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Court Settlements Reached in Dog Food Recall
2007 Chinese Melamine Case Concludes

illustration of brown dog in front of a red dog food bowl

Remember the thousands of dogs and cats that were sickened, and even killed, in 2007's pet food contamination? Both the civil and criminal cases resulting from this massive case have now been settled.

This was the largest pet food recall in U.S. history. More than 180 pet food brands - ALPO, Blue Buffalo, Doctors Foster & Smith, Eukanuba, Hills, Iams, Natural Balance, Nutro, Royal Canin - and retailers including Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, Petco and PetSmart were affected.

It resulted because unscrupulous suppliers in China added the contaminants melamine and cyanuric acid in their pet food ingredients to inflate the protein levels. These contaminants formed crystals in the kidneys of dogs and cats and caused kidney disease and failure.

The Chinese product was sold through an importer/distributor to Menu Foods, a Canadian manufacturer, that produced private-label and name-brand pet foods for a number of major companies. For those who are paranoid about large corporations, it was Menu Foods that discovered and reported the contamination to government authorities.

Here's the results of the cases:

  • More than 100 civil cases, comprised of 25,601 individual claims, were consolidated in one class action lawsuit.
  • The claims represented 13,242 pets who died and 9,001 pets that survived after treatment as well as pets examined by a vet because of the recall.
  • The class action lawsuit was settled in October 2011 for $24-million.
  • Roughly 50% of the settlement amount went to the lawyers and court costs. More than 80 lawyers in two countries were involved in the case against more than two dozen defendants.
  • Of the remaining amount, pet owners received about 45-cents for each dollar of claims. The average disbursement to an owner was $430. Many owners complained that the settlement didn't even cover their vet bills.
  • The owners of ChemNutra, an American company that imported and sold the products to Menu Foods, pled guilty in 2010 to charges of selling and distributing adulterated foods. They were fined $35,000 and given three years of probation. They did not admit to knowingly selling the adulterated products.

  • ChemNutra is no longer in business but the former owners started another company importing pet food products from China.
  • Chinese authorities closed down the Chinese manufacturers involved in the 2007 contamination.
  • Menu Foods was bought out by Simmons Pet Food in 2010.

One positive result of this disaster was that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is more closely monitoring pet food safety. It also established a web-based tracking network called PETNet (Pet Event Tracking Network) for federal, state and territorial agencies to report incidents involving pet food problems.

Bookmark and use the link below to periodically check for dog food recalls:

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