A New York federal court has dismissed a putative class action alleging that celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s brand of dog food, Rachael Ray Nutrish, is misleadingly marketed as “natural” because it contains traces of pesticides. Parks v. Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, LLC, No. 18-6936 (S.D.N.Y., entered April 18, 2019). The court found that the plaintiff could not show that trace amounts of a pesticide would make the marketing of a “natural” product misleading.

The plaintiff “asserts that the Products contain trace amounts of glyphosate, but not that the Products are composed of unnatural ingredients,” the court found. “Moreover, Plaintiff does not set forth in his complaint the amount of glyphosate in the Products or whether that amount is harmful or innocuous. He argues that ‘[if] glyphosate is in the Products at any level . . . then the Products cannot be called ‘Natural.” [] But a reasonable consumer would not be so absolutist as to require that ‘natural’ means there is no glyphosate, even an accidental and innocuous amount, in the Products.” The court granted the plaintiff “leave to replead facts supporting an inference that there was a material amount of glyphosate in the Products.”

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.