Charlotte-area grocers say they’re closely monitoring a lawsuit in California in which a pet owner alleges thousands of dogs have become ill or died after eating a brand of dry dog food.
Wal-Mart, Harris Teeter, Publix and Food Lion – the four largest grocers in Charlotte by market share – all sell Purina’s dry food Beneful. The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t issued any warnings about the product, and Purina says it is safe.
“We are taking this matter very seriously. We are in frequent communication with Purina and are closely monitoring the FDA’s website,” Kim Reynolds, media and communications manager of Publix, said in an email to The Observer. “At such time as the FDA does issue a recall, we will react immediately by pulling all product included in the recall.”
Similarly, Food Lion carries the product but will “continue to monitor the situation,” said Christy Phillips-Brown, the supermarket chain’s external communications and community relations director.
Representatives for Harris Teeter and Wal-Mart pointed to a statement by Purina that says dog owners can continue feeding it to their pets without any concern.
“Like other pet foods, Beneful is occasionally the subject of social media-driven misinformation,” the company said in its statement. “On-line postings often contain false, unsupported and misleading allegations that cause undue concern and confusion for our Beneful customers.”
Associates at several area Harris Teeter and Publix stores said the supermarkets have issued refunds to customers who came in with concerns about the food.
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California earlier this month, the food contains propylene glycol, which it says is an animal toxin used in automobile antifreeze, and mycotoxins, a group of toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains.
Frank Lucido, who filed the lawsuit, alleges two of his dogs fell ill after eating Purina’s Beneful “kibble” style dog food while another, an English bulldog, died.
Lucido said in the past four years, there have been more than 3,000 complaints online about dogs becoming ill or dying after eating Beneful, with the complaints showing “consistent symptoms,” including stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures and kidney failure.
In recent years, Beneful has faced two lawsuits that were dismissed by the courts, according to Purina’s statement.
Area retailers said they’re unable to remove the food unless there is a recall.
“As far as we understand at this time, there is no health or safety risk associated with the food and no recall currently in place,” read a statement from Petsmart, which also sells the food.
In a statement, the FDA said it does not comment on pending litigation. The Associated Press contributed.