Why this recall is not 2007 all over again

As you’re all probably aware, Diamond Pet Foods is in the midst of a fairly large scale recall due to potential Salmonella contamination. As of this weekend, the recall had expanded from three brands to fourteen, encompassing 16 states.The Diamond Recall page lists all the Diamond brands, as well as the production codes being recalled:

  • Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul
  • Country Value
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Naturals
  • Premium Edge
  • Professional
  • 4Health
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Apex
  • Kirkland
  • Canidae

Three other brands manufactured at the same facility have issued voluntary recalls as a precaution:

I know it’s scary, and the temptation to draw parallels to the 2007 Menu recall is there. But there are a few vital differences:

  1. The original recalls in April covered three brands. None of the additional products have tested positive for Salmonella, but because they share manufacturing equipment they are being voluntarily recalled. I am GLAD companies are being proactive. It did not used to be this way, when companies would wait until contamination was confirmed. I like it better now, don’t you?
  2. This is not a case of deliberate adulteration of an ingredient. It was a contamination issue. Yes, it stinks, but Salmonella happens. It’s one of the most common causes of food borne illness and of pet food recalls.
  3. All of the reported illnesses (fourteen) happened in people who had been in contact with dogs. While Salmonella can be a nasty disease to have, it is uncommon for it to be life-threatening.

Let me emphasize that last point: The animal at biggest risk from Salmonella contaminated pet food is you. The CDC has advice for people who are concerned, and a more general list of advice about preventing Salmonella infections from handling pet food. The number one piece of advice is this:

Wash your hands after handling pet food!

 Bye bye Salmonella.

 

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363015727 Michelle Cotton

    Pet food recalls are always scary. I’m glad to see so many companies being proactive this time. Hopefully it’s a case of lesson learned from the 2007 recall that ended so many pet lives, including my own Kaccee kitty.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for touching on this. It’s been a struggle for me because I feed one of the foods in the expanded recall (not the original 3). However, I didn’t stop eating bagged lettuce because one brand had a contamination issue. And I haven’t issued a lifetime ban on cantalope in my house. So I’m chalking this up as something that could have just as easily happened with people food. Mistakes happen. I will continue to feed the same food my dog has been healthy and happy eating. (I did check my bag, and it was not one under recall – thank goodness!)

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      Agreed. The fact that Wellness and NB recalled their food just because, out of an overabundance of caution, makes me MORE likely to want to feed it, not less. And fwiw I still buy bagged spinach, too. :D

  • http://www.allnaturalpetcare.com/ AllNaturalPetCare.com

    We’ve been trying to convey this same message since the recalls began. I think you’ll find that many of the sources blowing this out of proportion have something to gain by doing so.

    Recalls are scary and frustrating, but these big brands are doing the right thing and they’re thanked by bad PR. It wasn’t long ago that most pet food manufacturers wouldn’t have said a word until they tested positive. We asked for full disclosure, we’re getting it, and that that’s good.

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      I had this discussion with the people at P&G and it was very interesting to me, how a company that chooses to be more proactive and issue more voluntary recalls is paradoxically lambasted with bad PR. I agree, it’s a good thing. I know of several companies who ignored the issue, were rewarded by their problems not getting out into the open, and the pets suffered as a result. Two brands I won’t ever feed my pets.

      • Melspetpals

        I think the issue here (at least for me) was the dump and run tactics used by Diamond and several of the brands who waited until Friday afternoon/evening to announce the recalls. Politicians know that Friday afternoon is always the best time to dump news so it will get lost over the weekend. I would be surprised if pet food companies didn’t know this too.

        I admire that they took proactive action, I just question the timing.

        • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

          And that is an interesting question.

  • Anonymous

    I am so glad to see some people making posts being the voice of reason. It’s a voluntary recall, the bags are not testing positive, but it’s a “better safe than sorry” thing. Yet I see people in a panic and shouting “what can I switch to??!” all over the place. AND coming down on those of us who aren’t going to frantically run out and switch to something else.

    These folks are doing the right thing and being cautious and probably losing a lot of money because of it. They don’t HAVE to recall these products but are to keep pets and owners safe. Bravo to them.

  • Cathey

    Thanks for the great info and (for some of us) clarification!

  • http://www.thedailydogblog.com Julie Melfi

    I had salmonella in 1982 and was hospitalized with aspiration pneumonia – UGH! It really is not fun, and washing your hands is such a simple solution! I appreciate the fact that they are voluntarily recalling so many brands and educating the public – good for them!

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      Ick! Amazing how quickly something like that can make a hand washing believer out of you!

  • jmzm

    While I agree that it is not 2007 all over again, I think we’d be naive to think that *no* dogs have gotten sick from it. As a retailer of one of the foods, I have had several issues over the past couple of months regarding dogs being very ill and the food seemed to be the trigger of it, or dogs who have eaten the food for months/years now refusing the food, but gobbled up a different bag of it. There is no data collection system for dogs like there is for humans (ala CDC for dogs), and it is rare that a vet tests for salmonella. Maybe that’s because most healthy dogs will not have a reaction to it, so it’s never really considered a potential cause of the symptoms the dog is having. While Diamond may be accurate in their carefully chosen wording of “No dog illnesses have been reported,” it’s just that…carefully chosen wording of “reported.”

    Also, none of the subsequent recalls have tested positive – of course not, they stopped testing when they reached the conclusion that they would recall everything. None of the food being recalled is being tested – in fact, I’ve basically been instructed to toss it in the garbage. So, great…glad they’re recalling everything, but let’s not be blinded by the happy little “voluntary recall” bow.

    Yes, mistakes happen. Yes, they’re pulling all of the products. Yes, people should have been washing their hands (though one would presume that a thoroughly cooked food should have no risk of salmonella, but that’s another topic). But yes, it is still a fairly large recall.

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      Oh, I imagine if people have gotten sick, dogs have too. But the severity is not the same as the melamine issue, which is the main point I was trying to make there.

      • jmzm

        TOTALLY agree that it’s not as bad as the melamine!

  • Melspetpals

    I agree that this is not 2007 all over again. It is the largest recall I have seen since then, but it is not the same by any means. In 2007, they didn’t do anything until they had to.

    But, it does beg the question, why were the high end dogs food using a plant that had toxic mold in 2005? Why would they use a plant with a history of issues? Or maybe the better question to ask is will they continue to use this plant?

    While humans are the only ones we know of who are getting sick I have to wonder who is actually tracking the sick dogs (if there are any at all). The DC and FDA say they aren’t. So who is? Do you know?

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      I honestly don’t know if any pets have been sick enough for the veterinary community (who are usually the ones to figure these things out) to jump on it. The only reason CDC figured this one out was the odd strain of Salmonella showing up in people. I’ll have to see if there’s been much buzz on VIN. Considering how much diarrhea vets see, unless it was really bad it wouldn’t be on most vets’ radars to report it.