Lawsuit Decision: Is Beneful Dog Food Really Exonerated?

November 29, 2016

In a previous post, I mentioned that a Class Action lawsuit had been filed against Beneful Dog Food. The plaintiff, Frank Lucido, alleged that Beneful made his 3 dogs very ill and 1 dog died after eating the food on Jan. 15, 2015. He also claimed that the company had added propylene glycol to the product, that the product contained mycotoxins produced by molds in grains that posed a health risk to dogs.  The lawsuit went on to say that more than 3,000 complaints had been lodged against Beneful with dogs suffering internal bleeding, weight loss, dehydration and more. It also claimed that Nestle Purina (the parent company that owns Beneful) misrepresented the product. A Federal judge in California has ruled that there was not enough proof that Beneful actually caused the dogs’ illnesses – that the plaintiff failed to prove the food was unsafe.

Details about the Lawsuit posted an interesting article about the lawsuit. It states that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) found 6 samples of Beneful tested above the legal limits for cyanuric acid and melamine (the same substance that caused all those pet deaths resulting in the 2007 pet food recalls). Six samples of Beneful showed ethoxyquin not listed on the label. (It is illegal to include ingredients that are not listed on the label.)

A few other factors were that in 2013, there were so many consumer complaints about Beneful that the FDA opened an investigation into the manufacturing plants that produced Beneful. Nestle Purina refused to provide the FDA with copies of their records and refused to disclose safety tests performed on ingredients to the FDA. The article also said that the company refused to disclose the actual content or weights of individual ingredients that went into the foods that sickened or killed pets, according to consumers reports.

“Even though the FDA found legal reasons for a recall (melamine and ethoxyquin), the agency ended their investigation of Beneful with a ‘talk’ with Purina and no recall, no accountability to families with dead pets.”

Apparently, that fruitless investigation by the FDA wasn’t considered relevant by the judge in Lucido’s case.  But there was more. The judge ruled that one of the veterinarians who testified in the case was not qualified to make the statement that consumers expect a commercial pet food to be safe when they buy it.  And a veterinary board-certified toxicologist testified that “a build-up of mycotoxins, heavy metals or glycols could adversely affect a dog’s health.” His testimony was also thrown out. The article goes into detail about the testimony and decision, and I suggest you read it for further information.

Pet Owner’s Opinion

My question as a pet owner: What would it take for a veterinarian to be considered qualified to make such a statement as saying that consumers expect a commercial pet food to be safe when they purchase it? When I visit the vet with my pets, I expect him or her to be knowledgeable about what is or is not healthy for my animals. Any reasonable pet owner would agree that a veterinarian is capable of speaking for pet owners when saying that we expect the pet food we purchase to be safe. That’s not rocket science.

Readers, please share your opinions as consumers.

While I am disappointed with the findings of the California Federal judge, what he did was bring home to me the fact that we cannot trust some pet food manufacturers to produce safe, healthy products for our dogs and cats. Years ago I was a Purina customer but there is no way I would ever buy one of their products again, even the so-called healthy, natural brands. Trust, once broken, is very difficult to regain, and the lives of my pets are worth far more than being willing to trust a company that doesn’t seem to care what happens to the animals that eat their products.

Buyer beware!



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