Dogs & Laws

Despite Dog Deaths, Illnesses, Judge Sides with Beneful in Class Action Suit

Despite upwards of tens of thousands of consumer complaints and two prior lawsuits filed against the Nestle Purina Petcare Company’s Beneful brand of dog food, California federal judge, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ruled in favor of the dog food giant, citing failure to prove the product was unsafe and that allegations heavily relied on a veterinarian’s inadmissible opinions.

The lawsuit began after California dog owner, Frank Lucido bought a bag of Purina’s Beneful dry dog food in December of 2014 and began feeding it exclusively to his dogs. About 2 weeks after beginning to feed Beneful, his German Shepherd became violently ill. The first symptoms that Frank and his wife noticed were that the Shepherd was losing hair and giving off an unusual odor. Two days later, a veterinarian examined their dog and found internal bleeding and a malfunctioning stomach and liver, symptoms consistent with poisoning. One week later, on January 23, 2015, Lucido’s wife found their English Bulldog dead in the backyard. A necropsy revealed signs of internal bleeding and lesions on his liver, consistent with those same symptoms the Lucido’s German Shepherd suffered.

As a result of his dogs’ illnesses and thousands more similar complaints of illness and death by other pet parents, Frank Lucido filed a class action lawsuit against the Nestle Purina Pet Care Company on February 5, 2015.

The more than 3,000 complaints against Beneful “show consistent symptoms, including stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures, bloating, and kidney failure,” according to Frank Lucido v. Nestle Purina Petcare Company, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

In an analysis of Beneful samples, the plaintiff’s expert found:

“An analysis of 28 samples [from bags of Beneful suspected of causing illness in several dogs] revealed three types of toxins: propylene glycol; mycotoxins, a fungal mold on grain; and the heavy metals arsenic and lead.

But the level of toxins found in the dog chow did not exceed limits permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. Plaintiffs’ expert analyzed 28 of 1,400 dog food samples from incidents of dogs that got ill after eating Beneful. The sampling was limited because not all dog owners had kept the chow.

The expert, animal toxicologist Dr. John Tegzes, claimed the FDA based its dog chow toxin limits only on short-term exposure and did not consider the effects of long-term exposure.

He said studies used to establish FDA tolerance limits were ‘poorly designed’ and tended to look only at the effects on dogs over weeks, rather than years. While Tegzes could not say definitively that the toxins caused the dogs to get sick, he concluded that chronic exposure to mycotoxins, heavy metals and glycols posed a ‘significant health risk’ to dogs and could adversely affect their health.”

View the entire summary judgement here:

Following the judgement in their favor, Nestlé Purina spokeswoman Wendy Vlieks released the following statement: “Today’s ruling confirms what millions of pet owners already know — that Beneful is a safe, healthy and nutritious dog food that millions of dogs enjoy every day.”

Although the food is advertised as healthy and nutritious, third party testing found dangerous levels of mycotoxins, a toxic secondary metabolite produced by fungus (mold) that occurs in grains, especially corn, a primary ingredient in Beneful dog foods.

Other sources point to propylene glycol, an ingredient commonly found in anti-freeze and a known toxin to dogs and cats, which is also found in Beneful and other Purina brand foods.

Although the judgement sided with Nestle Purina in this case, any pet parents feeding Beneful brand pet foods may want to carefully consider that choice, keep a watchful eye for any unusual symptoms or illness, and research the complaints of other dog and cat owners in order to make an informed decision regarding their dog’s diet.




  1. Elizabeth

    Feb 15, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    I just lost my little Yorkie and the Vet asked me what kind of dog food I fed my expensive dogs. I told her that all they ate was Beneful. She then told me about all this and the lawsuit and all. OMG. Why, why, why did this Judge throw out this lawsuit? I lost my baby and now I find out that it was because of the horrible dog food that I fed them? OMG. Is there going to be more help for us? I would like to get notified if there is other help to stop these monsters from getting rich off killing our dogs.

  2. Whitney Childress

    Jul 22, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Purina killed our previous dog but it took me 1.5 years to stumble across the info I needed to put 2 & 2 together. However, I discovered & learned what to seek/avoid & the puppy that was adopted after the last dog's death is a robust 6.5 yr old.


    Feb 19, 2017 at 3:16 am


  4. Frances

    Feb 13, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Just leave anything made by Purina or any food that contains grain, especially corn, in the store. It is not worth risking your pets life.

  5. Mary Ann Walsh

    Feb 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Beneful needs to be pulled off the market! Appeal that law suit!!!

  6. Dennis Lang

    Feb 9, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Reading further at link about the plaintiff it appears this case was terribly litigated with grossly insufficient evidence provided by the plaintiff. Very unfortunate because questions are left unanswered as to the long-term safety of Beneful. Enough for me however never to buy it.

  7. Dee

    Feb 7, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Can't this be appealed? You never know if a judge is in someone's pocket!!!

    • Dennis Lang

      Feb 9, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Thinking the exact same thing. Are the Plaintiff's contemplating an appeal? This decision has major consequences!

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