When pet food regulations are not abided by (manufacturers) or enforced (regulators), lawyers step in. New lawsuits – against Purina’s Merrick Pet Food, Wysong Pet Food, and Big Heart Brands (Milo’s Kitchen) for ‘Made in the USA’ claim on pet food labels – could have been prevented if manufacturers had followed regulations and regulatory authorities would enforce regulations.
Purina’s newly purchased Merrick Pet Food have found themselves involved in a class action lawsuit “over claims they falsely labeled certain products as being made in the U.S.” Wysong is also being sued for the same reason – as well as Big Heart Brands Milo’s Kitchen. From a brief statement on the suit: “The suit states the defendants falsely labeled certain dog and cat food and treat products as made in the U.S., when these products allegedly include vitamin, mineral and amino acid packs that contain ingredients sourced outside the U.S.” In non-legal language, the lawsuit is based on Merrick Pet Food, Wysong Pet Food, and Big Heart Brands claiming ‘Made in the USA’ on pet food labels but accused of not meeting the legal requirement of the claim.
The Federal Trade Commission tells all manufacturers (pet products or human products) that “a product advertised as Made in USA be ‘all or virtually all’ made in the U.S.” Pet food regulations explain this even further to pet food manufacturers. AAFCO tells pet food manufacturers: “The rule states that: ‘all or virtually all means’ that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content. So just putting together ingredients inside the US is not enough. Additionally, just getting ingredients from a broker within the US is not enough. If ingredients are imported, then it is very difficult to justify the use of the phrase ‘Made in the USA.'”
After the 2007 pet food recall, with consumers concerned over ingredients sourced from China, manufacturers began to include the ‘Made in the USA’ statement on their labels to ease consumer concern (even if their pet foods did not meet the legal requirements of the claim). The use of the ‘Made in the USA’ claim has grown steadily each year since 2007 – grown each year because no regulatory authority (FDA and each State Department of Agriculture) has been enforcing the law.
In May of 2014, TruthaboutPetFood.com posted pictures of multiple pet food labels making the ‘Made in the USA’ claim – almost all pet foods openly stated they source some ingredients outside the US. Products from Blue Buffalo, Biljac, Castor & Pollux, Dogswell, Innova, Rachael Ray Nutrish, Nutro, Science Diet and Wellness all included the ‘Made in the USA’ statement but admitted to sourcing some ingredients outside the US. Since this post in 2014, more and more pet foods have included the ‘Made in the USA’ claim on labels. Because most pet foods source ingredients all over the world, we can safely assume most of these ‘Made in the USA’ claims on pet food labels are in violation of the Made in the USA claim, and consumers are being misled.
Why are pet foods making false ‘Made in the USA’ claims? Reason #1: Because no one is enforcing existing regulations. It is similar to drivers speeding on the highway; when no police are around with radar guns, drivers often exceed the speed limit. But this ‘speeding’ misleads consumers, sways purchases (consumers wanting a true Made in the USA pet food). Regulatory authorities have told TruthaboutPetFood.com that their main focus is on safety issues. With limited budgets and limited staff, they have stated they do not have the time to enforce some label issues such as ‘Made in the USA’ claims and misleading images of grilled meat on pet food labels. It is true that government does not adequately support (financially) pet food regulators, but to consumers there is no excuse good enough.
Reason #2: Some pet foods have simply chosen to ignore the ‘Made in the USA’ regulations. It is the responsibility of each pet food manufacturer to know, understand and abide by all regulations that govern pet food. Those that chose to include the ‘Made in the USA’ claim on their label while sourcing ingredients outside the US, have chosen to ignore regulations. There is no excuse.
It would not surprise me if we see more lawsuits popping up for misleading claims on pet food labels. It’s time somebody does something about it (even if its lawyers and not the tax dollar supported agencies that are supposed to be enforcing law). For any consumer that has been misled by a ‘Made in the USA’ claim on a pet food label, here is the link to one of the law firms involved: http://www.rlslawyers.com/ or contact your personal attorney.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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