Beneful dry 'kibble' dog food targeted by lawsuit claiming the brand is killing pets

CINCINNATI - A recent lawsuit claims Purina’s popular Beneful brand is hurting and killing pets.

More than 3,000 online complaints have been filed by dog-owners claiming Purina Petcare Beneful’s dry “kibble” variety is killing and hurting dogs, according to the class action lawsuit filed Feb. 5 in federal court in California.

The brand is still on store shelves.

This class action suit concerns "kibble" dry food, which includes "Purina Beneful Health Weight"; "Purina Beneful Original"; "Purina Beneful Incredibites," and "Purina Beneful Healthy Growth for Puppies", "Purina Beneful Healthy Smile", "Purina Beneful Health Fiesta", "Purina Beneful Healthy Raidance", and "Purina Beneful Playful Life" varieties. The packaging used for these foods make the following claims, the suit claims:

  • "Satisfaction Guaranteed. If you're not happy, we're not happy. Complete satisfaction or your money back..."
  • "At Purina, we're unconditionally devoted to pets. We've dedicated over 80 years to developing the high-quality products that satisfy the needs of dogs and cats."
  • "100% Complete and Balanced Nutrition"
  • Yes, dogs can have it all -- and should! How? A special blend of wholesome ingredients, including grains, real beef, and accents of vitamin-rich veggies! It gives dogs the complete nutrition they need and a taste they love." (Beneful Original)
  • "Made with wholesome rice, real chicken, soy, and accented with veggies and apples, it has the complete nutrition adult dogs need..." (Beneful Healthy Weight)
  • "With real chicken, wholesome rice, and accents of vitamin-rich veggies, it has the complete nutrition puppies need..." (Beneful Healthy Growth for Puppies)
  • "When your puppy is grown, Beneful has so many delicious ways to help keep him healthy and happy." (Beneful Healthy Growth for Puppies)

The lawsuit lists stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures, bloat and kidney failure as symptoms consistently reported by dog-owners feeding their dogs Beneful, which is owned by Nestlé Purina Petcare Company.

7NEWS' sister station contacted Nestlé Purina Petcare Company for response to this suit. Keith Schopp, spokesman for Purina, said the lawsuit's claims are "without merit."

"There are no quality issues with Beneful," Schopp said. "Beneful is a high quality, nutritious food enjoyed by millions of dogs each day. Like other pet foods, Beneful is occasionally the subject of social media-driven misinformation."

Beneful has been the target of two other class action lawsuits, both of which, Schopp said, were quickly dismissed.

Lee Whalen, of Covington, Ohio, spoke with Finance Reporter John Materese Tuesday afternoon about her dachshund, Toby, who passed away last year of premature kidney failure at just 10 months old.

Although not directly involved in this most recent lawsuit, Whalen said she had been feeding Toby Purina Beneful and now wonders if the dog food had something to do with Toby's death. 

"A lot of the things people were talking about, that was Toby. And with vets not having any other explanation for his kidney failure at such a young age, what else am I supposed to think? That this food was supposed to be safe for my dog was not."

While Whalen's vet, like others, cannot link Beneful to Toby's death, she can't help but wonder.

This most recent class action suit was filed on behalf of Frank Lucido, who claimed in the suit that after purchasing a bag of Beneful for the first time in late December, all three of his dogs began falling ill with stomach and liver symptoms. He said he fed them only Beneful for less than a month.

Dozer, Lucido’s English bulldog, ultimately died after beginning to show signs of internal bleeding in his stomach and lesions on his liver, the lawsuit states.

Lucido’s German Shepherd Nella has shown similar symptoms and his third dog, a Labrador named Remo, has also been unwell and is currently undergoing testing, according to the suit.

Lucido claims these illnesses, and similar illnesses of other dogs that have become sick and/or died after eating Beneful, were caused by toxic substances found in the food.

"We received hundreds of complaints," said attorney James Young, of Morgan & Morgan out of Tampa, Florida, one of the lawyers filing the suit. "Nationally, there have been thousands of complaints about dogs who have eaten this dog food by Purina Beneful and suffered very serious side effects, including death."

"The issues are pretty similar across the board," he said, "liver and kidney problems, which results in diarrhea, bloody stool, vomiting, and secondary harm."

Specifically, the suit lists the automotive antifreeze component propylene glycol as a primary ingredient in Beneful’s dog food.

Propylene glycol, a substance the suit says is toxic to cats and dogs, may be included in Beneful’s ingredients list because it helps retain the food’s moisture, according to the suit.

Propylene glycol is a familiar ingredient in food safety cases. Fireball Whisky was recalled in Finland, Sweden, and Norway last October for what some claimed were dangerous levels of the chemical in the product. No recall of the whisky was made in the U.S.

The lawsuit is asking that Nestlé Purina Petcare Company pay actual, statutory and punitive damages to all those filed under the class action suit -- as well as forfeit any profits earned from the sale of the product in question.

Here is Purina's full statement, issued by Keith Schopp:

"First and foremost, there are no quality issues with Beneful. Beneful is a high quality, nutritious food enjoyed by millions of dogs every day. Beneful is backed by Purina's strict quality controls and comprehensive food safety program. Like other pet foods, Beneful is occasionally the subject of social media-driven misinformation. Online postings often contain false, unsupported and misleading allegations that cause undue concern and confusion for our Beneful customers. Specific to this class action lawsuit, we believe the lawsuit is without merit. Beneful was the target of two prior class action lawsuits, and both of those suits were quickly dismissed by the court. Bottom line: Consumers can continue to feed Beneful with total confidence."

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE LAWSUIT

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