The Class Action suit against Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., has taken another step forward in the legal process with the appointment on July 31st of Lead Counsels for the Plaintiffs and the Defendants.
Lead Counsels for the Plaintiffs are:
- Gary E. Mason (Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP)
- Rachel E. Schwartz (Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP)
- Michael R. Reese (Reese LLP)
- Scott A. Kamber (KamberLaw, LLP)
The Multidistrict Litigation consolidates approximately 20 individual Class Action suits initiated by grieving dog owners whose pets died as a result of vitamin D overdose.
During the first half of 2019, Hill’s Pet Nutrition recalled 33 varieties of canned, wet dog food due excessive levels of vitamin D in the products.
At present, Defendants named in the Class Action include Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., Hill’s Pet Nutrition Sales, Inc., and Colgate-Palmolive Company.
Hill’s is a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive.
The toxic concentrations of vitamin D were found to have originated from a formulation error in the vitamin D premix supplied to Hill’s by the Fort Worth, Texas facility owned by DSM Nutritional Products, LLC.
An employee at the Fort Worth plant added vitamin D to the premix instead of adding vitamin E, resulting in a 2900% excess of vitamin D in the premix.
FDA follow-up discussions with company management established that DSM did not have adequate systems in place to prevent this type of operator error. For example,
- Although batch records were reviewed and signed off, the ingredient substitution was not caught either by the
- The vitamin D and vitamin E ingredients were similar in color, and there was no color-code labelling system in place to differentiate the ingredients
- DSM did not have a bar coding system in place to aid in identification and tracking of ingredients
- DSM did not provide a Certificate of Analysis for each batch of premix supplied to Hill’s and does not test every finished batch
As of mid-April, DSM was preparing a revised food safety plan, which it promised to provide to FDA by the end of May.
DSM has not yet been named as a Defendant in the Class Action. It will be up to the Co-Lead Counsels to decide whether or not to do so.
The best last word in this saga belongs to Jessica Hensley of FDA, who told DSM representatives, “Your products killed life. Be sure that you have a process in place so that an employee can’t screw it up.“