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$25 million Bonsoy class action approved by the Supreme Court
07 May 2015
The Supreme Court of Victoria has approved a $25 million class action settlement over a soy milk product that almost 500 people claim to have caused them illness.
The manufacturer, exporter and distributor of Bonsoy soy milk, Spiral Foods, Muso Co and Marusan-Ai Co, agreed last year to compensate victims with $25 million.
Maurice Blackburn, lawyers for the class action's lead plaintiff Erin Downie, claim the settlement is the highest of a food safety class action in Australia.
The settlement was subject to the approval of the Victorian Supreme Court, which was granted on 7 May 2015 by Justice Jack Forrest.
“In my opinion, the settlement is fair and reasonable and in the interests of group members,” Justice Forrest said as he handed down his judgment.
He said about $16.5 million was expected to be distributed among the group members. The rest will go towards legal and administration costs, which will be independently reviewed to ensure transparency.
In 2003, Bonsoy was reformulated to include a product known as kombu extract instead of kombu powder.
This, in all likelihood, increased the iodine content of Bonsoy.
The class action alleged that unsafe levels of iodine caused the group members to suffer illness.
On Christmas Eve 2009, the Victorian Chief Health Officer requested a recall of Bonsoy on the basis it posed a danger to public health due to unsafe levels of iodine.
It was voluntarily recalled throughout Australia.
A total of 496 people claimed they suffered damaging health consequences including thyroid problems.