Nestle-Purina Faces Class Action Lawsuit over Beneful
The lawsuit was filed in California federal court by Frank Lucido, the plaintiff in the case. According to Lucido , his German Shepherd began losing lots of hair a month ago, developed a strange odor, and went to the vet with symptoms that were consistent with poisoning. A week later one of the family’s other dogs, an English Bulldog, died. The autopsy revealed internal bleeding and signs of lesions on the dog’s liver which, according to Lucido, were similar to the German Shepherd’s symptoms. A third dog owned by the family also got sick. All three dogs were eating Beneful, though they were not living in the same house.
Jeff Cereghino, Mr. Lucido’s attorney, said that they investigated and found similar symptoms described on a Consumer Affairs site where Beneful had many low ratings. The attorney and his partners talked to some of the people making complaints on the site and decided they had a case.
One suspected ingredient is propylene glycol. Purina says the ingredient is safe, approved by the FDA, and used in salad dressings and cake mixes. Cereghino also points to mycotoxins as the culprit. Mycotoxins come from mold. So far, there has not been any testing done to find mycotoxins in the Beneful saved by the plaintiffs.
Cereghino says that he wants to find out where the ingredients for Beneful come from and how they are stored. He wants to know how Purina sources the ingredients and then run tests on everything to look for the presence of mycotoxins. If mycotoxins are found, they would have to prove that the mycotoxins could make dogs sick.
Purina responded by saying that the case was without merit and that the company would defend itself vigorously.
It will take a few weeks to conduct tests on the food that Mr. Lucido and other members of the class action suit have saved to see if there are mycotoxins in it. If there are no mycotoxins in the food that was eaten by the sick dogs, the plaintiffs will have to consider their next move.
Various studies have found mycotoxins in pet foods around the world. As far back as 1993, the FDA has confirmed that toxins, molds, fungi and the like can be found in pet foods, especially foods using feed grade (animal grade) ingredients, as opposed to USDA certified ingredients fit for human consumption. Most studies have identified mycotoxins as a potential sub-lethal threat to an animal’s long-term health, causing chronic health problems instead of immediate death. This doesn’t mean that all pet food contains mycotoxins or that every batch of a particular brand contains mycotoxins. But mycotoxins can sometimes be found in some pet foods.
There is more than one kind of mycotoxin. Aflatoxin is one of the most common mycotoxins found in pet foods. It is often found on corn, especially following a drought. You have probably heard of pet food recalls due to aflatoxin in the past. There are tests for the presence of aflatoxin and other mycotoxins. It should be noted that the government allows a certain amount of aflatoxin to be included in grain supplies – and increases the amount when there is likely to be more aflatoxin following a drought. This is done judiciously but they don’t want farmers to lose their corn crops. This corn will end up in animal feed and pet food, along with the higher levels of aflatoxin.