Menu Foods and other companies that participated in last year's massive recalls of pet foods reached a tentative settlement, as of early April, with plaintiffs in dozens of class-action lawsuits.
The recalls resulted from the contamination of ingredients from China that went into pet food in the United States. Two of the contaminants, melamine and cyanuric acid, apparently combined after ingestion to form crystals that could impair renal function. Numerous cats and dogs likely fell ill or died as a result.
The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey is conducting proceedings for the multidistrict litigation, which combines lawsuits from across the country. In April, the parties advised the court that mediation had produced an agreement in principle, addressing all major terms of settlement.
As of press time, the parties had not filed the definitive terms of the settlement. The defendants will fund the settlement amount. Menu Foods has estimated its recall costs at $55 million Canadian (about $54 million U.S. as of April 1).
The defendants include other manufacturers as well as retailers of pet food. Among the larger food companies are Del Monte, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Nestle, and Mars. Some of the retailers are Wal-Mart, Target, Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, Petco, and Petsmart.
The litigation also affects ingredient suppliers. The list of defendants includes ChemNutra and Wilbur-Ellis, which imported the ingredients containing contaminants, and the Chinese companies that exported the ingredients—Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development, Suzhou Textile Import and Export, and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology.
Court documents for the multidistrict litigation are available at http://dockets.justia.com/ by searching for "Pet Food Products Liability Litigation."