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Purina Answers Class Action’s Claims


​Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. has issued a two-pronged response—an official statement posted on its website on June 9 and the launch of the “I Stand Behind Beneful” media campaign—to a class-action lawsuit claiming Beneful dog food has made some dogs seriously ill.

In Purina’s statement, which is posted in its entirety at newscenter.purina.com/statements, the St. Louis-based pet food manufacturer uses adjectives like “unsubstantiated,” “false,” “wild” and “frivolous” in describing the allegations leveled against its Beneful dog food brand.

“Bottom line—Beneful is a safe, nutritious, high-quality dog food. We look forward to proving the false nature of this frivolous class-action lawsuit through the Courts, as we have done in two prior similar cases,” the statement concludes.

Purina’s response was posted one day after an amended class-action lawsuit and press release were issued.

The initial lawsuit was filed in a California court in February.

Beneful is one of Purina’s most popular brands and is enjoyed by more than 15 million dogs every year, according to the company.

By contrast, the class-action lawsuit makes mention of some 3,000 online complaints about the food, some of which claim dogs were sickened after consuming it.

“There are no quality issues with Beneful, a fact backed up by independent expert sources including leading veterinarians, the FDA, millions of loyal pet owners, and Purina food scientists and employees who make and feed Beneful to their own pets,” the St. Louis-based pet food manufacturer argues, adding that lawyers who filed the class action have offered “absolutely no linkage between Beneful and the alleged pet illnesses.”

Media Play

It is interesting, too, how the drama is playing out in the media.

For example, in a heart-wrenching WSB-TV Atlanta 2 report from April 27, 2015, a reporter spoke to a Chuck Justice, who claims his 11-year-old dog, Baxter, had eaten nothing but Beneful and Beggin Strips, another Purina product, for the last two years before suffering kidney failure and dying. Justice exhumed his dog’s body a day after he was buried so that tissue samples could be taken and tested to determine the cause of Baxter’s death.

In a follow up, WSB-TV reported that lab tests showed no link between the dog and Purina Beneful dog food and tests on the food “showed nothing toxic.”

In fact, during the typical 24-hour production cycle, Nestlé Purina conducts 30,000 quality checks at every phase of the production process.

“We meet or exceed every major food quality and safety standard including those issued by the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and The Association of American Feed Control Officials,” Purina notes in its official response.      

Taking a Stand

The second part of Purina’s line in the sand has been the rollout of its new media information campaign “I Stand Behind Beneful,” which profiles people who know the product best—those who make it.

The campaign features men and women—all employees at Purina’s Atlanta facility—and their dogs, all of which eat Beneful on a regular basis.

“I see all of the quality data—everything that I need to know that’s its good for my dog,” said one Purina employee who appears in the one of the commercials with his dog.

“I make it, and I feed Beneful to my dog,” said another.

The campaign is designed to dispel any “misinformation about the quality and safety of one of Purina’s best brands in the wake of a baseless class-action lawsuit.”

“I Stand Behind Beneful” spots can be seen at multivu.com/players/English/7544251-purina-pride-ad-campaign/.

“The ‘I Stand Behind Beneful’ campaign began as an internal rallying cry but the Purina pride was so compelling that they decided to share it with fellow pet lovers, retailers and critics,” said Juli Plassmeyer, Purina’s vice president of dog food marketing.

The campaign includes a television commercial as well as digital and print advertising featuring Atlanta associates and their beloved pets.  

“The ‘I Stand Behind Beneful’ commercial captures employees using their own, non-scripted remarks to share their pride and confidence in the safety and quality of Beneful,” said Keith Schopp, a Purina spokesman. “Purina has a proud history, we’ve been making quality pet food for more than 85 years.” 

“What better way to convey that pride than through the men and women who say, ‘I make Beneful, I feed it to my own pets and I stand behind this product,’” Schopp said.

Introduced in 2001, every bag of Beneful sold in the U.S. is manufactured at one of eight Purina-owned factories in the U.S. and the brand has never been subject to a recall.

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