June 16, 2021

Volume XI, Number 167

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Lawsuit Takes Aim at “Natural” Claims in Dog Shampoos

  • A class action lawsuit filed against Burt’s Bees, Inc. alleges that the company misleadingly labels its dog shampoos as “99.7% natural” when in fact they contain mostly synthetic ingredients.

  • The front of the shampoo bottles also tout the specific natural ingredients included in the shampoos, e.g., “with Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey.” In contrast, Plaintiff alleges that the products contain only minute quantities of natural ingredients and are composed largely of the following synthetic ingredients:  coco betaine, coco glucoside, glyceryl oleate, disodium cocoyl glutamate, glycerin, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate, and sodium benzoate.

  • The dog shampoos are not regulated by the FDA; they are not cosmetics because they are not marketed for human use and are not animal drugs because they do not claim to diagnosis, cure, mitigate, treatment, or prevent disease or to affect the structure or any function of the body. However, the products, which are classified as grooming aids (the animal equivalent of cosmetics), are still subject to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulation of false advertising claims. To that end, Plaintiff references FTC guidance which states that products making 100% natural claims cannot contain any synthetic or artificial ingredients and that “companies can’t misstate the extent to which any product contains natural or synthetic components [and] can’t make misleading claims about ingredients or composition.”

  • As we have reported on previously, natural claims are often targeted in food litigation. FDA has not engaged in rulemaking to define the term but, like FTC, considers it to mean that the product contains nothing artificial or synthetic, and is considering further action to define the term in food labeling.  We will continue to monitor and report on any developments in this “natural” litigation space, in food and otherwise.

© 2021 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 159
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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...

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