Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order with Mars Petcare U.S. settling charges that the company falsely advertised specific health benefits of its Eukanuba brand dog food.
According to the FTC’s complaint, filed in August 2016, the company claimed in ads, but could not prove, that a 10-year study found that dogs fed Eukanuba could extend their expected lifespan by 30 percent or more. The Commission charged that the longevity claims were false or unsubstantiated and that the claim that longevity was proven through scientific evidence was false, in violation of the FTC Act.
Under the final order settling the charges, Mars Petcare is barred from engaging in similar deceptive acts or practices in the future. The order prohibits the company from making any misleading or unsubstantiated claims that its Eukanuba-brand pet food or any other pet food will enable any dogs to extend their lifespan by 30 percent or more or live exceptionally long lives. It also prohibits the company from making misleading or unsubstantiated claims regarding the health benefits of any pet food, and requires it to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up any such claims.
Finally, the proposed order prohibits Mars Petcare, when advertising any pet food, from misrepresenting the existence, results, conclusions, or interpretations of any study, or falsely stating that the health benefits claimed are scientifically proven. It also contains compliance and monitoring requirements to ensure the company abides by its terms.
The Commission vote approving the final order and responses to the public commenters was 3-0. (FTC File No. 152-3229; the staff contact is David M. Newman, FTC Western Region, San Francisco, 415-848-5123.)