Pet food recalled after salmonella outbreak

UPDATE 5/11/12: Recall expands to 39 states total, plus Puerto Rico, and may cover more brands than initially thought. Click here for more details.

Check your pantry shelves – a nationwide recall of products from Diamond Pet Foods may affect you and your pets.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's looking into a salmonella outbreak – in humans – that may trace back to Diamond Pet Foods' dog food. The affected food was manufactured in South Carolina, but the illness has cropped up in 14 people across nine states overall. CDC investigators believe it's possible that those who have fallen ill with the rare strain of salmonella got sick via contact with dogs who had eaten the tainted food, or the food itself.

The recall has expanded since April, when Diamond -- whose website touts its products as "holistic" and "all-natural," and gives pride of place to its purified-water cooking process -- pulled just three brands. Now, as a precaution, the company has broadened the recall to nine brands, thanks to information gleaned from those sickened; seven of 10 of those stricken had had contact with a dog in the week prior, and five of the sick people remembered the type of dog food they'd had contact with as well.

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The nine states with reported cases are Alabama, Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. But the food is distributed in as many as 16 states and in Canada, which is also subject to the recall.

Several types of food are affected, cat food as well as dog food. A complete list of the labels, with relevant production dates, is available at, and includes but is not limited to Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul; Country Value; Diamond and Diamond Naturals; Taste of the Wild; and two Kirkland Signature labels. Click the link above and make sure you're not inadvertently feeding contaminated kibble.

So how exactly did the salmonella jump from dog-food bowls to the unfortunate folks who came down with the strain? The CDC is still tracking the outbreak, but said there could be a handful of explanations: people touching the dog food, then their own food; contact with bowls or utensils used to serve the dog food that weren't cleaned properly afterwards; and that old standby, a canine carrier licking their faces.

How to prevent it in your home? Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with hot soapy water is the best way to fend off any illness. Also wash your hands before and after contact with pet food, including treats; after petting or handling pets (and especially their poop); before preparing your own meals, and before eating them. Children are less able to fight off food-borne illness, so don't let them near the pet food bowls, and keep an eye on those photogenic dog kisses, which could spread disease as well.

In this case, the easiest preventive measure you can take is checking your pantry for suspect kibble, and getting rid of any recalled brands pronto, then cleaning the surfaces and storage containers it had contact with.

This isn't the first time kibble has caused an extended salmonella outbreak among humans. 2006 and 2007 saw salmonella passed around 70 people in 19 states thanks to contaminated kibble. Let's hope this outbreak gets kiboshed more quickly – but if you think you have salmonella (whose symptoms often resemble a garden-variety stomach bug: fever, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, GI pain), call your doctor promptly. The symptoms look pretty similar in pets, so if you think your dog or cat is affected, by the recalled food or for any reason, contact your veterinarian.

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