Contaminated food leads to death, illness in dozens of dogs

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Dozens of dogs have died or become ill after eating products from Diamond Pet Foods contaminated with aflatoxin, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

As of Jan. 5, the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine had received unconfirmed reports of 76 dogs dying and 21 more becoming ill. The FDA was investigating the situation.

The Mendon Village Animal Hospital in New York first found the link between dog deaths and contaminated products, according to veterinarians at Cornell University. The hospital sent the bodies of three dogs to Cornell's Animal Health Diagnostic Center, which determined liver damage to be the cause of death. Tests on food that the dogs had eaten revealed the presence of aflatoxin.

Diamond Pet Foods has recalled products that could contain the toxic chemical. The company also created a toll-free Customer Information Center at (866) 214-6945, available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to midnight EST.

Aflatoxin is a byproduct of the growth of the fungi Aspergillus flavus and A parasiticus on corn and other crops. Signs of aflatoxicosis include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice, fever, and severe or bloody diarrhea. Aflatoxicosis can lead to severe liver damage.

Diamond Pet Foods has recalled all of the products from its facility in Gaston, S.C., that contain corn. As of early January, the company had not discovered problems with products from its facilities in Meta, Mo., or Lathrop, Calif.

The Gaston facility date codes are different from other Diamond facility codes. On 18- to 55-pound bags of food, the 11th or 12th character in the code is a capital "G" in reference to Gaston. On 4- to 8-pound bags, the "G" is the ninth character. Codes under review have "Best By" dates between March 1, 2007, and June 10, 2007. Diamond Pet Foods is analyzing samples of all products from the Gaston facility to isolate lot numbers.

The Gaston facility services the states of Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. The FDA also found that the facility exported products to at least 29 countries.

Diamond Pet Foods has recalled these products from its Gaston facility:

  • Diamond: Premium Adult Dog Food, Hi-Energy Dog Food, Maintenance Dog Food, Performance Dog Food, Puppy Food, Low Fat Dog Food, Maintenance Cat Food, and Professional Cat Food
  • Country Value: Puppy, Adult Dog Food, High Energy Dog Food, and Adult Cat Food
  • Professional: Chicken & Rice Adult Dog Food, Puppy Food, Large-Breed Puppy Food, Reduced Fat Cat Food, and Adult Cat Food

The company also recalled Diamond Professional for Adult Dogs with a "Best By" date of Jan. 29, 2007.

Customers can return the food to the retailer for a complete refund. Go to for updates or to contact the company.