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Federal Judge Dismisses Amended Complaint Over Dog Food Labeled as “Natural” Containing Trace Levels of Glyphosate Weed Killer

We reported on a proposed class action lawsuit filed in 2018 against Rachel Ray’s Nutrish dog food brand, alleging that “natural” claims were false and misleading under state consumer protection laws, based on testing that found residues of the herbicide, glyphosate.  The New York District Judge in the Nutrish case dismissed the claims in April of last year for failure to indicate the level of glyphosate detected and to say whether it was harmful.

An amended complaint provided analytical results but did not address harm, continuing to argue instead that any amount of glyphosate in the pet food renders the “natural” claim false and misleading.  The judge dismissed the complaint a second time upon finding the total glyphosate alleged to be present in the Nutrish samples is between 0.005% to 0.01% of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) allowed tolerance, and ruled that labeling such pet food as “natural” is not materially misleading to a reasonable consumer.

There may be less potential for consumer confusion for pet food, as compared to human food, because the pet food term “natural” has an official definition through the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).  The lawsuit against Nutrish, however, while unsuccessful, pending any possible appeal, shows that natural claims on pet food could nevertheless be a target for litigation.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 55


About this Author

Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...