Two senators want the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to step up its oversight of pet food in the wake of a lawsuit accusing a particular dog food of containing dangerous toxins.
WASHINGTON — Two senators want the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to step up its oversight of pet food in the wake of a lawsuit that claims a particular dog food contains dangerous toxins.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., sent a letter this past week asking the agency to investigate the claims, as well as to provide an update on how it is implementing previous laws that require contamination-prevention measures in pet food.
“To put it frankly, the food safety system Congress fought to develop has not been put in place by the FDA,” the senators wrote in the letter addressed to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
A lawsuit filed Feb. 5 claims Nestlé Purina PetCare Company’s Beneful dry kibble dog food may contain toxins that cause harm and death for dogs.
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Nestle Purina PetCare issued a statement last month dismissing the lawsuit as “baseless.”
“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,” according to the statement on the brand’s website.
The lawsuit, by pet owner Frank Lucido in the U.S. District Court in Northern District of California, alleges that this pet food contains dangerous material such as propylene glycol, used in automotive antifreeze, and mycotoxins, a group of toxins produced by grain fungus.
The court documents state that consumers made more than 3,000 online complaints in the past four years about the harm Beneful caused their pets, such as internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures, bloat and kidney failure.
“To our knowledge, the FDA has not issued any investigations, warnings, consumer guidance, or product recalls to address these alarming issues,” the senators wrote.
The letter cites legislation that Congress passed in 2007 in response to thousands of dogs and cats dying from “tainted pet food.” The FDA Amendments Act of 2007 required various changes such as improving regulations for pet food safety, strengthening labeling requirements, establishing an early warning system for contaminated products and setting ingredient and processing standards.
“However, eight years later, most provisions of the pet food safety law have not been implemented and protections Congress enacted are not in place, amid allegations of contaminated Beneful dry kibble,” the senators wrote.
The eight kinds of dry Beneful food scrutinized in the lawsuit are Purina Beneful Healthy Smile, Healthy Fiesta, Healthy Growth for Puppies, Healthy Radiance, Healthy Weight, Incredibites, Original and Playful Life.
The Purina statement said the company intends to “vigorously defend ourselves and our brand” and Beneful food is safe for pets to consume.
“Bottom line: Consumers can continue to feed Beneful with total confidence,” according to the statement.