Diamond Pet Food Recall

Diamond, You’ve Got Some Explaining to Do

When the Center for Disease Control announced 14 people (up to 16 now) had become ill linked to Diamond manufactured pet foods on May 4, questions arose.  Further information provided by the Michigan Department of Agriculture causes some serious questions to arise about these recent Salmonella recalls.

It all began with a recall announced by Diamond Pet Food on April 6, 2012.  This initial recall notice was for one variety of dog food, Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice stating it had the “poteintial for Salmonella contamination.” 

About a month later – May 4, 2012 – we learned that the ‘potential’ of salmonella contamination was much more than potential; the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced that 14 people had been infected with a strain of Salmonella linked to the dog food produced by Diamond Pet Food.  Plus, we learned that four days prior to Diamond’s announcement of this first recall – April 2, 2012 – Michigan Department of Agriculture detected Salmonella in a bag of Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice dog food. 

But the CDC announcement did not provide information as to when Diamond was alerted to the news that one of their foods tested positive for Salmonella and when Diamond was alerted to the news that human illness was linked to their pet food.

So, I picked up the phone and called the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  April Hunt promptly returned my call (by the way April Hunt is a member of AAFCO).  I explained that the CDC report stated Michigan Department of Agriculture found the Salmonella positive in the Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice dog food.  Ms. Hunt confirmed this.  She shared that under a grant provided by the FDA, Michigan is now testing pet food for pathogens (such as Salmonella) instead of only testing for nutritional content.  As part of this new testing program, random testing of dog food provided a positive Salmonella result on April 2, 2012 in the Diamond Naturals dog food.

When was Diamond Pet Foods notified?  Ms. Hunt told me the same day, April 2, 2012.  The positive Salmonella was also reported to FDA on April 2, 2012.

Within a day or two, the connection was made to the South Carolina manufacturing plant.

Although we concerned petsumers wish we could be notified immediately, recall procedure must be followed and it certainly appears that this first recall announcement was done in a relatively timely fashion.  However, the first Diamond Recall press release stated they were “voluntarily recalling Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice…as a precautionary measure, as the product has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.”  The ‘voluntary’ statement was not completely accurate; Michigan Department of Agriculture had the positive Salmonella test – there was no option but to recall the dog food.

Ms. Hunt of the Michigan Department of Agriculture also shared that the connection to consumer illness was linked to this dog food on or about April 5, 2012; Diamond Pet Food was alerted to the connection of human illness to their pet food at the same time – on or about April 5, 2012.

This on or about April 5th connection to human illness appears to tie into the notice that manufacturing had shut down at the South Carolina pet food plant (which we learned later occurred on April 8th).

The very first recall notice sent out by Diamond clearly stated no illness is connected with this recall.  By the second recall notice – April 26, 2012 – Diamond had altered their press release to state “no dog illnesses have been reported.”  However Diamond had not issued the warning that human illness had been confirmed to this pet food.  

When Michigan Department of Agriculture confirmed the connection to the strain of salmonella to the Diamond dog food, they learned one of the sick humans reported with Salmonella Infantis was a Michigan resident.  Follow up communication with this individual, they learned that this person was feeding three types of pet food – two of which were manufactured by Diamond.  Neither of the two manufactured by Diamond pet foods that caused this person to become ill were Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal and Rice dog food (the original food found positive for Salmonella).  Thus at this point, the same strain of Salmonella that was found in the Lamb Meal and Rice dog food was confirmed to cause illness in a human who fed their dog another Diamond brand and a private label brand manufactured by Diamond.  Michigan Department of Agriculture told me this information was determined around “week of April 9th” and was provided to Diamond in the same time frame.

From the information provided to me by the Michigan Department of Agriculture, early on in this recall (week of April 9th) Diamond was aware that two of their products (Lamb Meal & Rice Naturals dog food and a Chicken Soup variety) had tested positive for Salmonella, at least one human illness was linked to another of their foods and to another brand they manufacture.  Yet, it wasn’t until weeks later – end of April to early May – that the remaining recalls were announced.

April 26 – Chicken Soup recall (confirmed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture testing)
April 30 – Diamond Puppy recall
May 4 – Extended Diamond pet food recall including Kirkland, Taste of the Wild, and Natural Balance
May 5 – Wellness recall
May 5 – Canidae recall
May 8 – Solid Gold recall
Why was there such a delay?

I can’t help but wonder, would this recall have taken place at all if Michigan Department of Agriculture hadn’t found the initial positive for Salmonella in random testing.  Since early this year, I have heard from numerous pet owners sharing instances of sick pets – many/most of which fed their dog and/or cat a Diamond manufactured pet food.  Most all of these pet owners shared with me the pet illness was reported to Diamond and to FDA.  Why does it appear that no one paid any attention (such as recalling the pet food) based on reports of pet illness?  Why does it appear that a recall only occurred when a state government authority had a positive Salmonella test on the pet food and then connected the Salmonella strain to human illness?

I can’t thank the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Agriculture enough (Ohio is who found the positive in Chicken Soup pet food).  Please, if you are a resident of either of these states send them a quick email thanking them for investigating and playing a significant role in getting numerous pet foods recalled.  For US residents in all other states, please write, call, or email your State Department of Agriculture and ask them to implement random pet food pathogen testing.

Ms. Hunt of Michigan Department of Agriculture shared two other significant pieces of information.  One, that the exact cause of the Salmonella contamination has not been determined to date for these previous recalls.  Two, her department is now busy with pet food investigations not related to these recalls.  When I asked for explanation of what that investigation is, she shared that they are receiving “numerous reports daily” of sick pets that appear to be linked to Diamond manufactured pet foods not made at the South Carolina plant.  Michigan is investigating these numerous reports and is working closely with FDA, other State Department of Agricultures, and the Michigan State Veterinary School lab.  While I certainly hope nothing of recall significance is discovered – if there are health concerns let us hope they determine the cause quickly.

Again, thank you so much April Hunt for your openness and transparency in sharing information with me/pet owners!

One final note…to Diamond and to all pet food manufacturers that experience a recall…

Please, please, please – tell us everything you know as soon as FDA allows you to.  While it might not be your preference to disclose pet illness or human illness linked to your pet food, the days of hiding this information are long gone.  If we learn the facts from sources other than you – the pet food manufacturer – nothing can improve.  Diamond, your website states that 151 checks are performed on the pet foods you produce; “141 ingredient tests and 10 final product checks.”  Is Salmonella testing one of the final product checks?  You owe your previous, existing, and potential customers a complete and full explanation.  It certainly won’t be pleasant, but nothing less than full disclosure is what your customers deserve.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer BewareCo-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com
PetsumerReport.com


Canine Massage Workshop

May 19, 2012
11:00 AM to 5:30 PM
At Midas Touch Naturally Healthy Pets, LLC
1025 West Main Street
Berryville, VA 22611
Basic Canine Massage Workshop
with Mary Pat Corrigan, CMT, CCMT

Did you know that massage increases circulation, releases toxins, increases flexibility and stimulates the immune system?

Did you know that stroking your animal friend releases the bonding hormone oxytocin in your animal friend AND you?

The goal of this workshop is to provide you with the skills to work on your own animal friends. This workshop will cover basic anatomy, massage techniques, benefits of massage for different animal needs and contraindications. The workshop will include lecture time and hands-on training.

Mary Pat is a Certified Massage Therapist and a Certified Canine Massage Therapist. She has worked with animals for over 30 years and is the owner of Higher Ground Bodywork , which provides massage & Reiki for animals & people. Her animal clients include dogs, horses, cats, companion steer, a llama and rabbits.

• The fee for this workshop is $125; the fee must be received prior to the workshop
• Contact Mary Pat to reserve: higherground06@embarqmail.com or 540-729-0476
• A light lunch will be provided.
• Completion of this class is a pre-requisite for the Intermediate Class

Sassy 1974 – 2012

Today I said a sad goodbye to Sassy, our sweet Arabian horse.  She has been a wonderful companion for so many years.  She helped my daughter learn to ride and was always so patient and kind.  As she aged she lost most of her sight and hearing but she continued to enjoy life to the end. 

Neck rubs were her favorite thing in the world.  After each one she would show her appreciation by rubbing her head all over us until it was difficult to stand still.  Sometimes we would have to ask her to curb her exuberance so we wouldn’t get knocked over.

As we waited for Dr. Joyce today Sassy seemed to take comfort in my presence.  She was not able to stand so I sat beside her and put her big beautiful head on my lap.  I stroked her face and told her how much she was loved and sent her to heaven with a promise to see her again some day.



China-Import Free – Who Made The Cut?

I have received feedback from each of the manufacturers of the food we have been selling at Midas Touch Naturally Healthy Pets. 

The food I have removed from our shelves because they include one or more ingredients from China are:

  • Taste of The Wild
  • NutriSource
  • Weruva
  • BFF
  • Nature’s Variety (kibble and cans)
  • By Nature
  • Now
  • Go
  • Sojos grain-free varieties (the Sojos Original does not include China sourced ingredients)

The companies whose food remains on our shelves because they have assured me there are no ingredients from China:

  • Nature’s Logic
  • Merrick
  • Before Grain
  • Acana
  • Orijen
  • Verus
  • Stella & Chewy’s
  • OC Raw Dog
  • Primal
  • Bravo
  • The Honest Kitchen
  • Rad Cat
  • Aunt Jeni’s
  • Vital Essentials
  • Horizon Legacy
  • Ziwi Peak
  • Dr. Harvey’s
  • Sojos – original formula only

Real Food For Your Dog

Pet food companies try to convince us that we are incapable of feeding our dogs a complete and balanced diet without the use of kibble and canned food.  But even the best kibble and the best canned foods are processed.  And no one – human or animal – can thrive on a steady diet of processed food.  For many pet owners the idea of a home-prepared diet is daunting.  Fortunately, there are premixes available that simplify the process.  At Midas Touch Naturally Healthy Pets you will find Sojos Original Dog Food Mix and The Honest Kitchen Preference that you rehydrate and add meat to for a complete meal. 
I like to provide a wide variety of real food for my dogs.  This is a typical week of meals for them:
Breakfast
I alternate between Sojos and Preference.  When I finish one I move on to the next so they get plenty of variety.  I fix the food according to the package directions for the weight of the dog but I use ½ of the meat that is recommended.  The meat I use is raw ground beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, rabbit or venison.  I find that ground meat works best because the picky dogs cannot pick out the meat and leave the vegetables behind.  Ground meat allows you to blend it all together like a mash. 
Each day of the week I add one of the following to the mash (these quantities are for my 60-80 pound dogs and they do not have to be exact):
·         Cottage Cheese – ¾ cup
·         Plain whole-fat yogurt or Kefir  – 1 cup
·         Raw Egg Yolk (free-range) – 1
·         2 ounces of liver (from local grass-fed cows or free-range chickens)
·         2 ounces of beef heart, kidney or tongue (from local grass-fed cows)
·         1 can sardines in olive oil
·         When I feed Sojos I add two tablespoons of green leafy vegetables or fruit (run through the food processor) twice a week.
Each day I also add to the mash:
·         Grizzly salmon oil or cod liver oil or Aunt Jeni’s fish oil or coconut oil according to package directions for weight.  I rotate between all four to provide variety.  (Coconut oil dosage is ¼ teaspoon for small dogs and 1 teaspoon for large dogs)
·         1 tablespoon Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
Dinner
For my large dogs I feed one turkey neck or turkey wing for dinner so they have the benefit of teeth cleaning as they chew.  Smaller dogs can be given one or two chicken necks or chicken wings.
About once a week my dogs receive a large raw marrow bone to chew on for entertainment.  I discard it before they are able to break pieces off.
Most of these ingredients are available at Midas Touch Naturally Healthy Pets.  We have:
·         The Honest Kitchen Preference and Sojos Original
·         Yogurt
·         Bravo and Primal ground meat
·         Primal turkey necks, chicken wings, chicken necks and marrow bones
·         Roxley Farms local grass-fed beef organs and ground meat and marrow bones
·         Local free-range eggs
·         Grizzly Salmon Oil; Aunt Jeni’s Fish Oil; Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil; Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil
·         Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar


Contaminated Food

Why have I chosen to remove all China-imported ingredients from Midas Touch Naturally Healthy Pets?  In 2007 melamine from China resulted in thousands of dog and cat deaths.  In 2008 melamine in infant formula killed or sickened thousands of children.  And it appears that China ingredients are no safer today.  Chicken jerky dog treats from China, which remain on store shelves as I write this, have been linked to hundreds of dog’s illness and some deaths. And China import refusal records by the FDA reveal that 214 products were refused entry into the United States in February, 2012 alone. 
The products refused entry include pet food, shortbread cookies, fish, vegetables, tofu, and fruit and the violations ranged from filthy to poisonous.  Consider the fact the FDA can inspect only about 2% of the imports and they refused 214 products.  How safe are the approximately 98% of the imports that entered our food supply without inspection?
Check out our web site for the list of contaminated food from China that has been refused entry into the United States.

China-Import-Free Project

Our China-Import-Free Project is moving right along.  A number of pet food companies have let me know that some of their raw material does come from China so we have pulled their products from our shelves.  I appreciate the transperancy of these companies and their willingness to communicate with me honestly and directly.

The manufacturers of the dry and canned pet food we still have on our shelves have informed me they do not purchase anything from China.  However, further investigation is needed before I am comfortable telling you they are China-Import-Free.  All of these companies add synthetic vitamins to their food and my research has revealed that most pet vitamins are coming from China.  A company can truthfully say they do not purchase their vitamins from China when in fact the company they purchase from actually sources their raw material from China.

The only kibble and canned food that I am confident saying is China-Import-Free is Nature’s Logic.  They do not add any vitamins to their food and they have assured me that no raw material is from China.  Our Nature’s Logic delivery will arrive on March 27th.

To make room for the Nature’s Logic products, we are selling all of our current stock of kibble and canned food at 20% off.  This includes:

  • Orijen
  • Acana
  • Verus
  • Before Grain
  • Now & Go
  • Merrick
  • Weruva
  • Nature’s Variety
  • BFF
  • Legacy
  • Ziwi Peak
Full disclosure is needed here.  All of these companies tell me they have no China ingredients. But I am still doing the research to be assured their vitamins are not ultimately sourced from China.

Ingredients from China in Pet Food

When I choose the pet food to sell at Midas Touch Naturally Healthy Pets I look for quality ingredients, products manufactured in the USA or Canada, and fish meal that is free of the chemical preservative ethoxyquin.  In light of the dog deaths and illnesses over the last five years that have been linked to the chicken jerky treats made in China, I called each of the manufacturers of our food to be assured that none of their raw materials are sourced from China.

To my dismay, five of the companies I contacted use China-sourced ingredients.  Four of the manufacturers told me they source only the vitamins, glucosamine and chondroitin from China because it is not possible to purchase pet-grade vitamins in the United States.  The manufacturers who do not use vitamins from China agreed.  So they have chosen to purchase human-grade vitamins from the United States.

In 2007 countless dogs died from melamine in pet food.  The manufacturers of these products did not add melamine to their food.  It was in the raw materials they purchased from China.  Melamine is still being detected in China imports – and it is in the food for human consumption.  Check out this article by Susan Thixton from The Truth About Pet Food:  Is it Melamine Again?  FDA records as recent as this month show melamine in shortbread cookies destined for store shelves.  And the FDA inspects only 2% of the imported food so we have no way of knowing if melamine is in our food supply. 

The pet food I pulled from our shelves today are:
Nature’s Variety – rabbit formula only
Sojos – Complete and Grain Free formulas (Their original formula contains only US sourced ingredients)
By Nature – all varieties
NutriSource – all varieties
Taste of the Wild – all varieties

Over the next few days I will be contacting the manufacturers of all of the supplements and treats that we sell.  And I will follow up with the pet food companies who have not returned my calls.  If any include raw material sourced from China they will also be pulled from our shelves.

We can make a difference with our pocketbooks.  It is time to give a clear message to companies that we demand safe products for ourselves and our pets.  Purchasing ingredients from a country with both historical and current evidence of adulterating food is unacceptable. 

You can find more information about melamine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.



New Pet Beds Made in USA

We have added a nice line of handcrafted, washable pet beds from Mutts and Mittens.   

The sack beds feature a cushioned fleece bed with a colorful fabric top sheet that your dog or cat can crawl under.
The fleece bed is double stitched with fleece on one side and soft felt fabric on the other side.
Midas our store cat, whose job description has been updated to reflect official greeter and quality control supervisor, gives these beds his seal of approval.

Verus Pet Food Sale

We now have Verus pet food and it is on sale at 20% off.
For a list of all of our pet food and links to the manufacturer’s web sites visit our