Doggy Drama: Pup-Peroni ‘Real Beef’ Claim Unleashes Legal Fight

pup-peroni false advertising class action lawsuit

Pup-Peroni Class Action Lawsuit: Is Your Dog Getting Real Beef or False Advertising?

Pup-Peroni dog treats have found themselves in the legal doghouse over allegations their beef products aren’t up to scratch. With more bark than bite, the “Real Beef” advertised on the product's packaging and in marketing is actually feed grade beef rather than the prime cuts expected by dog owners, a new lawsuit alleges. 

Given how, in this day in age, we tend to humanize our pets and seek out top quality products, the false advertising amounts to a violation of consumer trust and an overall rip off for customers and their four-legged friends, the lawsuit alleges. 

Not fit for human consumption

New York resident Margot Zimmerman filed the proposed class action lawsuit against Big Heart Pet Brands Inc., the producer of Pup-Peroni products, accusing the company of preying on consumers like her who are unaware the treats use low quality feed grade beef. 

“Plaintiff expected the “real beef” would be the type of beef she would buy or consume for herself, and not feed grade beef, not appropriate nor permitted for human consumption,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges the company emphasizes that “Real Beef [is its] #1 Ingredient”, that it has an “Original Beef Flavor” and has “No Red 40 Fillers” on packaging and marketing to lure health conscious pet owners in, but in fact  the “Real Beef [as the] #1 Ingredient” is false and misleading. That is because animal food doesn’t have to face the same standards as human food according to state and federal laws, and beef for dogs does not meet the standard real beef for humans has to meet. 

Zimmerman claims the false advertising led her and other dog owners to spend much more on the dog treat than they would have, had they known the true recipe. 

Dog food subject to processing

While the public expects beef to be subjected to inspections to ensure quality attributes, such as only sourcing only from healthy animals, limited use of additives, and careful review of processing methods, according to the lawsuit, dog food faces very different methods of production. It goes through intense processing methods such as rendering and extrusion, deteriorating its nutritional integrity through loss of vitamins and minerals and protein denaturation, and increasing the potential development of harmful substances like acrylamide, the lawsuit says. 

The rendering process cuts and grinds animal carcasses into small pieces, to be blended and cooked, and then separates out the fat, protein materials, and wastewater. The concentrated protein is then dried, ground and stored for shipment. The extrusion process means the product is forced through an opening in a perforated plate to produce a required shape (quite like what happens for pasta).

What to look out for with dog food

Jonathan Stockman, assistant professor at Long Island University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, told the Washington Post: “The most important thing for the health of the pet is that the food is providing all of the necessary nutrients, all of the vitamins, all the minerals, the right amount of protein and fat, and so on, that they need to be healthy. These metrics are set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and are met by most commercial dog food available in the United States.”

While you might be tempted to sign up for more expensive, boutique dog food brands, Carly Fox, senior veterinarian at Schwarzman Animal Medical Center NYC, said: “The nutritional content of high-end dog food brands does not differ significantly from typical grocery store brands.”

The most important thing is paying attention to your dog’s health, and tailoring his or her diet to fit her needs. Each dog is unique and may require a tailored approach to nutrition, so consulting with your veterinarian is paramount to making sure your pet maintains a healthy, balanced diet.

Pet food scares

Pup-Peroni isn’t the only pet food under the spotlight. In February, we wrote about how Colgate-Palmolive’s Hill’s Pet Nutrition brand is being challenged in court for allegedly releasing false health information linking “boutique, exotic, and grain-free” pet foods to a deadly heart disease in dogs called dilated cardiomyopathy, as well conspiring with veterinarians to damage the sales of smaller independent brands, all while lining their own pockets.

Meanwhile, last year Nestle Purina Petcare Company was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that its packaging contains harmful forever chemicals, making its claims that its pet food is healthy null and void.

Earlier this year, Purina hit back at “online rumors" that accused the company’s pet food of sickening hundreds of animals, Fox Business reported. Purina said “false statements may be creating unnecessary stress for pet parents. There are no health or safety issues with any of our products, and they can continue to be fed with confidence." The company added it feeds 46 million dogs and 68 million cats each year, and "the quality, safety and nutrition of our products is our highest priority.”

In her lawsuit against Big Heart Pet Brands Inc., Zimmerman wants to represent New York consumers and is suing for violations of the state’s business law. 

The plaintiff and proposed class is represented by Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates P.C.

The Pup-Peroni fake beef proposed class action lawsuit is Zimmerman v. Big Heart Pet Brands Inc., Case No. 1:24-cv-02609 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn.



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