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“We do not share our product and distribution lists for competitive reasons.”

– Diamond Pet Foods (by email), June 8, 2012

More than two months after its initial recall announcement, and more than one month after announcing its expanded recall of dry pet food manufactured in Gaston, South Carolina, Diamond Pet Foods still has not provided international consumers with a list of countries (other than the USA and Canada) that are affected by its product recalls.

Nor, eFoodAlert has been told, does the company intend to do so in future. In reply to my repeated email and telephone requests for a list of countries to which the recalled products had been shipped, Diamond’s Media Desk put up a stone wall.

It’s not as though I was asking for a list of the company’s overseas wholesale and distribution network; all I was looking for was a list of countries.

FDA, too, has declined to release a list of affected countries, citing “confidentiality” concerns. It is standard practice, though, for FDA to notify all appropriate foreign counterparts in the event of any Class 1 recall, according to Laura Alvey, Deputy Director, Communications Staff for FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. It’s then up to the notified counterpart agencies to decide what to do with the information.

This latest round of futile effort at communicating with Diamond Pet Foods was triggered by a pet owner in Malaysia who communicated with Mollie Morrissette of Poisoned Pets. This consumer purchased a bag of Taste of the Wild dog food with an unusual label.

Stick-on label on bag of Taste of the Wild dog food

When he peeled the label off of the bag, he discovered that the dry dog food he purchased from his local supplier was actually included in the list of recalled production codes and bore a Best before date of 19/Jan/2013.

Production code and expiry date revealed after stick-on label was removed

I was able to determine that this stick-on label was NOT affixed by Diamond Pet Foods. “Diamond Pet Foods,” I was told in an email, “does not use a sticker for production codes or date codes. Our production and date codes are printed on the packaging inline after the bag is filled and sealed. Countries may use different date formats depending on the regulation of the importing country.” The company’s reply did not address the alteration in the Expiry date.

UPDATE (June 11, 2012): The pet owner in Malaysia received the following reply from Diamond Pet Foods earlier today:

The distributor made a mistake and did not inform us until your complaint.

They sticker another pet food competitor’s bags and their warehouse over stickered ours by mistake.

They are not authorized to do this and i have informed them of the damage that has been done in particular through comments made in pet food alert.

Disappointed this happened and too bad we did not have an opportunity to investigate and rectify.

Will not be happening again.

Adding to the confusion and consternation are the reports from European consumers. A consumer in Ireland and one in Holland were told by their retailer (Zooplus) that the recalled bags of Taste of the Wild dog food had been retested on entry to the EU, had been found to be safe, and that the recall codes could be disregarded. The original production codes and expiration dates imprinted on the bags by the manufacture were not altered or hidden in Europe.

Pet owners in Australia and Singapore, on the other hand, can breathe more easily than their European and Malaysian counterparts. Formal recall notices for the affected batches of food have been issued by the Singapore distributors, and are posted on the web site of the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore. And the recalled product never was shipped to Australia. I have been informed by a spokesperson at Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry that “…manufacturing facilities that produce goods for Australia are all located in California.” Diamond’s California manufacturing plant was not implicated at all in the company’s pet food recalls.

As of last report, the contaminated pet food was the source of 15 cases of Salmonella Infantis infections in the USA and 2 cases in Canada. At least two dogs are confirmed to be infected with the outbreak strain, and dozens of other reports of sick animals – dogs and cats – have been posted by readers of eFoodAlert. The full animal and human scope of this outbreak is undoubtedly far larger than the reported numbers of cases.

More worrisome than the actual numbers, however, is the inadequacy of the notification system. It’s usual for FDA to include in its Weekly Enforcement Reports (one of which will almost certainly summarize the Diamond Pet Food recalls – eventually) a list of countries to which a recalled product was shipped. But by then, the information will be irrelevant. Why not release this information when it can be of some use?

And why is Diamond Pet Foods making such a secret of which countries were the recipients of the recalled products?

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