By Dr. Becker
As a follow up to my article a few weeks ago on all the Diamond Pet Food recalls, I wanted to let readers know the results of the FDA’s inspection of the Diamond plant in Gaston, South Carolina.
It will come as no surprise that the FDA inspection in April revealed conditions and practices that could have led to salmonella contamination of pet food products manufactured at the Gaston plant.
The FDA found that “… the plant had not taken all reasonable precautions to ensure that production procedures do not contribute to contamination and that the equipment used to convey the food does not protect against contamination.”
What the FDA Found in Gaston
Among the FDA’s findings:
- The plant in Gaston doesn’t conduct microbiological analysis on the animal fat it sources. Animal fat can introduce pathogens into the production cycle and ultimately contaminate the finished product.
- FDA inspectors watched a Diamond employee come in contact with in-line fat filter and oil with bare hands.
- Conveyor system paddles had gouges and cuts which allowed feed residues to stick to the equipment, setting up the potential for microorganisms to proliferate.
- The plant uses cardboard, duct tape and other non-cleanable surfaces on equipment, allowing food residue to adhere.
- Foam gaskets around the doors to the bucket elevators were in poor condition and were collecting feed residues and dust.
- The Diamond plant does not have hand-washing or sanitizing facilities in production areas where humans are in direct contact with exposed finished feed.
These are only inspectional observations and not a final determination of the plant’s compliance with regulations.
The Gaston Diamond plant resumed operations in early May.
The Gaston plant also didn’t fare well during an FDA inspection at the end of 2005, in which high levels of aflatoxin contamination were found, and was involved in the 2007 melamine contamination recalls as well.
Most Recent Update
Later in May, Diamond expanded the recall to include two dry cat food formulas:
- Kirkland Signature Super Premium Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula
- Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Cat Formula
The recall expansion also now includes pet food produced at a second Diamond plant located in Meta, Missouri.
Apparently the contamination in Gaston involved Salmonella infantis, while the strain in Missouri was found to be Salmonella Liverpool.
How to Avoid Tainted Pet Food
(Reprinted from my June 1 article for those of you who missed it.)
Any food improperly handled has the potential to cause illness. But when you prepare meals at home using fresh foods and follow common sense rules for handling, cooking and storage, you take most of the guesswork and worry out of food safety.
You no longer have to be concerned that something unsavory or potentially deadly is lurking in a processed food item in your pantry or fridge.
A good way to avoid contaminated pet food is, of course, to prepare your dog's or cat's meals yourself. This not only eliminates risk of exposure to tainted commercial pet foods, but done correctly, it will also pay huge dividends for your pet's well-being and quality of life.
For those of you who want to continue feeding commercial pet food, the AVMA has some tips for handling processed pet foods and treats safely:
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet food or treats
- Don't allow very young children, elderly people or those who are immunocompromised to handle pet food or treats
- Keep all pet foods and treats away from your family's food.
- Do not prepare pet foods in the same area or with the same equipment/utensils you use to prepare human foods.
- Do not allow pets on countertops or other areas where human food is prepared.
- Feeding pets in the kitchen has been identified as a source of infection. If you can arrange to feed your pet in an area other than your kitchen, consider doing so.
- Alternatively, feed your pet as far away from human food preparation areas as possible.