Grieving pet parent Lisa Mazur filed a federal class-action lawsuit in Pennsylvania Thursday against food giant Del Monte, and it’s subsidiary Milo’s Kitchen for the chicken jerky dog treats from China that she is convinced caused the tragic death of her dog.
Riley Rae, a happy-go-lucky pup and the light of his pet-mom Lisa Mazur’s life says her healthy 7-year-old dog suffering from kidney failure and had to be euthanized in less than one month after being given the treats.
She says the only change in Riley Rae’s diet that month was the addition of Milo’s treats, which says “were unsafe, defective, and dangerous, culpably misrepresented as safe and healthy, and did not conform to applicable implied and expressed warranties.”
Following the death of her beloved dog, Lisa decided to take on food giant Del Monte, one of the nation’s largest producers and distributors of pet products and foods, and sue them on behalf of her dog and other pet parents whose dogs have suffered illness and death due to the toxic treats.
According to Del Monte’s annual report, the corporation generated approximately $3.7 billion in net sales in fiscal 2012. Their pet food and pet snacks brands include well-known household brands such as Meow Mix, Kibbles ‘n Bits, Milk-Bone, 9Lives, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen and other brand names.
Lisa claims that Del Monte and Milo’s Kitchen, “intentionally concealed known facts concerning the safety of their dog treats in order to increase or maintain sales.”
Although an oblique reference to the FDA’s cautionary warning does appear on the FAQ section of Milo’s Kitchen’s website, which she insists “a purchaser will not see it unless the access the web site and click through the questions.”
Yet Del Monte and Milo’s Kitchen despite the continued scrutiny of the media, pet parents and even the FDA, have not recalled their high-risk products, nor put warnings on the packages. “No reasonable person would feed dog treats to their dogs knowing that there was a substantial risk of death or illness from doing so,” Lisa states in the complaint. “Plaintiff, and other consumers, did not learn of the FDA warning, until their dogs had consumed the treats and either became sick or passed away.”
An ongoing investigation by the FDA continues into the chicken jerky treats, and a clandestine inspection of chicken treat plants in China by federal inspectors is still under wraps, yet Milo’s Kitchen website states that “We believe dogs deserve treats made with the same quality of ingredients and care that you want with your food. We’re pet parents too. That’s why we make each treat with the love and care your dog deserves.”
The arrogance and indifference to consumers Del Monte has stubbornly refused to acknowledge there is a problem and has refused to take steps to remove the product from the market out of an abundance of caution.
Last month another pet parent filed a class action lawsuit against Milo’s Kitchen and Del Monte in Los Angeles because her dog came “close to death” from kidney failure because of the deadly jerky treats.
Lisa’s lawsuit seeks punitive damages for the class, for common law fraud, unjust enrichment, negligence, product liability, and unfair trade, breach of warranty, failure to warn, and defective manufacture or design.
The lead counsel is Clayton Morrow with Morrow & Artim. This is a class action brought by plaintiff Lisa Mazur, on behalf of all consumers who purchased certain dog treats manufactured, marketed, distributed, or sold by defendants. Those who wish to join the class action should contact Morrow & Artim.
FDA Q&A regarding chicken jerky treats (updated July 18, 2012)