Smucker Receives Complaint Over Tainted, Mislabeled Dog Food

Robin Humphrey filed a class action complaint late last week against The J.M. Smucker Company for false advertising. She alleges that Smucker advertised a number of the pet foods they make as healthy, even though they contain titanium dioxide (TiO2) and per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). 

TiO2, per the complaint, is a naturally occurring white pigment that is used in a number of industries, including paint, sunscreen, and food. While it was thought to be nontoxic for decades, recent research has called that into question, the plaintiff recounted

The complaint explains that when consumed, TiO2 builds up in the body as our digestive tract and immune system cannot break it down. France banned its use for human consumption in 2019, and in 2021, the European Food Safety Authority determined it not to be safe for consumption by humans or animals, stating that a “safe level for daily intake of the food additive could not be established.” 

The complaint goes on to describe how in 2014 “big players in the food market” announced they would no longer use TiO2 as an additive. Petco later stated they would no longer sell pet food containing it. 

PFAS are synthetic compounds that can persist in the environment long enough that they have been dubbed “forever chemicals.” The plaintif describes that the standard fluorine content above which the use of PFAS is likely is 100 parts per million (ppm). The complaint alleges that two Smuckers brand products contain fluorine well above that mark, with Meow Mix Tender Centers containing 630ppm and Kibbles ‘n Bits Bacon & Steak containing 590ppm. She further states PFAS buildup might affect pets more and sooner due to their shorter lifespan than humans.

With this evidence in mind, the plaintiff argues that she, and other customers like her, would not have purchased these products had they known the true nature and content of the food. As such, she seeks class-action certification for all individuals who purchased aforementioned products within the statute of limitations of the decision, and subclass certification for those individuals who happen to reside in California.

The suit seeks compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages as well as reasonable attorney’s fees. The complaint was brought in the Northern District of California, where the plaintiff resides, and she is represented by Bursor and Fisher, P.A.