Class Action Lawsuit
Purina Pet Foods
Orrville Veterinary Clinic, Inc.
Recently there has been a lot of talk on the news and on social media about a class action lawsuit that has been filed against Beneful dog food by Purina. At Orrville Veterinary Clinic, Inc., we are keeping watch on the situation and will stay up to date.
Here are the facts as they stand right now:
- A lawsuit was filed on February 5th, 2015 against Beneful claiming wrongful death and other sicknesses attributed to the feeding of Beneful Dog food.
- The lawsuit was initiated by one pet owner who had a dog die in 2006. His two other dogs also got sick and recovered. He blames Beneful as the cause.
- The claims against Beneful are very vague at best. While it is very sad that a dog passed away suddenly and two others got sick, there can be many reasons for this occurring.
- There are no current recalls or claims against Beneful food that stem from any time following the 2006 claim.
- Many news outlets, including FOX local news, published a story on February 24th, 2015. This story has taken off on social media platforms.
- In 2006, there were no recalls of Beneful pet food. A recall would point more directly to a cause and effect. There was an aflatoxin recall of one specific Purina pet food in 2007, which was not Beneful.
- This is the third class action lawsuit filed against Purina in the past several years regarding Beneful. While it may be easy to state: " Well, where there is smoke, there is fire;" the previous two lawsuits were thrown out without merit.
- Consumer Affairs (consumeraffiars.com) has a list that is ongoing of complaints. There are over 800 listed at this time.
At this time there is a lot to consider:
1) Pet Owners: The pet owners are understandably upset and emotional. The loss of a pet is extremely difficult. Within the lawsuit, there are claims by another pet owner that her dogs died 6 months apart. One passed away from kidney failure, the other passed away from liver complications. What is left out of the report is the signalment; meaning age, breed, sex, etc. This is important and vital because older dogs tend to get sick with various conditions, liver and kidney disease being two of the major ones. We see this a lot with a household that gets two puppies at the same time. It is not uncommon for these two pets to pass away within 6-12 months of one another when they are older.
2) Purina: Purina is denying the claims and fighting the lawsuit. This is certainly understandable, as they are a big business that sells a lot of dog food. Beneful is one of their leading brand names, so they are wanting to protect this as much as they can. I talked to the Purina Veterinary Hotline earlier today and they are standing behind their product 100%. They state that Beneful is a high quality, nutirious dog food enjoyed by millions of dogs every day.
3) News Outlets/ Media: The news outlets need to fill time and get viewership. They realize that animal stories are a great way to do this. We all get very emotional over our pets, as they bring us much joy and companionship. This is not the first instance in which out local news affiliate has run with stories of dog deaths. In 2003, there was a report claiming that veterinarians were pushing vaccinations that were killing pets. This story played on a common theme, which is once again rearing its head: the death and sickness of a pet. The vaccines in question at that time were to protect against Distemper Virus and Parvovirus. While I have never seen a death that can be directly attributed to one of these vaccinations, I see 6 to 10 cases of parvovirus EVERY YEAR. The average cost of a parvovirus treatment is $800-$1200 (a very costly treatment) while the average cost of a vaccination is generally $20-$25. Prevention is critical in fighting both of these disease and is much less expensive than treatment. Of those 6-10 cases per year, 2 to 3 will not survive the virus.
4) Social Media: The internet is a dangerous place, as people react and respond to anything and everything. There are already threads with multiple pet owners who fed Beneful blaming their dog's sickness and passing on Beneful. Most of these claims are extremely vague, with people wanting an explanation for the loss of their beloved dog. One owner states that: "My dog died last year unexpectedly. She was sick maybe 4 hours tops. An inside dog. Went to let her out and found her dead in her bed. She was fed Beneful dry dog food. Now this explains why!!!!" They go on to state that they are so upset. This is very unfortunate, but is very consistent with antifreeze toxicity. The owner does not state that she followed the dog outside and observed the pet's behavior, at which time she could have easily gotten into antifreeze or some other type of toxin. The owner also does not give an age or any other history of underlying medical conditions. Heart disease can be another situation that results in a similar presentation of sickness with rapid decline leading to death.
5) Lawyers: While there are plenty of great lawyers out there, there are also many who will take on class action lawsuits for the fact that there is big money involved. There are lawyers who will file the lawsuits and do the work for no charge, with the stipulation that they receive a large portion of the settlement. In this case the settlement is potentially millions of dollars. All it takes is a quick internet search to find numerous class action lawsuits against drug companies. From personal experience, Google the term "Copyright Troll: and you will find many of these patent and copyright lawyers who copyright pictures and then sue anybody and everybody that mistakenly uses that image. These copyright trolls scare people into settling, when very few cases actually make it to court. The ones that do make it to court are oftentimes lost by the copyright troll or they are awarded a token settlement of less than $100. (This is just an example to show that anybody can sue anyone else for anything.) Class Action lawsuits are common in business thses days, but they do not indicate a direct cause and effect.
6) Internet websites: Websites are a great place for information and a place for people to congregate around similar interests, however websites are often driven to gain "hits," "views," and web traffic. We did a quick search for Beneful and there are multiple articles that cite a "Purina Recall." In none of these articles does it state that Beneful was recalled, however the hint is there and the implication intentional
7) Beneful Brand: This is one of the more popular brands of dog foods that is available today. Like all foods, some dogs do indeed have problems associated with Beneful. These include allergies to specific ingredients (the top five are Beef, Chicken, Corn, Pork and Lamb) and gastroenteritis associated with abrupt diet change. Both of these conditions are reported with every dog food on the market. Many of the vomiting and diarrhea reports are likely due to an abrupt change form one food to another (look at the reports of "they were out of my dog food, so we bought Beneful and then my dog began to vomit.")
8) Antifreeze in the Food: There has not been a dog food that is contaminated with antifreeze from a manufacturer. This stems from confusion over two related substances: Propylene Glycol and Ethylene Glycol. These two sound similar, but are vastly different. Ethylene Glycol is the compound in antifreeze that results in a quick onset of clincial signs, leading to rapid coma and death. Propylene glycol is a simple food preservative that has been used in human food as well as dog food.
9) Consumer Affairs: There are many stories and reports on Cunsumer Affiars regarding Beneful. These stories are similar to the social media aites above, vague and accusatory. Many cite problems that can be associated with any food, such as food allergies and GI upset. If your pet is vomiting or have diarrhea, there can by many reasons. Click HERE for more information.
In summary, there appears to be little merit to the direct cause and effect in this case at this time. We will monitor the situation, however a settlement may be likely and is common in situations like this one. Purina is currently disputing and fighting the allegations, but oftentimes settlements are easier and less costly than an actual trial. At this time, we do not believe there to be a problem directly associated with Beneful Dog Food by Purina. There have been no FDA recalls nor any direct links to Beneful.
We feel that we have your pet's best interest in mind, as we all have furry family members too! It is our intention to get the best information into your hands as we can. If you are not comfortable continuing the feeding of Beneful brand pet foods, we understand. Please make sure that you transition your pet to another pet food slowly to avoid GI upsets. We recommend a transition phase that lasts from one to two weeks. You should begin by feeding 75% of the current diet to 25% of the new diet for the first 3 to 4 days. At that point, it is okay to gradually add more and more of the newer diet, while decreasing the former diet (in this case Beneful). For a HOW TO guide on switching your pet to a new food, click HERE.
If you have any questions please call the clinic at (330)682-2971
Disclaimer: This is a very fluid situation. These are merely our opinoins at this time. While we can not say that there is no problem with Beneful, we are also not able to find a direct link to death by this food. More information will become available as time goes on. We are not stating that there is no potential of an issue here, but no cause and effect has been established at this time. LIkewise, we have not seen any issues with Beneful recently. We are aware that there have been multiple food recalls within the past several years and constantly try to monitor these recalls that have merit. We do not intend this to be a support of Purina directly. At this time these are just allegations, which can be levied by anybody. We also do not mean this article to represent that the food is or is not safe, as we do not know for sure. This is essentially to get the facts into your hands as they stand at this time. There are plenty of high quality dog foods that are available. We would be happy to make a recommendation. (Beneful is not one that we routinely recommend)
This article written and published by Dr. Jeffrey R. Fink on behalf of Orrville Veterinary Clinic, Inc.
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Why is my Pet vomiting or having diarrhea?