Purina Paying Hush Money to Peeved Pet Owners?
Amended suit alleges company paying customers for silence on Beneful
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2015 9:04 AM CDT
Did this popular dog food make pups sick?   (Greg Lehman/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin via AP)

(Newser) – Frank Lucido is no longer the only plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging Beneful food kills dogs. An amended complaint filed in California last week against the Nestle Purina brand has added 26 more pet owners from across the country, as well as accusations that Beneful contains toxins and that Purina has been sliding money across the table to people who've complained about the brand, NBC News reports. "The immediacy of folks willing to participate was really quite extraordinary," Jeff Cereghino, the lawyer leading the class-action case, tells NBC. Purina continues to refute these claims, noting in a statement that "the class action lawyers clearly care more about dollars than dogs," while Keith Schopp, a VP of corporate relations, tells NBC that "we're really disturbed by the ongoing false and unsubstantiated allegations."

Another way Purina's countering: an "I Stand Behind Beneful" ad campaign with full-page ads in the New York Times and a TV commercial showing Purina employees promoting Beneful, NBC notes. "We're really proud of the Beneful product and there are no issues with the quality," Schopp says. "We thought one of the best ways to show that pride would be actually through the men and women who make Beneful and feed it to their own pets." In its statement, the company also takes on complaints that its dog food contains toxins and says that compensation offered to customers who complained were merely a "goodwill gesture [that] companies in every industry do … to provide the best customer service." Cereghino, for one, isn't buying it. "Despite Purina's aggressive defense of its product, the company is paying pet owners' claims and demanding secrecy. 'Why?' is a question Purina should answer," he says, per Digital Journal. (Here's what the TSA feeds its bomb-sniffing canines.)
 

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