Last February a lawsuit was filed against the Nestle Purina PetCare Company after California dog owner, Frank Lucido claimed that the popular dog food he’d fed to his three dogs had resulted in the death of one and severe illness to the other two.
When word of the lawsuit got out, thousands more dog owners came forward with similar complaints against Beneful.
From day one, Purina has defended the Beneful brand and denied any issues with the product. They continue to take the position that they’ve simply been the victim of a widespread social media attack on the brand and that their food is perfectly safe to feed.
However, one June 8th, an ammendment to the original lawsuit was filed that now alleges that Beneful contains harmful toxins, as shown in independent third party testing of the food, and that Purina has been offering cash settlements in exchange for silence from those whose dogs have become ill or died after eating the food.
The amended suit includes 26 additional plaintiffs with similar stories and claims that Purina failed to disclose that the brand contains substances toxic to animals — including Industrial Grade Glycols (IGG), lead, arsenic and mycotoxins. The suit is seeking class-action status and $5,000,000 in damages.
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. Nesltle Purina Petcare Company, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Just last week, Purina launched a massive PR campaign in defense of the Beneful brand that included several videos, a TV commercial, and two separate full-page ads in the New York Times.
The brand also launched a web campaign to dispel what they’re calling simple social media rumors. (Purina’s statement can be found here.) They continue to maintain that the food is both safe and healthy to feed.
According to NBC News,
The amended suit claims that Purina has been contacting consumers who post negative experiences with Beneful to social media, denying liability while offering them cash settlements in exchange for restrictive confidentiality agreements. The lawsuit claims to include a copy of a non-disclosure agreement for a complaint involving Beneful.
Spokesman Keith Schopp, vice president of corporate relations for Purina said that any arrangements or settlements with dog owners were simply “good will gestures” by the company.
“Anytime consumers have questions they can contact us, whether validated or not we have at times responded to them and offered compensation as a good-will gesture,” he said. “The notion that this is something we just started or there is some sort of a negative motive here is nonsense.”
Beneful dry kibble brands named in the lawsuit include Purina Beneful Healthy Weight, Purina Beneful Original, Purina Beneful Incredibites, and Purina Beneful Healthy Growth For Puppies, Purina Beneful Healthy Smile, Purina Beneful Healthy Fiesta, Purina Beneful Healthy Radiance, and Purina Beneful Playful Life.