Orijen/Acana Class Action Dismissed

By CDWA | Sentience | Legal | Updated August 6, 2020

In 2018, Champion Foods, the makers of Orijen and Acana, had a class action lawsuit levvied against them.

At issue was that their foods contain high levels of heavy metals, or BPAs, and did not provide warning labels on their products of this fact. The food packages also state that the food is biologically appropriate and appropriate as a daily diet which, if heavy metals were high and affecting health outcomes, is inappropriate labelling for these foods. The lawsuit contended that these were the issue.

It’s not the first time that Champion Foods have faced a lawsuit. In May, 2017, the company released a white paper that stated, in part, “We believe that describing heavy metals as ‘contaminants’ in pet foods confuses pet lovers on the origin of these elements as well as their safety limits for dogs and cats.”

Read the lawsuit.

In 2018, Nestle Purina began negotiations for the purchase of Champion Foods, for $2billion (US).

In 2019, a Wisconsin judge dismissed the Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice, finding that trace heavy metals and BPAs contained in the foods were naturally occurring and that there was no compelling evidence between the ingredients and dog illnesses.

As heavy metals can accumulate to non-therapeutic levels in human and animal organs, CDWA remains watchful of animal foods and health outcomes, and we remain in pursuit of the best information on appropriate diet and nutrition in dogs.

Currently, we advocate for a balanced diet, as prescribed by Veterinarians, but we note this as a subject requiring further research.

Consumers in Minnesota, California and Florida are suing Champion Pet Food for “False Advertising”, violations of “feed law”, and numerous other charges. The lawsuit includes results of heavy metal testing and includes results that this dry dog food contains BPA – a chemical typically not associated with dry/kibble pet foods.

This is a Class Action lawsuit – currently representing consumers in Minnesota, California and Florida. The consumers are suing Champion Pet Food “for their negligent, reckless, and/or intentional practice of misrepresenting and failing to fully disclose the presence of heavy metals and toxins in their pet food sold throughout the United States. Plaintiffs seek both injunctive and monetary relief on behalf of the proposed Classes (defined below), including requiring full disclosure of all such substances in its marketing, advertising, and labeling and restoring monies to the members of the proposed Classes.”

The lawsuit claims Champion pet foods (Acana and Orijen) “contain levels of arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium” “known to pose health risks to humans and animals, including dogs” and interestingly for a kibble pet food…the lawsuit claims the dry pet food contained “BISPHENOL A (“BPA”)”.

The lawsuit provided this chart of lab result findings in Acana and Orijen pet foods:

With the heavy metal results provided, the levels found in the Champion Pet Food appear be be below that what authorities recognize as a ‘Maximum Tolerable Level of Minerals in Feed’.

As example: the National Research Council (NRC) publication Mineral Tolerances for Animals 2005 are the guidelines that FDA enforces. Within this publication (which is a pay for publication, not free public access) the NRC provides a chart listing the maximum tolerable level for multiple species. Dogs and cats are not listed within the NRC chart. The closest species provided in the NRC publication is rodents.

For rodents, the maximum tolerable level of arsenic is: 30 mg/kg.

The highest level of arsenic found in the Acana and Orijen dog foods was 3256.40 mcg/kg (microgram per kilogram). Converting micrograms to milligrams, the highest level or arsenic found in Acana and Orijen dog foods was 3.2564 mg. Well below the NRC maximum tolerable level for rodents and we can assume dogs and cats.

That said, much of the NRC consulted science their maximum tolerable levels are established on were based on short term research. There was/is little consideration to cats and dogs that consume pet food with higher levels of heavy metals over a lifetime. The NRC Mineral Tolerances 2005 publication found that dogs fed “2.3 and 4.6 mg per day per kilogram of body weight” for only 183 days experienced “decreased weight gain and food intake”; 183 days is not a fair consideration to base pet health on when exposure could be years.

Lawyers will have to argue out the heavy metal content health risks cited in the lawsuit.

But what about the BPA found in the Champion pet foods…kibble pet foods? Most pet food consumers understand that canned pet foods could contain BPA…but not dry/kibble pet foods.

The lawsuit states “Defendants market the Contaminated Dog Foods as “Biologically Appropriate,” using “Fresh Regional Ingredients” comprised of 100 percent meat, poultry, fish, and/or vegetables, both on the products’ packaging and on Defendants’ websites. Moreover, Defendants devote significant web and packaging space to the marketing of their DogStar® Kitchens, which they tell consumers “are the most advanced pet food kitchens on earth, with standards that rival the human food processing industry.”

Where did the BPA come from if ‘fresh regional ingredients’ are used and processed in ‘the most advanced pet food kitchens on earth’?

How much BPA was found in Champion Pet Foods as compared to canned pet food?

In 2002 a study – Determination of bisphenol A in canned pet foods – found BPA levels in dog foods tested from “11 to 206 ng/g”.

Nanogram per gram (ng/g) results stated in this study is the same as microgram to kilogram (ug/kg) stated in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit cites testing of Orijen and Acana BPA levels from zero to 102.70 ug/kg. Not quite as high as results of canned pet food, but significantly high for what a kibble pet food would be expected to contain.

It will be very interesting to follow this lawsuit, to learn of future updates/arguments from both sides. As more is learned, it will be shared.

To read the full lawsuit, Click Here.

To contact the law firm, Click Here.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

29 responses to “Lawsuit filed against Champion Pet Food – Acana and Orijen”

  1. Deborah Fitzwater says:

    I want to be a part of the class action suit. My border collie now had a sensitive stomach

    • Patrick says:

      Also note that any time you swap dog food you’re going to cause your dog to have a upset stomach if not gradually transferred over. Also, given the much higher meat concentration in the formula it’s going to take some adjusting. Orijen is rated as the number one dog food for a reason, don’t need some idiots stirring up needless issues. If they were fair, they would compare what the other dog foods contain compared to these same tables. As far as I care these people can go swap to Purina. Check out this site for a full list of detail review analysis of dog foods: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/dry/

      • Opinion02122 says:

        The author of the PetFoodAdvisor is a dentist who reads labels! He is NOT in any way testing or even challenging the reports given to him by the manufacturer! I’ve fed my dog Orijen for years, and pulled him off of it because of this lawsuit. I found Orijen years ago claiming to be named the #1 dog food brand by some testing site for several years in a row! I researched that testing site, and found it was two scam artists who were selling certificates! I notified Orijen and they were upset with ME! BUT, that claim was dropped from their website. I suggest that if you REALLY want CORRECT information that you look to veterinary nutritionists like those at the Cummings Veterinary Hospital, part of Tuft’s University. They are renowned nutritional specialists with REAL educations in animal nutrition. Sign up for their newsletter and DON’T trust these people on-line who claim to be specialists! And don’t put your trust in a dentist who has no specific information about the dog foods he’s rating!

        • Andy says:

          The research at Cummings Vet Hospital is sponsored by Purina (Nestle), Hills/Science Diet (Procter-Gamble) and Royal Canin (Mars). Not sure that I’d consider them an unbiased source.

  2. Randall Miller says:

    Given that information and those levels of toxins, do you feel that it’s safe to continue feeding Orijen kibble?

    • Randon Orde says:

      I have fed Orijen Original for over 30 years and have never had any issues. Dogs all live to 15 or 16 years. When they do its for the required rabies shots.I have 6 dogs. Maremma, Australian Shepherd, Greyhound and 2 Chihuahua’s and 1 Pomeranian.I do not think that the FB posting is correct in it’s assertions of adverse health problem based on the dog food.

  3. Jeff says:

    This is so messed up. Something is seriously wrong here. In the table you give the levels of contaminates in micrograms. However, when you convert them to milligrams they are well within the tolerabls limits. Either you deliberately did this to puff up your numbers hoping no ons would know or you do not know what you are doing.

  4. bonnie sawyer says:

    I wanted to read the lawsuit report on the toxic metal report u had listed here for Orijen, but now the report is absent from your site…why has it been removed from this article dated March 2018 Lawsuit filed against Champion food?

  5. Tim Smith says:

    Did the study cited in the lawsuit specify how the Acana/Orijen levels compare to other manufacturers’ levels? What counts is not just their presence but how that compares to levels in alternative products.

  6. Helen potgieter says:

    I am living in South Africa. My gsd have been in Acana light and fit for 3.5 years. It is the most expensive food in my country. Tonight my 5 year old gsd were diognosed with kidney failure. He does not show the normal kidney failure signs. The blood tests showed it up. I took him to the vet as he became lethargic and his nosed turned dry. Please help us and other dogs on this diet.

    • CB says:

      Processed food is not a good idea for dogs or cats, no matter how expensive they are. A now retired veterinarian, Dr Pitcairns, wrote an excellent book: Natural Health For Dogs and Cats. There are many other vets who are also posting their suggestion for making your own food. Some suggest raw food, others suggest cooked. It comes down to human grade food, not dried or canned food. You can make it once a week and freeze it. It’s pretty easy.

  7. Victoria says:

    Now there’s a claim against A Taste of the Wild

  8. ann carrothers says:

    I have a 6-7 yr old 5 Lb Chihuahua. I am outrageously frantic about only giving her the safest dry food.

    PLEASE email me with a specific answer. PLEASE. PLEASE. I need a Brand Name and the particular name of that brand that is the safest food known.

    • There are a couple of sources to check
      1.The Whole Food Journal’s annual list of foods (dry list, canned list)
      2. The Truth About Pet Food
      3. Dog Food Advisors

      You can research those sources and choose what you think is best.

  9. Az says:

    How do I get added?
    Ive been feeding my dogs this for years.
    One of them has past from cancer and my other started developing an allergic reaction to something. I started feeding him a raw diet, and noticed a difference.

  10. Darin T. says:

    I’ve been feeding this for years to my Chinese cresteds, ive alarmed. How can I be part of this im in Beaverton Oregon…

  11. sonha nguyen says:

    We had an 8 year old akc Doberman … the breeder told us to keep her on orijen/acana which we have done for the past 8 years with no problems. She was a beautiful and healthy Doberman. She started having problems … wet diarrhea poop, weakness a month or so ago. It took her a week to bounce back. she is an indoor pet and only would go outside for a walk or to use the bathroom. Then, two weeks ago, she started vomiting and would not touch her Acana food at all. We switched to a different type of Acana and still she refused to eat. We then gave her boiled chicken, rice and boiled potatoes mashed up and she ate this for a day or two but then she gave up eating entirely. Now, Eva, our Doberman, never has been sick for this long in her life. We tried some wet puppy formula and hunger stimulant through a syringe. She suddenly passed away last night. We took too long to investigate all the trouble Acana has been going through lately and if we had known earlier, we would have switched her food. What we have been reading lately with Acana food has really gotten us upset … the last 2 bags of Acana food did come from Kentucky plant

  12. Diego Cerda says:

    I have been feeding this to my English bulldog. He started out fine when we would go to dog shows. Now he gets fatigued very fast after going potty outside. And is very fit and muscular. I told my family a few months ago i was concerned he might have a heart issue. Now seeing this about acana. It all makes sense now. I need help. #bulldogginbruce

  13. Michelle says:

    I just started feeding the freeze-dried to my boxers and one of them was sick for two days. I ran across this website when I was looking for a place to purchase. It may have been a coincidence that she got sick, but want to check if they had this corrected before I continue to feed the food.

  14. Phyllis Browning says:

    It is August 3, 2023, have they corrected the metal content in Orijen: Small Dog, Grain Free High Protein Food? (Small Breed, Whole Prey) I just purchased a 4-pound bag to start transitioning my 8-month-old, 4.6-pound Maltipoo! Phyllis Browning mxtennis@att.net

  15. Tóth-Király Márton says:

    Their last update was from 2021 not stating the outcome of the lawsuit

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