Diamond Pet Foods expanded its dog food recalls to now include cat food contaminated with the Salmonella pathogen. Despite at least 16 human illnesses and now pet illnesses and deaths, only scanty information is being released.
The recall began with one batch of Diamond Pet Foods’ “Diamond Naturals” dry dog food April 6, noted The Christian Science Monitor. That recall has been expanded eight times and involved a one-week inspection by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) at the Diamond Pet Foods’ Gaston, South Carolina plant. Diamond manufactures Diamond, Premium Edge, Kirkland Signature, and a number of other pet food brands.
The agency criticized the firm’s practices and noted that cats and dogs are at risk; however, despite a growing problem that does not appear to have an end in sight, Diamond merely made an amendment on its web site that states: “Diamond Pet Foods has voluntarily recalled some brands of dry dog and cat food that it manufactured in its Gaston, S.C. facility between December 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012 due to potential Salmonella contamination,” according to the Christian Science Monitor. The firm just recalled some sizes of its Diamond Naturals lamb and rice dog food manufactured on August 26, 2011, which is later than the date range in its other recalls.
There are no details on cat food brands and batches aside from checking the bag’s product code. Consumers can check “best by” dates and specific product codes bagged food and compare these to either information at diamondpetrecall.com or the FDA’s Animal and Veterinary recalls page at: http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/safetyhealth/recallswithdrawals/default.htm.
The Calgary Herald reported that two cats in an animal shelter died and one is sick after eating Diamond products, said the Christian Science Monitor. At last count, 16 people have fallen ill in the U.S. and Canada in connection to tainted Diamond pet foods.
Diamond is being faulted for not releasing adequate information on the recalls, noted the Christian Science Monitor, which said the FDA revealed a number of violations at the Gaston facility. “All reasonable precautions are not taken to ensure that production procedures to not contribute contamination from any source,” said the FDA report, which also stated that the facility’s screening process for potential contaminant is inadequate. The investigation also revealed factory workers handling sensitive equipment with bare hands; insufficient hand-washing stations throughout the plant, even in where raw meat was handled; and damaged equipment, with holes and cuts, which would make the tools difficult to clean properly, were used.
Still, Diamond Pet Foods did not issue a second recall until after the inspection was completed. Meanwhile, not only has the firm been forced to continually expand recalls, its distributors—Natural Balance Pet Foods and Well Pet LLC, among others—have issued their own recalls for foods manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods.
“Diamond handled it the wrong way,” says Mike Sagman, creator and editor of consumer web site, dogfoodadviser.com. “The company knew more than they were letting out, and they let it dribble out over the month instead of releasing it all in one document. The damage is greater when you aren’t transparent,” he added, said the Christian Science Monitor. “Diamond really blew it.” As for the FDA, it’s only saying that “The investigation is open and pending so we are limited in the information we can release to the public,” wrote the Christian Science Monitor citing FDA spokeswoman Laura Alvey.
Affected brands include Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, Professional, 4 Health, Taste of the Wild, Apex, and Kirkland Signature/Kirkland’s Signature Nature’s Domain. Brands made at the Gaston plant and that have issued separate recalls are: Natural Balance, Solid Gold, and Wellness
So far, recalled batches were manufactured between December 9, 2011, and April 7, 2012, with the exception of the most current recall that involved Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice Formula, which was manufactured on August 26, 2011. To date, 39 states have been impacted; however, more are expected since the food is often sold online. For instance, said the Christian Science Monitor, California’s Department of Public Health issued a warning that affected pet food was sold in the state despite that California was not indicated on any of the official recalls.
As we’ve written, the Gaston plant was responsible for mold-contaminated food linked to dozens of dog deaths nationwide in 2005, a scandal that killed dozens of dogs and resulted in a $3.1 million settlement over the deadly mold aflatoxin, which can cause severe liver damage. The plant was also involved in a 2009 cat food recall over insufficient thiamine, a critical feline nutrient.