Pet owners filed a class action lawsuit against Diamond Pet Foods over the alleged presence of heavy metals, BPA and other chemicals in Diamond’s dog foods. A similar lawsuit against Champion Petfoods was dismissed in February.
The class action lawsuit against Diamond was filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois, case number: 1:19-cv-01459.
In the Illinois lawsuit, plaintiffs Constance Jackson and Gwen Kaszynski stated that they paid a premium price for Diamond’s Taste of the Wild pet food.
Plaintiff Jackson purchased various Taste of the Wild dog foods for her four dogs in 2017 and 2018. She bought 30-pound bags of dog food and paid approximately US$50 per bag. Kaszynski also purchased Taste of the Wild for her two dogs, paying a similar price.
The plaintiffs claimed that they spent more because they expected that premium pet foods “do not contain chemicals, toxins contaminants chemicals and other unnatural ingredients.”
Jackson and Kaszynski allege that Diamond’s marketing of their pet foods implies that the products are free from “heavy metals, pesticides, acrylamide, BPA, and/or unnatural or other ingredients that do not conform to the labels.”
Heavy metal lawsuit against Champion Petfoods dismissed
In a similar class action lawsuit, a federal judge dismissed a suit against Champion Petfoods. The judge dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning that the case cannot be brought back to court.
In March 2018, a dog owner in Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against Champion Petfoods alleging that lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury contaminated the company’s dog foods. She alleged that this meant Champion had “deceptively marketed their dog food as having various high quality attributes when this was not the case,” according to court documents.
However, the amounts of the heavy metals were in the microgram per kilogram range, which may be below tolerable levels established by the National Research Council.
In April 2018, Champion Petfoods filed a motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit
In February 2019, U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller granted Champion Petfoods’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.
"While it is undisputed that Orijen contains heavy metals, plaintiff has failed to create a genuine dispute as to whether the heavy metal concentrations therein are excessive or dangerous," wrote Stadtmueller in court documents.
The court also noted that it was not presented with any facts that connected the plaintiff’s dogs consumption of Orijen products to any possible illness.
“The court’s opinion is consistent with Champion Petfoods’ position that its foods are safe and that the trace amounts of heavy metals are naturally occurring in the healthy ingredients used by Champion,” said Champion Petfoods trial counsel Dave Coulson, in a press release. “We vigorously fought the allegations in this case and will do the same in any other cases that assert similar claims.”
Heavy metals unavoidable in natural pet food
Small quantities of heavy metals may be unavoidable in foods sourced from farms or the wilderness.
“Mercury is present to varying degrees in water, air and soil, making its presence unavoidable,” Anne Norris, United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) health communications specialist, told Petfood Industry in an email related to another issue. “Although the FDA has not issued specific guidance or set levels for mercury, any level of a substance in pet food must be safe for the animal and it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its product. The agency can take action if it has a safety concern.”