Lawsuit Investigation Looks into Champion’s Acana, Orijen Pet Food

AT A GLANCE

This Alert Affects: Anyone who bought Champion’s Acana or Orijen dog or cat food advertised as containing “free-run poultry” or “wild-caught fish.”What’s Going On?Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are looking into whether class action lawsuits can be filed after allegations surfaced that some of Champion’s pet food contains meat from chickens that had no outdoor access and fish that were raised on industrial farms, despite representations to the contrary. A full list of affected products can be found below.How Could a Class Action Help?A class action lawsuit could help consumers get back some of the money they spent on pet food.What You Can DoIf you bought Orijen or Acana pet food labeled as containing “free-run poultry” or “wild-caught fish,” fill out the form on this page. You may be able to help get a class action started.What’s the Catch?There is none. Attorneys have reason to believe some of Champion’s pet food may have been falsely advertised and want to see if a class action lawsuit can be filed – but first, they need to hear from people who bought the cat and dog food at issue.

Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether class action lawsuits can be filed on behalf of consumers who purchased certain Acana and Orijen dog and cat food products labeled as containing “free-run poultry” or “wild-caught fish.”

Two advocacy groups have accused the maker of the products, Champion Petfoods, of false and deceptive advertising, claiming that the cat and dog foods actually contain farm-raised fish and meat from chickens raised in indoor, inhumane conditions.

In light of these claims, attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether consumers can start a class action against Champion to get back some of the money they spent on the products under investigation.

If you bought Orijen or Acana dog or cat food advertised as containing “free-run poultry” or “wild-caught fish,” help this investigation by filling out the form on this page. You may be able to help get a class action lawsuit started.

What Dog and Cat Foods Are Under Investigation?

The following Acana and Orijen pet food products are under investigation over their “free-run poultry” claims:

Acana

  • Acana Duck & Pear Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Duck & Pear Freeze-Dried Dog Treats
  • Acana Duck & Pumpkin Recipe with Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Feast Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Free-Run Poultry Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Free-Run Poultry Recipe with Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Grasslands Dry Cat Food
  • Acana Grasslands Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Homestead Harvest Dry Cat Food
  • Acana Indoor Entrée Dry Cat Food
  • Acana Kentucky Farmlands with Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Light & Fit Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Meadowland Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Meadowlands Dry Cat Food
  • Acana Paleo Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Puppy & Junior Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Turkey & Greens Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Turkey & Greens Freeze-Dried Dog Treats
  • Acana Turkey & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food

Orijen

  • Orijen Cat & Kitten Dry Cat Food
  • Orijen Fit & Trim Dry Cat Food
  • Orijen Fit & Trim Dry Dog Food
  • Orijen Free-Run Duck Freeze-Dried Dog Treats
  • Orijen Original Dry Dog Food
  • Orijen Original Freeze-Dried Cat Treats
  • Orijen Original Freeze-Dried Dog Food
  • Orijen Original Freeze-Dried Dog Treats
  • Orijen Puppy Dry Dog Food
  • Orijen Puppy Large Dry Dog Food
  • Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food
  • Orijen Tundra Dry Cat Food
  • Orijen Tundra Dry Dog Food
  • Orijen Tundra Freeze-Dried Cat Treats
  • Orijen Tundra Freeze-Dried Dog Food
  • Orijen Tundra Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

The following Acana dog and cat foods are under investigation over their “wild-caught fish” claims:

Acana

  • Acana Bountiful Catch Dry Cat Food
  • Acana Freshwater Fish Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Grasslands Dry Cat Food
  • Acana Grasslands Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Meadowland Dry Dog Food
  • Acana Meadowlands Dry Cat Food

Advocacy Lawsuits Accuse Champion Petfoods of False, Deceptive Advertising

In the summer of 2020, two advocacy groups sued Champion Petfoods challenging the company’s product representations and asking for an end to what the lawsuits call “deceptive marketing.”

Wild-Caught Fish Claims

In July 2020, non-profit organization Animal Equality accused Champion Petfoods of misleading consumers into believing some of its Acana dog and cat foods were made with only wild-caught fish.

The suit took particular issue with the following claims made by Champion:

  • “ACANA Grasslands is brimming with…wild-caught rainbow trout…”
  • “ACANA Freshwater Fish is packed with whole, wild-caught rainbow trout…”
  • “Our saltwater fish are sustainable and wild-caught from New England’s cold and fertile waters, and our freshwater fish from American waters – all whisked to our DogStar Kitchen fresh or raw.”

The lawsuit also pointed to a page on Champion’s website that describes the company’s freshwater fish as “fresh, whole and wild” and claims its rainbow trout is “sustainably caught by fishermen we know and trust.”

Despite these representations, the fish supplying Champion’s dog and cat foods is from Idaho, where the vast majority of rainbow trout comes from large industrial fish farms, the lawsuit says.

In fact, laboratory testing commissioned by Animal Equality revealed that one of Champion’s “wild-caught” products tested positive for ethoxyquin, a chemical widely used as a feed additive in fish farming operations. According to the lawsuit, presence of this chemical indicates that the fish in the food was farmed and gave Animal Equality “reasonable confirmation” that Champion’s wild-caught representations are false.

Free-Run Poultry Claims

Just weeks after the “wild-caught fish” lawsuit was filed, Organic Consumers Association, a non-profit out of Minnesota, sued Champion claiming that the chickens supplying its “free-run poultry” dog and cat food products are “confined in crowded barns without outdoor access” and that the pet food was therefore falsely advertised. Specifically, the suit took issue with product packaging showing chickens outside on grass, icons describing the chickens as “free run,” and statements that the birds used in Champion’s products are “raised…by people we know and trust, on family-run American farms.”  

Champion even included on its website a picture of “Todd of Clark Farms” to show the public one of the farmers the company “knows and trusts.”

The lawsuit claims, however, that “Todd” is actually Greg Hefton, a contract grower for Tyson Foods, the largest poultry producer in the country and one of Champion’s suppliers.

According to the suit, Tyson raises and kills chickens using “bare minimum standards” that explicitly allow for practices that “severely restrict birds’ freedom of movement” and “allow severely cramped conditions and the manipulation of the growth rate of the birds to grow unnaturally and painfully large.”

As a result, Champion cannot reasonably claim that the chickens used in the Acana and Orijen pet food at issue had free access to the outdoors and were “raised under the highest standards for animal care,” the suit suggests.

Why Is a Class Action Needed If Champion Has Already Been Sued?

The lawsuits detailed above seek only to force Champion to change the way it advertises its pet food. (In fact, Champion has already removed the “free-run poultry” representation from its products in response to the Organic Consumers Association’s lawsuit.)

The suits are not seeking money for those who bought the products, which is where a class action lawsuit could help.

What Could I Get from a Class Action?

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for products, including pet food, that they believe come from humanely treated animals – meaning they may have overpaid if Champion’s products were falsely advertised. A class action lawsuit, if filed and successful, could help consumers get their money back.

If you bought any of the products listed above, attorneys working with ClassAction.org would like to hear from you. Fill out the form on this page and one of the attorneys handling this investigation may reach out to you directly to ask you a few questions and explain more about how a class action lawsuit could help.

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