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IAMS engages world's largest spin merchants

The Iams Company, the pet food subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, has engaged Fleishman-Hillard Inc., the world's largest PR company, to try to spin them out of the controversy raging over the exposure of cruel and lethal experiments performed by the company on cats, dogs and other animals.

Fleishman-Hillard Inc.'s world HQ is situated in St Louis, Missouri - also home to Monsanto and McDonald's.

The corporation's figures for 2000 catapulted to the top of the pile of public relations firms - it made $342.8 million last year (source: www.fleishman.com). Fleishman-Hillard Inc. boasts spin expertise in many areas of controversial corporate activity, including agribusiness and biotechnology.

IAMS are being harangued following the emergence of scientific papers detailing 24 vivisection studies performed on 460 cats and dogs by IAMS. The papers were published between 1991 and 2000. The Sunday Express ran the story on the front page - sending IAMS current multi-million pound marketing campaign into disarray.

Sheffield-based anti-cruelty group Uncaged Campaigns is lined up against the world's biggest companies in the field of spin and consumer products who boast a combined annual turnover of $40 billion. (Not to mention our little disagreement with Novartis Pharma AG). They are unfazed though.

Dan Lyons, Director of Uncaged Campaigns, comments:

"Companies with a problem with the truth have to turn to spin specialists such as Fleishman-Hillard. In contrast, our attitude is straightforward and genuine - we urge the public to take a look at the facts and make up their own minds. If IAMS had nothing to hide they would just tell it as it is - themselves. The latest statement, analysed below, is a classic piece of spin - warm words with little actual focus or substance. Surely these companies cannot believe that the public are so gullible?"

Below is a copy of a letter sent today by Uncaged Campaigns to Fleishman-Hillard asking for clarification of Iam's current practices. We won't hold our breath...

Correspondence with Fleishman-Hillard

Annabel Fiddian Green
Fleishman-Hillard International Communications
15 June 2001

Dear Annabel

Following on from our telephone conversation Thursday lunchtime, I would like to clarify some of the fundamentally ambiguous elements of the statement reproduced below. Because of the highly equivocal nature of the statement, we find the stated intentions to achieve "complete transparency" and "to clarify" the IAMS' policy regarding animal experimentation lack credibility. We are not so naïve as to assume that Fleishman's role as PR consultants for The Iams Company involves a commitment to complete transparency and honesty - after all if IAMS were committed to such practices we doubt they would need to employ you! Nevertheless, I hope that you can give us some straightforward answers. The questions we would like you to answer appear after the statement.

8th June 2001

For complete transparency The Iams Company wishes to clarify its policy regarding animals in research for the development of pet foods.

"The Iams Company is committed to improving the health and well-being of cats and dogs through the development of superior nutrition.

"The Iams Company will not participate in any study requiring the euthanasia of cats or dogs, nor will we conduct the veterinary equivalent of any tests on cats or dogs which are not acceptable in nutritional or medical studies in people."

Since the recent acquisition of The Iams Company, Procter & Gamble has been aligning research policies emanating from our many R&D technical centres around the world. In the past, P&G's products have been for use by people.

However, since the acquisition of The Iams Company, it became necessary to recognise a new set of consumers and include cats and dogs in our overall global policy. This new statement is compatible and aligned with P&G's policy, it reflects the decision made two years ago by The Iams Company to start no further studies which required euthanasia of cats and dogs and it also demonstrates the commitment of both companies to animal welfare.

This policy applies to all research of The Iams Company in the development of pet food regardless of whether it is within our own technical centres, universities or anywhere else.

Uncaged Campaigns' Questions

  1. The title/subject of the statement refers to "policy on the development of pet foods". What does The Iams Company mean, precisely, by 'research for the development of pet foods' (in other words, what kinds of studies does this include and exclude)? Does this category of research cover all of the research conducted on animals currently or in the past supported in any way (i.e. through part or whole funding and involving IAMS employees/researchers) by the Iams Company?
  2. Can The Iams Company provide hard evidence of "the decision made two years ago... to start no further studies which required euthanasia of cats and dogs"? To the best of our knowledge, this decision was not communicated to the Sunday Express prior to the publication of the first exposé on 27 May when the paper spoke to Dr Dan Carey, IAMS' Director of Technical Communications. Naturally, this raises about the truthfulness of the references to this decision. Furthermore, we did actually request that IAMS provide evidence of this decision two weeks ago but nothing has been forthcoming.
  3. How does IAMS propose to facilitate ongoing verification of its stated policy regarding non-lethal studies on cats and dogs?
  4. From the wording of the passage referred to in the above point, we presume that ongoing studies involving killing cats and dogs were occurring within the last two years. If so, what were those studies and when did they cease?
  5. Will/does IAMS participate in any experiments (i.e. including and
    excluding the category of 'research for the development of pet food') involving the killing/euthanasia of cats and dogs?
  6. Have any cats or dogs died as a result of experiments that IAMS' has participated in over the last two years? (The reason I ask this is that even if we accept for the sake of argument that IAMS does not participate in experiments REQUIRING the killing of cats and dogs in the "development of pet food" category of research, such experiments may still have possibly unforeseen consequences that lead to the deaths of cats and dogs.)
  7. Will/does IAMS participate in any studies on cats and dogs that contain procedures that cause pain, suffering or illness to those animals? (For example, the severe allergy study conducted on husky puppies (Olson M. E. et al., "Hypersensitivity Reactions to Dietary Antigens in Atopic Dogs", Proceedings of 2000 Iams Nutrition Symposium, p. 69-77) which was referred to in the Express article and in our report clearly caused pain and suffering, yet may not necessarily have required the euthanasia of those puppies.)
  8. IAMS state: ". nor will we conduct the veterinary equivalent of any tests on cats or dogs which are not acceptable in nutritional or medical studies in people." This is classic spin! The procedures performed on cats and dogs by IAMS obviously have some parallels with human medical interventions, but the fundamental difference is that IAMS' practice has traditionally involved taking healthy animals, making them sick, and then performing these tests on them. This is hardly the same as performing diagnostic or other procedures on a human patient for his/her own benefit. Maybe you could comment on this?
  9. The remainder of the statement is so vague as to be meaningless. However, I note that the statement is said by IAMS to be "compatible and aligned with P&G's policy". Does this mean that P&G conducts no lethal tests on cats and dogs whatsoever? (Although I concede that the public relations statement is compatible with P&G policy insofar as it is deliberately ambiguous in order to give the impression that the company is less cruel to animals than it really is - it is part of a pattern we have observed!)
  10. We presume that IAMS conduct lethal tests on animals apart from cats and dogs. If this is not so, or if you would like to explain the position fully, please comment.

I look forward to receiving your reply - for the sake of 'transparency'
and 'clarity' (!) of course. I shall also be posting this on our website in order to facilitate public scrutiny of IAMS' position and I look forward to being able to communicate your response.

Yours sincerely
Dan Lyons
Uncaged Campaigns

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Uncaged 1993-2012: This is the archived website of Uncaged. All information correct at the time of archiving - November 2012.