TORONTO – Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. is defending its Beneful brand pet food after a class-action lawsuit claimed the product has poisoned and killed thousands of dogs.
Frank Lucido, who filed the lawsuit earlier this month in a California federal court, alleges the pet food “contains substances that are toxic to animals and that have resulted in the serious illness and death of thousands of dogs.”
One of the firms representing the lawsuit is encouraging pet owners who have purchased the pet food to come forward.
Lucido filed the suit after his three dogs became ill last month after exclusively eating Beneful dry food beginning late December or early January, according to the suit. One dog eventually died as a result of illness.
Lucido took one of his sick dogs to the vet for an examination. Tests “revealed signs of internal bleeding in her stomach and liver malfunction consistent with poisoning,” the lawsuit said.
The pet owner alleges in the suit that in the past four years, “consumers have made more than 3,000 online complaints about dogs becoming ill, in many cases very seriously ill, and/or dying after eating Beneful. The dogs show consistent symptoms, including stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures, bloat, and kidney failure.”
Purina denies the allegations, calling Beneful “100 per cent safe to feed” and the “lawsuit is without merit.” The company said it will “vigorously defend ourselves through the legal process.”
The lawsuit lists Beneful ingredients, including propylene glycol, an automotive antifreeze component and mycotoxins, a group of toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains. The suit notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the use of propylene glycol in cat foods.
Purina says propylene glycol is a safe food additive.
“Like other pet foods, Beneful is occasionally the subject of social media-driven misinformation,” Keith Schopp, vice president of corporate public relations, said in a statement.
The lawsuit claims eight dry “kibble” dog foods are contaminated.
Purina Beneful Healthy Weight
Purina Beneful Original
Purina Beneful Incredibites
Purina Beneful Healthy Growth for Puppies
Purina Beneful Healthy Smile
Purina Beneful Healthy Fiesta
Purina Beneful Healthy Radiance
Purina Beneful Playful Life
The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages and restitution, although it says the claims exceed $5 million.