Aug 23, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
An outbreak of Salmonella that sickened 66 people around the country has been traced to a Southwestern Pennsylvania factory. The Mars Petcare U.S. manufacturing plant in Everson, Pennsylvania made the two brands of dog food that had been implicated in the Salmonella outbreak. Both of those dog foods, Krasdale Gravy Dry Dog Food and Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula, had been recalled by the company last week.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has linked the factory in Pennsylvania to the Salmonella strain Schwarzengrund that has sickened 66 people in 18 states over the last year-and-a-half. Ironically, no pets have become ill from the tainted dog food. According to the CDC, the Schwarzengrund strain of Salmonella has been appearing more often in the United States. It is related to imported chicken products from Thailand, and is known to be drug resistant.
Pennsylvania, where 25 cases of Salmonella Schwarzengrund were reported, was hardest hit. More than half of the cases of Salmonella poisoning in Pennsylvania were in children under three. But the true number of illnesses might never be known, because according to the CDC, for every case of Salmonella poisoning that is reported, at least 30 more go unreported.
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Department of Health had issued a warning regarding Salmonella linked to dry dog food. At the time, the department had not yet traced the illnesses to any particular brand of food. A spokesperson for the CDC told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review said that it took time to find the source of the Salmonella Schwarzengrund because the outbreak occurred so sporadically, and several cases popped up in states were the Mars Petcare dog food was not even sold.
Salmonella is a potentially deadly type of food poisoning, symptoms of which include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days. In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Reiter’s Syndrome can plague its victims for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.
The dog food Salmonella is only the latest outbreak of the food borne illness this year. In February, more than 600 people were sickened by Salmonella-tainted Peter Pan and Good Value brand peanut butters. This summer, another outbreak that sickened nearly 100 people was traced to seasoning used on Veggie Booty snack mix. And in July, over 700 people in the Chicago area became ill from Salmonella after they ate at the Pars Cove Restaurant food booth at the Taste of Chicago Food Festival. This is also the second outbreak of Salmonella related to a Mars Petcare product. Earlier this summer, the company its Ol’Roy Complete Nutrition Dry Dog Food because of Salmonella contamination.
Nashville-based Mars Petcare issued a statement saying that it “sincerely regrets any inconvenience to pet owners as a result of this announcement.” The Pennsylvania factory that produced the tainted dog food has been closed for cleaning and inspection.