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Dog Food Ratings

Please be aware that Hill’s is voluntarily recalling some canned dog food due to potentially elevated levels of Vitamin D. More information here.

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Adult Dry Dog Food

by Blue
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Review Summary

30 Second Summary

March 7, 2019
Updated

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula is a mid-priced dry dog food with below-average quality. Let’s start with positives: This product has zero controversial ingredients - that also means no artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. The food, however, is both very high in carbs and also has less than stellar meat and fat quality. Blue Buffalo also has an above-average number of dog food recalls. Lastly, the company was not completely open when answering our quality and transparency questions.

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TYPE
Dry Dog Food
PRICE
$$
BREED SIZE
Small, Medium, Large Breeds
AGE
Adult
FEATURES
Sensitive Digestion, Grain-Free, Limited Ingredients, No Corn Wheat or Soy
PACKAGE
4, 11, 24 lbs
MADE IN
United States
COMPANY
General Mills, Inc.

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Nutrition

Nutrition

This food is high in carbs and low in protein and fat, making it less nutritionally balanced compared to other dog foods we evaluated. Carbohydrates are cheap so they keep the food’s cost low and they are nutritionally useful to dogs in the right amounts. However, high amounts of carbs can reduce the much-needed meat-based protein and fat content.

To evaluate dog foods, we first calculate out the moisture. This is called the “dry matter basis” and shows you only the solid ingredients in the food. These estimated “dry matter” numbers are different from the food label, but a better way to understand the real nutritional value of the food. We also calculate the carbs. Find out more

Label Claim

Dry Matter

Min. Protein 22.22%

Min. Fat 13.33%

Min. Carbs 56.67%

Max. Fiber 6.67%

Max. Ash 7.78%

Max. Moisture 0.00%

Label Claim

Food Label

Min. Protein: 20.0%

Min Fat: 12.0%

Min Carbs: N/A

Max Fiber: 6.0%

Max Ash: N/A

Max. Moisture: 10.0%

Calories

Calories

352 Calories per Cup

This product has an average amount of calories. It’s important to understand how many calories you are feeding to prevent under or overfeeding. Average calorie foods like this are typically best for fairly active dogs who need a moderate amount of daily calories. Based on your dog's current weight and activity level you may want to feed more or less than the recommended amount. It's helpful to know that weight loss foods often have fewer than 340 calories per cup, weight maintenance foods typically range from 340-380 calories, and high-activity dog foods are usually over 400 calories.

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FDA Alert

FDA Alert

Grain-Free Dog Foods

This is a grain-free dog food. The FDA is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and canine heart disease. There is not enough evidence yet to affect our ratings but we've created an article for you explaining the topic.

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73.8%
WATCHDOG
SCORE
Score BannerOverall Rating Score
Ingredients

Ingredients

Score
83%
63
Total Ingredients
0
Controversial Ingredients

Deboned Turkey, Potatoes, Turkey Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Pea Starch, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Pea Fiber, Potato Starch, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Pea Protein, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Pumpkin, Dried Chicory Root, Flaxseed, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Vitamin E Supplement, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), DL-Methionine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper sulfate, L-Lysine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Dried Yeast, Manganese Sulfate, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

The average dog food we reviewed has 39 total ingredients, with 1 controversial ingredient. Despite having a relatively high number of ingredients, none of them are considered controversial - well done!


Top 5 Ingredients

Dog food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. So when looking at dog food label, take a close look at the first 5 ingredients. They make up about 80% of the total weight.

  • Deboned Turkey
    Turkey is generally a healthy dog food ingredient that provides nutrients like protein, fat and B vitamins. Raw meat contains about 75% water which is cooked off during the making of dog food. This leaves only a fraction of the protein content in the final product weight. We recommend looking for dog foods that also include meat meals in the first five ingredients (pre-cooked meat powder that contains four times the amount of protein). De-boned simply means that the bones have been removed.
  • Potatoes
    Potatoes provide carbohydrates (mostly starch) and are a rich source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that there is a potential link between potatoes and canine heart disease. It is still too early to draw conclusions so we cannot yet say if potatoes are a generally high-quality dog food ingredient or should be avoided.
  • Turkey Meal (Source of Glucosamine)
    Meat meals are the result of cooking. Water is removed from meats to create a protein-rich meal powder. Meat meals contain about four times the protein meats do, so generally, they're a good source of nutrients. Glucosamine is a combination of glutamine (an amino acid) and glucose (a sugar) that's present in chicken.

  • Pea Starch
    Pea starch is an extract made from peas that is used as a binding and thickening agent during food manufacturing. We consider this a healthy dog food ingredient.

  • Peas
    Peas are a good source of carbs, fiber and protein. Peas are starchy but high in vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc. We consider this a healthy dog food ingredient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that there is a potential link between peas and canine heart disease. It is still too early to draw conclusions so we cannot yet say if peas are a generally high-quality dog food ingredient or should be avoided.


Controversial Ingredients

This Blue Buffalo product does not contain any ingredients that are controversial, excellent.


Country of Origin

This product is made in the United States.


Meat & Fat Quality

As pointed out above, this food has a far below-average amount of protein. From looking at the ingredients we can assume that quite a bit of the protein is made from plant-based sources. Although we can’t tell exactly how much of this food is meat-based, we can at least see the meat is coming from the named quality sources: Deboned Turkey, and Turkey Meal. While the meats are providing a lot of the fat source, we do see Fish Oil listed. With any meat or fat we want to see exactly where it's coming from, and unfortunately “fish oil” is not specific at all about which animal(s) it’s made of. This makes it a questionable and possibly lower-quality source of fat.


Artificial Preservatives

Blue Buffalo does not have any controversial preservatives in this food. Sidenote: It’s good to know that not all artificial preservatives are bad. That’s because they serve an important purpose, which is to prevent food from spoiling. However, we consider 11 artificial preservatives as controversial because of their potential link to cancer and other serious health conditions.


Artificial Colors

This product doesn’t have artificial colors.


Artificial Flavors

No artificial flavors, either.

Recalls

Recalls

Score
20%
7
Brand Recalls

Blue Buffalo recalls are significantly higher than the industry average. Let’s take a closer look:

Date:
3/17/2017
Recalled Products:
BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs 12.5 oz can UPC# 840243101153
Cause:
Product may contain elevated levels of thyroid hormones.
Class:
I
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
Voluntary
Quantity:
8887 cases (12 per case) total 106,644 cans
Source
Date:
2/28/2017
Recalled Products:
Divine Delights Filet Mignon Flavor in Gravy, UPC #84024312035, Divine Delights New York Strip Flavor in Gravy, UPC #84024312037, Divine Delights Prime Rib Flavor in Gravy, UPC #84024312039, Divine Delights Rotisserie Chicken Flavor in Gravy, UPC #84024312041, Divine Delights Pate Filet Mignon Flavor, UPC #84024312043, Divine Delights Pate Porterhouse Flavor, UPC #84024312045, Divine Delights Pate Grilled Chicken Flavor, UPC #84024312047, Divine Delights Pate Top Sirloin Flavor, UPC #84024312049, Divine Delights Pate Angus Beef Flavor, UPC #84024312051, Divine Delights Pate Roasted Turkey Flavor, UPC #84024312053, Divine Delights Pate With Bacon, Egg & Cheese, UPC #84024312057, Divine Delights Pate Sausage, Egg & Cheese Flavor, UPC #84024312059, Divine Delights Pate Steak & Egg Flavor, UPC #84024312061, Wilderness Trail Trays Duck Grill, UPC #84024312071, Wilderness Trail Trays Beef Grill, UPC #84024312073, Wilderness Trail Trays Chicken Grill, UPC #84024312075, Wilderness Trail Trays Turkey Grill, UPC #84024312077
Cause:
Packaging quality.
Class:
III
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
N/A
Quantity:
N/A
Source
Date:
2/1/2017
Recalled Products:
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight Chicken Dinner With Garden Vegetable , Net Wt. 12.5 oz. Distributed by Blue Buffalo Co., Ltd 11 River Rd. Wilson, CT 06897 UPC 8-40243-10017-0. Blue Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables; 12.5 oz. Can, UPC Code: 840243100170
Cause:
This recall has been initiated due to receiving a notification of a consumer complaint regarding foreign material in Doctors Fosters and Smith Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food.
Class:
II
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
Voluntary
Quantity:
2,535 cases
Source
Date:
5/26/2016
Recalled Products:
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Fish & Sweet Potato Recipe for Dogs, 30 lb bag. UPC Code: 859610000326
Cause:
Product is contaminated with mold
Class:
II
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
Voluntary
Quantity:
N/A
Source
Date:
11/25/2015
Recalled Products:
Blue Wilderness Wild Chews - Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews Bones, UPC: 840243110087
Cause:
Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews Bones may be contaminated with Salmonella.
Class:
I
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
Voluntary
Quantity:
1440 bones were shipped to two PetSmart distribution centers, 240 bones were shipped to PetSmart stores. 11 bones were sold to customers
Source
Date:
10/8/2010
Recalled Products:
Certain packages of Blue Wilderness Chicken Flavor dry dog food, Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Salmon and Potato Recipe dry dog food, and Blue Life Protection Formula Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Large Breed Adult dog food.
Cause:
Potentially too much Vitamin D.
Class:
II
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
N/A
Quantity:
N/A
Source
Date:
4/27/2007
Recalled Products:
All cans of Blue Buffalo BLUE dog food, all cans of Blue Buffalo BLUE Spa Select cat food, all Blue Buffalo BLUE dog treats, and Blue Buffalo Spa Select Kitten dry food.
Cause:
Melamine.
Class:
I
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
N/A
Quantity:
N/A
Source
Transparency

Transparency

Score
85%

We love dog food brands that are committed to transparent business practices. If you make quality dog food you should be willing to openly talk about how it’s sourced and produced. That’s why we reached out to pet food companies, asking questions about all their brands and products. Each company had three weeks to reply to our messages.

How Easy Was it to Reach the Company?

Blue Buffalo who is owned by General Mills did not respond to the first contact form submission or the second contact form submission that was sent a week later. A call was placed in the third week that did receive answers to the following questions below. Since the call was not recorded, the following responses are paraphrased and not exact statements from the company.

Does Blue Buffalo have a veterinary nutritionist on staff? If so, who are they?

We do, but the name cannot be shared.

Who formulates your recipes, and what are their credentials?

A full team of vets, various Phd that work with a research and development team.

Do you test your products using AAFCO feeding trials? Why, or why not?

Do not do the feeding trials, but do palatability and stool testing.  

What country are your products manufactured?

United States

Can your manufacturing facilities be visited?

Visits to our manufacturing facilities are not open to the public

What quality measures do you use to assure consistency and quality?

A complete answer was provided including measures that included meeting FDA guidelines, QA teams at the facilities, ingredient and final product testing.

Does Blue Buffalo own its manufacturing facility? If it is another company, what company is it?

We own the facility in MO, and a second one in IN. Beyond that we use the following co-packers: Hampshire Pet, ANI, ProPets, Simmons, and Daysix.

Do any parts of your product come from China?

No primary sources of protein, fruits, veggies but while we don’t source from China, we can’t guarantee that vitamins and minerals don’t come from there.

Often companies as large as Blue are depending on suppliers that may source raw materials from China.

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Adult Dry Dog Food

by Blue
CHECK PRICE NOW
Other Products From This Brand

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