In what is now the biggest food safety related settlement in Australian history, the owner, manufacturer and distributor of a soy milk product with excessive iodine will be paying out $25million.
The final decision on the case will be made by the Victorian Supreme Court in January 2015.
Hundreds of customers of Bonsoy will be sharing in this payout. There were three companies involved in this class action, but no liability will be admitted as part of the settlement.
Bonsoy soy milk sold between 2004 and 2009 was found to have dangerous iodine levels and nearly 500 people will see their pay out for damages within 12 months. The solicitors acting for the class action will also be taking a percentage of the settlement fund.
A recall was conducted on the product around Christmas 2009 due to the high iodine levels.
Iodine, although needed in small amounts for health, should not be consumed in large quantities as it can have bad effects on the Thyroid Gland. This can lead to significant health issues, resulting in long term problems, including job and business loss due to the inability to work.
Kombu, an iodine-rich seaweed, was being added to the soy milk, which resulted in a single glass of the milk containing seven times the safe dose of iodine. Allegedly the three companies ignored a test in 2006 that showed the excessively high iodine levels and also did not listen to consumer complaints at the time.
This potential payout and settlement must be a warning to all food businesses that even if one person’s claim is only small, when many group to together it becomes a potential major payout and public event.
Written by Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.