Yesterday, FDA released its preliminary report of inspection of the Diamond Pet Food Gaston, SC plant. Though its brief, it is very telling. And the report brings up even more questions. Starting with…what in the world is going on at this pet food plant?
First, here’s the FDA Report.
“During an inspection of your firm we observed:
All reasonable precautions are not taken to ensure that production procedures do not contribute contamination from any source.
Specifically, no microbiological analysis is conducted or there is no assurance that incoming animal fat will not introduce pathogens into their production and cause contamination of finished product. Also, the firm’s current sampling procedure for animal digest does preclude potential for adulteration after sampling and during storage in warehouse. On 4/13/12, an employee was observed touching in-line fat filter and oil with bare hands.
Failure to provide hand washing and hand sanitizing facilities at each location in the plant where needed.
Specifically, there are no facilities for hand washing or hand sanitizing in the production areas where there is direct contact with exposed finished feed/food.
Failure to maintain equipment, containers and utensils used to convey, hold, and store food in a manner that protects against contamination.
Specifically, paddles in conveyor (South or Middle conveyor leading to the screeners going to packaging) were observed to have gouges and cuts, which exhibited feed residues. The damage to the paddles may allow for harborage areas for microorganisms and are difficult to clean and sanitize.
Failure to maintain equipment so as to facilitate cleaning of the equipment.
Specifically, firm utilizes cardboard, duct tape, and other non cleanable surfaces on equipment. These materials were observed to have residues adhering. The foam gaskets around access doors to the bucket elevators were observed in deteriorating condition and exhibited an accumulation of feed residues and dust.”
Phyllis Entis – Food Bug Lady – was the first to bring this FDA inspection report to my attention. Phyllis has some VERY significant questions of Diamond and FDA that deserve answers. Just some of her questions…
“Can anyone tell me how this company, with its self-proclaimed attention to product quality and safety, managed to miss the ongoing presence of Salmonella Infantis in its finished products for at least four months?
Can anyone tell me how the “highly respected independent laboratory that audits the company on a regular basis missed the cardboard and duct tape used on equipment in the Gaston plant, and also missed the deteriorating gaskets and the damaged paddles?
And, can anyone tell me why the FDA report does not mention sampling the production environment, ingredients or finished products as part of their week-long inspection?”
I’ve got a few more questions, these specifically relating to Observation 1 (though cardboard and duct tape still have me baffled).
Repeating the FDA Inspection Report Observation 1…(bold added)…
“Specifically, no microbiological analysis is conducted or there is no assurance that incoming animal fat will not introduce pathogens into their production and cause contamination of finished product. Also, the firm’s current sampling procedure for animal digest does preclude potential for adulteration after sampling and during storage in warehouse.”
The FDA inspection report specifically mentions the ingredient “animal fat” and “animal digest”. Is this an FDA clue to bigger issues? Per the ingredient statements of every pet food recalled made at this Diamond South Carolina plant, neither of these ingredients are listed in the ingredient panel (at least my search of each brand did not find any). Not one cat food or dog food has the ingredients animal fat or animal digest listed.
Here are the pet foods involved in the recall, manufactured at the Diamond South Carolina plant…
|Brand||Animal Fat or Animal Digest?|
|Taste of the Wild||No|
If none of the foods manufactured at this plant have the ingredients animal fat or animal digest in their formulas, why were these ingredients mentioned in the FDA inspection? Did regulatory officials cross-check ingredients inspected at the plant (specifically animal fat and animal digest) with pet foods manufactured at this plant? Was this Diamond manufacturing plant was using animal fat and animal digest in these pet foods without consumer knowledge?
For those unaware, animal fat and animal digest are considered by many (myself included) to be the worst of the worst of pet food ingredients. FDA testing has linked these ingredients with euthanized animals; ground and cooked euthanized animals.
“There appear to be associations between rendered or hydrolyzed ingredients and the presence of pentobarbital in dog food. The ingredients Meat and Bone Meal (MBM), Beef and Bone Meal (BBM), Animal Fat (AF), and Animal Digest (AD) are rendered or hydrolyzed from animal sources that could include euthanized animals.”
If you were/are feeding your dog or cat a high dollar, perceived to be premium pet food, would you want one of the ingredients to be sourced from euthanized animals? Of course you wouldn’t.
Consumers deserve a full investigation. Why were these ingredients in this pet food plant when neither of these ingredients appear to be listed in any of the pet foods manufactured there? Someone…please explain.
Although I consider the animal fat and animal digest issue to be of most significance, let us not neglect the cardboard and duct tape debacle.
Did representatives of Canidae, Solid Gold, Taste of the Wild, and Costco (Kirkland) ever visit this pet food plant? Did no one see or care that machinery was damaged and held together with duct tape? I understand that not every pet food manufacturing facility is new and shiny stainless steel…but seriously, if your product/company reputation is at stake – don’t you visit the plant where it is made? On a regular basis? How could you not?
And, consider this…the FDA inspection report is for the week of “4/12/2012 – 4/20/2012”. Diamond was made aware of the positive Salmonella testing on 4/2/2012. They had ten days to clean things up before this FDA inspection began. Ten days to remove other possible concerns the FDA would have noted.
To my understanding (from April Hunt Michigan Dept of Agriculture – responsible for the first positive Salmonella testing), the South Carolina Department of Agriculture was the first on the scene for inspection of the Diamond plant. I have requested their inspection report. I hope they provide it.
There are so many questions. As more and more information comes to light, this situation worsens. What remains constant is that petsumers deserve a full investigation of Diamond Pet Food and answers from each and every pet food brand made at this plant.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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