Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 26

26 | www.PetfoodIndustry.com

PETFOOD INSIGHTS

David A. Dzanis, DVM, PhD, DACVN

Challenges of pet food
labeling and public perception
Regulatory compliance may
not always mean a sure win
in the eyes of consumers -
or courts. Chris Ryan | iStockPhoto.com

the food's health benefits or product quality, either
in words or imagery, but in any case the premise of
the lawsuit is that the representations made on the
labeling constitute economic fraud. In other words,
even if there was no demonstrated adverse effect to
the animal, the purchasers were swindled into buying
the product under false pretenses, hence deserve due
compensation for damages.

Challenges of translating regulatory
compliance to "real-world" consumers

I always enjoy the educational presentations
at Petfood Forum, and 2019 was no exception. Of
particular interest to me was the talk entitled "Pet
food lawsuits: Recent trends and the future of labeling
litigation," by attorney Michael Annis. If anything, his
presentation confirmed that my advice to many of my
regulatory clients who are also facing legal challenges is
sound; namely, "get a lawyer!"
There are different types of legal issues a pet food
company may face, but with respect to class action
lawsuits these are often the result of labeling claims
purported to misrepresent the product in violation
of state consumer protection laws. As opposed to an
enforcement action initiated by a regulatory official,
a class action suit would be brought forward by a
non-governmental legal firm representing a group of
similarly affected consumers.  
The alleged misleading claims often relate to

In principle, the model pet food labeling regulations as per the Association of American Feed Control
Officials (AAFCO) are foremost intended to be for
the protection of the consumer already. There are
regulatory guidelines for some types of claims; e.g.,
"natural" and "human grade" (AAFCO), and "made
in USA" (Federal Trade Commission). For others, such
as "wholesome" or "homemade," there are no explicit
AAFCO standards, but such claims would still be
subject to enforcement action if when scrutinized
were found not to be suitably documented as truthful.
Still, it is infeasible for regulations alone to cover
all potential permutations of a claim that could render
it misleading. What may be sufficient for the regulator
may not be adequate when it relates to the public.
Perception is reality, and in the case of class action
suits, it's how the consumer perceives the claim that is
important, not how the regulator views it.
So, for example, a pet food company may take
great efforts to ensure regulatory compliance for its
"natural" product; i.e., it is in full accordance with
existing AAFCO guidance and all aspects of the

Dr. Dzanis is a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist and CEO of Regulatory Discretion Inc. He is also the author of Petfood
Industry magazine's monthly column, "Petfood Insights."

June 2019

Industry


http://www.PetfoodIndustry.com http://www.iStockPhoto.com

Petfood Industry - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Petfood Industry - June 2019

Petfood Industry - June 2019
Contents
Why newer pet food formats like freeze dried are rising
Speaking of…
News and Calendar
Insect protein key to Entoma Petfood’s innovation
Decline in dog breeders worries Japan pet food industry
How premiumization is driving pet food evolution
Dogs and cats readily accept insect-based protein and oil
Clean label pet food production and marketing lessons
Chinese pet food market offers opportunities, challenges
Challenges of pet food labeling and public perception
Miscanthus grass: a new fiber option for dog and cat diets
The pet space: from online to omnichannel to omnimarket
New Products
Marketplace
Advertiser’s Index
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Petfood Industry - June 2019
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Cover1a
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Cover1b
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Cover2
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 1
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Contents
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 3
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Why newer pet food formats like freeze dried are rising
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 5
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Speaking of…
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - CT1
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - CT2
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - News and Calendar
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Insect protein key to Entoma Petfood’s innovation
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 9
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 10
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - CT3
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - CT4
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 11
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 12
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 13
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Decline in dog breeders worries Japan pet food industry
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 15
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 16
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 17
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - How premiumization is driving pet food evolution
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 19
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Dogs and cats readily accept insect-based protein and oil
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 21
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Clean label pet food production and marketing lessons
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 23
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Chinese pet food market offers opportunities, challenges
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 25
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Challenges of pet food labeling and public perception
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 27
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Miscanthus grass: a new fiber option for dog and cat diets
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 29
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 30
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 31
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - The pet space: from online to omnichannel to omnimarket
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 33
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - New Products
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 35
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 36
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 37
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 38
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 39
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Marketplace
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - 41
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Advertiser’s Index
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Cover3
Petfood Industry - June 2019 - Cover4
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