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FDA REPORT REVEALS DIAMOND FAILED TO TEST CORN
FDA report reveals that Diamond Pet Food failed to properly test corn for aflotoxin and worse yet, there are no penalties!
According to Jim Duplessis, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Diamond Pet Foods improperly tested, or failed to test, corn shipments for ii aflatoxin during the weeks before it shipped the food. Diamond allowed some corn shipments into its Gaston, S.C., manufacturing plant without testing. The company was forced to recall one million pounds of dry dog food on Dec. 20, 2005 according to an Atlanta FDA official.
Interestingly, the FDA report represents the agency's findings but does not penalize the company. What? Quoting from the Knight Ridder column, “’Diamond Pet Foods has cooperated fully with the FDA during its investigation," company spokeswoman Carol Anderson said Friday.” She goes on to assert that the company is also testing the food before it is shipped. I find that of little comfort, as do the owners of the 100 or more dogs killed by negligence, negligence not “penalized” by the Federal Department Of Agriculture! Why? What does it take?
The toxin grew on South Carolina corn and slipped through testing and arrived in stores in 23 states. It isn’t like aflatoxin is an unknown threat. Growers in the Southeast are known to have a higher incidence of aflatoxin because of hot, humid summers. The SC Department of Agriculture has provided aflatoxin testing to farmers, manufacturers and others at no charge as a public service. That is good, our tax dollars at work. Try getting your next bag of suspect dog food checked by your state’s Dept. Of Ag. I have and 15 years ago we were charged an average of $112 per test conducted! Obviously we don’t do enough business with our state.
Samples of corn and corn products from feed mills are tested to comply with a state law that requires the Department of Agriculture to monitor animal feeds to ensure they contain the amounts of protein, calories and other ingredients stated on the label. Knight Ridder reports “Out of the 1,413 tests that state agriculture officials conducted over the past two years, a quarter found levels of aflatoxin higher than allowed by the FDA, according to records obtained by The State newspaper under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.”
The companies expect grains and corn to be tested and obviously, Edgar L. Woods, owner of Palmetto Grain Brokerage, let them down. He is the go-between for the corn sales made to Diamond Pet Foods and one has to wonder if he has been held responsible for step one. Knight Ridder says “Dealers often are required by their contracts with manufacturers to provide test results showing that corn has not been poisoned by aflatoxin, Woods said. Farmers need similar tests to get U.S. Department of Agriculture loans on their crops, a common practice.” It is then up to the buyer (meaning the manufacturer, not the dog owner) to ensure the grain meets FDA guidelines. Woods is quoted as saying "They have their own inspectors and have to check the cars before it's unloaded. If they don't like it, they don't need to unload it."
What a comfort. So is this interesting fact as revealed in the KR report: No state or federal agency is required to test corn going into food plants for processing or coming out of the facilities as meal for corn bread or dried dog foods. Instead, officials rely on manufacturers to follow practices considered good within the industry. I think I’ll skip that cornbread tonight!
Caution: Aflatoxin is a slow-acting poison and we’re told it can cause severe damage a weeks after the dog has ingested the tainted food.
The FDA doesn't allow human or pet food to contain more than 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin but it also doesn't require testing for aflatoxin and conducts few tests itself. There has been a spike in aflatoxin reading, mostly in feed corn in the 2004 and 2005 harvests. The FDA feels its testing is adequate for any season in any area.
Dog owners (and those who will never eat cornbread again!) would disagree.
See January 2006 Report on Diamond Dog Food Deaths & Cornell University's Report and March 2006 Diamond Dog Food Alert!
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