Suit Filed Over Mad Cow Disclaimer
BY JASON HOPPIN
RECORDER STAFF WRITER
A small San Francisco litigation firm has teamed up with Milberg
Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach to sue a health supplements manufacturer,
alleging the company misrepresents the danger of acquiring mad cow
disease through its products.
The suit, filed under California's unfair business practices statute,
alleges that Wisconsin's Standard Process Inc. uses, in part, crackpot
science allay of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as
mad cow disease.
"Standard Process either knowingly or recklessly omitted a
material fact by failing to inform consumers that the overwhelming
majority of reputable scientists and physicians have concluded that
mad cow disease is transmitted to humans by prions in bovine meat
and/or bovine organs," Bushnell & Caplan Alan
The complaint points to a statement by the company about the safety
of its products which suggests that pesticides may be to blame for
mad cow outbreaks, not the consumption of meat.
"It's probably loosely referred to as research," deadpanned
Jan Novakofski, a University of Illinois researcher who studies
the disease. "The evidence for that kind of concept [versus
the consumption theory] is about an ounce to a pound."
No cases of mad cow have ever been reported in the United States,
and the plaintiff in the case, James Gorman, does not suffer from
the disease. Instead, he is seeking damages for misrepresentation,
fraud, un-fair advertising and unfair business practices. The case
was filed in San Francisco Superior Court.
The product, a vitamin supplement called Iplex 5100, is sold through
licensed health professionals, including acupuncturists, nutritionists
and the like.
Iplex 5100 is made in part, with cow parts: eyes, kidneys, livers,
bones and brains, where BSE is most highly concentrated.
Standard Process did not return a phone call seeking comment, but
the company's Web site says it purchases bovine products only from
U.S. government-inspected facilities.
"Standard Process has never used any glandular substances
or bovine tissue derivatives from animals in any BSE-infected country,"
the company states.
The human manifestation of BSE-variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease-has
killed more than 80 people in Great Britain, and new outbreaks have
recently been reported in several European countries.
U.S. officials have worried that dietary supplements may provide
an entry point for the disease, which has been detected here in
animals other than cows.
"The health food industry is totally unregulated," Novakofski
said. "You go to the health food store and no one's ever tested
However, Standard Process says its Wisconsin production facility
is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and that
its cow products are certified by the government.