Diamond Pet Foodis again in the news.
And that’s not a good thing.
Just before Christmas, 2005, Diamond Pet Food had to recall many of the brands it manufactures at its Gaston, South Carolina, plant because of contamination with aflatoxins.
Aflatoxins are poisons produced by certain molds and most commonly occur when grains are allowed to become warm and wet, producing good conditions for mold growth. Graingrown under stressful conditions, such as drought, are more likely to generate significant mold growth, which may or may not lead to aflatoxin production. When incorporated in foods the mold carries the toxin with it.
Aflatoxin occurs naturally when Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus grow. Both fungi are widespread in nature, with Aspergillus flavus being the more common. At least 13 mycotoxins can be produced by these fungi, with aflatoxin B1 being the most toxic.
While the USDA checks for aflatoxins in samples of products, the testing is far from comprehensive, although several laws and many federal regulations specify the amount of testing to be performed.
At least 17 pet deaths and many more pet illnesses occurred as a result of the contamination. Diamond cooperated fully with government investigators and recalled five cat products and fourteen dog products.
Symptoms of aflatoxin toxicity are mainly related to the liver: jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) and bleeding disorders, often accompanied by loss of appetite, vomiting and discolored urine.
The current pet food recall, however, is not aflatoxin-related, but results from a Salmonella contamination. Once again it is the Gaston, S.C. plant in the spotlight.
One major difference, however, is that people are becoming ill from handling pet food.
“Diamond Naturals Lamb and Rice Formula”, “Chicken Soup For The Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula” and “Diamond Puppy Formula.” In addition, Diamond produces pet foods for other labels and some of those brands are also affected. A complete list of affected foods may be accessed by clicking here.
Humans affected by salmonella may experience fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps. Of course, those immunosuppressed by chemotherapy, organ transplant anti-rejection drugs and HIV are at the greatest risk.
Pets may display similar symptoms, or none at all.
Salmonella carrier state occurs in both pets and people. In this condition, outward signs may not appear, yet the individual can still spread salmonella bacteria.
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.