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WYSONG LAWSUIT CLAIMS MAJOR PET FOOD COMPANIES ARE MISLEADING CONSUMERS
Pet lovers are increasingly concerned about the quality of the foods they feed. Growing health consciousness in the human nutritional arena has translated to increased consumer demand for high quality pet foods. Now more than ever before, consumers actively seek out, and wish to feed high quality, premium foods for their beloved pets.
Many of the largest pet food corporations in the world have taken note of this trend and responded with large scale marketing efforts that portray, in particular, premium cuts of meats and other premium ingredients front and center on pet food packaging.
Verbiage such as "natural," "super premium," and "real meat" is often used alongside the premium ingredient imagery. The finished product (pet food kibble) is commonly juxtaposed with the premium ingredient imagery in an apparent attempt to draw the connection. One company even has national television ads showing pets pushing steaks right into the bowl to evidently show the equivalency of their pet food ingredients to grocery grade beef.
Without an understanding of the specific (and arcane) definitions of pet food ingredients, the average consumer would not know that the salmon filets, lamb chops, racks of lamb, steaks, chicken & turkey breasts are not actually representative of the ingredients in the pet foods. In fact, the "salmon," "lamb," "beef," "chicken," and "turkey" listed in the ingredient panel are of a completely different, and much lower quality/grade (and cost) than the prominent ingredient images suggest.
Consumers are not aware that in pet food parlance, "beef," "chicken," etc. can mean essentially everything but the pictured prime cuts of meats.
(This is not to say that there are not pet food companies, including Wysong, producing foods actually containing premium grade ingredients.)
Such product quality misrepresentation isn't tolerated in any other major industry in the world. However, pet food regulators are inexplicably turning a blind eye to this pet industry practice in spite of a variety of state and federal laws prohibiting it.
Wysong's lawsuits can be found at this link. They are all similar in argumentation on the basis of the defendants' similar product quality misrepresentations.
The defendants – Nestle Purina Petcare, Mars Petcare, Wal-Mart, Hills Pet Nutrition, BigHeart/J.M. Smucker, Ainsworth/APN – have filed motions to dismiss, which all present similar rebuttals. In essence, the defendants do not deny that the premium ingredient pictures do not accurately represent ingredients in their pet foods, but contend that it is implausible that any consumer would actually believe the ingredient pictures represent ingredients in their foods.
Apparently, defendants have gone to the considerable effort and expense of creating such packaging and advertising with the expectation that consumers would perceive the material as false.
In response to the Motions to Dismiss, here is a very interesting rebuttal, which argues from a variety of angles that defendants do indeed intend for the pictures to be believed by consumers. Further, that the images are believed and quite reasonably, taken at face value by well-meaning consumers looking for high quality pet foods.
We don't know where our legal cases will go, but we know what we're up against. The annual revenue of defendants, a collective controlling over 90% of the pet food market, exceeds the GDP of many nations.
Regardless of the legal outcome of our cases, we hope to create public awareness so that consumers can make informed decisions about pet foods and the companies they choose to support.
Please share this article with those who may be confused or deceived by this marketing practice, and if you feel this is an issue deserving of public awareness.