SAN DIEGO — Petco announced May 1 it has successfully rid its shelves of dog and cat food products containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, following through with the decision announced in November 2018 and becoming the first major pet food and treat retailer to do so.

The retailer based its new nutritional standards on the removal of products containing any of 40 artificial ingredients, including FD&C Red No. 3, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), glycerol tributyrate and ethoxyquin. Petco mentioned it plans to add to the list in the future.

"Today is about more than just confirming we kept the promise we made last year to eliminate artificial ingredients for dogs and cats at Petco, it's about celebrating better health and wellness for the pets we love," said Ron Coughlin, CEO of Petco.

Coughlin also posted a letter on LinkedIn calling on the industry to follow suit in disowning artificial ingredients. The CEO explained the strategy behind ousting artificial ingredients in more detail in a Bloomberg interview in November 2018.

According to a survey conducted by Petco, 62% of current customers said they could consider switching to a new pet food that meets its new nutritional standards.

"The interest we've seen from pet parents, our vendor partners and the broader industry since November has been incredible," said Nick Konat, co-chief merchandising officer for Petco. "We worked with key vendor partners to introduce new formulas, ensuring that we can continue to offer a range of products that meet our standards at every price point. Pet parents have been eager to learn more about how they can support their pets' overall wellness through nutrition – and we've already helped many of them safely transition to foods that meet our standards. We've also continued to engage with a range of industry experts and stakeholders to understand opportunities and challenges tied to implementing our new standards and continuing to evolve them overtime. We're both gratified and energized by the continued momentum on this journey toward better health for pets."

Petco said it plans to extend its new nutritional guidelines to small animal food and aquafeed looking forward.

Since its announcement in November 2018, Petco has brought Champion Petfoods brands ACANA and ORIJEN into stores and expanded its partnership with JustFoodForDogs, a human-grade pet food kitchen providing fresh meals for pets.

Stay up to date on news about the pet food processing industry on our News page.