FDA report shows how company missed toxin that killed dogs

Published on March 01, 2006
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The Food and Drug Administration has found that Diamond Pet Foods failed to follow company guidelines for aflatoxin testing prior to shipping contaminated products that apparently killed dozens of dogs.

Diamond voluntarily recalled the products on Dec. 21. According to statements from the company, Diamond cooperated fully with the FDA and supports the findings of the investigation.

"The company has taken the necessary actions to prevent these oversights from happening in the future," according to the company.

The FDA inspection showed that 16 batches of Diamond pet food manufactured between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, 2005, at a plant in Gaston, S.C., contained aflatoxin in amounts meeting or exceeding the action level of 20 ppb—with one sample reaching 376 ppb.

Aflatoxin, which can cause severe liver damage, is a byproduct of the growth of certain fungi on corn and other crops. Corn is an ingredient in many Diamond pet foods, and the company tests incoming shipments for aflatoxin. However, the FDA found that four shipments of whole corn between Sept. 16 and Nov. 21 at the Gaston plant showed high aflatoxin concentrations—ranging from 90 ppb to 1,851 ppb.

The FDA also found the following:

  • Records for incoming shipments didn't always document whether anyone conducted aflatoxin testing or whether the test was performing properly.
  • Confirmatory testing of corn samples for aflatoxin showed four false-negative tests and two false-positive tests.
  • More than half the retention samples were missing for corn shipments between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30.

In response to the situation, according to the company, "Diamond has strengthened its testing procedures on incoming shipments of corn and initiated final product testing as an additive step to its procedures. This additional step will provide an extra layer of protection prior to the bagging and shipping of products."

Details about the recall are available from Diamond at www.diamondpet.com. Details of the investigation are available from the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine at fda.gov/cvm/.

The FDA regulates pet food under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Other manufacturers have voluntarily recalled pet food for various reasons, such as Salmonella contamination, in the past several years. The Center for Veterinary Medicine also posts recall notices on its Web site.