At least fourteen people spanning nine US states have contracted salmonella, resulting from exposer to contaminated dog food produced in South Carolina – the same canned food manufacturer responsible for the deaths of dozens of dogs in 2005, according to federal officials.
Five of those affected are known to have been hospitalized by the severity of their conditions – all of whom fell ill after coming into contact with Diamond Pet Foods products originating from the company’s Gaston plant. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) no further animals have so far been sickened by the tainted food.
When the reports of salmonella poisoning were first brought to the attention of local authorities, the only thing all shared in common was their use of Diamond Pet Foods’ dog food. Three cases were reported in North Carolina, three in Missouri, two in Ohio and one each in Connecticut, New Jersey, Alabama, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Concerns are now being voiced as to home many more could be at risk from the contaminated batch of food, or already be suffering the early stages of salmonella without realizing it. Federal advisers have stated that for each case the affected states are aware, there may be dozens of others going unreported.
Salmonella can be relatively easily passed onto humans in contact with the dog food, either by not washing their hands or by touching their faces immediately after touching the food.
The Diamond Pet Food plant in South Carolina was shut down on a temporary basis on April 8th, while the company has issues extensive product recalls four times for food made at the affected plant between December 9th and April 7th this year.
“We took corrective actions at the plant, and today the plant is up and running. Our mission is to produce safe pet foods for our customers and their pets in all Diamond facilities,” said the company this Friday be way of a written statement.
In 2005, dog food produced at the same plant was contaminated with aflotoxin, a highly toxic mold which resulted in the poisoning and subsequent deaths of dozens of dogs. Following a ruling which stated that the company had allowed the poison to be passed onto consumers by failing to check at least 12 corn shipments, a $3.1 million settlement was reached.
As of Friday, FDA officials were unwilling to comment on the latest outbreak originating from Diamond Pet Foods.
Health officials in Michigan discovered the presence of salmonella in the tainted cans while carrying out a routine test of pet foods at the beginning of April. When one of the afflicted members of the public said they still had some of their dog food left over, the cases were immediately linked.
Concerned customers are being advised to check their own supplies, with recalls having been extended to certain batch numbers of Apex, Natural Balance, Diamond Naturals, Professional, Premium Edge, Taste of the Wild and 4Health originating from the South Carolina factory.