A class action lawsuit filed in California claims that Beneful dry kibble dog food — a popular brand from Nestle Purina PetCare (NSRGY) promoted as “wholesome” with “quality nutrition” — contains toxins that injured and killed thousands of dogs, according to NBC News.
Pet owner Frank Lucido alleged that his family began feeding their three dogs exclusively on Beneful in late December or early January and that the animals were kept in separate houses because of some home construction. By the end of January, all three dogs had become seriously ill and one died. Two of the dogs showed bleeding in the stomach and liver lesions. The dead dog, an 8-year-old English bulldog, showed signs “consistent with poisoning,” according to a veterinarian quoted in the lawsuit.
Jeff Cereghino, an attorney representing Lucido, emphasized to the Daily Beast that all three dogs ate the same food and were in different buildings. “So you take away the automatic assumption that the neighbor didn’t like the dogs or whatever,” he said. “He was feeding them Beneful at the start of this, and one got sick and died, the other two were very ill. And then he started doing a little research, and he realized the causal link, at least in his mind, was the food.”
Liver, Kidney Issues
The website ConsumerAffairs shows close to 800 one-star ratings of Beneful out of a possible five stars. Many posted stories allege that dog owners saw their pets become ill and often die from what appeared to be liver and kidney failure.
The association between Beneful and claimed harm to pets isn’t new. Rumor-busting site Snopes.com said that unproven claims about problems go back to at least 2007.
Nestle Purina PetCare did not return a call from DailyFinance before publication.
The suit claims that propylene glycol and mycotoxins are potentially harmful substances that are in Beneful. Propylene glycol is “clear, colorless liquid with the consistency of syrup,” according to manufacturer Dow Chemical. It is used in a wide variety of applications, including hydraulic fluids, automobile antifreeze and cosmetics, but is also approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a food additive.
Propylene Glycol and Mycotoxins
To put the combination of uses into some perspective, water is used in food preparation and in antifreeze as well. Still, the site DogFoodAdvisor said that propylene glycol has a “proven ability to cause a serious type of blood disease” in cats and that the FDA banned its use in cat food. Norway, Sweden and Finland last fall recalled cinnamon-flavored Fireball Whiskey over levels of propylene glycol, according to the Huffington Post.
Mycotoxins are substances produced by some types of fungi, according to the National Institutes of Health. They can be poisonous, but they are also used in a variety of drugs, including antibiotics. Some types of mycotoxins are associated with damage to liver and kidneys.
The Association for Truth in Pet Food said that it tested some popular dog foods and found that Beneful Original had a significant enough mycotoxins level to pose a “high risk” to animal health.
Last year, Nestle Purina PetCare was one of two companies that settled a class action lawsuit by creating a $6.5 million pet owner compensation fund, according to NBC News. The suit claimed that jerky treats caused illness and death in thousands of dogs.