What Does False Advertising Have to Do with Animal Protection?

AuthorCamille Labchuk
 
What Does False Advertising Have to Do with
Animal Protection?
Camille Labchuk
Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.
—George Washington
Walk into any supermarket in Canada and you are likely to f‌ind certif‌ied
humane pork, dolphin-friendly tuna, animal-welfare-approved beef, free-
range chicken, cage-free eggs, cruelty-free cosmetics, and other products
being marketed as animal-friendly.
As public awareness of and concern over animal suering grows,
animal-use industries are responding by f‌ighting hard to convince con-
sumers their products and practices are humane and ethically produced, so
that consumers can shop with a clear conscience. Not surprisingly, these
industries sometimes stretch or even blatantly disregard the truth when
making claims about the qualities of their products and practices, putting
consumers at risk of being duped into purchasing products that they be-
lieve to have been produced in a more humane, ethical, and responsible
fashion than is really the case.
Animal advocates have successfully used false advertising laws to
challenge misrepresentations about animal welfare in the United States,
the United Kingdom, and Australia, though they have been largely un-
used to date for this purpose in Canada. False advertising laws oer a
Exaggerated product claims are not restricted to animal use industries, of course.
“False advertising” is used here as a blanket term that includes false advertise-
ments and misleading representations or labelling.
278  
unique opportunity to evaluate, highlight, and expose precisely how ani-
mals are treated, as compared with how consumers perceive or believe
that they are treated. These laws are designed to prevent consumers from
being deceived and to prevent unfair competition based on misleading
claims. Because of this, they provide the potential of a useful public forum
for discussion of claims regarding the humane treatment of animals.
Such challenges can occur in a myriad of dierent contexts. For ex-
ample, US animal advocates have sued egg producers for packaging that
falsely suggested hens were free to roam outdoors, a pet store for con-
cealing the fact that it sourced its puppies from puppy mills, and retailers
that sold animal fur mislabelled as faux fur. They have f‌iled complaints
Carter Dillard, “False Advertising, Animals, and Ethical Consumption” () 
Animal L Rev .
In , the US-based Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) brought a class action
suit in California against Judy’s Family Farm Organic Eggs and Petaluma Egg
Farm for misleading packaging that falsely implied eggs came from free-range
hens, in violation of California’s consumer protection laws. In , the egg pro-
ducers settled the lawsuit by changing the packaging and donating , to an-
imal and consumer protection organizations. See “ALDF Announces Settlement
of False Advertising Lawsuit against Bay Area Egg Producer,” online: Animal
Legal Defense Fund http:aldf.orgpress-roompress-releasesaldf-announc-
es-settlement-of-false-advertising-lawsuit-against-bay-area-egg-producer [ALDF
In , the ALDF launched a class action lawsuit in California against Barkworks,
a pet store chain. The ALDF alleged Barkworks repeatedly engaged in fraud and
false advertising in concealing from customers that it sourced puppies from abu-
sive puppy mills — mass-production commercial dog-breeding facilities: “Class
Action Suit Filed Against “Barkworks” Claims Pet Stores Deceived Consumers
About Selling Dogs from Puppy Mills,” online: Animal Legal Defense Fund http:
[Barkworks Claim].
In , the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sued fashion retailers
Andrew Marc, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fih Avenue in
Washington, DC, for selling fur garments that were mislabelled as faux fur, in vio-
lation of the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act, DC Ocial Code §§ - to
-. Neiman Marcus was found in  to have violated the law, was enjoined
from falsely advertising fur products, and ordered to pay damages. The remain-
ing defendants settled the litigation by strengthening their internal advertising
and labelling standards: “Retailers Settle Fur Lawsuit,” The Humane Society of
the United States, online: www.humanesociety.orgnewspress_releases

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