2008-12-22-M.I. Industries sues Chenango Valley Pet Foods


M.I. Industries, a pet food manufacturer in Lincoln, is suing a New York supplier for more than $500,000 to recover damages caused by allegedly adulterated pet food.

In a lawsuit filed in Lancaster County District Court, M.I. Industries accused Chenango Valley Pet Foods of delivering substandard pet food that made animals sick and that M.I. said it had to recall.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Web site shows Chenango Valley voluntarily recalled a variety of pet foods in the spring of 2007 for suspected contamination with melamine-tainted rice protein.    But that contamination was not the basis of the M.I. recall, said David Domina, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of M.I.

M.I. Industries also does business as Nature’s Variety and sells pet food under that brand and others, including Instinct and Prairie.

The lawsuit says the Chenango product delivered to M.I. required a recall due to the “poor product quality.”

“Chenango had product involved in the FDA pet food recall in 2007 but the product it sold was not included in goods sold to M.I.,” Domina said in an email to the Journal Star. “M. I. voluntarily recalled products that proved to be unpalatable and met market resistance. But M . I. did not sell goods involved in the FDA action. M.I. was not ordered to make a recall; it acted on its own for the benefit if its customers.

“The M.I. claims against Chenango involve different diets and ingredients than those involved in the FDA action,” Domina said.

On the Nature’s Variety Web site, the company assured customers from March through May of 2007 that national pet food recalls from the winter and spring did not include any Nature’s Variety products.

In April of 2007, the company specifically reassured customers that none of its pet foods contained the suspect “rice protein concentrate” for which Chenango Valley recalled pet food.

The products identified as defective in the lawsuit were Instinct brand duck and lamb dog diets, and another “dog duck diet” product.

Chenango repeatedly acknowledged the products were defective and promised to compensate M.I. Industries, but has failed to do so, the lawsuit said.

M.I. is seeking $557,399.31, with interest.

Only after the products were sold to the public, the lawsuit said,  did M.I. discover they did not conform to specifications, and were “not healthy or safe for animals to ingest without substantial risk of illness and possible mortality.”

M.I. said it promptly removed the defective product from the market.

The recall required M.I. to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in credits, and more than $4,500 of customer claims paid directly, according to the lawsuit.

The events materially impaired M.I.’s reputation in the market and its sales, particularly in its kibbles products, the lawsuit said.

Neither M.I. Industries nor Chenango Valley executives could be reached for comment


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