The FDA and Diamond Pet Food Company have announced that the pet food produced by the Diamond Pet Food Company at its Gaston, South Carolina, manufacturing plant has been responsible for killing 23 dogs and sickening at least 18 others.
Dog and cat owners are advised to stop using all affected products immediately.
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.
Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring chemical that comes from a fungus sometimes found on corn and other crops that can cause severe liver damage.
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.
Diamond is in the process of analyzing retained samples of all of the affected pet food products in Gaston in order to determine the specific lot numbers that were impacted so it could relay the information to distributors, retailers, and customers.
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.