Rachael Ray's "Natural" Dog Food Brand Contains "Potentially Harmful" Herbicide, Lawsuit Claims

E! News has obtained the court documents for the $5 million class-action lawsuit

By Jess Cohen Aug 07, 2018 6:23 PMTags
Rachael Ray Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Nutrish

Rachael Ray's dog food brand, Nutrish, is being sued by a man in New York who claims the brand contains the "potentially harmful" herbicide glyphosate.

E! News has obtained the court documents filed by plaintiff Markeith Parks on Aug. 1 against Ainsworth Pet Nutrition and their line of Super Premium Food for Dogs. Parks states in the documents that while Rachael Ray Nutrish "aggressively advertises" and promotes the products as "natural," these "claims are false, deceptive, and misleading."

"Instead, the products contain the unnatural chemical glyphosate, a potent biocide and endocrine disruptor, with detrimental health effects that are still becoming known," the documents claim. The court papers later add, "Rachael Ray Nutrish knows and intends that when consumers see the product labels or advertisements promising the products are 'Natural,' consumers will understand that to mean that, at the very least, that the products do not contain synthetic or potentially harmful chemicals."

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"Tests conducted by an independent laboratory revealed that glyphosate is present in the Products," the lawsuit states. "The exact source of glyphosate in the Products is known only to Rachael Ray Nutrish and its suppliers. However, crops such as peas, soy, corn, beets and alfalfa are sprayed with the chemical in order to dry them and produce an earlier, more uniform harvest—a practice with no health benefits, meant only to increase yield."

The court papers later claim, "By deceiving consumers about the nature, quality, and/or ingredients of the Products, Rachael Ray Nutrish is able to sell a greater volume of the Products, to charge higher prices for the Products, and to take away market share from competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits."

According the documents, had Parks known that Rachael Ray Nutrish's products "contained the unnatural biocide glyphosate," he "would not have purchased or continued to purchase" them.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

In response to the $5 million class-action lawsuit, The J.M. Smucker Company, which bought Ainsworth Pet Nutrition this year, has issued a statement.

"We were disappointed to be recently notified of a lawsuit filed against us claiming we knowingly deceive pet parents about our products," Bobby Modi, Vice President of Pet Food & Pet Snacks for The J.M. Smucker Company tells E! News in a statement. "Despite what this lawsuit claims, we would never use ingredients in our products that harm pets. The pesticide mentioned in the lawsuit, glyphosate, is commonly used by farmers but is obviously never added as an ingredient in our products. All our products meet or exceed federal food safety requirements. We plan to aggressively defend ourselves against this misleading lawsuit and hope it does not cause pet parents any additional unnecessary concern. If pet parents have any questions or concerns about our pet food or treats, we encourage them to contact us directly at 1-800-323-7738."