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Nicole and Guy Mael, whose dog Talula died after eating Evanger’s brand “Hunk of Beef Au Jus” canned dog food on New Year’s Eve, have filed a class action complaint against Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Co. Inc. and its sister company Nutripack LLC.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on June 16, alleges fraud, misrepresentation and negligence on the part of Evanger’s and Nutripack. The complaint requests a jury trial.

The couple’s five dogs all became ill after eating the Hunk of Beef food. They took them all to an emergency veterinary facility. Four of the five dogs survived, although one of the survivors is currently being treated for seizures.

Lab analysis of Talula’s stomach contents and of the remainder of the contents of the can of Hunk of Beef revealed the presence of a large quantity of pentobarbital.

Pentobarbital is a fast-acting barbiturate, and is used as a veterinary euthanasia agent. Its presence in any food or animal feed renders the food or feed adulterated, according to the federal law.

The Food and Drug Administration confirmed the presence of pentobarbital by laboratory analysis of samples taken from sealed cans of Evanger’s Hunk of Beef Au Jus and Against The Grain branded Pulled Beef with Gravy canned dog food, prompting Evanger’s to initiate a series of product recalls.

In addition to the pentobarbital finding, an inspection of Evanger’s production facility in Wheeling, IL, and of Nutripack’s facility in Markham, IL, revealed insanitary conditions in both facilities, according to FDA.

The class action suit cites thirteen counts under federal, Illinois, and Washington state law, based upon claims of:

  • breach of implied warranty:
  • breach of express warranty;
  • unfair acts or practices;
  • deceptive acts or practices;
  • negligence;
  • defective manufacture, design, and marketing;
  • unjust enrichment;
  • misrepresentation; and
  • product adulteration and misbranding.

In addition to seeking restitution, estimated to exceed $5 million from Evanger’s and Nutripack, the plaintiffs have requested an injunction to prevent the companies “…from continuing the unlawful practices … including marketing or selling its products that may be misrepresented, adulterated and misbranded, and specifically falsely stating that they are USDA-inspected, human-grade quality, 100 percent kosher beef and directing defendants to engage in corrective action, or providing other injunctive or equitable relief.”

This article first appeared in Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission.

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