Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Salmonella found in Mars Petcare plant goes back to 2006

Updated 8-29 (see end of post)
Last week Mars PetCare recalled a tiny amount of dog food. See this post for details.

Now salmonella has been found in that manufacturing plant, and they believe it is responsible for 18 months of salmonella outbreaks in the area and in the country.

So... if I'm reading this right, the plant was contaminated with salmonella for 18 months??? What about all the dog food made during that time? The only other food recalled was by Doane Pet Care back in early June - Ol'Roy Dry Dog Food, and that was only ONE LOT. (FDA recall notice HERE)

When is the rest of it going to be recalled?!

A salmonellosis outbreak that moved slowly through Pennsylvania and the country for 18 months only recently was connected to a Fayette County dog food plant, public health officials said Monday.

Pennsylvanians have been hardest hit, with 25 of the illnesses -- or 38 percent of the 66 cases reported nationwide -- occurring here, according to the state Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Pittsburgh infant was among the victims.

For every reported case, the CDC estimates 30 or more illnesses go unreported.

The Mars Petcare U.S. manufacturing plant in Everson that made the two suspected dog foods linked to the outbreak is closed for inspection and cleaning, the Nashville-based company said in a news release yesterday.

The company last Tuesday recalled its 5-pound bags of Krasdale Gravy Dry Dog Food, and on Friday 50-pound bags of Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula dry dog food after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the same subtype of Salmonella Schwarzengrund linked to the outbreak, according to the company and FDA. Salmonella bacteria causes salmonellosis.

Mars Petcare officials declined to answer questions about the recall. In a statement, the company said "it is issuing this action out of an abundance of caution and it sincerely regrets any inconvenience to pet owners as a result of this announcement."

People in 18 states, including Ohio and New York, have been infected, said CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell. However, the Krasdale dog food was sold only in Pennsylvania and four other states, and the Red Flannel was sold only in Pennsylvania, according to the company.

More than half of the cases in Pennsylvania were in children younger than 3, said state Department of Health spokeswoman Claudine Battisti. The first person sickened in Pennsylvania with salmonellosis genetically linked to this outbreak was Jan. 13, 2006, and the most recent was Aug. 1, she said. No deaths have been linked to the outbreak.

"The cases were occurring very sporadically (less than one per month), so it wasn't apparent to us that there was a problem until we noticed a somewhat larger number of them in May and June," Battisti said in an e-mail. "That prompted us to review what information was available to us on these cases, and we noticed a number of them mentioned dogs in the home (more than we would expect). That's what got the investigation started in late June."

The only person in Allegheny County linked to the outbreak was a then-5-month-old Pittsburgh girl, who was hospitalized after becoming ill in June 2006, said Allegheny County Health Department spokesman Dave Zazac. The girl recovered, he said.

Her family did not have a dog, and it is believed that she did not come into contact with any, Zazac said.

No pet illnesses or deaths have been reported in this outbreak, said FDA spokesman Mike Herndon.

The CDC reported in May a growing number of multi-drug-resistant foodborne cases of Salmonella Schwarzengrund worldwide. The increase in the United States is linked to imported chicken, particularly products from Thailand, according to the report.

In June, potential salmonella contamination caused Mars Petcare to recall 55-pound bonus bags of Ol'Roy Complete Nutrition Dry Dog Food, which is sold by Wal-Mart. That food was made by Doane Pet Care Co. in Manassas, Va., according to the FDA.

More info from thepittsburghchannel.com
Emphasis in red is mine.

PITTSBURGH -- A western Pennsylvania dog food plant has been linked to a salmonella outbreak that crept across the country for 18 months, public health officials said.

The dog food was made by Nashville-based Mars Petcare US Inc. at its plant in Everson, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday.

Last week, the company recalled 5-pound bags of Krasdale Gravy Dry Dog Food and 50-pound bags of Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula dry dog food after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the same subtype of salmonella linked to the outbreak, according to the company and FDA.

Sixty-six people in 18 states have been infected since early 2006, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania health officials. No one has died, nor have any pet illnesses or deaths been reported, officials said.

Mars Petcare officials declined to answer questions about the recall, but said in a statement that it initiated the recall "out of an abundance of caution." The plant, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, was closed for inspection and cleaning, the company said in a news release Monday.

The FDA says salmonella can be transferred to humans who handle contaminated pet food. It advises people to wash thoroughly after handling pet food.

Pets with an infection could be lethargic and have diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting. Even healthy animals with the infection can pass it to other animals or humans, who could have the same symptoms.

There were 25 salmonella cases in Pennsylvania linked to the pet food. More than half were in children younger than 3, said state Department of Health spokeswoman Claudine Battisti. The first person sickened in Pennsylvania was on Jan. 13, 2006, and the most recent was Aug. 1, she said.

Because the infections were occurring sporadically, the department didn't notice a problem until two to three months ago, when more cases were noticed, she said. The department then began investigating.

The CDC says the scope of salmonella outbreaks are likely far larger than what's reported. For every reported case, the centers estimate 30 or more are unreported.

Today's head-exploding update from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Locally produced brands of cat and dog food are linked to an ongoing salmonellosis outbreak, federal and state officials said Tuesday. Most people sickened nationwide had contact with dry cat and dog foods produced at the Mars Petcare U.S. plant in Everson, but not with the two dog foods recalled last week. The suspect brands have not been identified.

Translation: The food Mars recalled last week isn't the food that made people sick. That food is still out there.

"This is not information that is consistent with our information," said Mars Petcare spokeswoman Alice Nathanson, who declined further comment and refused to say how many brands of pet foods have been produced at the Everson plant.

Helpful, aren't they?

Last week, the company recalled 5-pound bags of Krasdale Gravy Dry Dog Food and 50-pound bags of Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula dry dog food.

In the past 18 months, 66 people nationwide -- including 25 in Pennsylvania -- have been sickened by the Salmonella Schwarzengrund bacteria. Scientists connect victims to the food that causes illness by genetic testing.

Mars Petcare recalled the two brands after the Food and Drug Administration found the same strain of salmonella in those products.

However, none of the people sickened in Pennsylvania and 17 other states had contact with either of the recalled dog foods, said Ian Williams, head of the outbreak team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch, and Claudine Battisti, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

"The question is: Is there broader contamination of the foods here?" Williams said.

Um, yeah. Isn't it obvious? And while you all dither around people are touching it and their kids are touching it and they're feeding it to their pets and everyone is STILL getting sick from it.

The source of the Salmonella Schwarzengrund bacteria -- whether an ingredient or something at the plant -- has not been determined, according to Williams and Daniel McChesney, director of the FDA's Office of Surveillance and Compliance in the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

The FDA, which regulates pet food and conducts investigations to determine which products caused an outbreak, has finished its investigation and is not planning to test ingredients of the suspect pet foods unless the agency gets more information suggesting a potential source, McChesney said.

What? What??!

Pet foods contain some of the same ingredients used in human foods. Some of the people sickened in the outbreak have not come in contact with any pet foods, Williams said.

Asked if pet foods that haven't been recalled could be contaminated, he said, "I'm not allowed to make that supposition."

My head has exploded.

This is the first time human illnesses have been linked to pet food, Williams said. Three outbreaks -- one in the United States and Canada and two just in Canada -- have been linked to pet treats, he said.

The CDC is studying how people become infected from pet food, including where human and pet foods are prepared, hand-washing practices, where pets are fed and whether pets sleep in people's beds, Williams said.

Environmental testing by the Pennsylvania Department of Health found the same unusual strain of salmonella at the plant as the FDA found in lots of two dry dog foods made there, McChesney said.

The FDA previously tested the plant and foods made there and found no salmonella and no problems, he said. The company voluntarily closed the plant for cleaning after salmonella was found there earlier this month, McChesney said, and the FDA will inspect the plant after it reopens.

1 comment:

naruto said...

Oh, thanks for this article Kim. I heard the company has just closed. Because of this, I guess, it's about time to buy imported products.

Volunteers Needed! Get food off shelves...

howl911.com, itchmo.com, thepetfoodlist.com, petconnection.com, petfoodtracker.com and spockosbrain.com have joined together to ask for your help.
Update 6-10: Recalled food was purchased from a
California store on 5-29th – this stuff is still out there!
We need Volunteers to help get recalled food off store shelves. Read this post at Spocko’s Brain for instructions. Print a list (or two) on this site. Visit stores, then report safe stores here at Itchmo.com.

Printing Information:
1. Print the main FDA Pet Food Recall page http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html – this will be handy to show retailers who haven’t heard anything about the recall. (3 pages)

2. Print the list of 14 Major National Brands - it includes flavors and date information where applicable so you can tell if specific products for these brands have been recalled. The brands are: Alpo Prime Cuts, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Doctors Foster and Smith, Eukanuba, Gravy Train, Hill’s Science Diet, Iams, Jerky Treats, Lick Your Chops, Mighty Dog Pouches, Natural Balance, Nutro, Pounce, Royal Canin. (It’s 7 pages and includes FDA contact information.)

3. Print the List of All Brands – it will remind you what products have been recalled - but it does not give you date and flavor information, there is just too much to put in one document. (7 pages, but the 7th page is links to more detailed information so you don’t need to print it)

If you want, and are going to a store that you know has store brands that have been recalled (such as Walmart), go to that recall information at the links on the summary or at the FDA site and print it out. Some of the information is formatted in ways that make it difficult to read (one of the main reasons for this site), but it’s better than nothing.

Note: The FDA is the official source for all recall information and recalled products. This is an unofficial volunteer effort to help get the word out and get recalled foods off of shelves. We’re doing the best we can but can’t guarantee these lists are completely accurate. Again, here is the official recall site: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html