CHICAGO (CN) — Horse owners claim in court their horses died from Archer-Daniels-Midland horse feed contaminated with monensin, a chemical known to be poisonous to horses and a regular additive in cattle feed.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Company allegedly cuts costs by manufacturing its horse feed products in the same facilities where it makes cattle feed.
Cattle feed contains monensin, a chemical additive used to increase weight, but it is toxic to humans and poisonous to horses, according to court papers.
Monensin poisoning gradually weakens the horse's heart muscles, creating the potential for sudden heart failure.
Lead plaintiffs Beth Berarov and Annelisa Bindra say several of their horses died because they fed them ADM feed. Others allegedly had to be euthanized, and the ones that survived cannot be safely ridden because of their weakened hearts.
"ADM's choice to manufacture horse feed and supplements in the same facility as monensin-laced cattle feed poses an extraordinarily high, unacceptable, and undisclosed risk of cross-contamination to purchasers of its horse feed products," according to a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Northern Illinois Federal Court.
The risk is exacerbated by the fact that modern medicine cannot detect whether a living horse has been exposed to monensin.
ADM makes Grostrong vitamin products, Juniorglo, Primeglo, and Seniorglo feeds, and Moorglo and Healthyglo fat supplements.
It does not disclose the possibility of monensin poisoning on its feed bags, and markets the product using the tagline, "Doing what's right for the horse," Tuesday's class action states.
Berarov and Bindra say the slogan is deceptive given that the company is well aware its feed contains traces of a deadly additive - but it doesn't tell consumers.
In a press release following the deaths of horses at Camelot Farms, where Bindra stabled her horse, ADM acknowledged the possibility of cross-contamination in its feeds, but said the levels are far below what could harm a horse.
The plaintiff horse owners dispute this assertion, pointing out alleged inconsistencies in ADM's calculations and claiming that ADM does not mention what harm the horses may suffer short of death.
"ADM knew all the facts demonstrating that the products were falsely and misleadingly advertised, and that it had a duty to disclose and warn purchasers about its high-risk manufacturing methods and the products' potential or actual contamination with monensin," the complaint states.
The horse owners seek damages for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, products liability and unjust enrichment. They are represented by Patrick Muench with Bailey & Glasser in Chicago.
ADM did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
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