. I don't regard them as "useful reviews," but I do find that they're useful as guides to what's good in a book/cd/whatever. If the positive review covers things that hit my hot buttons I'm more likely to buy.
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From:lysystratae
Date:January 6th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC)
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After reading some of the complaints on consumeraffairs, i don't think it's maggots they're finding. Based on the description of the worms and the webbing mentioned, it sounds like pantry moths; the larval form matches the worm description, & the webbing they make before becoming moths. I frequently have problems with them because of our pet birds (the eggs of the larva are frequently in bird seed where they're had to detect). Once they're in your house they're very hard to get rid of permanently and will try to get into any dry goods in your pantry.
I don't think they are what's making the animals sick, tho. My dogs have eaten them without an issue (no, not on purpose). The symptoms sound more like mold; that is toxic to dogs, which i found out the hard way 2 days before christmas when my dogs found a paper plate with mold on it in some garbage a racoon had torn open. The mold symptoms match up with what they're describing. The vet also said they'd seen a huge increase in mold poisoning the last few months.
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From:nancylebov
Date:January 6th, 2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
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Very interesting point that it may well be pantry moths. I will note that even though pantry moths have a smaller yuck factor than maggots, infesting people's houses with pantry moths is an undesirable feature for a pet food.

What I can't figure out is whether anything is happening at all. The accounts at consumer affairs have what I'd call a plausible amount of variation, but if Purina dog food is apt to have lots of insects of some sort, why aren't I seeing complaints about it in more places?
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From:chomiji
Date:January 6th, 2012 06:05 pm (UTC)
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As I think lysystratae's comment implied, the pantry moths don't have to have come in with the dog food. They will get into anything that's not completely sealed with a fairly hard seal, as long as it has some sort of grain or nut in it - corn meal, cereal, pasta, soup mixes, pet food, they love it all. It's very hard to tell where they came from, unless you are lucky enough to have noticed the larvae in that item first and then gone through everything else in your house that might harbor them, and eliminated those things as sources.

They are really awful! We had them pupating inside a box of plastic soda straws and inside elbow macaroni - they like that kind of tubular space for their cocoons. One even got into the top of a squirt bottle of gentle shampoo with oatmeal that I got for my rabbits (guess that proves that it was really gentle and made of real oatmeal ... ).

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From:nancylebov
Date:January 6th, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
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It's true that the pantry moths wouldn't have to come in with the dog food, and dry pet food would seem to be a natural place for infestation-- some carbs, possibly not sealed thoroughly, and available for a long time.

Poking around online turns up some mentions of pantry moths in dog food, but not many. Is it just that once the subject of maggots in dog food came up on consumer affairs, people got sensitized, and became more likely to exaggerate and report on even tiny infestations? Or is this something else?
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From:lysystratae
Date:January 8th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
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Since very few people have ever actually seen a maggot, but they've all heard of them, I'm thinking one person said 'maggot' and everyone else went 'yeah, that's what it looks like". I've had the misfortune to see both up close and personal, and while they do bear some resemblance in size, shape, and makes-your-skin-crawliness, they don't really look at all alike.
Pantry moths larvae is yellow with reddish heads and tiny, skinny little worms:
http://www.ridacritter.com/pest/Images/page_images/spp/imm_larval.jpg

while maggots are pretty much beige, and twice as long and fatter:
http://www.maggots.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/close-up-photo-of-maggots.jpg

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From:nancylebov
Date:January 9th, 2012 12:37 am (UTC)
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Some of the descriptions sounded as though there was more than one type of vermin in the dog food. Perhaps someday we'll find out what was going on, though I'm not counting on it.

Also, I wonder if there were a bunch of cats and dogs getting very sick from their food, or if it was just random sickness, or if there was a libelous vendetta.
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From:lysystratae
Date:January 8th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, at the very least I'd expect to see a couple news stories somewhere; your post was the first I'd heard of it, and I followed the link because I didn't know what you were talking about.
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