Even Pet Food Can Be Defective And Harm Your Pets

When we think about defective products that can be dangerous, our thoughts usually go to hardware like cars, or maybe toys that might cause harm to children. However, even food products can be a threat, and in some cases, they can even be lethal, just not necessarily to people.

Many cat lovers in the United Kingdom are now finding this out as they put their beloved pets at health risk—and in some cases even death—just because they wanted more peace of mind, and were willing to spend a bit more money.

A Contaminant In The Food

Natural Instinct is a British pet food company, and one of their premium products was a more raw, unprocessed, natural cat food, with no preservatives. Because of its premium positioning, it was sold at a higher price, for more discriminating cat owners that were willing to invest a bit more in what should have been a healthier, pricier alternative to regular cat food.
Instead, what pet owners in the United Kingdom found was that they were bringing their cats to the veterinarian, and those felines were diagnosed with Bovine Tuberculosis, or BT. Perhaps even more surprisingly, two of the cat owners were themselves, also diagnosed with BT.

The Consequences

Fortunately for humans, BT, if diagnosed quickly and treated aggressively, can be cured with front line antibiotics. However, for cats, it’s a much less certain proposition, and the cats that came down with BT suffered an 83% mortality rate.

BT is normally contracted through contact with wildlife, consuming unpasteurized milk, interacting with infected rodents, or consuming infected meat. Because the majority of the cats being diagnosed where expensive, pedigree cats, usually confined to the house, with no outside exposure, it didn’t take long for veterinarians in the UK to realize that the culprit was the premium food they had been eating. The product was quickly recalled.

Companies Must Be Held Accountable

For people in the United Kingdom, even if it’s a pet and not a person that suffered as a result of a faulty food product, the same legal responsibility remains. If these pet owners had been using the product as intended, and the recipients of the product came to harm—or even died—then these pet owners would be able to talk to a lawyer about a lawsuit.

The same thing happened, on a much larger, and more tragic scale, in the Pacific Northwest, in 1996, with the tragic Odwalla e. Coli outbreak. At least one child died, and many other children fell ill to e. Coli after consuming unpasteurized apple juice. Odwalla, the company responsible, had originally claimed their more natural, unpasteurized techniques preserved the flavor and made the juice healthier. However, pasteurization is itself a technique to kill bacteria.

In this case, not pasteurizing the apple juice was a fatal error, as the investigation into the e.coli outbreak eventually led researchers to one particular orchard that partnered with Odwalla to supply apples. Because deer droppings were found on the property that also had e.coli, it was theorized that workers in the fields, because they were paid by weight, ignored warnings not to harvest apples that had fallen to the ground, or made contact with feces. And because those apples weren’t processed or pasteurized, the e.coli bacteria remained live, the apple juice the children consumed.

If you or someone you know has received a personal injury, or even fallen ill as a result of a defective product, talk to a lawyer. In many cases, a defective product lawsuit doesn’t even go to court. Many companies prefer to settle out of court when they know they’re in the wrong, to end the case quickly and prevent too much information from going public.


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