Natural Balance sues H.J. Heinz Co.
The lawsuit claims “Heinz knew that processed sheep lungs it sold to a pet food company were adulterated with rubber that could choke dogs”. Strange…though Natural Balance is suing its supplier, no Natural Balance recall was ever initiated from this risk.
Heinz knew that processed sheep lungs it sold to a pet food company were adulterated with rubber that could choke dogs, a shareholder of Natural Balance Pet Foods claims in court.
Frank Magliato sued H.J. Heinz Co. and Heinz Watties of Hastings, New Zealand, “in his capacity as stockholder representative for the former shareholders of Natural Balance Pet Foods,” in Superior Court.
In his lawsuit, Magliato claims the multinational food company was aware that rubber rings designed to seal the esophagus of slaughtered sheep had become stuck in internal organs after sheep were slaughtered and their lungs processed.
Heinz also knew that the rubber rings were hazardous to animals but did not give Natural Balance Pet Foods or its customers a heads-up, Magliato says.
Natural Balance used the sheep lung products to make pet food at its Los Angeles facility until May 2012, when it realized the products contained rubber.
Natural Balance “could not continue to use the Heinz defendants’ adulterated product, or distribute or sell any product that contained the Heinz defendants’ adulterated product because if the rubber rings were swallowed by any pet they would pose a hazard to pets, thereby rendering the resulting products hazardous and unsafe. Potential dangers from selling and distributing products containing the Heinz defendants’ adulterated product, include chocking, intestinal blockage, and death,” the 10-page lawsuit states.
The words “could not continue to use the adulterated product” cause concern. How long did Natural Balance sell pet food with potential rubber rings in it? Did any pets die? Did Natural Balance learn of the problem through the death of a pet?
The Natural Balance lawsuit claims Heinz didn’t give Natural Balance a “heads up” about the potential hazard. Where was the ‘heads up’ to consumers from Natural Balance?
To my knowledge, Natural Balance never issued a recall of pet food due to being potentially adulterated with rubber rings; this should have occurred in mid 2012 when Natural Balance learned of the problem. While I agree that Natural Balance should hold a supplier accountable for an adulterated product, where is the accountability to the consumer? Why didn’t Natural Balance recall the pet foods at the very moment they realized there was a potential problem?
The lawsuit did not clarify if this was canned or dry foods. Questions were sent to Natural Balance asking for more information about this lawsuit and why a recall was never issued. Should I receive a response, it will be posted.
Update to original post
“The following is a response on behalf of Natural Balance. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
Quality and safety are Natural Balance’s top priorities. The company never sold the products from this timeframe (2012) containing the adulterated Heinz sheep lungs. Natural Balance’s standard quality control process is very robust, and the company discovered the rubber during inspection. As a result, Natural Balance discarded the product before it had a chance to go to market, and also ceased using Heinz as a supplier.
BIG HEART PET BRANDS”
My response to Big Heart…
Thanks for your response. But I guess the wording taken from the lawsuit is what still has me concerned. Quoting…
Natural Balance “could not continue to use the Heinz defendants’ adulterated product, or distribute or sell any product that contained the Heinz defendants’ adulterated product because if the rubber rings were swallowed by any pet they would pose a hazard to pets, thereby rendering the resulting products hazardous and unsafe.
I guess my questions are if NB didn’t use the adulterated product, then why are they suing Heinz? And why did the lawsuit state “continue to use” and “distribute or sell”? Just doesn’t make sense this would be included in the lawsuit – and that there would be a lawsuit, if NB stopped the ingredient early on. Can you explain?
And their response…
Thanks for the follow up. Potentially confusing legalese aside, at the heart of it, this lawsuit is simply about recovering some of the costs associated with a significant amount of unsalable product. The most important thing for consumers to know is that the adulterated product was never sold.
And one more response from me…
Ok – and I’m going to take you at your word on this. But I still have an issue with the legalese as you put it. If lawyers are implying product was used just to win a lawsuit – and it wasn’t (this seems to be the situation) – that’s not fair.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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