(CN) – A dog food company claims in a $20 million lawsuit that its meat supplier provided it with beef containing horsemeat laced with euthanizing drugs, forcing a recall after a dog died.
Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food sued Wisconsin-based Bailey Farms LLC in Cook County, Ill., Circuit Court on Wednesday, seeking $20 million in punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages and attorney fees.
Evanger’s most popular product is its Hunk of Beef dog food, which it developed in 2005. The company uses large pieces of beef which are hand-cut to a dog-edible size.
Last year, Bailey delivered a shipment of 42,340 pounds of beef to Evanger’s to be used in the Hunk of Beef dog food, according to the complaint.
Evanger’s says it paid $15,789 for the shipment and produced about 50,000 cans of Hunk of Beef with it.
In January, four pugs in Washington State became sick after eating Hunk of Beef and one of the dogs died, the lawsuit states.
The dog owner sent the remaining food in the can, as well as samples from the dogs’ stomachs, to a laboratory at Michigan State University.
According to the lawsuit, tests revealed a high concentration of pentobarbital, a drug that is used to euthanize horses and other animals.
Another can of Hunk of Beef made with the Bailey beef shipment was tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and also came back positive for pentobarbital, Evanger’s claims.
“It would be highly unlikely that pentobarbital would be administered to a cow,” the complaint states. “Cows are not generally euthanized.”
Evanger’s then procured a DNA test on another can of dog food, which revealed DNA from both cows and horses.
The pet food company was forced to recall Hunk of Beef, along with its Braised Beef and Against the Grain: Pulled Beef products.
Evanger’s sued Bailey for breach of contract, breach of warranty and fraud. The company also alleges “extensive damage to its commercial reputation.”
“This reputation damage has led to a significant loss of retail stores that will sell Evanger’s products,” the complaint states.
Evanger’s also claims that Bailey used an expired certification tag from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services.
Attorney Gregory Bedell of the Chicago law firm of Knabe, Kroning & Bedell is representing the pet food company.
Bailey Farms did not immediately respond Thursday to an email request for comment.