Remiss in its testing of corn. The Food and Drug Administration has found that Diamond Pet Foods was remiss in its testing of corn shipments for a deadly fungus. The untested or inadequately tested shipments of corn were processed and used to make dog food.
This fungus has been connected to dozens of reports of deaths and illnesses in dogs.
The contaminated batch of corn, which contained a naturally occurring poison called aflatoxin, was found in Diamond’s Gaston plant.
Aflatoxin is most commonly found in Southeastern states because of the hot, humid climate during the summertime. Diamond gets anywhere from one to two contaminated shipments of corn each year. In September of 2005, however, the tests revealed that there were one or two poisoned loads per week.
On December 20th, an investigation was initiated following a recall of about 1 million pounds of dry dog food. A report containing the FDA’s findings is expected to be released this week.
A spokesperson for Diamond said that the company is cooperating with the FDA investigation.
On December 30, the FDA and Diamond announced that the pet food produced by the company at its Gaston, South Carolina, manufacturing plant had already been responsible for killing 23 dogs and sickening at least 18 others.
Dog and cat owners were advised to stop using all affected products immediately.
Recalled 19 Varieties of Dog and Cat Food.
The company, based in Meta, Missouri, recalled 19 varieties of dog and cat food on December 21 because some of the pet food made at the Gaston plant was found to contain aflatoxin.
The symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning include sluggishness, lack of appetite, and in serious cases, severe vomiting, fever, and jaundice.
The affected pet food products were sold in 23 states under the brand names Diamond, Country Value, and Professional. It has the date codes of March 1, 2007, through June 11, 2007.
The contamination was discovered by a Rochester veterinarian after the death of three local dogs. Seven dogs from the Rochester, New York, area were reportedly treated at Cornell University Hospital for Animals.
The dogs suffered liver disease and failure after eating contaminated food, said university spokeswoman Sabina Lee.
In a December 20 press release, Diamond announced it had notified distributors to stop selling Diamond pet food that had used corn and the next day instituted the recall.
Jim Fallon, a company spokesman, stated “To ensure we got all the affected product or potential to be affected, we cast a very wide net with the recall.” He said the company is conducting tests and has set up a consumer information center, open seven days a week, to handle consumer questions.
According to the company, the recalled pet foods were distributed to stores in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Vermont, and Virginia.
In addition, the FDA said some of the recalled products were exported to at least 29 countries, including several in the European Union and that these countries have also been notified of the potentially deadly contamination.