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Tainted Food Kills 2 Dozen Dogs

From Associated Press

Contaminated dog food that was sold in 23 states has killed about two dozen dogs and sickened 18 more, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

The deaths and illnesses sparked an FDA investigation into the pet food made by Diamond Pet Foods at its Gaston, S.C., manufacturing plant.

The company, based in Meta, Mo., issued a recall of 19 varieties of dog and cat food on Dec. 21 because some of the pet food made at the Gaston facility was discovered to contain aflatoxin.

Aflatoxin, a naturally occurring chemical that comes from a fungus sometimes found on corn and other crops, can cause severe liver damage. Aflatoxin poisoning can cause sluggishness, a lack of appetite and in severe cases severe vomiting, fever and jaundice.

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The recalled pet food was sold in 23 states under the brand names Diamond, Country Value and Professional and bears the date codes of March 1, 2007, through June 11, 2007. Consumers are asked to immediately stop using the product.

Last week, Tony Caver, the state veterinarian in South Carolina, said that state had five cases presumed to be linked to aflatoxin, including three fatalities.

Seven dogs from the Rochester, N.Y., area were being treated at Cornell University Hospital for Animals for liver disease and failure after eating contaminated food, said university spokeswoman Sabina Lee. An area veterinarian discovered the link after three dogs died in the area, she said.

The company said the pet food was distributed to stores in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Vermont and Virginia.

The FDA said some of the recalled product had been exported to at least 29 countries, including several in the European Union. Those countries have been notified, the agency said.

“To ensure we got all the affected product or potential to be affected, we cast a very wide net with the recall,” Diamond spokesman Jim Fallon said Friday.

“We are working with customers and their vets to confirm a link between the pet food and the pet’s illnesses. Our whole focus is saving pets’ lives and doing the right thing.”


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