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After Eight Expansions, How Big is the Diamond Pet Foods Recall?

Update (May 29, 3:30 p.m. Eastern): U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Laura Alvey has told Food Safety News that the Salmonella contamination found at Diamond’s Meta, Missouri plant is not from the same strain as that of the Gaston, South Carolina plant. The contamination at the Missouri plant comes from Salmonella Liverpool, while the South Carolina plant — connected to all products except those in the most recent recall expansion — has been contaminated by Salmonella Infantis.

Alvey also said that the Missouri plant has now been included in the FDA’s ongoing investigation into the Diamond Pet Foods Salmonella outbreak and recall.

This article was originally published before the FDA had named the Salmonella strain found at the Missouri plant.

With Diamond Pet Foods on May 18 announcing yet another expansion of its recall of dry pet foods, pet owners again consulted food labels and continued sharing stories of pet illnesses allegedly resulting from Salmonella-contaminated kibble. For some writers covering the recall, the story was already frustratingly familiar.

dog-empty-bowl-350.jpgAs the Christian Science Monitor noted days later, the addition of Diamond Naturals Small Breed Lamb & Rice formula was the recall’s eighth expansion, with it now encompassing at least nine brand names and numerous formulas.

This latest expansion also included the first contaminated product made at a facility in Meta, Missouri instead of the original facility linked to the outbreak in Gaston, South Carolina. Diamond also has a production facility in Lathrop, California.

On Tuesday, FDA spokeswoman Laura Alvey told Food Safety News that the contamination at the Missouri plant came from Salmonella Liverpool, not the Salmonella Infantis from the South Carolina plant that triggered the outbreak and recall.

Alvey went on to say that the Missouri plant was now included in the FDA’s ongoing investigation into Diamond.

Pet owners reporting illnesses worldwide

Pets are only rarely tested for gastrointestinal bacteria such as Salmonella, making it impossible to estimate the number ill from the outbreak. Regardless, the FDA does know of two clinically confirmed Salmonella infections in dogs from the same household where they were served a recalled brand.

On the day of the most recent recall expansion, the Calgary Herald in Alberta reported that two cats in a Montreal animal shelter died after eating recalled cat food. Around that same time, another human case was reported in Nova Scotia, bringing the confirmed human cases to 17: 15 in the U.S. and 2 in Canada.

The human cases have occurred in Missouri (3 illnesses), North Carolina (3), Pennsylvania (2), Ohio (2), Michigan (1), Alabama (1), Virginia (1), Connecticut (1), New Jersey (1), Quebec (1), and Nova Scotia (1).

Microbiologist and eFoodAlert author Phyllis Entis has been chronicling her readers’ stories on her website and has been contacted by readers in Ireland and France who reported sickening their dogs after feeding them Taste of the Wild, one of the recalled brands.

On May 21, the public health arm of the Singapore government released a consumer advisory on the recall. Four of the nine affected brands are sold in Singapore.

“This stuff is all around the world,” Entis said. “There are a lot of countries where this product might be, but Diamond — to the best of my knowledge — has not released a list of countries.”

On eFoodAlert, Entis compiled her own list of places Diamond products are likely distributed, which includes countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.

“The sloppiest recall I’ve ever seen”

Since 2005, Susan Thixton has been writing about pet food problems in the U.S. on her website TruthAboutPetFood.com. She’s covered numerous pet food recalls in that time, including the melamine outbreak of 2007 that involved the recall of more than 90 brands.

But when it comes to disorganization, she said, Diamond’s recall surpasses them all.

“This has got to be the sloppiest recall I’ve ever seen,” she told Food Safety News.

From the initial one-brand recall on April 6 to the latest expansion, the Diamond recall has been plagued by hiccups such as corrections to production codes and best-by dates.

What’s more, the company seems to make — and then correct — the same mistakes with successive expansions. Thixton detailed these maneuvers on her website in a post titled “Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy.”

Originally, the initial recall included a handful of products with best-by dates of January 3 or 4, 2013. Later, Diamond corrected their production codes and amended the recall to include all products with any best-by date between December 9, 2012 and April 7, 2013.

Twenty days later, Diamond expanded the recall to include a few varieties of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul formulas with best-by dates of January 27 or 28, 2013. Again, the company later amended the dates to the same December-April timeframe for those newly added products.

Other corrections played out with production codes on Canidae and Natural Balance: Recalls that affected a limited number of production codes were later expanded to include a wider array.

Another glaring red flag, both Thixton and Entis said, was that the company seemed to withhold information that would indicate the latest recalled batch was made at the Missouri facility.

It took readers of TruthAboutPetFood.com to uncover that the latest expansion involved an additional plant when they called Diamond’s consumer hotline. The FDA later indepently confirmed that information with Entis.

The end result of all this, Thixton said, has been a lot of frustrated and confused pet owners.

Some decisions by the FDA related to the recall have left Entis similarly perplexed. Following Diamond’s outbreak and recalls, the FDA inspected their South Carolina facility and found a number of sanitation deficiencies, but did not perform more tests sometimes done during such inspections.

“I’m certainly surprised and disappointed that FDA did not perform environmental and ingredient testing, especially considering the problems they observed during their inspection of the Gaston plant,” Entis said.

The FDA has given no word on whether it will investigate the Missouri plant responsible for the latest expansion, or whether or not it will look into a connection between the contaminations at the two plants.

For now, Entis and Thixton plan to continue chronicling the recall and spreading word about any further developments.

Thixton recommended pet owners who suspect their pets have eaten recalled products to keep a close eye on them and watch for any changes to their eating habits or behavior.

“Any pet food company is capable of human error, but our pets
have keener senses than we do,” she said. “I’m a big believer in listening to pets. Know what’s normal behavior and pay attention to that daily. And be diligent.”

 

© Food Safety News
  • Sharona Resnick Kravitz

    my dog got sick I wrote to Nat Balance and got NO REPLY

  • Erich

    Of the 14 original cases cited by the CDC, only 4 people cited a relationship to a Diamond food product. Is there any update on how the other people got infected with the same strain? Is this normal for one strain to apparently have different points of origin?
    The most disappointing aspect of this recall has been Diamond’s handling. The most recent update is particularly weird, from food that is almost a year old being recalled to the month or more delay in when the food was produced to when it was packaged, with the “Best By” date being based on the package date, not the production date.
    Still, based on the labels, Diamond produces higher quality pet foods. Beneful is a great example, selling generic Animal Fat, sugar, and artificial food colors for the same price as Diamond Naturals. It would be a mistake to assume the others’ plants to be markedly better than the Diamond plants.

  • http://dawgbusiness.blogspot.com Jana Rade

    Sloppy is an understatement, isn’t it? How on Earth are pet parents supposed to put any trust in dog food companies?

  • Deborah Cudney Rogers

    Our dog got sick as well, thanks for the $250 vet bill…idiots

  • Raelene Buhler

    1 of our dogs got sick as well, and the flavor natural Balance “Potato & Duck” is not on the list although made in the same facility? They said it wasn’t infected, but I beg to differ after my $200 vet bill. They are giving me dog food certificates so that helps, took our vet info as well. I told them they needed to recheck their Grain free potato and duck food as well. So hopefully we will see that also on the list soon. My dog tested high for clostridium bacteria which can be caused by salmonella. I may have to go back and test her again for specifically Salmonella at the cost of another $ 200. NOT happy!
    I hope they get it all straightened out, cause I LOVE the food for my dogs, they (normally) thrive very well on this brand.
    They asked me alot of VERy specific questiones and now have our personal vet file, so i hope that means they are taking it seriously.

  • Ouisie

    Raelene, I use the NB Potato and Duck as well. So far I haven’t noticed any problem, but I’m glad you mentioned it. What were the symptoms that your dog had? Now I’m worried.
    Thanks!

  • MR

    Great coverage asking important questions! Though I don’t expect Diamond, Natural Balance, Canidae or Costco to be transparent at this point. Why would I buy from any of them ever again after how they have tried to hide this?

  • PAUX

    The potato and duck formula is not very nutritional and in fact has many ingredients that may be harmful to your pet. Signs to look for: increased gas; grumbly stomach (hungry);smelly breath; mucus on their stool or a small amt. of blood; smelly fur;increased grass eating;increased allergy symptoms; dry flaky skin. The majority of the product is plant protein and fillers, giving large amt of foul smelling feces. Duck is the second ingredient but when the water is taken out in processing it would be more like the 7th ingredient . Whithin the first 6 ingredients a potato substance is present. Canola oil is the fourth and it is rapeseed and toxic and has an a cumulative effect and rancids fast, it was used for an industrial lubricant, it also can interfer with thyroid hormone synthesis. This product also uses proteinates for their source of iron, manganese,copper+ these are mostly synthetic and may be from a soy protein which indicatres MSG. Natural Flavor on the label?..animal digest or MSG..all bad. I wish I had checked out this formula, they changed it in 2009..I didn’t know that it was causing problems until my health dog died with the last bag that my other dog would not eat. I now home cook and do raw Meaty Raw Bones. I will never use corporate kibble again, it is all about their bottom line not our pets.

  • Paula Smith

    my dog has been sick for 2 months. she was eating tast of the wild salmon & sweet potatoes. she has been vomiting, lost 8 lbs, and is very lethargic. she also has uti with e coli bacteria. vet bill $1000.

  • Kitty G

    Three pregnant females eating Diamond Lamb & Rice all suffered a gastrointestinal illness mid pregnancy which was treated and cleared up. Then three litters of puppies – stillborn or very weak/small which died within days of birth. Nothing we could do to save them – heartbreaking loss of 16 puppies. $1500 in vet bills and tests from 2 different diagnostic labs to rule out everything under the sun. All vets saying “Well it was a bacterial infection – these things happen sometimes.” A couple of weeks after the puppies died the first stories about Diamond came out. They assured me – “Oh no it was just our SC plant – couldn’t have been the food you bought.” However I found papers on PubMed that report what I experienced from salmonella contaminated food. Of course, the bag and left over food is long gone. All of my dogs have been on antibiotics and test fine now. I know I’ll never be able to prove it but I will never buy Diamond again. I know another hobby breeder in my area who had issues with the same food purchased same place and time. As the recall grows I become more disgusted. I spent the better part of a week watching my super-mom mother dogs trying to save their puppies. I understand that mother nature is a “tough b-word” sometimes but I don’t think this was mother nature. Not a happy spring at my house!

  • Dan

    Dear Diamond,
    Just wanted you to know you have lost me forever as a customer. My average monthly pet food bill between my dogs and commercial kennel would typically run around $750 per month. Let the accountants know you have lost approx. $10,000 this upcoming fiscal year so they can deduct it from the savings of poor training and sloppy Q and C. Good luck, you’ll need it.

  • Karin T

    To my horror, I now realize that my formerly healthy, happy indoor cat is sick because I fed him some samples of the Diamond Cat food that was out at our local pet store. He is now practically skeletal, having lost most of his body weight from refusing to eat. He refuses to eat any sort of dry food currently, and I understand why now. If he pulls through this, it will be a miracle. You people should be ashamed of yourselves, Diamond!!! American quality control is piss-poor and non-existent. Why don’t you guys come explain to my kids why their kitty is dying??

  • peppelapue

    I mailed my refund request to them in May and have yet to receive my check. They claim they don’t have my submission and will not take “copies” of it. I am done with them. I easily spend $600 a year on food. I hope keeping my $50 was worth it.

  • Sondra

    I had both my dogs get sick with all the symptoms of salmonella 3 days after starting on a new bad of Kirkland Premium Lamb, Rice and Veg. dog food (their usual food) My vet clued me in to the recall. It’s not suppose to effect Montana, where I live, but I can’t figure out what else it could be. $295 in vet bills later, the dogs are improving. I will be very careful not to buy any foods manufactured by Diamond in the future!

  • melodee sharpe

    was feeding my 16 mo. old german shepard diomond for large breeds .according to pet supplies plus ,all contaminated food was taken off the shelves.obviously not

  • Cheryl

    My puppy died due to donated bags of puppy food given to the rescure group I got my puppy from in Indiana. I had the little guy for 5 days and It died in my arms. I was just notified from the group that serveral other puppies had passed and they did testing and found out this is what happen. Who in they right mind would donate realled dog food to a shelter. It cost me over $500 in vet bills and then to have him cremated at the end. What is wrong with the would?

  • jeannie

    I am scared to death after reading this I just fed my puppy a sample of diamond naturals large breed puppy how do I know if it was contaminated. Are these products still on the shelf?

  • william

    I bought another bag of Diamond Naturals the other day because their website said that all contaminated food is off the shelves so it’s safe once again to give to our pets. So I did just that. Now my dog has had diarrhea all day. Can anyone else confirm that there is contaminated food still available on the market? It’s a shame because Diamond Naturals was always good quality dog food but they are doing a really poor job with controlling the recall situation. Thank you.

  • Dave

    I missed all notices of this recall. I have been feeding my dogs Diamond Naturals 40 lb Lamb and Rice and also 1 bag Chicken and Rice last month. They were both acting a bit little off and lethargic. My strong and healthy 4 year old dog became servery ill and had to be rushed to the animal hospital. She was diagnosed with kidney failure. After no improvement with 48 hours of an IV flush, we had to put her down.
    Tractor supply said none of the recalled batched were shipped to that location. I don’t trust diamond at this point and I am shipping the food to Cornell Veterinary Hospital for testing. DON’T FEED YOUR PETS DIAMOND!

  • Martin

    Has anyone noticed any more problems with Diamond dog foods? I have been feeding my dog ‘Taste of the Wild’ and she is experiencing the same symptoms now that she did when the initial recall came out. I am very concerned as that was a total nightmare with me not even finding about the recall until after my dog was already severely ill. If this was human food I’m sure the company would be in huge trouble but because pets have little rights compared to humans nothing happens. Sad!!

  • Carrie

    My dogs have continued having issues with Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet Potato and Bison. My dogs continued to vomit shortly after eating the food. I’m done with anything coming out of the Diamond plant, especially after reading the FDA’s report of the conditions in the plant.

  • Dondi

    Ok so then what kind of dog food should we feed, it seems its all dog food
    I feed diamond large breed puppy and had no problem, also diamond small breed adult, chicken and rice and no problems, but my diamond lamb and rice natual, my older dog has diarrhea the last two days..
    so what the hell do we feed??????

  • debmiz1

    COME ON FOR CHRISTS SAKE . IS IT MONEY OR WHAT ? IGUESS I GO BACK TO MY OTHER ONE. DIAMOND USED TO BE RATED “GOOD” I GUESS NOT ANYMORE. GREEDY , GREEDY, NO MORE WILL I BUY OR ANYONE ELSE THAT I KNOW

  • debmiz1

    I cannot belive this crap. I guess I go back to the other crap that I was feeding. Science diet is no better. Diamond was rated fourth and Science Diet(corm-n meal kings) was below that.  JEEZ, JUST WOULD SOME ONE GIVE ME A CLUE. I AM NOT MADE OF MONEY. So don’t go blue this and that. And yeah e-mail me cause I am soooo sick of these idiots that we are suppose to trust. Thanks

  • Ross Taylor

     Pets with Salmonella bacteria infections might have cut hunger, fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, the pets could also be languorous and have looseness of the bowels or bloody looseness of the bowels, fever and disgorgement. Infected however different wise healthy pets will be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your animal has eaten the recalled product and has these warning signs, please contact your veterinary clinic. Food Market Report