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Wysong Lawsuit Update

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  1. Reader

    Well, since when has a Court case been brought to trial without both sides stipulating as to a mutually acceptable and agreed upon definition of any “term” (or definition) is?

    Wasn’t this a problem in the Purina / Beneful case because the defendents used witnesses in an inappropriate manner? Meaning, rather than bringing in subject matter experts, they used the “opinions” of two Veterinarians. But they were not “credentialed” in the field of expertise to which they were commenting upon.

    And even though we as advocacy supporters understood the point they were trying to make, apparently their comments in a Court of Law were not indisputable.

    Looks like they (both sides) of this case, might be going down the same, slippery slope. “Reasonable” particularly in the world of PF consumerism, is a very relative term. Because “we” as trained consumers have a very different understanding of PF from inexperienced (or completely trusting) consumers!!

    I post this there, in the hope that those in charge of the case will take heed.

  2. Reader

    I would make 2 other clear points as well. Some bags of PF have illustration and some only have wording.

    “Rachel Ray” (the personality) in the TV Commercial for the PF, (I don’t know if she’s on the bag) represents very specific expertise in the field of human nutrition. Her image, her narration, her skill in selecting appropriate ingredients is an implied sanction (meaning a transfer of expertise) to PF. When in fact she isn’t credentialed in animal nutrition at all. She’s not a Veterinarian. And yet she is promoting this food to be an equally beneficial source of nutrition for an animal!

    If that is a truth, then consider the questions below:

    What then is the true definition of “real” meat? Is it fundamentally only the difference between “actual” versus “plastic?” A quality has no relevance? Is a consumer expected to believe (from visuals) that one PF has an advantage over another?

    Why are consumers expected to automatically know a PF is not fit for human consumption, even though the images make it appear to be so? And (in terms of evidence) how would a Focus Group explain a consumer’s ability to make that distinction? What are the ELEMENTS driving a consumer to believe PF is unfit for human consumption?

    THAT’s what the prosecution should be focusing on!

    1. B Dawson

      I must take exception to the following: …” When in fact she isn’t credentialed in animal nutrition at all. She’s not a Veterinarian.”…. While I understand your point that her status as a celebrity chef is being used to sell pet food, you don’t have to have a degree to feed your pets properly.

      Let’s not forget that those with animal nutrition credentials and veterinarians are the very ones who are formulating the crap pet food that is the subject of this lawsuit. We must stop accepting that only those with letters after their names have what it takes to formulate a pet’s diet.

      Consider this: how many of us are “credentialed” in human nutrition. How many of us have a registered dietitian or medical doctor at hand to make sure our meals are nutritious? In fact, I would summit that the nutritionists and dietitians responsible for the human food featured in this article aren’t exactly providing a quality product either even if the label is an accurate depiction of the package’s contents! It is this ever growing belief that a college degree is necessary to do the most ordinary of things that is causing misleading packaging to be successful and entrenched as a marketing tactic. These companies spend vast amounts of money on focus groups to determine exactly what attracts a buyer. It is no accident that these images, words and phrases are on a package. Have you ever noticed the abundance of blue in packaging, corporate logos and ads? It is a fact that blue is not only the most popular color but also inspires trust.

      In the last few years New York City has had multiple tragic deaths from people being pushed off crowded platforms and into the path of oncoming trains. The crowd stands and watches in horror, but doesn’t attempt to help at all. Psychologists have looked at this phenomenon and concluded people don’t react because they are certain that someone else is better qualified to deal with the emergency than they are. This is the state of our population. We are becoming cotton-headed ninnymuggins who are abandoning our critical thinking skills and it is being used against us.

      If you are interested in how marketing works, pick up a copy of “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill. It is written for retailers so they can better understand what triggers consumers to buy. Ever wonder why all the pet food and treats are in the BACK of Petco? It’s not an accident. You will never walk into a big box store again and see it the same way.

      1. Keller

        Thank you for your educated opinion. I will be buying “Why We Buy.” My daughter works in retail and is getting her master’s degree in business. She knows far more than I do about this sort of marketing, but she may learn more from it. She’s specializing in an area that could take her to corporate levels, and I’m always looking for ways that she might be able to help our cause. I consider it an obligation to her devoted parents, who are funding her education. Fair enough, wouldn’t you say? lol

      2. Reader

        Oh please. Make no assumption that Readers are uninformed about advertising manipulation and product placement. Not on THIS Forum. And if your argument is to devalue a credential, then why refer to a psychologist’s study on human behavior? In crisis situations both heroes (and those who aren’t) perform (or not). Possibly due to training, reflexes, experience, adrenalin, fear, or lack of confidence. Nutritionists and dietitians do not (primarily) sell. They are consultants. And in your comment, there does seem to be an embedded prejudice against purposeful higher education.

        1) Animal Nutrition Specialists (ANC) should be writing accurate commercial PF formulas. Using crap ingredients cancels the benefit. But doesn’t mean “Jack Sprat” from down the street should be writing them instead.

        2) The best intention of higher education is never wasted. Only the person’s time when it’s ignored, but doesn’t devalue the principle of a credential. Nor is it a disadvantage to seek one for expert testimony to win a Court Case.

        3) People use doctors with specialized training. Which can be a supplemental credential to an MD. But a Plastic Surgeon doing routine knee replacements isn’t well-served. It means oversight has failed. And the professional is cheating the system. A purported ANS (or celebrity spokesperson) used to promote a deceptive product, is an advertising gimmick.

        4) I didn’t start home cooking for my dog without the benefit of education. I use a Veterinarian’s recipe (Karen Becker) who is also skilled in pet nutrition. The recipe was made available through an informed website (TAPF). And Susan did not write “Dinner Pawsible” without input from other appropriate experts in nutrition.

        5) To feed ourselves, we don’t need a credential. But benefit from people with appropriate knowledge. Either from sensible generational traditions (experience). Or wellness principles based on research. If the ingredients are worthless, then the benefits are cancelled. People can survive on a sole diet of Fast Food, but there will be some side effects.

        For the record, have been registered to a Market Sampling Company, and for years, participated in a countless number of Focus Groups! As well as being exposed to the (so-called) art of advertising techniques. In terms of agri-business and food supply deficiencies would recommend FOOD, INC..

        And while “Cotton-headed Ninnymuggins” (proper names are capitalized) or those “abandoning their critical thinking skills which is being used against them” DOES apply to politics, we here at TAPF hope that BALANCED education (instead of insults) is the way to attract additional pet owners trying to do the right thing!

        1. B Dawson

          Reader:

          Perhaps you should revisit the second paragraph where I stated: “We must stop accepting that ONLY (emphasis added) those with letters after their names…”. I don’t denigrate credentials, but the QUALITY of the credentialed individual should be ascertained.

          You do not need a degree in order to provide proper nourishment for your pets or yourself. You yourself admit as much when you list “experience” as an example later in your reply. Yes I cited psychological research to prove the point that marketers are very good at getting into peoples heads to get the sale. That’s because my comments were about feeding your pet, not setting a bone, doing plastic surgery or understanding human psychology.

          For the record, I have degrees of my own in biology and chemistry with focus on pre-veterinary course work, so if I question the belief in the universal high quality of degreed individuals it is from direct experience. I won’t go into all the manipulated research I’ve witnessed, but will offer these pet related comments:

          At SuperZoo a number of years ago, I followed a veterinarian from booth to booth as he offered his “vet approved” stamp to vendors – for a fee, of course. He wasn’t offering to investigate the formula or determine it’s quality. He had forms with him that he would sign and hand over immediately! Now, one person’s cavalier attitude doesn’t indicate an industry wide problem but witnessing such transgressions is faith shaking both in the vet and pet food manufacturers who would accept such an offer. That approval on the bag influences the purchase, yet in reality it could mean very little.

          I was reported, by a local vet, to the California Veterinary Medical Board for practicing medicine without a license because I hosted a non-aesthetic teeth cleaning company in my shop. The inquiry that followed was nothing short of a witch hunt. For a full year after that, men in suits ( suits were an anomaly in that small CA town) came into my store asking questions about getting a “diagnosis” for their pet or asking if I could “prescribe” a herbal supplement. When I finally said to one of them “you know if you’re going to work undercover you should really try to blend in more. What agency do you work for?” they never bothered me again. Look at all the harassment Susan has been going through. All from people who believe they know what’s best due to their anointed positions, most all of which have titles and letters. When you threaten their control they will come after you.

          Google the authors of vet school nutrition text books and you will find close associations with Purina, Science Diet, and back in the day, Iams. I have a livestock nutrition text purchased at Ohio State University that advocates feeding news print to dairy cows because it contains more nitrogen than hay and is cheaper. That pales in comparison to USDA & AAFCO (all credentialed individuals, I’m sure) advocating that spoiled grocery products ground up in the containers are appropriate feed, as Susan has reported here. They can cite a case load of “science” to prove their point – most of which was paid for by sympathetic bank accounts. Should I accept their idea of healthy diets? It’s backed by science and advocated by credentialed leaders.

          If I question the waning of critical thinking in many consumers, it comes from owning a holistic pet supply for 10 years in a state renowned for it’s forward thinking. The level of consumer confusion is astonishing and heartbreaking. Far too many weary customers said “just tell me what to buy.” If I were without principles I would have pointed to the highest margin food in the store or signed up for the generous incentive programs that some marginal foods offer store owners. Left on their own, these are the people who would reach for the label with juicy grilled steaks on the front (put there by market consultants). Instead I took the time to see what food was BEST for their beloved pet. Often that meant helping them put together a raw diet – without benefit of a nutrition degree, just a little commonsense and mentoring from my great friend Juliette de Baircli Levy, doG rest her soul. By the way, Juliette was tossed out of vet school in the early ’40s for asking too many questions, yet her clinic south of London was good enough for the Queen of England’s corgis.

          It’s hard to believe that a person is left that doesn’t know about grocery store food, marketing tactics, 4D meat or rendering. The information seems to be everywhere these days. Yet this list has plenty of posts from new members whose eyes are being opened for the first time. Thank you Susan, Cathy, Michael and all y’all for being there.

          Absolutely this list is populated with above average knowledge, which is why new people arrive every day looking for education. These folks are the ones who have chosen to question things. I encourage people to question authority, to ascertain the QUALITY of any credentialed advice that they receive before tacitly accepting it.

          1. Reader

            B. Dawson,

            We’ve never been at odds with one another before. So I think we can agree on the following. 😉 The value of your degrees, and related field experience, including servicing PF consumers. And that owning a retail store (with related material) has helped you to understand the consumer’s mentality and the impact of advertising..

            We know that nothing prevents a credentialed professional (in the PFI) from misusing an education. Or conversely speaking, using an education appropriately but having it undermined by the use of bad ingredients and manufacturing mistakes.

            People don’t need higher education to feed their pets correctly. But an owner benefits from information on how to do so. Manufactured PF is in serious need of correct balance, proportion control, monitoring, best practices, human grade ingredients, and reliable processing.

            People may or may not care about being manipulated by advertising. But either way, the knowledge won’t stop them from deliberately choosing to make unwise choices. And those kinds of consumers are difficult to change.

            Pictures of human grade food don’t belong on “animal feed” products. AAFCO considers pet food to be “animal feed.” Inaccurate (or deceptive) pictures on a PF product have no other purpose than to persuade a consumer to buy it under the wrong impression.

            A spokesperson, meaning the one who promotes a PF product as “superior” to another, without legitimate evidence, should be vetted for the authority to make such a claim. Or they should be prohibited from doing so.

            Whether or not a PF consumer is “reasonable” wouldn’t matter if there was a disclaimer on the product saying “This food is not intended for human consumption. Consuming it may be a health hazard.”

            People interested in animal science might choose animal nutrition as a specialty. But they should not rely only upon PFI funded education. Well rounded education needs to include training by Holistic Care providers, experienced authors writing about natural diets, understanding beneficial recipes and referring to other notable subject matter experts (such as the people who are cross-referenced on TAPF).

            Discussions found on this Forum encourage Readers to find answers to their questions. And (should) seek to discourage consumers from relying only upon the AAFCO’s statement that a PF product “is formulated to meet the needs of the animal.”

            Claims found on packaging are used for marketing purposes. And are seldom made for the benefit of the consumer or the pet. Quality ingredients go beyond the marketing gimmicks of these terms: grain-free, non-GMO, natural and organic. Meaning that a highly processed (cooked) kibble with those claims, has less value than simple, primary, whole food, human grade quality, minimally cooked or raw ingredients.

            While it can be hard to believe that there is a person left who doesn’t know about grocery store food, marketing tactics, 4D meat or rendering. Your very argument, as to the oppression of unregulated advertising, is the correct response to that observation.

            I will stand by my original assertion (on a different Thread) that people end up here (on TAPF) occasionally because of a referral. But mainly by doing on-line research to solve a pet’s symptomatic problem, a health crisis or (very sadly) an outright tragedy. The only way Followers on this site DO have “above average” awareness is because of the articles written. Including “insider reports.” And being exposed to that information over time. Which confirms the reality of on-going abnormal practices in the PFI. IMO, it’s an “education” that virtually qualifies as college level course work!

            Motto: “Never give up on the opportunity to help the next person find … the truth.“

            (I hope we have resumed agreeable terms 😉 !)

        2. Keller

          Excellent comments. 2) and 5) Absolutely right. I learned what comprised a balanced diet on a daily basis from my uneducated mother, whose uneducated mother taught her the same way. My college education broadened my base and taught me that questioning so-called facts and doing one’s own research helps people distinguish truth from false “facts.” We all benefit from questioning what is presented as facts. Unfortunately, many people simply accept what is presented to them as truth as advertised. Protecting consumers from that falsehood is what drives Susan to fight for all pets and drives us to join her in this fight.

        3. B Dawson

          Reader

          I do not approve of pet food being labeled “not for human consumption”, just in case you were including that in the category of what we might agree on. This is the only issue I will address as this discussion is straying from the intended topic.

          “Not for human consumption” excuses a world of sins, allows all sorts of wiggle room for ingredients and will be used to dismiss all sorts of legal actions. What more could poor quality pet food companies ask? Don’t improve what you manufacture, just put a disclaimer on the label and let them eat cake.

          Any pet that has to eat kibble or canned food deserves human ingredients, human-grade manufacturing and safe handling procedures.

          My motto: “Follow those who SEEK the truth. Doubt those who have FOUND it.”.

    2. Cheryl Mallon-Bond

      “How would a Focus Group explain a consumer’s ability to make that distinction? What are the ELEMENTS driving a consumer to believe PF is unfit for human consumption?

      THAT’s what the prosecution should be focusing on!”

      Exactly! They think they can speak for all consumers! Plus the way they word the questions could be misleading & biased to get the answers they are looking for.

      I bet if every single person that walked into a store to buy petfood were asked those questions about what the images & wording on the bag means, I am almost positive most would think that those pictures on the bag are indicative, and represent the actual ingredients of what was used to manufacture the food. I highly doubt they would believe rotting vegetables, moldy grains, inferior 3-D meat-by-products, and other crap, were what went into making their pet food that they buy.

      These companies try to get around the issue by saying, “well of course people don’t think the ingredients are human grade”. All those two words mean to most people, is that they of course, know that people shouldn’t be eating their pets food. They don’t know that “feed grade” means that they are feeding extremely inferior & even possibly toxin laden ingredients made into pet food. Their focus groups are BS.

      ***AN IDEA***What if we all took part of a little social experiment? I would love to see if Susan could write up a short questionnaire asking some of these types of questions related to people’s perceptions of advertisement of pictures & wording of petfood ingredients. We all could then use on our own accord, as a little experiment, ask all the people we personally know, or are connected to us via our social media networks. We could report back our findings to Susan & she could compulate a consensus, our own “focus group”, if you will. With us all reaching out to the “average consumer” & not just all of us here on this site, (who by now are much more knowledgeable about the issues w/ petfood) Then, we could have a true broader range of the public’s REAL perceptions.

      This could possibly be a valuable asset to present at the AAFCO meetings, when manufacturer’s argue what they “think” they know what the larger public’s perception is.
      I
      Anyone have any thoughts, or ideas, further input about this? How we can pull this off?

    3. Peter

      I agree, Reader. Moreover, Rachel Ray was selected by the manufacturer to have her celebrity and reputation attached to the product that bears her name. Those factors carry great weight. And the very clear implication, that ANY potential consumer is intended to accept, is that because it carries her endorsement, the product is better than what would be considered “ordinary” in the marketplace. It is precisely her endorsement that creates the expectation by a “reasonable” consumer that those things imaged on the bag, are in the bag.

  3. Rose Studdard

    I consider my self a reasonable consumer and I translate the pictures of grilled steak and chicken drumsticks or breasts to be what is contained in the container of dog food. I have never thought pet food companies considered me anything but naive and gullible.

  4. Patricia Cloonan

    Reasonable pet owners….what they are really saying is stupid pet owners! I actually can’t believe how asinine this argument is…that packaging should not have to be representative of what is actually inside the bag??? Really???

  5. MrsK

    Wow, these pet food companies must think consumers are all idiots. We are not, and the days of “consumers” falling for their deception is ending. Thanks for sharing the post.

  6. Yvonne McGehee

    I find those images very deceptive, in that I would expect the pictured ingredients to be included, and I think many other people would, and do, as well.

  7. Anthony Hepton.

    Let’s show the ingredients as they really are. Slaughter house waste and 4D animals.

  8. Pat P.

    Why shouldn’t a “reasonable” consumer expect to find pet “food” as pictured on the label (not pet “feed” which is often the actual case–and ridiculously deceptive)? Aren’t deceptive labels illegal? Are they saying that anyone who believes their labeling is stupid and unreasonable?

    Of course, the people on this site know that the contents of many of these “pet foods” are not as advertised, (and that many are, in fact, not even close), but I can, also, see that many of the “less informed”, but still reasonable, consumers would want/expect to believe “the reality” of whats written or pictured on the product and be most attracted to those with savory contents. Again, many pet food consumers do NOT expect these companies to falsely advertise, as they do.

    These unethical companies are pathetic.

  9. A Miller

    Go Wysong! I have been feeding my cats Wysong products for almost 25 years. My cat recently passed at 22 years old. I am glad that Wysong is doing this. I just hope they don’t get stomped on.

  10. Batzion

    In 2016, the USDA revoked the food labeling standard for human-grade grass-fed beef without the general public knowing. See this article from The Cornucopia Institute: https://www.cornucopia.org/2016/01/usda-revokes-grass-fed-label-standard/?utm_source=eNews&utm_medium=email&utm_content=1.23.16&utm_campaign=GrassfedMORE

    The same goes for gene-edited food not being labeled GMO: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-14/gene-edited-canola-oil-arrives-without-gmo-style-shopper-outrage

    And food labeled “organic” from China is “anything but:” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-14/gene-edited-canola-oil-arrives-without-gmo-style-shopper-outrage

    And let’s not forget those in Congress being bought off by these companies: https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=A&recipdetail=S&sortorder=N&cycle=All

    Food corruption and deception in the U.S. is nothing short of criminal, and this needs to be aggressively confronted by the new administration. Unfortunately, Trump’s choice for Secretary of HHS is Tom Price who voted in favor of the DARK ACT: https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/dark-act-fact-sheet

    Fraud re both human and animal food appears to the rule today which is why this has the potential of being a slippery slope for Wysong so as not to disrupt the greedy “business as usual” practices of these companies.

    Please keep us posted on this matter, Susan, and many thanks for all your hard efforts.

    1. Keller

      I have lost all hope for strong, enforced regulations concerning pretty much anything that is important or necessary now that the Trump-Bannon presidency exists. It’s hard to believe that the citizens have lost the race to be heard. Trump vowed to give back the power to the people and really tricked everyone who voted for him. I voted to oppose him, but it doesn’t matter anymore.

      Still, we need to push on and push harder and louder and must not give up our mission. Thank you, Susan, for being a gifted leader. Would you like to run for state or country office in 2018?

    1. Keller

      Thanks for the sites that you have listed. Will share with my friends,

  11. landsharkinnc

    I never see this ‘argument’ that it doesn’t remind me of a (alleged) case from YEARS ago — way pre-internet! where a family from another country purchased two cans of a name brand vegetable shortening — one a large can, the other one smaller. The large can had a photograph of a fried chicken on the label, and the smaller can, a picture of a piece of cherry pie … they were sorely disappointed with their purchases! … So NO! if is has pictures of beautiful crisp carrots, broiled chicken, peas, what ever — I do NOT want it made from wilted/bruised/rotten GARBAGE — If I wouldn’t eat it – I won’t feed it to my pets! — Like a good cooking wine — don’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink!

  12. mathman54

    Perhaps the author knows the answer to this question: Have the defense produced any evidence regarding the interpretation of the legal “reasonable person”? That is, where is their data?

    The packaging was produced by a marketing company working for the pet food company. Usually, the packaging is chosen because it can be demonstrated, through A-B testing, for example, to be more effective. To be more effective in getting the consumer to pick up the package and buy it, that is. Where are the accompanying studies which show what the subject thought? The defense should already have this data available as the marketing company(ies) contracted to design the packaging should already have this data.

    Similarly, Wysong could have also conducted a study, or at least a survey, framing the same question. Given these pictures, what do you expect to find in this package? This moves the argument from the theoretical “reasonable person” to “this is what actual people think”.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      To my knowledge – which is limited – they have not produced any data like you speak of. Very good thought.

  13. Karrie Kamke

    Thank you again Susan, for this very interesting – albeit disturbing – update. In addition, I appreciated the thought provoking comments and information provided in response. As a mother of 2 senior cats (who has been feeding them home cooked meals for over a year) the subject of manufactured pet food never ceases to infuriate me.

  14. Reader

    It’s been suggested the discussion has strayed off topic (but not so at all). Which is about “claiming misleading images on PF labels sway consumer purchases.” And is another way of saying that Truth in Advertising is not being enforced.

    The answer to the question“when the average person looks at a pet food label like this what interpretation do they make” (or are they expected to make) the responses are, that real food is good food, and no undesirable food is inside the package. That consumers who are trusting are permitted to imagine that scraps (or bits, pieces, the essence of) grilled beef along with other protein just makes a tastier product! That nobody assumes less than desirable ingredients are being used. The even though the food looks like human grade quality, it would still be unwise to eat food made for animals.

    The answer to the question “what is the meaning of reasonable expectation?” is that it’s a matter of using common sense (or being practical) instead of being literal (or impractical). That even a image doesn’t guarantee that what’s pictured is only (or majority of) protein inside. That a consumer knows that a picture increases a product’s appeal, attracts attention, and gives a visual approximation of content. That it’s meat as opposed to fish or fowl.

    AAFCO Regulation says PF packages with images and wording must reflect accurate content. (Which is enforced for human food products.) But PF advertising takes advantage of the loophole. Manufacturers avoid responsibility for making that violation, by saying it doesn’t matter. Because an average (normal, reasonable, sensible) consumer would make the purchase anyway!

    PF Advocates say all manufacturing defects that result in “animal feed” (and not healthy, optimal, or safe food) should be eliminated. While PFI reform is complicated, slow and difficult to enforce, it doesn’t excuse the manufacturers from compliance. But problems still have to be addressed in the interim, such as, protecting and serving the best interests of consumers.

    One of the problems the Wysong Lawsuit is addressing is, what the effect of using misleading human quality PF labels DOES. Which means, it does not discourage consumers from questioning the product itself! False assurances give them no reason to. Besides being falsely assured, they are being CONFUSED by a contradiction. (One) that the product is “as good as” human food. And (two) that food for pets is not food for people. The logical question is why? Either the manufacturer should explain (through transparent labeling) or they should be accountable for NOT explaining. And not explaining requires a disclaimer on the package: “Animal feed is not fit for human consumption, and doing so may be a hazard to human health.”

    Once a statement like that is required, the kind of advertising Nutrish is using, that Wysong is filing against, becomes obsolete. Because it pushes the PFI into deciding whether transparency or strategy is more important. Meaning should they join the minority of manufacturers making human grade quality food. Or admit their product is only equal to livestock quality feed! And so promote it that way. Remember, not every owner believes a pet should eat human grade food, or shouldn’t be eating animal feed. But every consumer does have the right to know which products on the market are being advertised accurately, in order to make that choice!! Because Truth in Advertising isn’t optional. It’s required.
    _________
    I would suggest the danger of following others who seek the truth, is in the confusion that comes from an abundance of knowledge, that only serves the self-interests of a few! In the discovery of TAPF, there is little doubt among those who’ve found it!

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