Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food faces farm chemical lawsuit

The lawsuit claims that Nutrish engaged in deceptive labeling, marketing and sale of the dog food by claiming that the product was natural pet food.

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(Piotr Adamowicz | BigStock.com)
(Piotr Adamowicz | BigStock.com)

Ainsworth Pet Nutrition faces a class action lawsuit over the alleged presence of glyphosate, an herbicide, in the company’s Rachael Ray Nutrish line of premium dog food. The lawsuit was filed by Markeith Parks of Bronx County, New York in the United States District Court Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit claims that Nutrish engaged in deceptive labeling, marketing and sale of the dog food by claiming that the product was natural pet food. A laboratory contracted by the plaintiff allegedly found glyphosate in the dog food. The plaintiff stated that since glyphosate is not a natural ingredient, the labeling is false. The plaintiff also alleged that Nutrish was aware of the presence of the agricultural chemical, which his commonly known by Monsanto’s brand name Roundup. In 2015, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer announced that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans."

“The exact source of glyphosate in the Products is known only to Rachael Ray Nutrish and its suppliers,” wrote the plaintiff in court documents. “However, crops such as peas, soy, corn, beets and alfalfa are sprayed with the chemical in order to dry them and produce an earlier, more uniform harvest—a practice with no health benefits, meant only to increase yield.”

Rachael Ray Nutrish’s false advertising was knowing and intentional,” stated the plaintiffs.

Earlier class action lawsuit against Nutrish

Last year, 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 2017. 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. 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.”

Although he was unfamiliar with the particulars of this class action lawsuit against Nutrish, a pet food industry consultant 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.”

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