Toronto Star re dog food recall
At least 14 people have fallen ill and five treated in hospital for a rare form of salmonella poisoning from contaminated pet food recalled in Canada and the United States.
None of the infections have so far been reported in Canada, although the affected brands of pet food are distributed in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and New Brunswick.
Because of the lag time in developing and identifying salmonella poisoning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control expects more people could fall ill, spokeswoman Lola Russell said.
“People who became ill, the thing that was common among them was that they had fed their pets Diamond Pet Foods,” she said.
People infected with the rare strain of Salmonella Infantis included a child under 1-year-old and a person 82 years old, the CDC said.
Diamond Pet Foods has expanded the recall since the first reports of salmonella contamination in April. The company paid a $3.1-million settlement in 2005 when contaminated pet food killed dozens of dogs.
Hundreds of bags of the suspect dry pet food have been quarantined at Pet Valu warehouses in Canada, vice president for marketing Julie Johnston told the Star on Monday.
She and other employees of the Markham-based pet food chain spent the weekend fielding questions and passing on information to franchise owners.
One Pet Valu store had to destroy an entire skid of dry food produced at Diamond’s plant in Gaston, S.C.
Worried Canadian pet owners, meanwhile, exchanged tips and information on Pet Valu’s Facebook page. The company has 100 stores in the Greater Toronto area and 375 across Canada.
“We take this very seriously,” said Johnston.
Diamond announced the first recall in April, covering its Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice food distributed in 12 states after the Michigan Department of Agriculture found salmonella in an unopened bag it tested on April 2. Investigations by other public health agencies found traces in two other brands.
By Monday, the recall stretched to 11 brands of dry dog and cat food in 16 states and four provinces.
All of the recalled pet food carries a specific production code.
The recall affects Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food, Diamond Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Adult Light Formula dry dog food and Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food.
For Taste of the Wild and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, both cat and dog are affected. For Canidae, Wellness and Natural Balance the only affected formulas are for dogs.
The illnesses began Oct. 8 and have continued to April 22, the CDC said. The agency’s “epidemic curve” showed that illnesses contracted after April 1 might not have been reported yet.
People can get salmonella by handling infected dog food, then not washing their hands before eating or handling their own food, health officials said.
Pet owners are advised to throw the dry food out immediately in the garbage can, wash their hands with soap and water and clean any surfaces exposed to the food with a mild bleach solution.
In 2005, a toxic mould called aflatoxin ended up in food made at the same Diamond Pet Foods plant in South Carolina and dozens of dogs died. The company offered a $3.1 million settlement. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined the deadly fungus likely got into the plant when it failed to test 12 shipments of corn.