More than 300 people have contacted Maurice Blackburn regarding the class action against the distributor of Bonsoy milk, which contains high levels of iodine.
In late September, Maurice Blackburn issued proceedings on behalf of 25 people nationwide and now, another 293 people have contacted the firm with 155 of them joining the class action.
"Everyday more people are coming forward with some disturbing health problems," said Maurice Blackburn Queensland principal Rod Hodgson. "The scale of the problem is much bigger than originally thought."
Targeted in the class action is Bonsoy distributor Spiral Foods, which is facing legal action for breach of the Trade Practices Act and for negligence after scores of people fell ill after consuming the milk.
"Spiral Foods were responsible for a product containing a dangerous concentration of iodine," Hodgson explained.
"The health consequences of excess iodine are well known. This danger could have been easily foreseen and its existence discovered with a simple test."
According to Maurice Blackburn, a number of clients have had to have their thyroids removed to control hyperthyroidism and will be on medication for the rest of their lives. Some people have serious thyroid autoimmune disorders allegedly triggered by Bonsoy.
"Women have had miscarriages or babies with abnormalities. Others have a range of chronic health problems that stop them from living, working and having normal lives," Hodgson said.
Bonsoy was voluntarily withdrawn from the market by Spiral Foods after it was discovered that one glass of the product contained seven times the safe dose of iodine. Shortly after, the product was also recalled from European and some other international markets.
From at least 2003, Spiral Foods had been adding an iodine rich seaweed called Kombu to the soy milk.
"We are not talking about a factory-floor problem here affecting a certain batch of product. It was a very basic design flaw which affected Bonsoy milk produced over at least six years...anyone who has experienced significant illness or was diagnosed with a thyroid condition after drinking Bonsoy milk between 2003 and 2009 could be eligible to join the class action," Hodgson said.
"We believe there is a very good case for compensation for medical expenses and loss of income as well as pain and suffering and other losses for many of our clients."
A timetable for legal action will be provided at the upcoming directions hearing this Friday (12 November) in the Victorian Supreme Court.