A consumer alert has been released for contaminated Diamond pet foods for dogs and cats. At least a dozen canine deaths have already been reported as a result of Diamond pet foods infected with the potentially deadly toxin Aflatoxin.
Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring toxic chemical by-product that results from the growth of the fungus Aspergillus flavus on corn and other crops. The fungus typically develops on crops during years with severe high temperature stress and drought.
Dogs could experience liver trouble, liver failure and even death due to the contaminated food. While there have not been any reports of cat issues to date, five cat food formulas have been recalled due to the presence of aflatoxin.
If your dog or cat is eating a bad batch of Diamond, Country Value, or Professional pet food, stop using that food and take your animal to a vet immediately.
Diamond recall details
Diamond issued the recall Wednesday, December 21st, for foods containing corn produced at its Gaston, South Carolina plant between September 1 and December 10. The recalled foods are marked with "best by" date codes of between March 1 and June 10, 2007. They contain an 11th or 12th digit, "G," signifying the Gaston facility.
The Gaston, South Carolina Diamond facility services 22 states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.
While retail pet food stores typically do not carry Diamond pet foods, they are often carried by feed stores and general stores.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we have notified our distributors and recommended they hold the sale of all Diamond Pet Food products formulated with corn that were produced out of our Gaston facility," a release from Diamond states.
Symptoms to watch for
Symptoms of potential illness in dogs can include:
If your dog has consumed affected products and has clinical signs of aflatoxin, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
Which products are affected?
Fourteen dog food formulas and five cat food products have been recalled by Diamond. In addition to the Diamond brand, the pet foods are also sold under the Country Value brand and Professional brands. The following dog and cat foods are under recall:
From a health standpoint
The Diamond Pet Food recall news is the latest example of just how important the quality of your cat and dog food is — it can literally make the difference between a long, healthy life and an unexpected, needless death.
From a health and nutrition standpoint, there are several items to note concerning the contaminated foods:
All Flint River Ranch pet foods and pet treats use only the highest quality grains and meat sources, and are guaranteed free of animal byproducts and chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin. Flint River Ranch uses tocopherols, a natural antioxidant and Vitamin E source that slows the oxidation process of fats and oils, to ensure its premium pet food products remain fresh as in their initial state.
Toxic mold on grains - Most pet food formula ingredient labels feature at least one variety of whole grain or processed grain, and many contain several types of grain. What the labels don't list, however, is the source and quality of the grains. It's important to find a pet food that only uses grains purchased from major commercial suppliers and that has the grains tested and retested by specialized labs to ensure the highest possible quality and to prevent the possiblity of toxic molds being introduced into their pet foods. While grain is often cheaper when purchased from smaller or less reputable operations, the risk of toxic mold is greater. [More on Whole Grains in Pet Foods]
Corn used in dog foods - The use of corn in so many of Diamond's dog food is concerning. While Corn is a whole grain frequently found in cat food formulas, it's more difficult to digest by dogs (as well as humans) and can cause allergic reactions in some dogs. The feline digestive system can better utilize corn, and corn also delivers important dietary benefits to cats and kittens, but in dog foods it simply serves as a low-cost filler, albeit one that many manufacturers like Diamond use in order to save money.
Corn passes right through a dog, providing little to no nutritional value. If a dog food, such as Diamond's Premium Adult Formula for Dogs, lists corn as the first or second ingredient on its label, the customer can expect to pay for up to 25% filler in that food. [More on Corn in Pet Foods]
Best by dates - In general, foods will spoil without some form of temperature control or preservatives. While natural preservatives such as tocopherols prevent foods from becoming rancid, they generally have a limited peak freshness of only six to twelve months in ideal conditions (stored in cool, dry environments). After six months or much sooner if stored in hot and humid conditions, the product's quality begins to deteriorate quickly
Chemical antioxidants like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin can extend the shelf life and reduce fat spoilage (rancidity) in pet foods and pet treats, but they have been shown to frequently result in dry skin, allergic reactions, dental disease, and poor health, as well as stimulate adverse effects on liver and kidney functions.
The fact that Diamond foods manufactured between September and December of 2005 carry "best by" dates between March 1 and June 10, 2007 — 18 months from the date of production — is concerning. The ingredients label for many of Diamond's pet foods show that mixed tocopherols are used in the formulas, but the listed "best by" dates contradict their use, or at very least, their efficacy. [More on Preservatives in Pet Foods]