Dr Judy Morgan reports that a class action lawsuit has been filed in the District Court in northern California against some big pet food manufacturers including Hill’s and Mars.
It seems that pet food consumers are fed up with (a) the misdescription of pet food by calling it “prescription diet” when the dry food is little different from any other over the counter products and (b) inflating the price of the food on the back of this misleading labelling and through price fixing cartels in breach of U.S. anti-trust and consumer protection law.
For me (and I suspect many others) this is excellent news. As I understand it, the papers filed at court state that American consumers expect the description of “prescription diet” to mean:
- that the product has been prescribed
- is a medical necessity for health reasons
- contains a drug or a controlled ingredient
- the product has been evaluated by the FDA
The class law suit claims that so called prescription diet pet food does not meet the requirements for such a labelling.
Dr Morgan rightly, in my opinion, argues that the claims made by the manufacturers of “prescription diets” are unproven and untested. She is surprised that the FDA allows this state of affairs to exist.
These products are marketed as a form of drug but don’t meet the legal requirements of a drug she argues.
I think most consumers (I hope) know that these dry cat and dog foods are mislabelled. I, for one, ignore the description and see Hill’s prescription diet cat food as an expensive product which I hope is of excellent quality but it probably is no better than any other decent quality cat food. I see the con. However, a lot of cat and dog owners probably don’t especially as veterinarians sell and promote these products and make a healthy profit from them. It’s vets working with manufacturers to manipulate consumers.
There is no doubt in my mind that Hill’s (as one example) decided to incorporate the word “prescription” into their labelling (Iams call theirs “Veterinary Formulas”) for the simple reason that it justifies charging much more for the product. In other words, to be brutally truthful, it is a con. The manufacturers want to give the impression that the food is special and that it can cure illness. And yet dry cat food per se as a full-time diet is inherently unhealthy I believe.
As Dr Morgan states it is time the public pushed back and forced the pet food manufacturers to be more honest and to stop ripping off consumers. Hence this lawsuit.
Dr Morgan’s article. My thanks to Sandy for pointing it out to me.