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Organic Consumers Association Sues Champion Petfoods for Deceptive Marketing Claims

Champion’s ‘free-run’ poultry claims mislead consumers, nonprofit says

CONTACT:
Katherine Paul, (207) 653-3090, katherine@organicconsumers.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - August 13, 2020  - Organic Consumers Association (OCA) filed suit against Champion Petfoods USA and Champion Petfoods LP for deceptive marketing and advertising of pet foods marketed under the Orijen and Acana brand names.

The action was filed by Richman Law Group on behalf of OCA, in D.C. Superior Court under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

“Animal welfare concerns rank high with consumers and contribute significantly to their decisions when it comes to buying meat and poultry products,” said OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins. “Whether that animal is destined for human consumption, or for pet food, the decision-making process is the same.

“Consumers who see the words ‘free-run’ poultry on pet food packaging or marketing materials would reasonably assume that the chickens used in that product were not raised in an industrial factory farm where tens of thousands of birds are crammed together and never allowed outdoors,” Cummins said.

OCA alleges certain statements made on the Acana website are false. For example, the website states: “Raised under the highest standards for animal care and food safety by people we know and trust, on family-run American farms, our free-run poultry and cage-free eggs are nourishing, natural, and antibiotic free.” 

However, according to OCA’s complaint, the farmer depicted on the website, whom Champion purportedly “knows and trusts” as Todd of Clark Farms, is actually Greg Hefton, a contract grower for Tyson Foods —the largest poultry producer in the United States.

The suit also alleges that factory-farmed chickens, like those who become ingredients in Champion’s products, are raised indoors, in large, windowless, rectangular buildings, hundreds of feet long, and are processed according to industry standards that prioritize cost-efficiency and maximum output—not concern for the birds’ welfare, as the company claims.

Moreover, the conventionally raised commercial chickens used in Champion’s products have been bred for rapid growth. Rapid growth is inconsistent with Champion’s “highest standards for animal care,” as it can cause leg disorders, ruptured tendons, weakened immune systems and other painful conditions. 

OCA seeks an end to the deceptive marketing and advertising at issue.

Full complaint

Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a grassroots nonprofit consumer advocacy organization representing a network of more than 2 million consumers in the U.S. and Mexico.

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