A proposed Canadian class-action lawsuit against Nestlé Purina that claimed Beneful brand pet food poisoned and killed dogs has been dropped.
In March 2015, Colleen Gendron launched the suit after learning of a similar class-action suit in the U.S., according to court documents.
Gendron’s suit said she had two dogs that became ill after switching to Beneful in September 2014. Five months later one of her dogs had to be euthanized after suffering acute and severe kidney and liver failure.
The pet company denied all allegations that the death was a result of Beneful.
According to court documents obtained by Global News, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto granted the dismissal last week after Gendron’s lawyers said they could not back up the suit’s claims.
“Based on the investigations undertaken by our firm, we have concluded that Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP will be unable to prove that ingesting Beneful was the cause of the injury or death of the Plaintiff’s pets or that there was a common source causing the injury or death of the pet of any putative class member who contacted our firm, and we have concluded that a class action would not ultimately succeed,” reads the court document. “The Plaintiff therefore does not wish to pursue the case, and has instructed our firm to seek a consent dismissal of the action, without costs.”
The suit was initially proposed after 66 individuals were referred to a Canadian law firm as a result of the U.S. proceedings that began in February 2015, court documents show.
In that case, Frank Lucido filed a lawsuit in a California federal court alleging the pet food “contains substances that are toxic to animals and that have resulted in the serious illness and death of thousands of dogs.”
The class-action suit was amended in June.
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 alleged 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 denied the allegations, calling Beneful “100 per cent safe to feed” and saying the “lawsuit is without merit.”
Both suits claim that Beneful ingredients include propylene glycol, an automotive antifreeze component, and mycotoxins, a group of toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains.
In a statement, Purina said propylene glycol is a safe food additive.
“Beneful is made with high-quality human food-grade levels or above propylene glycol,” the company said last year. “This ingredient has been approved by the FDA as safe for years for use in dog foods and a variety of human foods including ice creams, salad dressing and cake mixes.”
The level of mycotoxins detected “were well below the levels set by FDA,” the company said.
Court documents show the motion to dismiss Gendron’s lawsuit was granted on Friday and becomes effective on December 24, 2016.
“All of this news supports what Purina has said all along in response to the lawsuits: Beneful is a safe, high-quality dog food enjoyed by millions of healthy, happy dogs each year,” Nestlé Purina spokesperson Wendy Vlieks said in an email to Global News. “We’re pet owners, too, so first and foremost, our mission has always been to limit the misinformation being spread to pet owners, which could have put pet health at risk by delaying advice or treatment from their veterinarian for a potentially serious medical issue.”
While some claims remain in the amended U.S. class-action, “we believe these final claims will be dismissed and are looking forward to focusing on pet nutrition and innovation,” Vlieks said.
Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP has not responded to request for comment about the case.