News last update:6 Aug 2012

Animal feed maker settles in BSE case

Animal feed maker Ridley Inc. will pay CAN$6 million to settle class action lawsuits over mad cow disease.

The company said the settlement involves lawsuits filed in four Canadian provinces, but did not identify them. It has been sued in Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario -- which had also sought to cover farmers from six other provinces.

The Quebec lawsuit, filed in April 2005 on behalf of cattle farmers in that province, claims the federal government was negligent in how it handled cattle imported from Britain in the early 1990s.

Scientists believe imported British cattle brought bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, to Canada. The disease was feared spread to domestic herds by rendered animal protein blended into livestock feed. Canada banned the use of such feed for cattle in 1997, but has said the cow involved in the first case -- and 10 discovered since then -- involved animals born in Canada before the ban was enacted.

Ridley, which operates in Canada and the United States, said it acted responsibly in producing and labelling its feed products, and was in compliance with all laws at the time. "Ridley makes no admission of liability or wrongdoing in the matter and we will continue to contest any allegation we were responsible for the plaintiffs' damages," chief executive Steve VanRoekel said in a statement.

Ridley will pay the $6 million into a trust fund, to be paid to farmers who join the lawsuits. It will also allow those suits that were not yet designated class actions to be so. The deal is subject to court approval in the four provinces. Ridley will continue to incur legal costs as the cases move forward and will fund those expenses out of earnings, it said.

Related news:
Judge allows class action over BSE  

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Source: Edmonoton journal

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