Lawsuit filed against Purina claims food sickens, kills dogs

AP News
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Posted: Feb 25, 2015 4:45 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A dog owner has filed a lawsuit against a pet food company alleging that thousands of dogs have been sickened or died from eating a brand of dry dog food.

Pet owner Frank Lucido filed the suit on Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California against Nestle Purina PetCare Company, saying he fed his three dogs Beneful "kibble" style dog food, and within a short period of time, two were sick and one was dead.

The suit alleges the food contains propylene glycol, which it says is an animal toxin used in automobile antifreeze, and mycotoxins, a group of toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains.

Purina says Beneful is perfectly safe. The Food and Drug Administration has not issued any warnings about the product.

But Lucido alleges that in the past four years, there have been more than 3,000 complaints online about dogs becoming ill or dying after eating Beneful, with the complaints showing "consistent symptoms," including stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures and kidney failure.

In a statement, Purina said "there are no quality issues with Beneful," and dog owners could continue feeding it to their pets without any concern.

"Like other pet foods, Beneful is occasionally the subject of social media-driven misinformation," the company said in its statement. "On-line postings often contain false, unsupported and misleading allegations that cause undue concern and confusion for our Beneful customers."

The FDA has approved the use of propylene glycol as an additive in human food and animal feed, and Purina screens its grain to prevent mycotoxins from getting into its products, company spokesman Keith Schopp said.

In a statement, the FDA said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Jennifer Dooren, an FDA spokeswoman, declined to comment on whether the FDA was investigating Beneful "kibble" style dog food.

The results of toxicology testing on Lucido's English Bulldog, Dozer, who died, are pending, according to the lawsuit. It also says that one of Lucido's sick dogs, a Labrador named Remo, is undergoing medical testing.

A call and email to Lucido's attorney, Jeffrey Cereghino, were not immediately returned.

The suit asks the court to expand the case to include others whose dogs were sickened or died. It asks for unspecified damages and restitution, although it says the claims exceed $5 million.

In recent years, Beneful has faced two lawsuits that were dismissed by the courts, according to Purina's statement.

However, in a lawsuit settled in May, Purina and Waggin' Train LLC agreed to create a $6.5 million fund to compensate people who claimed their pets were sickened after eating China-made jerky treats.

At the time, FDA officials said the pet treats were linked to more than 1,000 deaths in dogs and more than 4,800 complaints of animal illness. Three humans were sickened after eating the treats.