SACRAMENTO – Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods Inc. said it will fight a class action lawsuit that claims the company falsely labels its pet treats as made in the United States but contain ingredients produced in foreign countries. The plaintiff is seeking $5 million in damages.
In a statement, Gary Mickelson, Tyson spokesman, said the company’s pet treats are made with meat and poultry produced in the United States. “We disagree with this lawsuit and will fight it,” he said.
Susan Fitzpatrick of Placer County, California, filed the lawsuit in the Sacramento Division of the US District Court for the Eastern District of California. The complaint doesn’t target a specific product but references Nudges pet treats. The complaint states Tyson’s representation that Nudges dog treats are made in the US is false because certain ingredients are sourced abroad.
“The labels stating that Defendant’s pet food is made in the United States are false because Defendant’s pet food contains ingredients sourced from foreign country. For example, these products contain tapioca, as well as vitamin, mineral, and amino acid packs sourced outside the United States.”
The complaint goes on to say that consumers purchase pet products with “Made in the USA” labels because they believe those products are safer for their pets.
“The buying public’s preference for pet foods and treats that are made exclusively in the United States stems in part from the widely-publicized and widespread recall of pet foods in 2007, when hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of dogs died of renal failure after being fed pet foods containing gluten sourced from China that turned out to be adulterated with toxic chemicals,” the complaint said.
Fitzpatrick filed a similar lawsuit against Big Heart Pet Brands on the same day. The J.M. Smucker Company owns Big Heart, which produces Milo’s Kitchen brand pet foods and treats.
Tyson denied any wrongdoing.
“We meet all pet food safety rules and regulations of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO),” Mickelson said. “We are proud of our products, and believe that labeling them as “Made in the USA” is entirely consistent with applicable law.”
The Nudges website says the treats are made from “proteins 100% sourced and raised in the USA.” Additionally, the treats contain “real farm-raised meats with beef, chicken or duck as the #1 ingredient,” according to the website.
The Federal Trade Commission’s website states that by law, most textiles, wool products and automobiles must have labels that identify where they were made or assembled. Otherwise, FTC guidance states:
• A company that makes a “Made in the USA” or other United States origin claim for its product should be able to prove that all or almost all of that product was made in the United States.
• In general, products processed or finished in the USA that contain materials from other countries should not be labeled “Made in the USA” without further explanation.
The cases are Fitzpatrick v. Big Heart Pet Brands et al. and Fitzpatrick v. Tyson Foods Inc.