Nutro Pet Food held accountable for Marketing Claim
In 2007, Nutro Pet Food stated probiotics were included in their pet foods. In 2013 a lawsuit was filed challenging the validity of the probiotic claim in Nutro Pet Foods. In 2015, Nutro Pet Food is admitting no wrong doing, but have entered into a ‘Settlement Agreement’ with those that challenged their marketing claim.
The lawsuit settlement document states “The lawsuit alleges that Defendants violated the law by labeling and selling Nutro’s Ultra™ brand dry dog kibble (between April 1, 2007 and June 30, 2009) and/or Ultra™ brand dog biscuits (between April 1, 2007 and April 30, 2011) with a “Guaranteed Analysis” regarding the amount of Bacillus Species contained therein. Plaintiff believes he has viable claims, both individually and on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers (excluding California consumers), against Defendants and Defendants believe they have valid defenses.”
In other words – the lawsuit claimed that between April 1, 2007 through June 30, 2009 Nutro Ultra dog foods included probiotics in the Guaranteed Analysis and the plaintiff found that the probiotics were not live or viable and thus of no health benefit to the pet consuming the food. Including a probiotic or any other ingredient or supplement in the pet food Guaranteed Analysis is the manufacturer ‘guaranteeing’ that nutrient or supplement is included in the pet food.
The Wayback Machine website provided examples of the Nutro Ultra’s probiotic claim. From 2007…
The Nutro Ultra website in 2007 stated: “Direct Fed Microbials. A source of Bacillus licheniformis and Bacillus subtillis that promote beneficial bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.”
And the Wayback Machine did provide the Guaranteed Analysis statement from 2007 of Nutro Ultra Adult Dog Food; “Total Bacillus Species (min) 283 Million CFU/lb.”
So…the plaintiff in this lawsuit must have provided sufficient evidence to prove that the ‘direct fed microbials’ Nutro Ultra guaranteed on the pet food label were not actually in the pet food or were not viable. Mars Nutro Ultra agreed to a settlement, but the company does not consider the settlement “any liability, fault, or wrongdoing of any kind”.
The settlement for consumer class members is “a $2.00 chicken or a $5.00 Gift Certificate towards the purchase of Nutro dog food products (Class Members can also elect to donate their claim to charity). Nutro also has agreed to pay court-approved attorneys’ fees and expenses (in an amount not to exceed $375,000.00).”
Is $2.00 a fair reimbursement to consumers that believed the probiotic marketing claim of the pet food? No – certainly it is not. However, the settlement cost the pet food company a hefty sum for attorney fees ($375,000.00 plus their own attorney fees). We have to hope that lawsuits and settlements like this cost pet food companies enough to make then rethink their marketing claims. We have to hope.
If you purchased a Nutro Ultra dog food between April 1, 2007 and June 30, 2009 you can participate in the settlement by visiting this website: http://www.ultradogfoodsettlement.com/index
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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