The lawyer who filed two class-action lawsuits against pet food companies this week says afederal "loophole" is leaving the safety of pet food in Canada unregulated.
'There seems to be something of a loophole or a black hole.' —Joel Rochon, lawyer
Toronto lawyer Joel Rochon on Wednesday filed a $60-million class-action lawsuit against Menu Foods. The company last week issued a North America-wide recall of 91 different types of dog and cat food. He called on Ottawa to become involved in the matter.
"There seems to be something of a loophole or a black hole," Rochon said Wednesday.
Another national class action lawsuit was filed Thursday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, seeking compensation for people who purchased dog or cat food manufactured by Menu Foods between Dec. 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is investigating the recall and monitoring consumer complaints. Agricultural Minister Chuck Strahl, who oversees the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, says pet food does not fall under the federal agency's domain.
"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's job is to look after human food safety and production and that's what we focus on," Strahl said Wednesday.
Strahl said the Canadian Veterinary Medicine Association monitors and regulates pet food. But the association says it only provides nutritional guidelines and has no regulatory powers.
Menu Foods has confirmed the deaths of 14 cats and dogs in the U.S. as a result ofkidney failure. No deaths have been confirmed in Canada, although at least three Canadians have blamed the tainted food for their pets' deaths.
Menu Foods CEO Paul Henderson told the Canadian Press that the company began fielding illness and death reports in late February. Routine taste tests later showed that some animals had become sick after eating the "cuts-and-gravy" style food. The company estimates the recall will cost the company as much as $40 million.
Pet owners file separate lawsuit against Royal Canin
A separate lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Toronto against Royal Canin — a multibillion-dollar French company that supplies the Canadian pet-food market — that alleges certain types of the company's cat and dog food contain excessive amounts of Vitamin D that can cause severe illness or death in pets.
The allegations in the lawsuitshave notbeen proven in court. Menu Foods isn't commenting on the lawsuit.
In a statement Wednesday, Royal Canin said none of its products is linked to any current safety issues regarding Menu Foods. Royal Canin's products that were recalled in early 2006 were prescribed exclusively through veterinary clinics, it added.
"Royal Canin Canada wishes to assure customers that all affected products have been removed and destroyed," the statement said. "No over-the-counter pet food was affected."