22 Sick From Contaminated Pet Food – How Did We Get Here?

Contaminated dry pet food manufactured at Diamond Pet Foods’ Gaston, South Carolina production plant is responsible for 22 confirmed cases of human salmonellosis – 20 in the USA and 2 in Canada, according to an update released yesterday by CDC.

Thirteen states are reporting outbreak illnesses, all of them caused by a single strain of Salmonella Infantis. The US reports come from Alabama (2), California (1), Connecticut (1), Illinois (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (3), North Carolina (3), New Jersey (1), New York (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (1) and Virginia (1). Canada has confirmed two outbreak cases, one each in the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Distribution of confirmed US outbreak illness reports

Outbreak-related illnesses began as early as October 2011; the most recent illness onset was May 11, 2012. Infected individuals cover the entire age spectrum – from less than one year old to 82 years old. Two-thirds (68%) of the  patients are female, and at least six of the outbreak victims were hospitalized.

In addition to the human illnesses, the contaminated dry pet food has taken its toll of dogs and cats. FDA acknowledged two lab-confirmed illnesses in dogs, and numerous pet owners have reported sick and companion animals. In addition to the two illnesses acknowledged by FDA, eFoodAlert readers have reported 49 sick dogs and cats that were fed a recalled Diamond Pet Foods product. Seven animals died.

It’s time to review how we arrived at this point.

The Outbreak Investigation (from CDC investigation report)

  • March 14, 2012: Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) collects an unopened bag of Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food to test for Salmonella as part of a routine retail test.
  • April 2, 2012: MDARD detects Salmonella in the dog food sample. The pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern of the Salmonella matched the genetic profile of Salmonella Infantis that was recovered from cases of human illness.
  • April 12-20, 2012: FDA carries out an inspection of the Diamond Pet Foods’ manufacturing facility in Gaston, South Carolina. The inspection finds significant deficiencies in the production facility. As part of its inspection, FDA samples finished products, ingredients, and the production environment for Salmonella testing. All environment and ingredient samples are negative; a sample of Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food tests positive for Salmonella.
  • April 26, 2012: Ohio Department of Agriculture issues health alert referencing the Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul product recall.
  • May 3, 2012: CDC releases its initial Outbreak Investigation announcement, advising the public that 14 individuals in 9 states were infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis.
  • May 4, 2012: Ohio announces two cases of human illnesses linked to the same strain of Salmonella Infantis. State public health officials isolated the outbreak strain from an opened bag of Diamond Brand Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula dry dog food collected from the home of an ill person, and an unopened bag of the product collected from a retail store.
  • May 9, 2012: The Public Health Agency of Canada issues a Public Health Notice reporting one outbreak case of Salmonella Infantis illness in the province of Quebec.
  • May 11, 2012: CDC updates its outbreak case count to 15 confirmed cases in 9 states, and one case in Canada.
  • May 18, 2012: The Public Health Agency of Canada reports a second confirmed outbreak illness, this time in the province of Nova Scotia.
  • June 13, 2012: CDC updates its outbreak case count to 20 confirmed cases in 13 states, and two cases in Canada.

The Recalls (from Diamond Pet Foods recall notices and emails to its international customers)

  • April 6, 2012: Diamond Pet Foods announces recall of Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice (best before dates 03 Jan 2013 and 04 Jan 2013)
  • April 13, 2012: In an email addressed to its “Dear Valued Customers” with the subject line “Diamond Recall Clarification and Action Plans”, Diamond advises its international customers that Colombia and Japan were the only two international countries affected by the April 6th recall. The entire email was recently posted on the Facebook page of the Nigerian distributor of Diamond Pet Foods products. The email was signed by David Jack, Vice President, International Diamond Pet Food Company.
  • April 26, 2012: Diamond Pet Foods announces recall of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula (best before dates 27/JAN/2013 and 28/JAN/2013)
  • April 30, 2012: Diamond Pet Foods announces recall of Diamond Puppy Formula (best by dates 11-Jan-2013, 6-Apr-2013, and 7-Apr-2013)
  • May 4, 2012: Diamond Pet Foods recalls several brands of dry dog food manufactured at its Gaston facility between December 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012
  • May 4, 2012: Dick van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods announces recall of several products manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods.
  • May 4, 2012: Canidae Pet Foods announces recall of several dry dog food products manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods.
  • May 4, 2012: Apex Pet Foods announces recall of Apex Chicken and Rice Dog food (best before 24-Jan-2013), manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods.
  • May 18, 2012: Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety announces series of recalls of Diamond Pet Foods brands of dry pet food that were shipped to Canada.
  • May 18, 2012: Diamond Pet Foods recalls Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice formula (Production code DSL 0801), manufactured in its Meta, Missouri facility.
  • May 21 and May 29, 2012: Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore advises consumers of the recall of the affected production batches of Country Value, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, Taste of the Wild and SolidGold dry pet foods that were exported to Singapore.

What Else Do We Know?

  • We know that the outbreak of Salmonella Infantis illnesses is linked inextricably with Salmonella-contaminated dry pet food manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods in Gaston, South Carolina.
  • We know that the Salmonella found by the state of Ohio in a sample of Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Lamb & Rice that was manufactured in Meta, Missouri is not related to the Salmonella that contaminated the Gaston products.
  • We know – courtesy of Laura Alvey, Deputy Director of Communications for FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine – that FDA is currently conducting an inspection of Diamond’s Missouri production facility.
  • We know that the recalled pet food was distributed in the USA and – directly or indirectly – in Canada, Colombia, France, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands,  Singapore and Spain.
  • We know, through direct email correspondence, that Diamond’s direct customers in the following countries did NOT receive recalled pet food: Australia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom

What DON’T We Know?

  • We don’t know how the Salmonella Infantis entered Diamond’s Gaston production plant and how it remained – present and undetected – in the production plant from at least January 2012 into April 2012.
  • We don’t know how many dogs and cats were sickened – and how many died – because of the contaminated pet food.
  • We don’t knowbecause Diamond Pet Foods refuses to tell us – to which countries the recalled pet foods were exported.
  • We don’t know what steps Diamond has taken to ensure that this won’t happen again.

Advice to Consumers and Families with Pets

CDC offers this advice to pet owners:

  • Consumers should check their homes for recalled dog food products and discard them promptly. Consumers with questions about recalled dog food may contact Diamond Pet Foods at telephone number (800) 442-0402 or visit www.diamondpetrecall.com.
  • Follow the tips listed on Salmonella from Dry Pet Food and Treats to help prevent an infection with Salmonella from handling dry pet food and treats.
  • People who think they might have become ill after contact with dry pet food or with an animal that has eaten dry pet food should consult their health care providers. Infants, older adults, and persons with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.
  • People who think their animal might have become ill after eating dry pet food should consult their veterinary-care providers.
  • Read Additional Information for Pet Owners to learn the signs and symptoms of salmonellosis in dogs and cats, and to understand how to deal with possible Salmonella illness in your pet.

Also, be aware that dogs may be infected with Salmonella – and may shed the bacteria in their stool – without showing any outward symptoms of illness. If your pet has consumed a Diamond Pet Foods dry dog food, be especially careful to wash your hands after handling it, and supervise closely any interaction between children and your pet.

8 thoughts on “22 Sick From Contaminated Pet Food – How Did We Get Here?

    1. Reinheht, Excellent question. As a pet owner of 3, tryin to find a food that doesn’t make them sick is like eanie, meanie, miney, moe, maybe this one will be OK and WON’T kill my dog TODAY! My experience has been not what dog food is making them sick BUT is there ANY (at the store)that WON’T? I felt your question really needed an answer, did you get one?


      1. Absent continuous pressure from consumers, profit-driven agribusiness will work to limit awareness of their sourcing and manufacturing processes, and ensure for ignorance of ingredients they use. It is part of their over-arching business plan. It is only through a partnership with those consumers in which the latter allows the former an unreasonable freedom to define that seller-consumer relationship that they may thrive. More than most any other industry, it is a profit-model that is working well, because the consumer has handed over his own responsibility for “trust” to corporations. And what is additonally troubling about the Diamond recalls is that they involve a number of so-called “premium” brands, whose customers thought they were paying their way out of this type of adversarial relationship.


  1. This is clearly another reason why seniors should think hard and long before they replace a pet. Too often young people encourage their parents or older persons to get a pet for companionship. I have told several seniors not to replace a pet because of the length of the commitment a new pet involves and the problems encountered if they want to travel. At first seniors resent the advice; however, after a while without a pet they generally are glad they did not replace the pet. Additionally, we know that young persons and seniors are more susceptible to Salmonella infections. So here is my advice for young folk eager to hitch us up with a pet: Mind your own business!


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