Two more people have become ill from salmonella poisoning in tainted dog food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the two new cases occurred in Canada and Pennsylvania. The dog food was made by Diamond Pet Foods at its plant in Gaston, S.C. That plant also made mold-contaminated food that killed dozens of dogs nationwide in 2005. While this is not as extensive as some previous recalls, it shows a pattern of ignoring public safety. And the full extent of the recall is not yet known.
First Tip: Keep checking the recall lists. Just a few days ago, the list was updated, corrected product codes posted and additional brand names added, including:
- Natural Balance
Update May 16: Two Montreal cats die after eating the tainted food and one Canadian is sick. Stay up-to-date on the Canadian Diamond recall here: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fs-sa/phn-asp/spf-sna-eng.php.
Clients at Central Bark, an Oakland Park, Florida doggie day care facility that also sells pet products, have been asking more questions about what’s in the food they are buying and where it comes from since the recalls, manager Lyndsi Amirto said.
Central Bark carries only food made in small U.S. plants, she said, “because we believe the small mom-and-pop companies have better control of the processing and the ingredients.”
The CDC and the MDA recommend:
- Throw away all products from companies on the recall list. Wear disposable gloves when handling food bags.
- Salmonella germs are transmitted from animals to humans and humans to humans by the fecal oral route. Salmonella germs can be shed in the stool of pets for 4 to 6 weeks after infection. (And infected pets may not have any outward symptoms of illness.)
- If your pet is diagnosed with Salmonella infection, please talk to your veterinarian about taking precautions to minimize spread of this germ. A mild bleach solution can be used to clean areas that may be contaminated with Salmonella germs.
- After contact with animal feces (stool), wash your hands well with soap and running water. Wash your hands as directed in the hand-washing instructions.
Be sure to wash your hands with soap and running water after handling or feeding your pet. Wash your hands as directed in the hand-washing instructions.Clean up after your pet. If you have a dog, use a plastic bag to pick up the stool, and clean up the stool while on walks or from the yard and dispose of the stool in a tightly sealed plastic bag. If you have a cat, scoop the litter box daily and dispose of the stool in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
Do not share food with your pets.
Pet professionals recommend:
- Don’t panic. Stay informed.
- Purchase pet food from small companies with high quality controls and no history of recalls, voluntary or not. Even if your lot of food was not on the contaminated list, you’re purchasing from a company that shows it does not follow safety precautions. See preliminary FDA findings here.
More information regarding How to Report a Pet Food Complaint can be found on the FDA website. The FDA says the recalled pet food does not need to be tested. “The recalled product should be viewed as contaminated and disposed of properly. FDA already knows that the product is potentially contaminated and a recall is in place,” said Laura Alvey, deputy director, communications staff, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, in an email.
- Stay away from meat that does not come from the US. While some dog foods proudly fly American flags on their packaging or tout that they are “made in America”, that doesn’t mean the ingredients are all sourced in the U.S. It means they are assembled in the U.S. Chicken jerky treats made with meat from China are under investigation. Litigation is ongoing in related dog deaths. One of the companies that makes the treats also has a recalled cat food.
- Take precautions when throwing away pet food that racoons and birds cannot get to the food and eat it.
What are some non-Diamond pet foods that might be good alternatives? It’s understandable that pet owners would be wary of simply replacing their Diamond product with another from a different lot. Customers who want affordable alternatives to Chicken Soup or Taste of the Wild might consider Life’s Abundance, Earthborn or Fromm brands. They are of comparable price. Life’s Abundance holistic pet foods, a small, south Florida company, has never been recalled and uses US meats.
The dog food recall is forcing many people to rethink their kibble choice. Even if your dog’s food wasn’t involved in the recall, I urge you to educate yourself about healthful feeding and the business model of traditional pet food company distribution. If you’re like me, you do a little research when you pick a food, but after that, what you put in your dog’s bowl twice a day is just routine.
How to choose foods. While there is no perfect food for all dogs, there are a few things to always avoid, preservatives, sweeteners, fillers like wheat or corn, and food coloring. Mold grows on wheat and corn. And preservatives, sugar, and food colorings have been linked to a variety of health problems.
More tips in my previous post, What You Need to Know About the Pet Food Recall.
–Dana G. Mayer, Animal Wellness Advocate, Fifi and Fido: Where Holistic Nutrition is Key For Your Pet