Horse owners allege Archer Daniels Midland Company poisoned their horses to death with monensin-contaminated horse feed. A class-action suit was filed Tuesday.
Plaintiffs Beth Berarov and Annelisa Bindra filed the complaint in Northern Illinois Federal Court on behalf of a class of over 100 ADM horse-feed purchasers against ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. and its billion dollar parent company, ADM. They are seeking damages of over $5 million for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and products liability.
Monensin, an ionophore, is highly poisonous to horses and affects the heart and skeletal muscles. The level of toxicity is dose and individual dependent. There is no antidote for monensin poisoning.
Symptoms of monensin toxicity may include colic, sweating, muscle wasting, bloating, kidney failure, damage to the heart, respiratory distress, stiffness, and the inability to stand. Once a horse has ingested monensin, the damage is irreversible, and treatment is supportive.
Monensin is an inexpensive feed additive that helps cattle improve weight gain and control internal parasites.
The FDA requires all feeds containing monensin to have the warning: “Do not allow horses or other equines access to feed containing monensin. Ingestion of monensin by horses has been fatal.”
Cross-contamination in the milling process of equine feed, due to human error or mechanical failure, can expose horses to varying amounts of monensin. ADM manufactures its horse feed in the same facility where medicated feed containing monensin is produced, according to the suit.
The lawsuit details the losses of Michigan business owner Beth Berarov. She fed ADM SENIORGLO to the horses at Moonlyte Equestrian Center in Carleton. In March 2015, several horses became ill and showed symptoms of tying up after little or no exertion, tachycardia, irritability, lethargy, and severe weight loss.
Of 19 horses, nine have been euthanized due to the ill effects of eating monensin contaminated horse feed. Necropsy reports reveal the horses suffered permanent cardiac and skeletal muscle damage.
South Carolina horse owner Annelisa Bindra stabled her horse Dakota at Camelot Farms in Beaufort. Dakota and another horse began exhibiting signs of colic, dehydration, and other digestive issues after eating ADM Alliance 12% Pellets and Patriot 12% Supreme Performance horse feeds. Both horses died two days later. Other horses at the boarding stable died or suffered irreversible health complications.
ADM makes GROSTRONG vitamin-mineral products. It also makes JUNIORGLO, PRIMEGLO, SENIORGLO, and POWERGLO premium blend equine feeds along with Ultra-Fiber and Patriot fortified equine feeds. The MOORGLO or HEALTHY GLO high-fat supplements round out the equine product line.
‘Doing what’s right for the horse’ is the company’s slogan, but the suit alleges ADM’s equine marketing materials and packaging fails to disclose the risks associated with monensin cross-contamination issues for horses.
ADM continues to deny there is an issue.
“We believe the claims are meritless, and we will vigorously defend ourselves,” ADM spokeswoman Jackie Anderson tells us in a statement. “Our processes comply with FDA guidelines, and we are confident that our feeds are safe.”
The plaintiffs are seeking refunds and damages, actual and punitive, for the loss or damage to their horses. They are also seeking an order requiring ADM to modify their manufacturing process to avoid the risk of monensin cross-contamination to horses in the future.