Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd. faces a proposed class action that alleges the marketing and labeling of its Blue Wilderness line of dog food products is deceptive in that it falsely relays that a diet high in carbohydrates is good for dogs. According to the lawsuit, though Blue Buffalo claims its Blue Wilderness products are “inspired by the diet of wolves,” wild wolves consume “little or no dietary carbohydrate[s],” which the case says are fattening and unhealthy for dogs and fundamentally linked to canine obesity, diabetes and cancer.
Whereas the defendant claims its dry, kibble-style Blue Wilderness food is healthy, nutritious and otherwise consistent with the diets of dogs’ “ancestors in the wild,” the product’s high carbohydrate levels can exacerbate chronic conditions that are “virtually non-existent in wolf populations,” the lawsuit begins. Though Blue Buffalo Company’s packaging of Blue Wilderness products prominently displays an image of a grey wolf while touting the food as “Nature’s Evolutionary Diet,” American dogs, the lawsuit claims, are in the midst of “an epidemic of obesity” that the plaintiff avers has “clearly-established links to morbidity in dogs” with high-carb diets.
“In one way or another, all of the marketing claims described above fail to reflect the scientifically-verified reality about the health effects that dietary carbohydrates have on the bodies of domestic dog,” the complaint states.
In addition to supposedly rampant canine obesity, carb consumption can exacerbate diabetes, the case says, noting that high levels of blood glucose can be toxic to dogs. Carbohydrate-rich dog food, according to the suit, can cause “profound blood glucose spikes,” whereas carb-restricted meals induce fewer changes to a dog’s insulin levels. Obesity notwithstanding, the complaint argues the carb-loaded diets of American dogs are to blame for conditions found nowhere among their wild ancestors.
“Millions of dogs in the United States—the vast majority of whom eat carbohydrate-rich kibbles like the ones sold by Defendant—suffer from diabetes,” the lawsuit says. “But among wolves—a species that never consumes carbohydrates—there has never been a single documented case.”
The lawsuit links the high carbohydrate levels in Blue Wilderness food to the process by which kibble-style dog food is manufactured. According to the case, kibble-style foods are made via extrusion processing, whereby ingredients are combined in a mixer, extruded through an extruder barrel, cut into shapes and then dried in an oven to produce smaller “nuggets.” The suit claims that the “comparatively low costs” of carb-containing ingredients and their usefulness in binding together other ingredients during the manufacturing process are among the reasons why Blue Buffalo Company’s foods are all high in dietary carbohydrates.
The complaint goes on to allege that consumers are unaware of the carbohydrate content in Blue Wilderness food because the defendant does not disclose carb levels on product labels or its website.
“Instead,” the complaint reads, “Defendant markets and promotes its dog food products by focusing on the non-carbohydrate nutrients found in the products, such as proteins, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals.”
The plaintiff, a Labrador-beagle mix owner who resides in New York, claims she relied on Blue Buffalo Company’s packaging and nutritional information when purchasing the food for her seven-year-old dog. The suit claims the dog has “gained significant weight” and requires medical care for canine obesity and diabetes as a result of consuming Blue Wilderness food.
The lawsuit looks to cover consumers in New York who bought Blue Buffalo Company’s Blue Wilderness dog food within the relevant statute of limitations period.