Greenies on top of dog's head

Mars sued over Greenies ‘#1 Vet Recommended’ claim, says it’s baloney

Judge orders Mars Inc. to substantiate claims in false advertising suit over dental dog chew Greenies.

In a lawsuit filed last week, pet care giant Mars, Inc. stands accused of deceiving and misleading dog owners with a claim that its Greenies dental chews purportedly are the “#1 Vet Recommended Dental Chew.”

Netherlands-based Paragon Pet Products Europe B.V. alleges that Mars’s claim that Greenies is the “#1 Vet Recommended Dental Chew” is unsubstantiated and false.  A footnote on the back panel of the packaging suggests that Greenies is not, in fact, recommended by most or even a majority of veterinarians.

Specifically, Greenies claims that they are “The #1 Vet-Recommended Dental Chews and Treats*”

“* In pet specialty stores, among U.S. veterinarians who recommend dental chews and treats for at-home oral care.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, the judge hearing the case in the Southern District of New York granted Paragon’s application for an order directing Mars to produce:

“all substantiation (e.g., documents, reports, studies, data, emails, and so forth” for the claim, “#1 Vet Recommended Dental Chew.”

A hearing has been set for July 28 to consider next steps – including Paragon’s request for preliminary injunctive relief against Mars.

Paragon’s complaint seeks an injunction requiring Mars to halt further use of the “#1 Vet Recommended Dental Chew” claim, to offer refunds to deceived purchasers of Greenies dental chews, and to correct and abate prior false advertising statements, including by correction or recall of Greenies retail packaging which contains the “#1 Vet Recommended Dental Chew” claim.  Paragon is also seeking monetary relief.

This is not the first time Greenies has been the subject of a lawsuit. One in particular, involved dogs who died after being fed the “top-selling pet treat in the country.” The problem comes because the treat become lodged in a dog’s esophagus or intestine and then some veterinarians say they don’t break down. Brendan McKiernan, a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist from Denver, Colorado, told CNN:

“I know they are marketed in saying that they do digest. Certainly the ones that we’ve taken out, esophageal or intestinal, that have been in for days are still very hard.”

The suit was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Months after the lawsuit was settled, however, Mars reformulated the treats supposedly making them “easier for dogs to chew and digest.” The new-and-improved treats were to have a chewier texture and “break points” built in to help dogs crunch the treats into smaller, easier-to-swallow pieces. The ingredients were also changed to break down more quickly in the stomach.

Lets wait and see whether Mars can actually produce evidence that supports their “#1 Vet Recommended Dental Chew” claim.

Paragon Pets is being represented by the law firm of Hughes Hubbard and Reed intellectual property partner James W. Dabney.

Source: Paragon Pet Products Europe B.V. vs. Mars Inc.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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