WASHINGTON — Champion Petfoods USA Inc. has resolved two consumer protection lawsuits filed in 2020 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, both claiming the company provided misleading marketing and labeling claims for certain ingredients used in select pet food products.

The lawsuits were filed by Animal Equality (AE), an international farm-animal welfare organization, in July 2020 and Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a national food health and safety organization, in August 2020. The entities announced their resolutions with Champion Petfoods on Jan. 5.

In its lawsuit, AE alleged Champion Petfoods had identified farm-raised trout as “wild-caught” in some marketing materials. The pet food company claimed this was “an inadvertent oversight that has since been corrected,” according to OCA.

Additionally, OCA’s lawsuit claimed the company had marketed some product to contain “free-run” chicken, without properly defining that term on the product’s packaging. As a Canadian company, Champion Petfoods was using the term “free-run” to describe the Canadian poultry industry’s standard of chickens that are not caged and can move within a barn, but do not have outdoor access. Plaintiffs said this claim was misleading to consumers.

The pet food manufacturer said future packaging and digital marketing content will provide better clarity on the “free-run” discrepancy, as well as the sourcing of its trout. This will also help Champion Petfoods achieve its commitment to transparency, one aspect in which the company prides itself.

Additionally, Champion Petfoods has agreed to partner with an animal welfare consultant to provide education and certification to employees for animal welfare auditing procedures.

Both AE and OCA are represented by Richman Law and Policy. Champion Petfoods is represented by Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

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