Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Diamond Pet Food Plant Link to Salmonella Outbreak – FDA 483

As of May 11, at least 15 people in nine states and one person in Canada had been confirmed infected with Salmonella from contact with the contaminated dry dog food or from contact with a pet that had eaten the tainted product, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Screen Shot 2012-05-16 at 8.46.19 AM.pngThe Form 483 report, posted by the FDA late Tuesday afternoon, was the result of a week-long inspection that began April 12 after an outbreak of human Salmonella Infantis infection was traced to contaminated pet food manufactured at the Diamond Pet Foods plant in Gaston, S.C.

The report states that Diamond was using cardboard and duct tape on some of its equipment and that there were damaged paddles on the conveyor. The inspectors also noted that some surfaces at the facility were encrusted with food residues.

FDA inspectors specifically listed these four observations:

OBSERVATION 1

All reasonable precautions are not taken to ensure that production procedures do not contribute contamination from any source.

Specifically, no microbiological analysis is conducted or there is no assurance that incoming animal fat will not introduce pathogens into their production and cause contamination of finished product. Also, the firm’s current sampling procedure for animal digest does (sic) preclude potential for adulteration after sampling and during storage in warehouse. On 4/13/12, an employee was observed touching in-line fat filter and oil with bare hands.

OBSERVATION 2

Failure to provide hand washing and hand sanitizing facilities at each location in the plant where needed.

Specifically, there are no facilities for hand washing or hand sanitizing in the production areas where there is direct contact with exposed finished feed/food.

OBSERVATION 3

Failure to maintain equipment, containers and utensils used to convey, hold, and store food in a manner that protects against contamination.

Specifically, paddles in conveyor (South or Middle conveyor leading to the screeners going to packaging) were observed to have gouges and cuts, which exhibited feed residues. The damage to the paddles may allow for harborage areas for microorganisms and are difficult to clean and sanitize.

OBSERVATION 4

Failure to maintain equipment so as to facilitate cleaning of the equipment.

Specifically, firm utilizes cardboard, duct tape, and other non cleanable surfaces on equipment. These materials were observed to have residues adhering. The foam gaskets around access doors to the bucket elevators were observed in deteriorating condition and exhibited an accumulation of feed residues and dust.

Diamond Pet Foods recalled nine brands of dry pet foods manufactured at its Gaston plant between Dec. 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012. Several other companies whose food was also produced in the facility have joined the recall. See eFoodAlert for the most up-to-date information on the recall and product distribution.

  • Dr Butterweck

    This is just the tip of the ice bird. FDA does not have the training and experience to inspect meat processing. USDA/FSIS does. Also humans are becoming more closely contact with their pets. CDC is getting more tools to detect the zoonosis transmission. Finally where do meat products for pet food come from? The same sources for we humans but are rejected for a variety of reasons. Thus more risk. Many of these are foreign sources. The ingredient buyers look at price, not quality and safety. Horse meat is one of the safest and best meats for pets. In the 1960’s we used it. Why do we not use it today???
    That is another story related to not wanting to know

  • Hi Bill,

    I’ve been following the Diamond debacle from the beginning, and it has been a mess from day one. But I think that the cherry on this cake wreck was the duct tape and cardboard repairs of the machinery. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to “There! I fixed it!” the unofficial redneck repair manual, but these guys at Diamond definitely have a chance at winning the Fail Award. If it wasn’t so pathetic, it might really be funny.

    Anyway, here’s my question — Diamond has told me that if a consumer wishes to file a claim with them for reimbursement for vet bills their pet has to test positive for Salmonella. At that point, it would be up to the consumer to have their vet have it tested further to see if it Salmonella Infantis.

    As I’m sure you are aware, it is problematic to test for Salmonella for a number of reasons, least of which the cost would be paid by the consumer. Is that fair, no. But is it legal?

    Thanks! Mollie

  • Some veterinarians and pet owners have long advocated raw meat diet for pets, but exposure to harmful bacteria remains a major concern. Nowadays, the news headlines are filled with stories about contaminated imported pet food. It’s best to make sure the food you are buying is made in the U.S.