Nutrish faces lawsuit over natural dog food label

On May 5, Federal Judge James Selna set aside a request by lawyers for Rachael Ray’s Nutrish to throw out the case.

Tim Wall Headshot Small Headshot
(Andrey Burmakin |
(Andrey Burmakin |

Natural pet food claims by Ainsworth’s Rachael Ray Nutrish came under fire in a class action lawsuit filed in a California federal court in late March, according to Pacer Monitor. Lawyers representing Nutrish called for Judge James Selna to dismiss the case in April.

However, the judge set aside, or vacated, that request on May 5, while granting the plaintiff’s request to amend their complaint.

Pet food industry analyst on natural pet food labels

Although he was unfamiliar with the particulars of this class action lawsuit against Nutrish, a pet food industry analyst assessed the legal issues involved.

“The main problem is that AAFCO has defined ‘natural’ for dogs and cats. However, no definition exists for human foods,” Ryan Yamka, PhD, of Luna Science and Nutrition, told Petfood Industry. “I wouldn't be surprised if you see this happen again within the industry.”

Yamka pointed to AAFCO Official Publication 2017 page 148. Those guideline would allow "natural with added vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients.”

“The disclaimer ‘with added vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients’ would need to appear with the largest or most prominent use of the term ‘natural’ on each panel,” he said. “For example: front of bag, back of bag, etc.”

Details of the class action lawsuit against Nutrish

Christina Grimm filed the lawsuit on February 28 in the California Central District Court on behalf of herself and all other Californians who bought Nutrish. As defendants, the court documents named APN, Inc., DPC Pet Specialties, Ainsworth Pet Nurition, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition Holdings, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition Parent, and Ainsworth Pet Nutrition.

The plaintiff aledged that Rachael Ray’s Nutrish wet and dry dog food packaging used deceptive marketing by prominently labeling the products as natural, despite containing “chemicals and artificial and/or synthetic ingredients, which are well-known unnatural, artificial additives and preservatives.”

For example, the plaintiffs pointed out examples of using the phrases:

  • "Made with simple, natural ingredients"
  • "No artificial flavors or artificial preservatives,"
  • "Natural Food for Dogs with Added Vitamins and Minerals"

Yet, the plaintiffs asserted that the natural labeled pet foods contained:

  • L-ascorbyl-2- polyphosphate,
  • Menadione sodium bisulfite complex,
  • Thiamine mononitrate,
  • "natural flavors," and
  • a variety of caramel color.

The next hearing for this case is scheduled for August 14, 2017 at 10:30 a.m., provided that the plaintiffs file their amended complaint by June 16.

Page 1 of 563
Next Page