In response to the ongoing lawsuit claiming Purina’s brand Beneful is making dogs sick, the company is fighting back with a full-blown marketing campaign.
Last week Purina put out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times called “I Stand Behind Beneful” and a TV commercial showing employees that produce the dog food also stating they feed their own pets the food. This Sunday, Purina added a second full-page ad in the Times supporting Beneful.
“This really boils down to the fact that we’re really proud of the Beneful product and there are no issues with the quality,” Keith Schopp, vice president of corporate relations for Purina, told NBC News. “We thought one of the best ways to show that pride would be actually through the men and women who make Beneful and feed it to their own pets.”
Th initial marketing push comes just before an amended complaint against the company was filed on June 8 in California federal court, adding 26 more pet owners from various states claiming Beneful’s dry kibble dog food made their pooch sick.
The initial lawsuit was filed in February by Frank Lucido, who claimed that after feeding his three dogs Beneful, they all got sick, with one dying. He and his lawyer contend that Beneful may contain toxic ingredients including propylene glycol and mycotoxin.
Propylene glycol can be toxic to animals and is used in antifreeze. In a statement on their website, Purina states that the kind they use is “an FDA-approved food additive that is also in human foods like salad dressing and cake mix.” Interestingly, the FDA has banned the substance from being used in cat food.
Mycotoxins are substances produced by fungi or mold found in grains (corn in the first ingredient in Beneful). In the complaint, consumers reported symptoms that are in-line with mycotoxin poisoning. Purina counters, stating they screen the grains for this substance. (On a side note, the Association for Truth in Pet Food found the level of mycotoxins in Beneful to be high risk for dogs.)
On Beneful’s website, Purina counters the lawsuit in an extensive reply.
“The class action lawyers clearly care more about dollars than dogs. Their amended complaint not only contains false allegations, but is completely absent of any validated product testing, or test results of any kind for their list of injured pets,” the company states. “The amended complaint makes a series of wild allegations designed to stoke fear and gather clients. There is not a shred of evidence to substantiate any of their false claims.”
The suit is seeking class-action status and $5 million in damages.