A shelter says that some cats have gotten sick and died from eating pet food associated with the salmonella recalls of several brands made at a plant in Gaston, SC. An inspection of the plant found unhealthful conditions.
The Montreal Gazette reports that two Montreal shelter cats have died and another is seriously ill after eating Diamond pet food thought to be contaminated with Salmonella.
Monica Campo runs Humanochat cat shelter in Rivière des Prairies, where the deaths occurred, and is quoted in the report saying “This kind of thing happens, but couldn’t we have known about it sooner? Health Canada did not issue a recall of the potentially contaminated foods until May 9, a month after the recalls began in the US.
The recall included several premium dog and cat food brands made at the Diamond plant in Gaston, S.C.
On Tuesday, the FDA released the findings of their week long inspection of the Diamond plant in a Form 483 Report. The FDA became involved in the pet food contamination investigation after several people contracted Salmonella. The FDA has not released information on how many pets may have been affected by the food, but the CDC confirmed that at least 15 people in nine US states and one person in Canada became infected with Salmonella from contact with the pet food or from contact with a pet that had eaten contaminated food, as of May 11.
The FDA report can be viewed HERE. It makes four primary observations based on the plant inspection:
!. 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 (sic) 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
The recalls for potentially contaminated pet foods were mostly for dog food, but, as has tragically been shown in Montreal, cats have been affected, too, and will remain at risk if they continue to eat food made at the Gaston, SC plant during the time frame in question.
Specific details on the affected brands and be found here.
For tips on how to deal with potential contamination in the home, see Recommendations for Pet Owners Affected by Pet Food Recalls