A series of pet food recalls began on April 6, 2012 involving pet food manufactured at a plant in Gaston, South Carolina operated by Diamond Pet Foods. The initial voluntary recall included only the Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice formula in three sizes with five different production codes.
Since that time Canidae, WellPet, Solid Gold, Natural Balance and additional Diamond products have been added to the recall. According to the press releases, the initial recall of Diamond product was triggered by test results indicating the presence of salmonella in a limited number of products manufactured in a specific plant. The most recent recalls have been placed into effect “out of an abundance of caution,” as stated in more than one of the press releases (links to the FDA follow) Fortunately neither pets nor humans have had any reported problems from the food.
For all practical purposes the recall is over. Chickens are notorious for carrying some salmonella and many pet foods contain chicken. As a response to the discovery of salmonella in their plant, Diamond shut down and sanitized their plant. They are back in full production. The most recent recalls are some straggler lots of food that had to be tracked down. The plant has been sterilized and has been continuously testing for salmonella since April 7th. This was an expensive lesson and unfortunately it takes an event like this to make the business types aware of the realities of “what’s happenin’ now.”
What used to be acceptable in pet food is not acceptable today. It’s only been during the last couple of years that the FDA has even been involved in pet food inspection. Prior to that the USDA allowed a tolerance level of salmonella and other organisms. The media and politicians tend to latch on to these stores and as a result they can be embellished, particularly in an election year where everyone wants to be a hero.
Whether this recall was totally justified will be a matter of conversation for some time to come. It is very rare for a pet to get salmonella, although they may carry it. While immune deficient humans (children, transplant patients, people receiving cancer treatment and those infected with HIV/AIDS) are more susceptible and can be more seriously affected by salmonella, most healthy humans are relatively resistant to salmonella poisoning. Hand washing after handling pets or raw food as well as other basic sanitation practices makes salmonella fairly easy to avoid.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
While there has been no official statement, I will offer my opinion. Diamond Pet is a very successful business. They have good quality food at very reasonable prices. Their products are a great value. They are run by business people with MBAs, CPAs, and marketing degrees, not biologists. Like most of these business types their decisions are based mostly on being reactionary rather than being proactive. It costs money to think ahead to prevent the unknown. In this particular case they got sloppy and it has caused many of us some sleepless nights. A couple of years ago P&G was involved in the same thing. A smart person would have picked up on the problems they had and started doing salmonella swabs to detect the presence of this bacteria in their own plants. Again, business people have a tendency to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to potential problems. Diamond’s success apparently caused them to become complacent and sloppy in order to keep up with high demand. In short, Diamond was running their plants at too high of a capacity and probably should have spent more time on sanitation. In the future I see their pet food as being some of the safest on the planet.
Questions about the science or business of this series of recalls may be directed to info@totalpetstores or I can be reached at our McIntyre Square location at 412 367 0962.
Burton’s Total Pet
Links to FDA recall notices: