Rachael Ray is currently the subject of a $5 million lawsuit claiming that her dog food might actually be toxic.
Per a report by Fortune, a man from New York is suing Ray’s dog food brand, “Nutrish”, for allegedly containing the ingredient glyphosate.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Glyphosate Is a Potentially Harmful Herbicide That Can Have Detrimental Health Effects on Both Humans & Dogs
Glyphosate is an unnatural chemical that’s used as an active ingredient in weed killers. The chemical was reportedly found in Nutrish dog food after an independent lab ran tests, according to the court papers acquired by the Daily News.
The lawsuit speculates that glyphosate made its way into the dog food indirectly, since many “crops such as peas, soy, corn, beets and alfalfa are sprayed with the chemical in order to dry them and produce an earlier, more uniform harvest.”
“By deceiving consumers about the nature, quality, and/or ingredients of the products,” the lawsuit reads, “Rachael Ray Nutrish is able to sell a greater volume of the products.”
2. Nutrish Is Branded as an All-Natural Form of Canine Nutrition
The potential presence of glyphosate in Nutrish dog food could prove that the brand is misleading consumers, as it bills itself as an all-natural nutritional option for dogs.
The lawsuit reads, “Rachael Ray Nutrish aggressively advertises and promotes the products as ‘natural.’ These claims are false, deceptive, and misleading…The Products at issue are not ‘Natural.’ Instead, the Products contain the unnatural chemical glyphosate, a potent biocide and endocrine disruptor, with detrimental health effects that are still becoming known.”
Nutrish claims to create all of its recipes with “carefully selected, high-quality ingredients,” which consumers are able to peruse through a drop down menu feature on the site.
3. In a Statement to NBC, Parent Company Smucker Has Strongly Refuted the Claims in the Lawsuit
To NBC, Smucker Company said, “[We] strongly stand behind the quality of our products, ingredients, and sourcing practices. As animal lovers and humans, it goes without saying that we do not add pesticides to our products as an ingredient. We plan to aggressively fight these claims.”
Though Rachael Ray has not publicly spoken (and is not specifically targeted in the lawsuit), a spokeswoman for her said, “[Ray] has always championed the great lengths Ainsworth Pet Nutrition and now the J.M. Smucker Company take to create and provide the highest quality and safest pet food products on the market.”
4. Nutrish First Began as a Collaboration With Food Experts at Ainsworth Pet Nutrition
After people at Ainsworth Pet Nutrition say Ray talk about her passion for animals and her Pit Bull, Boo, they reached out to Ray to suggest a collaboration in the pet food industry.
Nutrish has been billed as “a health alternative” to other types of dog food that are made with fillers. In connection to the success of Nutrish is Ray’s philanthropi project, “Rachael’s Rescue,” which has donated over $14 million towards animal-centric organizations like the ASPCA and the Best Friends Animal Society.
Of her philanthropic efforts, Ray said to Forbes, “You need to create a solid business first then you can give your money away through philanthropic efforts that you are passionate about. But the business needs to come first.”
5. Nutrish Was Recently Purchased by Smucker for $1.9 Billion
Nutrish may have a $5 million lawsuit slapped against it right now, but it’s also estimated to be worth close to $2 billion dollars, if its recent purchase by Smucker Company is any indication.
The purchase of Nutrish, which has been called a “disruptor” in the pet food industry for its success since 2014, will add to a long list of pet food companies owned by Smucker, including Meow Mix, MilkBone, Kibbles ‘n Bits, Natural Balance, and 9Lives.