Lawsuit claims deadly horse meat is to blame for outbreak that sickened several dogs this year, killing at least one

Wheeling, Illinois-based Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Company Inc. has filed a $20 million lawsuit against Bailey Farms LLC, alleging that the Wisconsin-based meat supplier provided the pet food company with beef containing pentobarbital-tainted horse meat, which was found in Evanger’s Hunk of Beef and Against the Grain dog foods. The pet food company is also alleging that the meat supplier used an expired certification tag from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services. Evanger’s is suing Bailey Farms on ground of fraud, breach of contract, and breach of warranty.

The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois on April 25. In the lawsuit, Evanger’s named Bailey Farms its sole supplier of meat for its Hunk of Beef canned dog food. The beef supplied by Bailey Farms contained horse meat contaminated by pentobarbital. Pentobarbital is a barbiturate compound, commonly used in euthanizing animals. According to the lawsuit, Bailey Farms’ meat supply was the source of pentobarbital contamination that sickened several dogs and killed one pub in Washington.

Evanger’s charged that the Wisconsin-based farm breached their contract by not supplying 100 percent beef, as provided in their contract. The pet food company also stressed that Bailey farms breached implied warranties and carried out fraud when it deceived Evanger’s about the contents of the meat supply.

“In addition to the loss relating to the unsalable product and the cost of the recall, Evanger’s has suffered extensive damage to its commercial reputation because its product contained horsemeat instead of beef and that horsemeat was contaminated with pentobarbital. This reputation damage has led to a significant loss of retail stores that will sell any of Evanger’s products,” the lawsuit stated. Attorney Gregory Bedell of the Chicago law firm of Knabe, Kroning & Bedell is representing the pet food company.

Evanger’s is seeking $5 million in punitive damages and court fee reimbursements. The pet food company also seeks reimbursements for attorney’s fees, for the cost of recent batch recalls, and other fees that the court deems necessary. (Related: Read more news about pet health at PetHealth.news.)

Shipping, DNA test and batch recall details

According to the lawsuit, Evanger’s placed an order of more than 21 tons of “hand deboned beef” from the farm in November 2015, and had an additional order of 21 tons of “inedible hand deboned beef” in late May 2016. The federal law states that inedible beef is unfit for human consumption. However, if the meat supply is not adulterated or contaminated, it can be used in pet food manufacturing. The shipment placed in November was used in the production of Evanger’s Against the Grain Hand Pulled Beef product. On the other hand, meat supply shipped in May was used to manufacture about 50,000 cans of Hunk of Beef product.

In January 2017, four pugs reportedly got sick and one died after eating Evanger’s dog food products. According to the pet food company, the dog owner sent the remaining dog food and the dogs’ stomach samples to a Michigan State University laboratory. Laboratory results confirmed that Evanger’s Hunk of Beef dog food contained high levels of pentobarbital concentration. The U.S. Food and Drugs Administration has also found traces of the toxic barbiturate in both Hunk of Beef and Against the Grain Hand Pulled Beef products.

As a result, Evanger’s recalled five production lots of Hunk of Beef canned dog food on Feb. 3, 2017. The pet food company has also recalled a single production lot of Against the Grain Hand Pulled Beef canned dog food on Feb. 14, 2017. On March 3, 2017, the company recalled all “chunk beef” products manufactured from December 2015 and January 2017, as traces of pentobarbital may be found in this products. According to the lawsuit, all the recalled products contained meat that were supplied by Bailey Farms.

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Sources include:

FoodSafetyNews.com

ConsumerAffairs.com

PetFoodIndustry.com

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