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Beneful Lawsuit Dropped After Lawyers Admit They Can’t Prove It

In Canada this week a judge dropped a proposed class action lawsuit claiming Beneful of killing dogs. The judge granted the dismissal after the Plaintiff’s lawyers said they would 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.” The Ontario Superior Court granted the dismissal when 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 … 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.”

A similar lawsuit is pending in U.S. courts, using the same hopeless argument. The suit was initially proposed because of U.S. proceedings that began in February 2015. In the U.S. case, Frank Lucido filed a lawsuit in a California federal court alleging Purina’s Beneful brand dog food “contains substances that are toxic to animals and that have resulted in the serious illness and death of thousands of dogs.”

Both cases are based on claims that propylene glycol, an ingredient the FDA has labelled GRAS (generally regarded as safe) for human and animals (except cats), was the cause of the dog’s illnesses and deaths. Propylene glycol is an innocuous ingredient that is used in millions of products for humans and animals for decades, other than the problem cat’s have with propylene glycol; it is perfectly safe.

Both lawsuits also claim that mycotoxins (mold) were responsible for pet deaths, however, according to Nestle-Purina, the level of mycotoxins detected was below the levels set by FDA. Testing for mycotoxins is notoriously difficult, and unless the Plaintiff’s lawyers have a top toxicologist testing the Plaintiff’s dog food samples, mycotoxins can easily be missed.

Hopefully, the Plaintiff’s in the U.S. have more that propylene glycol and mycotoxins to prove their case, otherwise, like the case in Canada, they will have a difficult – if not impossible – time proving their case. At this juncture, the most the Plaintiff’s in the U.S. can hope for is a settlement.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (5) Write a comment

  1. Healthy indoor cat. Sick 5 mins after eating Purina friskies can cat food. Died after 6 hrs. Put cat in freezer saved leftover can. Made 3 short videos showing symptoms. Horrible way to die. Unless its the CEO,s of #purina and #nestle. Now that I Could watch that everyday with a smile.

    Reply

  2. Propylene glycol in dog food killed my friends dog.. And 4,000 other dogs. So how can you say there is no proof she has all the blood work from the dog at the vet to PROOVE it…
    A lady was charged with murder after she gave her husband propylene glycol and he died…so why if it’s a dog life does it not matter.. It’s still murder if you ask me cause they know what they are doing every day…

    Reply

    • I can say that because there is not science does showing that PG is harmful to dogs in the amount they are being fed in pet food. The law says PG is GRAS because it is.

      If your friend’s vet says PG “killed” their dog, I would like to see this “evidence,” send it to me at molliemorrissette@poisonedpets.com.

      Vets don’t usually make such bold claims without supporting data (tests, necropsy, etc.) I will need to see all those records.

      Perhaps you misunderstood – ethylene glycol, not propylene glycol, is toxic to animals. But ethylene glycol is never used in food products.

      I don’t know what murder case you are referring to but if you eat enough salt or drink enough water that can cause death too. So maybe that’s how that “murder” occurred. If PG was that deadly we’d all be dead because it’s been safely used in millions of food products for decades.

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  3. There were flaws in the case from the beginning, Purina’s claim that they used no ingredients which exceeded the allowed tolerances may be technical correct, but sampling plans to detect pockets of grain potentially toxic to dogs is woefully inadequate when looking for defective grain that caused illness at a rate of 1/1,000 or less. In addition, the law suit limited the case to mycotoxins and propylene glycol, if it had broadened the case to include microbiological toxins it would have included endotoxins which have been shown to adversely interact with propylene glycol,significantly increasing the lethality of the toxins in test animals.

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    • Anthony, I couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately, as you mention, testing for mycotoxins is extremely frustrating, difficult, and ultimately unreliable. Had their attorneys broadened their scope to include other contaminants that might have bettered their odds.

      It has been suggested that Purina’s removal of propylene glycol from their formulas was an unspoken admission that the ingredient was problematic. However, I don’t see it that way. The only problem with PG is its negative association in the public’s mind that it contributed to the death and illness of dogs. Removing a controversial ingredient made sense for Purina from a business and public image standpoint, nothing more.

      I only pray that the plaintiffs in the U.S. case have taken it upon themselves to consult with toxicologists who can then advise them on a proper course of tests to conduct on their samples. Otherwise, the most they can hope for is that Purina will at some point wish to put an end to the negative publicity and make an offer of a generous settlement.

      Reply

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