At the grocery store, you pick up a can or bag of food for your pet, believing that the “organic and all-natural meat” claims on the label will be beneficial. But, just a few days after your cat or dog tries it, your pet shows signs of sluggishness, fatigue and vomits frequently. Although you might think your pet picked up a bug, many owners eventually attribute new food to their companion’s illness.
In 2007, 150 major pet food brands recalled their products after lab results found them responsible for the deaths of thousands of dogs and cats. According to the FDA, these brands had used vitamin and mineral mixtures manufactured in China, where melamine and cyanuric acid had been used to supplement the protein content. The distributors slapped a “made in USA” label on their bags and cans, as they had assembled their products in the United States out of these imported ingredients. As a result, owners believing they had purchased something safe saw their pets suffering from kidney failure.
False advertising remains a constant with pet food claims and, in 2016, Blue Buffalo reached a $32 million settlement over this issue. The company, spending $50 million in television advertising, claimed its formulas contained no by-products – and even stated that on its labels. With the settlement, Blue Buffalo came clean, clarifying that they do use poultry by-product meal and had been misleading consumers with false advertisements.
Around this time, Purina also saw several lawsuits from pet owners concerning its ingredients. Products under the Purina brand claimed to be entirely American made, but as in 2007, many ingredients, including tapioca, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, continued to be sourced overseas.
In 2015, Purina’s Beneful brand also experienced a series of lawsuits over its dry products. Owners started seeing their pets show signs of stomach and internal bleeding, diarrhea, liver malfunction, weight loss, vomiting, seizures, dehydration and kidney failure after consuming a formula that contained propylene glycol, mycotoxins, arsenic and lead. Although laboratory results indicated the product met the FDA’s standards, the organization didn’t account for the fact that pets get fed the same food multiple times per day. As such, many cats and dogs were exposed to high levels of these harmful substances.
More recently, Party Animal’s Cocolicious dog food, considered an upscale, organic brand, has had to contend with a class action lawsuit, after testing showed the formula contained high amounts of euthanasia drug pentobarbital. Court documents claim that Party Animal, Inc. of California and Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company of Illinois used carcasses from euthanized animals and mixed them with supposedly organic meats and vegetables. As a result, the formula became tainted with this toxic drug, leading to long-term, serious illnesses, such as diabetes or death.
Along with these claims, owners have further pursued prescription pet food brands for false advertising and collusion, alleging that products like Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, Royal Canine Veterinary Diet and Iams Veterinary Formula don’t contain any actual drugs and therefore do not benefit their pets’ health. Rather, lawsuits claim that because major brands like Purina, PetSmart, Blue Pearl, Mars Petcare and Banfield own part of various veterinary hospitals, vets are being paid to prescribe these formulas, which aren’t FDA regulated and cost significantly more than over-the-counter products. Furthermore, the claimants state they can purchase similar, lower-cost formulas without a prescription and the products themselves contain low-quality ingredients.
No owner wants to discover that his or her pet has become seriously ill after being given a supposedly healthy and widely sold canned or bagged food. For putting poor-quality and harmful products on the market, manufacturers need to be held accountable and Trantolo & Trantolo’s product liability lawyers can help you with pursuing a claim. To learn more, contact us today.