Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pet Food Companies For Misleading Consumers

Napa

A nationwide class action lawsuit has been filed in a federal court in Miami against pet food companies and retailers and alleges the industry misleads consumers about the ingredients they use.

Attorney Jeffrey Maltzman (pictured here with his dog Napa) says that the pet food industry markets their food as though it is people food when “the reality is that what they’re getting is the parts of beef people consider inedible — leftover hooves, heads, bones.”

The lawsuit targets 14 major pet food companies and a wide variety of major brands and names.

Maltzman explains that what actually goes into the food is misleading and is based on “false advertising.” He says that the term “meal” can be confusing for pet owners because many don’t understand what it truly means. He says that meal comes from a rendering plant that grinds up leftover parts, or diseased or sick animals unfit for human consumption, and it is superheated. Matlzman states that elements of a chemical used to euthanize pets has been found in some rendering plants.

When asked about this, the Pet Food Institute spokesman said their members “have certified that they do not use any dogs or cats in their products.”

From Summit Daily News:

Company representatives of the defendants named in the lawsuit said they could not discuss pending litigation. However, a few commented that they take pet food safety very seriously and that it is a top priority.

Additionally, a statement issued by the Pet Food Institute says, “We do not believe there is any merit to the lawsuit … While our hearts go out to affected pets and their owners, the inflammatory accusations in this lawsuit do nothing to further the health and well-being of pets worldwide.”

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit include a cat and dog owner from Michigan, three cat and dog owners from Florida and pet owners representing every other state. Depending on what happens, it could take a year or two to be resolved.

“One thing that’s really sad is that in almost every state pets are treated by courts as property,” Maltzman said. “If a pet dies, you can only get the cost of replacing the pet or vet bills. There’s no compensation for lost love. … We hope a lawsuit like this one will make them pay for more than just vet bills.”

(Thanks menusux)

31 Responses to “Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pet Food Companies For Misleading Consumers”

  1. catmom5 says:

    Thanks, Mr Maltzman, and all the people who are stepping forward to take on this industry. The industry response is about what I’d expect, though. It’s not even about the money any more for me (and I’m @%$ of dollars in debt for medical care for ONE cat) it’s about being able to trust the people who say your pet’s health is THE most important thing and taking actions that are the opposite. It’s been very clear to me throughout this entire debacle and the way the pet food companies handled it that they are most concerned with their profit motive. Nothing new to anyone here . . .

  2. Dave says:

    Our dogs and cats have been humanized over the last number of years which means they no longer have to hunt for their food, they sleep in our beds, etc. And so with the good dollars we earn, we hope to feed our pets quality foods that put our companion animals at the TOP of the food chain.

    But, many have always known and many more are just finding out exactly what is going into the commercial pet food. Although the packaging shows lovely pieces of chicken, carrots, peas, cuts of human grade meat, we know you can’t find any of that in the bag (of kibble) and then you read all the fancy and PHD level words in the ingedients section. Don’t be fooled with the other false advertising with words like “Holistic”, “Organic”, or “Natural” because nothing can be “H-O-N” if cooked at very high temperatures, and then add some preservatives or chemicals….it is all false advertising meant to steal your good money in exchange for an inferior product……that is what unethical companies do. Our pets are living beings and deserve real or living foods.

  3. pat says:

    When asked about this, the Pet Food Institute spokesman said their members “have certified that they do not use any dogs or cats in their products.”

    yes, and the folks who export vegetable proteins certify that their product isn’t contaminated. and yet, all these mysterious adulterants appear in pet food.

    certified liars all.

  4. Roberto P. says:

    And the PFI members are parked at the renderers to be sure no pets go in the food? It’s the usual paper exercise they’re all so good at. The renderer gave them a piece of paper saying no dogs or cats, and they gave a piece of paper to PFI saying no dogs or cats. You’re right, Pat, “certified liars all.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Go Maltzman! SOCK IT TO ‘EM BUDDY. SOBS.

  6. Sky Eyes Woman says:

    Pat and Roberto you both are absolutely right. The PFI people saying THEY do not put euthanized pets into their meat meals means nothing at all, since it is the rendering plant that makes the meat meal and not them. It is just another example of the same deceptive language used on their food labels, and it is up to the buyer to decipher what they mean. The pet food company doesn’t want people to know what “meat and bone meal” REALLY is!

  7. Stefani says:

    I STRONGLY support Maltzman and applaud him for going forward with this as well as his fellow plaintiffs.

    As for his statement: “We hope a lawsuit like this one will make them pay for more than just vet bills” — I could not agree more. The pet food industry cynically exploits our love of our pets and makes false marketing claims, (That “GOOD LIFE” commercial that pushes DRY cat food really makes me steam — cats shoudl not eat kibble!), laughs all the way to the bank while it endangers the health and wellbeing of our pets.

    There are other dangers to our pets, however, that also loom large — one of them is veterinary malpractice. Based on my research, the standard of care in the veterinary field is virtually nonexistent, or at least NOT enforced. It is up to the conscientiousness of the practitioner alone to determine the level and competence of care that will be given to our pets. Like every self-regulating industry, it does a lousy job of ensuring any consistency of care. There are outstanding vets as INDIVIDUALS, but as an industry, they do not answer to anyone. And there are many vets who are NOT conscientious. In addition, vet hospitals ROUTINELY hire unlicensed, untrained people and call them “vet techs,” entrusting inadequately trained people with duties that are beyond their skill level, resulting in countless injuries and deaths. Owners are told, “Scruffy had a bad reaction to the anesthesia,” or “his heart just couldn’t take it,” when the truth often is — the inadequately trained, unlicensed person turned up the anesthetic knob too high or failed to monitor the pet like they were supposed to. Pet owners usually never find out about these things, but they happen all the time.

    I believe Mr. Maltzman’s statement: “We hope a lawsuit like this one will make them pay for more than just vet bills” will be brought to apply to negligent vets as well.

  8. Black Lab Owner says:

    And a hello to all of the pet food manufacturers, employees and reps who regularly check this site! Remember all of that mumbo-jumbo about the magic hand of the market place which will lead us all into a great big beautiful tomorrow? That same magic hand which will render all statutues, laws and regulations moot, because informed self-interest will make sure that everyone does the right thing? And who needs a big bad government when you have such enlightened businesspeople running the show?

    Well, it comes back to bite, too.

  9. NedF says:

    The companies named in the suit:

    Mars Inc.
    Proctor and Gamble Co.
    Colgate Palmolive Company
    Del Monte Foods, Co.
    Nestle USA Inc.
    Nutro Products Inc.
    Menu Foods, Inc.
    Menu Foods Income Fund
    Publix Supermarkets, Inc.
    Winn Dixie Stores, Inc.
    Petco Animal Supplies, Inc.
    Pet Supermarket, Inc.
    Petsmart Inc.
    Target Corp.
    Wal-mart Stores, Inc.

    More info here:
    http://www.mflegal.com/petfoodlawsuit

  10. Boot says:

    Thanks, Attorney Maltzman. As an example of misleading ingredients, an allergy formula stated that peas are the “single source of carbohydrate” and “no grains”. The recall however, revealed that rice protein concentrate was added to the formula.

    The U.S. pet food labeling laws apparently allow a 6 month leeway in changing the ingredient label. What other ingredients are in pet food that we don’t know about? What are we buying? Do we have a right to know whether or not we are buying a grain-free formula? Is the rice protein concentrate involved in the recall a genetically engineered product, or do we have a right to know?

  11. Katie says:

    Thanks Mr Maltzman for taking on the liars, namely the pet food companies. During the last few months, I haven’t been happy learning my hard earned dollars went to buy false protein, 4D animals waste, GMO grain, and everything else found in the bag. Missing were the wholesome meat, nice big colorful vegtables and fruit - deceptive?? you bet. Hope the corporations lose.

    Katie

  12. John says:

    Hey, umm, how many of you shocked pet paernts go out and vote every year, for real human issues?

    How many follow the news, on real-life issues? I know your lives might be lacking somewhat, since you decide that this is the most important thing in your life, but maybe we should all take a collective deep-breath, smoke some pot, realize were pathetic, and move on.

    they made a mistake people. they don’t want to take advantage of you, no more than any other company now-a-days, however, to think that they were malicious in their actions, you’ve got to be kidding me.

    seriously, i’ve got some [REDACTED BY ADMIN]. everyone come over and we have a nice relaxing day where we can talk about real issues, and maybe something other then our stupid annoying pets.

    ITCHMO ADMIN: Please don’t feed this troll. Ah, what the heck. Go to town on this one.

  13. Louie says:

    Hey John,

    Here’s the deal. I’ll get a life if you’ll get a brain.

    No thanks on the invite - got to scoop the litter boxes.

  14. Furball Mom says:

    Unfortunately, most attornies that go into class action suites are the ones that come out on top, with the much larger “piece of the $$ pie.” Certainly, the people who go into this suite are not doing it for the $$, but it would be nice if they came out of it with at least enough to cover their vet bills as well as something for pain and suffering. On the other hand, maybe Mr. Maltzman will only take a fare salary and pass the rest on to those that have had devastating losses.

  15. MaineMom says:

    Hey John,

    You’re on the wrong blog! Go smoke your pot and find another website more to your way of unthinking.

  16. Kiki says:

    Hey John,

    You can tell quite alot about a society (and by extention, how it handles so-called “real issues” by how it treats domesticated animals.

    Your attitude is frightening, but is probably a very good indicator on the state of the mental, emotional, and the spiritual health of the USA…

    As for this thread - it’s been what I’ve been saying and hammering home since day 1 of this recall - pet food has the lowest grade of consumability if you can even call it consumable (and I’m assuming it is mela-free) - it is all the crap that is unfit for human consumption. This lawsuit has got it perfect, because pet food marketing HAS been and IS a big fat lie and the biggest scam ever. Throwing a few nutrients in 4 D rendered down animal parts with some rancid fat sprayed on (call it omega 3 or 6 if you like - it is still probably still coming from old and rancid fat) and calling it complex nutritional fare is a joke - I absolutely and unequivocally HATE vets and others who have given all us common folk the idea that somehow pet food is superior than anything we would or could ever feed ourselves or our kids - and that if we feed our pets table scraps like meat and veggies, somehow we would be feeding our pets inadequately. It isn’t rocket science with even the most rudimentary of google searches. Most of us feed our pets better human food than we eat ourselves. We would never feed them high fat fast food and french fries, etc…but we don’t mind gorging ourselves and gorging our kids on that crap. Everyone who owns a pet knows what a “healthy” diet is…It is damn near ANYTHING except pet food. Why anyone is still analysing the merits of any particular pet food is beyond me - buyer beware.

  17. pat says:

    john, a short list of what’s pathetic, since it seems to interest you.

    what’s pathetic is a person who roams the internet looking for groups of people to annoy with their deliberately inflammatory remarks.

    what’s pathetic is a person who characterizes the continued mass poisoning of companion animals as “a mistake”.

    what’s pathetic is a person who thinks it’s ok to tell you what you ought not to be concerned about, when they’ve obviously done no research whatever.

    what’s pathetic is a person who suggests that ingesting illicit drugs is in any way helpful in solving problems.

    what’s pathetic is some jumped up, fogged brained little twit presuming to know what the “real issues” are.

    somewhere in cyberspace, there’s a place that’s been created especially for jumped up, fog brained little twits to gather and pontificate on subjects about which they know nothing. i suggest that you find that place and go there.

  18. Christine says:

    I suppose these big companies are “misleading” people with their labels, but what it comes down to is the consumers not bothering to educate themselves on what specific ingredients mean. Despite the rampant distrust of AAFCO and the FDA that breeds on this site, there are specific rules as to what goes onto each label. There are specific laws as to how ingredients get listed, and pet food companies have no choice but to follow these guidelines.

    For example, the definition of ‘chicken meal’ according to AAFCO is “chicken which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.” This does not mean that it ‘comes from a rendering plant that grinds up leftover parts, or diseased or sick animals unfit for human consumption.’ Yes, I understand that it *could*, but statements like this imply that that is the definition, which it is not. In the case of most reputable pet food companies (the ‘holistics’ that are usually recommended and discussed on this board), that is certainly not the case.

    As for the use of the term “organic”, there are very strict guidelines that restrict the use of this term. To even use the term “made with organic ingredients” requires the product to be made with at least 70% organic materials (further guidelines can be found here).

    The companies have no choice but to follow the laws regarding their labeling. Then, just like in every other industry, they market their product and try to appeal to the consumer. It is not their fault that people assume that because Purina ONE’s packaging is shiny and colorful that is a good food, it’s the consumers fault for not doing their homework.

  19. pat says:

    christine says: “what it comes down to is the consumers not bothering to educate themselves on what specific ingredients mean”

    translation: you’re stupid and lazy, so it’s ok to poison your pets.

    the definition of chicken meal you linked to has ambiguities in it big enough to drive a truck through. as it is now, labeling is simply a game of semantics. and aside from that, do you think anybody with a job and a family has the time to run down every definition on every label of every food product they purchase? then they need a law degree to spot the obvious loopholes in these definitions, and a background in chemistry to know what all the various ingredients are, and a thorough knowledge of the specific nutritional requirements of their pets and themselves. that’s really likely.

    as to “strict” guidelines, what’s strict about them? is there any real oversight to determine compliance? and what penalties beyond changing their labeling are “violators” subject to?

    all i want is to be able to buy food products that don’t sicken or fatally poison my pets and myself. and i want to look at a label and know who really makes what’s in the container, and where the ingredients come from. believe it or not, there was a time when you didn’t need to spend hundreds of hours figuring out what was and wasn’t safe to eat. frankly, i’m sick of educating myself about every damn thing i touch or ingest. i pay taxes to support federal agencies that are supposed to make at least a cursory effort to keep corporations from lying to me and killing me and my own. if i have to do all the work myself, what in blazes am i paying for?

  20. Anonymous says:

    John: Go eat puppies.

  21. Kiki says:

    Christine:

    you are seriously misinformed if you think that pet food is made with human grade meat (c’mon - read up on the historical context of pet food - it is a waste repository). Why would perfectly good meat for humans be prepared for pets???? Think about it (from every angle…)!!!

    As for organic, there are currently NO regulations about the use of the term organic as it relates to pet food (read up on this too). In addition, 4 D meat, rotting vegetables and rancid fat can still be “organic”.

    Finally - if you were a company out to make a buck and you knew there was little to no regulation of any so-called “guidelines” (laws????) and no regulatory authority at any level to do any thing to guard against anything and that less than 1% of all human food was inspected (let alone pet food)…I mean, why are you even invoking this argument - it is dead in the water…your post is SOOOO lame and ignorant.

    I beg to state that it is NOT the consumers fault - there have been blatant lies that continue even NOW from the pet food manufacturers as well as blatant lies regarding marketing of those products.

    I think you are a either an incompetent troll or so absolutely ignorant of the facts. Please preface your future comments with “my uneducated opinion is …”

  22. pam says:

    i say john and cristine may be a match made in the pet food institute!

  23. Christine says:

    Again, I try to post an informative comment and I get blasted by the rampant conspiracy theorists on this site.

    I *did not* say that every pet food is fine and not to worry. My point was that just because some companies are content to use 4-D meats as “chicken meal” does not mean that is the case for every bag of food that uses chicken meal. My point was, do your research and find a good, reputable company. Foods like Wellness, Blue Buffalo, California Natural, Eagle Pack, Abady, etc, do not subscribe to this practice.

    As far as Kiki’s claim that there are no guidelines for organic labeling, you’re just wrong. Yes, Newman’s Own could be considered false labeling by ignorant people who jump to conclusions, because they don’t actually use organic chicken. However, they do meet the standard of being 70% organic, since they use all organic grains and vegetables. A simple scan of the ingredient list will show that. There are rules and guidelines, whether you want to believe it or not.

    Any company that is going to go out of its way to produce an organic formula is not going to compromise it by using “rancid fat” and making its customers sick. Even if you think they ‘don’t care’ about your pets, look at it from a business standpoint. If they use rancid, rotting ingredients, the pets that eat the food will get sick, and then they won’t have any customers, and they won’t make any money.

  24. Pet Food Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Procter & Gamble | Itchmo says:

    […] Procter & Gamble is also named as one of the defendants in a pet food class action lawsuit filed in the state of Florida. […]

  25. wescott20 says:

    John’s just a loser who’s probably impotent and thus has lots of time on his hands to go trolling…why should we pet lovers vote for human issues if humans are like you, John? Isn’t it ironic that a pothead like John tells other folks to get a life?

  26. David Howard says:

    I would like to file a law suite

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  28. Ron says:

    I love my cats. I love my mom’s 4 dogs. they probably eat better than I do. The cost of cat food is not exactly cheap. You would think that the ingredients are human edible. At least I think they should be. It is a shame that they are not.

  29. Angela Conti says:

    I am so confused as to why Blue Buffalo has not been sued for misleading consumers by stating on there labels that Blue Buffalo is Gluten-Free when it was on the recall list for Rice Gluten! I have a dog that is very allergic to Gluten and have been asking them for months if there was any chance their food had gluten because my dogs was getting sick. They kept saying NO! I would love to know how they are getting away with this.

  30. silvia says:

    The mother of my 2 cats died, after spending in 2004 hundreds of dollars at Abbey Pet Clinic, at Sterling Heights, Michigan, trying to save her life. The male survived.

    They are often sick, and vomit often; I am so upset to find out the corporations are sickening our pets. I have no doubt they are not healthier because of the food I bought since they were born, trusting the name brands. Criminals?

    They must have liver or kidneys problems with all the garbage they have consumed over the years. I am very upset; they deserve better. I tried to make them used to organic healthy food and I am suspicious that the corporation use addictive stuff in their yunk food because they do not like the “good food”. I am very upset after reading tonight the garbage/poisons in the market. Augh…

    Good luck to everyone.

  31. Stacey Fano says:

    What many folks don’t realize is AAFCO is really to blame here. I used to own a holistic pet food store, and it is amazing what that branch of the FDA allows and doesn’t allow pet food manufacturer’s to put on their bags. Yet marketing materials aren’t looked at for one second. Even the Whole Dog Journal advises: simply read the bag…don’t look at the other crap.
    So, I say, as usual…government is largely to blame. For years, having AAFCO on the bag has meant $@*! to me. Maybe this will just make people wake up. There’s been plenty of information out there if people were not naive enough or too lazy to do the research and think about what their animal needs…yes, you’re pet is, after all, an ANIMAL! It’s reflective of how we are way too trusting a society, even when it comes to OUR OWN food.


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