A pet food maker whose contaminated product was said to have caused the deaths of thousands of dogs and cats in North America has agreed to settle lawsuits with pet owners in the United States and Canada. Streetsville, Ontario-based Menu Foods Income Fund announced the tentative settlements last month. The amount of the settlement has not been disclosed. But Menu did say that it expects its total costs associated with the massive recall of its products last year to be about $53.8 million. The company’s pet foods are produced in bulk and sold as store brands.
In March 2007, Menu recalled tens of millions of containers of pet food when the New York State Food Laboratory discovered that some contained aminopterin, a chemical that has been used to induce abortions, treat cancer and kill rats. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration later rejected that finding but found melamine, a chemical used to make plastics, in samples of Menu Foods’ products. The melamine was traced to contaminated wheat gluten imported from China. The discoveries solved the mystery of why so many seemingly healthy pets had been dying in the previous months.
In the United States, dozens of cases against Menu and many of the companies that own the private labels were consolidated in a federal court in Camden, New Jersey. Menu had to file the terms of the settlement in Camden by May 1st. U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman set a May 14th hearing to consider the agreement. The company said it expects court approval. Sherrie R. Savett, a lead lawyer for the pet owners, did a very good job.
Source: Associated Press
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