Let’s Play a Pet Food Game Called “Is It Safe?”

If you are still recovering from the shock that the brand of pet food you buy is affected by the Diamond recall which you had no way of knowing until Friday night, get hold of yourself.  Because you must now navigate the maze of Is It Safe?  It’s a challenging little game you can play by visiting the Diamond website (or the website of the brand you feed), scrolling through the list of brands affected and the list of states in which they were distributed, and then getting a Native American code talker to help you decipher numbers on the bag, provided you saved it.

Screengrab from the DiamondPetRecall website showing one step of instructions for how consumers can determine if their pet’s food may be tainted with salmonella.

If you make it this far in the game, there’s bad news:  the food you have still might be tainted.  That’s because the information keeps changing.  Brands are being added, production codes are being updated and even if your state is not listed, there’s this little gem:

Further distribution through other pet food channels may have occurred.

But perhaps you are diligently saving bags, checking the brand’s website regularly for corrected information and considering you and your pet to be at risk, regardless of geographic location.  There’s more bad news:  the food you have still might be tainted.  I say that for several reasons.  Just because your bag’s state, best-by date and production code doesn’t fall into the current list of recalled foods, it was still manufactured in a plant that was shut down on April 8 due to salmonella contamination.  So how safe can you possibly feel about it?  In 2006, foods manufactured at this same Diamond plant in Gaston, SC killed at least 76 dogs due to aflatoxin poisoning.  Furthermore, the latest batch of recalls was released to the public on a Friday night, the traditional time slot for releasing information bound to negatively impact a company’s bottom line, in order to minimize press coverage.  Does this give you a feeling of trust in your brand of pet food, even if it’s not one of the recalled lots?

Thanks for playing this round of Is It Safe?  The next round begins right now.

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22 Comments

  1. lori

     /  May 6, 2012

    My dogs eat TOTW. When they sound the all clear, we will feed TOTW again because there is nothing else my allergy dogs have tried that they can eatand we have spent a lot to test them on every possible food substance known to man. I eat green onions, canteloupe and spinach, all organic foods that have caused illness and death in the past because of contamination. It happens.

    Reply
    • What are the ingredients in the formula your dogs eat? Is it something you might be interested in preparing at home, using the same ingredients? Just curious.

      Reply
  2. Charlotte

     /  May 6, 2012

    This has become a freakin nightmare for daycare and boarding facilities too. It is normal for some pets to stress out, vomit and/or diarrhea are not uncommon and usually only require a phone call to the owner, their vet and occasionally medication. This Friday Night bad news bomb was dropped after responsible owners had already checked their pets into boarding and left town on vacations. In most cases we do not have original packaging to play the above stated game, owners measure out one meal and seal it into a plastic bag. Recently I became seriously ill and missed work after handling the meals of 25 +/- dogs. I assumed it was due to a tainted restaurant meal but after seeing the variety of foods affected I am left wondering.

    ,

    Reply
  3. I have switched all my animals over to “Blue” after being told by Purina/Nestle that they will not take “Waggin’ Train dog chicken jerky treats” off the shelves even though it is killing hundreds of dogs……shame on Purina, I have always bought your products for cats and dogs but cannot abide by your lame excuses anymore….go to “Waggin’ Train dog treats” on facebook and read the awful stories of animals suffering and dying.

    Purina is CHEAP FOOD…..you get what you pay for…..go to the better brands that you don’t have to worry about your dog dying when you give him a “treat.”

    Reply
    • I lost trust in Blue after they were involved in the 2007 massive recalls. They were in it toward the end, one of those who went from “our foods are safe, just read the label and you’ll see none of the affected ingredients” to “oops – we didn’t know our manufacturer was adding this tainted ingredient to our foods so it wasn’t on the label as an ingredient”. I wrote them a letter expressing my concerns regarding the manner in which they handled this recall. They never even bothered to reply. I haven’t trusted them since.

      Reply
    • mikken

       /  May 6, 2012

      Blue is another Friday night dump and runner. AND they were slow to warn about the whole vitamin D thing. I was approached by a Blue rep at the store and she asked me if I had tried it and I said they couldn’t be trusted any more and mentioned the vitamin D thing. She was shocked – the reps had just been told about the vitamin D thing THAT MORNING before work and it was news to all of them. Having frequented the Itchmo forums, I know about it four days before their own reps? That’s not cool.

      Reply
  4. Speaking of when recalls are initiated, the 2005 aflatoxin recall was right before Christmas in 2005. Most veterinarians had already closed for the holidays, including mine, and I remember speaking to the ASPCA Poison Control Center on Christmas Day. Their violations of the Food, Drug, & Cosmetic act at that time were found to be serious – the form 483 plant inspection reports and warning letter are public information on the FDA website. Not only did they fail to test their corn, their wheat flour, rice bran, and chicken by product meal failed to meet product specifications. Here we are a few years later with a salmonella recall so severe that a number of individuals are hospitalized. I wonder what the recent form 483 inspection reports would reveal about that… No, I have no trust in this company.

    Reply
  5. WillyBoy

     /  May 6, 2012

    I know I sound like a broken record but, those of us who raw feed simply don’t have these problems. Do the research, check out the facts and you will find that ALL pet food ultimately comes from the same sources. Feed a species appropriate diet and eliminate these problems all together. It’s just not that hard or expensive to do.

    Reply
    • muddysnouts

       /  May 6, 2012

      I’m with you on that! We know exactly what goes into our dogs, and we’ll never have to worry about any recalls. There’s no way in hell I’d play russian roulette with my dogs’ lives just so I could continue to feed kibble. I don’t understand why so many people refuse to feed raw. They’re too lazy to cut up some ribs for the dog, but rushing him to the emergency room after he’s been poisoned by kibble is apparently ok.

      Reply
      • WillyBoy

         /  May 7, 2012

        It really does take a little bit of work at first but, once you have it down it’s really no harder of expensive than feeding “premium” kibble and your dog if better off for it. Add in a serious reduction in vet bills, solid waste management and foul smells and you have a win/win situation!

  6. What are the brand names involved??

    Reply
    • Currently I know of Kirkland, Wellness, Natural Balance, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul, Taste of the Wild, Canidae, Country Value, Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, Professional and 4Health. There may be others. I would recommend checking the website of the brand you feed to see if there is a recall notice posted.

      Reply
  7. I feed my dogs Verus fish. I think its a small family owned company and I met the owner. He assured me there is no ethoxyquin preservative in the type fish they use and also seemed quite earnest and trustworthy. I use the Verus kibble as a base food for my 9 dogs and then add varied aditions per their needs. My dogs range from small to large, elderly, disabled to young and energetic. They all seem to thrive best as evidenced by coat, stools and body condition on the Verus fish. Anyone elsa with + or – experiences with it? I want the best for my dogs.

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  May 6, 2012

      I feed Verus canned to my two feline holdouts (everyone else eats raw, but these two aren’t with the program, yet). It’s expensive as hell, but until I can come up with a home cooked recipe that they’ll eat (the dogs have been LOVING my failed attempts at feeding these two difficult cats), it’s what’s working for us.

      Reply
      • It must be a small company because the area it is available is limited. It is not available here. I have a friend in another state who operates a rescue who feeds the dry to her dogs and likes it very much.

      • mikken

         /  May 7, 2012

        Yes, it’s New Zealand-based. I have to order it online because it is not available in my area at all.

  8. I did a lot of research both on line and with pros at my pet shop before putting my guys on Natural Balance and hoping never to worry about recalls again. If I had known NB was made by Diamond, I would never have selected it. So far the tainted food isn’t supposed to be reaching California, but I’m taking no chances. The next list probably will.

    Looks like I’m going to become a dog cook for a very long time.

    Reply
  9. WillyBoy

     /  May 7, 2012

    ACK! There is no need to cook anything for your dog or cat! Nature has seen fit to provide them with all of the equipment they need to eat raw meat, bones and organs. Did you know that feeding kibble raises the pH (lowers the acidity) of a carnivore’s stomach acid? This ALLOWS bacteria like Salmonella and E. colli to survive their ride through the stomach and infect the animal. Raw fed dogs and cats have stomach acid that is at full strength and quite capable of destroying most bacteria BEFORE they can infect them.

    Reply
    • Point about cooking, BUT (as a raw feeder myself) I’d prefer to see someone home COOK their dog’s food than feed kibble that might be contaminated.

      Reply
      • Jo

         /  May 7, 2012

        Just wanted to mention that even if all individual owners were willing to feed raw or home cook that we would still need to advocate for safer kibble for the animals in shelters and rescues.

      • WillyBoy

         /  May 7, 2012

        I agree 100%!

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