I’m sure all dog owners can agree that one of the best parts of their day is coming home to endless, energetic cuddles from their pets.
It’s not often that we see our dogs come down from their 24/ 7 high, laze around, and not run to greet us upon arrival (unless they’re sleepy).
Hence, when we do, we instinctively know that something’s wrong.
Now, what if, on one such occasion, when you take your pet to the vet for a checkup, you’re met with the devastating news that they’ve been diagnosed with a severe health problem?
And upon further investigation, you discover that the cause of their illness could’ve been poisoning from the food you were feeding them.
It’s infuriating, devastating, and simply heartbreaking, right?
Especially if all suggested treatments fail and the dog loses its life.
Well, the story of pet owners who filed the Taste of the Wild lawsuit goes a little something like that.
These owners reached out, found similar cases, and filed class-action lawsuits against Taste of the Wild on multiple occasions, in attempts to hold them responsible for the death of their pets and discontinue the distribution of their products.
But before we get more into that, let’s take a closer look at Taste of the Wild and their products.
About Taste of the Wild
Taste of the Wild is a single- family-owned, private business that manufactures dog and cat food under the company Diamond Pet Foods.
Offering both wet and dry foods, for different stages of a pet’s life, they advertise their products to be all-natural and claim to provide the diet of the ancestors (wolves and mountain lions) to your pets.
For this reason, their food contains proteins from sources such as lean meat, fish, or pork. They offer both grain-less and ancient grain varieties.
However, in addition to proteins, they make use of vegetables and fruits such as sweet potatoes, peas, and even blueberries and raspberries for added fibers, antioxidants, and minerals.
Then with the help of species-specific probiotics, dried chicory roots, and omega fatty acid blends, they claim to provide premium quality nutritious dog food at an affordable price!
To round it off, instead of using chemical preservatives, they use a natural reverse osmosis water preservation technique.
Sounds like an amazing brand right? It’s certainly backed up by tones of good reviews!
So where’s the problem? Why the lawsuits and possible health issues?
Well, let’s get into it!
Taste of the Wild Recall
Before diving into the current ongoing lawsuits against Taste of the Wild, let’s take a brief look at the history of Waste of the Wild when it comes to the health and legal issues.
In May 2012, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Diamond Pet Foods. Amongst many of the Diamond manufactured foods is Taste of the Wild.
This resulted in the recall of Taste of the Wild products that had been produced during a certain period. Customers were allowed to return products purchased during that period.
In the legal world, the term recall world refers to when a manufacturer asks its products to be removed from the market and returned, based on certain health risks or legal allegations.
In the case of Taste of the Wild, these allegations were of Salmonella contamination in their food products that widely spread amongst many pets and their owners.
This lawsuit was then settled for about 2 million dollars, along with the company’s promise of keeping a very close eye on their pet food production.
That is, until 2018 when the next lawsuit came knocking at their door.
Taste of the Wild 2018 class-action lawsuit
The 2018 class-action lawsuit against Taste of the Wild was filed by Martin Grossman, suing the Diamond Pet Food Company.
The allegations by Martin and his fellow citizens were that the pet food contained chemicals that were harmful to the dogs.
These chemicals included heavy metals such as Arsenic, Mercury, Cadmium and Lead, along with pesticides, Acrylamides, and Bisphenol-A (BPA).
These allegations have been backed up by scientific testing which provided proof that the pet foods contained up to 255 ug/ kg of arsenic, 258 ug/kg of BPA, 54.2 ug/kg of cadmium, 30.9ug/kg of mercy, and 399.2 ug/ kg of lead, 38.92ug/kg of pesticide and 172.9ug/kg of acrylamide.
These toxins can build up in your pet’s body over time and lead to severe health conditions which are not only costly to treat but often lead to your dog’s demise.
(More details about how each of these chemicals harms you pet given below)
The lawsuit also stated that the company’s marketing strategy was misleading and deceptive.
This is because they had failed to provide a disclaimer on the product’s packaging, warning the customers against the presence of these chemicals.
There wasn’t any way for a regular customer to figure out that they were essentially buying food that could have harmed their dog’s health without proper scientific testing.
Had the products been labeled with all of the ingredients present (following a full disclosure policy), customers would have thought twice before buying something contaminated with heavy metals!
Instead, the food is simply marketed as premium quality, all-natural, and grain-free with all of the necessary nutrition provided for the pet.
In short, customers relied on the company’s advertisement, to be honest with them about all of the ingredients in their foods and were greatly disappointed.
Taste of the Wild 2019 class-action lawsuit
This lawsuit was filed in Illinois against diamond food’s taste of the wild pet food brand on 2/28/2019 by Constance Jackson and Gwen Kaszynski.
The charges of this lawsuit were very similar to the 2018 case, claiming that the pet food company had once again failed to disclose all of the ingredients in the products, AKA the presence of toxins, Bisphenol A (BPA) and heavy metals, especially lead.
However, in this case, increased toxic levels of lead were found especially in the Taste of the Wild Grain Free Southwest Canyon Canine Recipe with Wild Boar Dry Dog Food.
There was 12,200 mcg/kg of lead present in this variety. According to scientific research, the maximum amount of lead that’s safe for consumption for dogs weighing 30 pounds is 2000 mcg of lead per day.
However, with the consumption of at least 2 cups of food a day, these dogs were consuming at least 2440 mcg of lead per day which is particularly dangerous for their health.
In comparison, only 12.5 mcg of lead is safe for consumption per day for an adult and only 3 mcg per day of lead for kids.
The allegations stated that because the food was marketed as premium quality, regular customers were willing to pay good money for it, under the false impression that this food was free from toxic chemicals.
Once again, the consumers lacked the scientific knowledge to determine whether the products contained harmful chemicals or not.
The contaminated food includes the following varieties:
- Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Prairie Canine Formula Roasted Bison and Roasted Venison Dry Dog Food
- Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Pacific Stream Canine Formula Smoked Salmon Dry Dog Food
- Taste of the Wild Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free
- Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon with Beef in Gravy
- Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon with Wild Boar.
How are the chemicals mentioned in the 2018 and 2019 lawsuits harmful to dogs?
The class action complaints go into great detail about how each of the mentioned contaminants is harmful to a dog’s health and why they should have been labeled accordingly on the package.
Mercury is known to cause severe damage to kidneys, the nervous system, and the cardiovascular system. It can harm the inner digestive tract surface which affects the overall digestive health of a dog. By interfering with metabolic activities, it can lead to tissue degeneration as well.
Lead is a carcinogen and a toxin. With increased lead exposure, especially as stated in the 2019 lawsuit, the dogs are at greater risks of cancer, chronic poisoning, and developmental disorders.
Additionally, excessive lead in the bloodstream can lead to abnormal cell metabolic activities, harm to the central nervous system, and gastrointestinal systems.
Arsenic poisoning can lead to gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems problems, along with leading to circulatory collapse.
Cadmium is a toxic element that can cause severe damage in smaller concentrations. Increased consumption of cadmium can lead to anemia, liver disease, nerve, or brain damage.
Pesticides in pets can lead to problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death. With long term exposure, as with the daily consumption of food, it can lead to birth defects, nerve damage, and various cancers.
Acrylamide, a substance that’s also found in tobacco smoke can be carcinogenic in animals.
BPA, also known as Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor that can contribute to health problems such as reproductive disorders, heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, and neurological problems.
What does Taste of the Wild have to say about this?
In short, Taste of the Wild acknowledged that these chemicals prove to be harmful to dogs, especially with long term exposure.
However, apart from the content on their website negating these claims, they have stayed silent about the allegations that their products contain these elements in toxic quantities.
According to their website, they state that all of their formulas are designed to ensure a long and healthy life for your pet.
They claim that all their bags are BPA free and that canned products contained non- detectable amounts of BPA.
However, they do state that at times it’s possible for small amounts of BPA to transfer into the foods from packaging but the amounts are non- toxic due to low exposure.
They claim that their food is a 100% guaranteed and that they wouldn’t be putting out the products if they weren’t ready to feed the same thing to their pets.
With regards to the safety checks of their food, they claim to adhere to strict safety protocols and package their foods in such a way that it prevents contamination.
As if the lawsuits weren’t tarnishing enough to their reputations, FDA has recently been carrying out investigations regarding the association of grain-free foods with Dilated Cardiomyopathy in dogs.
What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy?
DCM or Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the canine heart muscles weaken, preventing them from pumping blood throughout their bodies properly.
This decreased blood flow to the body occurs in an overall decrease in oxygenated blood around the body.
Hence symptoms such as coughing, weakness, collapsing, weight loss, having difficulty breathing appear. This can lead to cardiac arrhythmia which leads to death.
2018 FDA Report and Warnings
The 2018 FDA report was the first instance when FDA warned buyers against certain dog foods being related to DCM when this disease started showing up in species it wasn’t normally associated with.
Even though, this disease was originally thought to have genetic causes, the majority of the cases reported to the FDA had vegetables such as potatoes, multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, and pulses as some of the main ingredients in the dog’s diet.
These foods also make up a huge part of the Taste of the Wild food.
According to the report, from 515 dogs that got diagnosed with DCM, 53 dogs were consuming Taste of the Wild, grain-free dog food. The other 462 dogs were on grain free diets from other brands.
This indicated that there might be a connection between the dog’s diet and DCM, however, there’s a lack of concrete proof regarding this.
Response from Taste of the Wild regarding this investigation
Taste of the wild has definitely acknowledged these claims.
On their website, they’ve stated that since the FDA hasn’t found a definitive link between grain-free foods and DCM yet, they will continue the production and distribution of their products as before.
They also state that they are actively funding the ongoing research to discover the link between grain-free foods and DCM. They claim that their nutrition researchers and veterinary teams are also offering their services.
These lawsuits are ongoing, and as of yet, millions of buyers continue to purchase this dog food.
However, if you’re currently using Taste of the Wild dog food, and are concerned about the safety and health of your pet, we recommend checking in with your local vet for advice.