Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Pet Food Recall Aftermath

I am not sure how many of you remember the days of the Diamond Pet Food recall?

But I do, vividly.

There was widespread crippling fear from many of my clients who fed this product and very little help available to them. Most of them had purchased the Diamond products at the local feed store located about a mile from our clinic.

At the clinic we scrambled to try to identify the scope of the problem. We didn't know if the tainted food been sold at our local store? Was every bag tainted? Was every dog in danger? Was there a central place to get information? The questions were many, the answers were not forthcoming. Many clients tried in vain to get help from the store, and the manufacturer, both to little to no avail. It was pandemonium fueled by fear.

We were left with not knowing what to do, so we performed examinations and baseline blood work on every pet that came forward. Most of the pets were asymptomatic, but if the owner would allow us we would collect whatever information we could, do as much diagnostics as we thought necessary and charge the confused, frustrated, desperate, angry owner. We felt helpless to be anything but the first responder of an undefined disaster. It was one of the first large scale cases of tainted food leading to death of many pets in our memory. This tragic tale was also one of the biggest reasons that so many people turned to what they hoped and believed was a safer better alternative to commercial diets, homemade or raw diets.

This recall shaped how I give advice and how I feed both of my pets and the clinic's pets. It also helped start  the push for better recall notification services.

In the end We lost about 6 pets..and those were just the pets that came seeking help. Many, many more died quiet undiagnosed unsuspected deaths at their homes.

Here is the recent article I found..hopefully the end of a sad, long terrible tale.

Diamond Pet Foods agrees to class action settlement

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit alleging Diamond Pet Foods manufactured and distributed certain pet food products that allegedly led to illness and death in some animals that consumed them.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2012 by New York resident Barbara Marciano, who claimed the dog food manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods caused her one of her dogs, Benji, to become ill and die, and another one of her dogs, Pepsi, to experience lethargy.
There are three subclasses of class members. Subclass I includes consumers who purchased certain pet food products in 2011 and 2012.
The defendants will create a settlement fund limited to a maximum of $750,000 to pay claims from those who purchased the pet food. Members of this subclass who submit a valid claim form will receive either payment up to a maximum value of two bags of pet food per pet; or a pro rata share of the net proceeds of the settlement fund for this subclass not to exceed the actual or estimated purchase price of up to two bags of the pet food per pet if the settlement fund is exhausted, if the total amount claimed by the eligible Subclass I members exceeds the funds available.
If applicable, Subclass I members can request reimbursement of the cost of veterinary care and/or the fair market value of the pet as set forth in Subclass II, according to the settlement order.
The defendants will create a settlement fund limited to a total maximum of $1.25 million to pay claims from Subclass II. Members of this subclass who submit a valid claim form will receive a full reimbursement of the actual cost of veterinarian testing, care and/or treatment.
The defendants will not be required to reimburse for any portion of the veterinary bill that is unrelated to suspected or actual salmonella illness. Subclass II members will only reimbursed for those veterinary or related charges deemed reasonable, necessary and typical within the class member’s community, according to the settlement order.
If the settlement fund is exhausted, Subclass II members will receive a pro rata share of the net proceeds of the settlement fund.
If death of a pet or animal is claimed, a class member submitting a valid claim shall receive the fair market value of the pet, or, if the settlement fund is exhausted, a pro rata share of the market value of the pet; and, if applicable, relief for veterinary care of the pet.
The defendants will provide relief in the form of coupons to pay claims for Subclass III. Class members who submit valid claim forms shall receive one or more coupons with a face value of $2. A maximum of 50,000 coupons will be distributed.
Class members must submit a valid claim form by July 11. A final hearing will be held on Sept. 15.
Attorneys have until 28 days before the settlement hearing to file applications for award of attorneys’ fees and expenses.
The defendants deny any wrongdoing but have agreed to a settlement to avoid the expense and uncertainty of trial.
Marciano claims prior to the recall, Diamond never warned her or any other member of the class that the recalled pet food would cause their pets to have health problems and possibly die.
In April 2012, the Food and Drug Administration, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and other state and local officials, investigated a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella infections.
The FDA’s investigation was prompted by Department of Agriculture officials from various states who reported they discovered Salmonella in unopened or sealed packages of Diamond brands.
The FDA’s investigation revealed that a total of 14 people from nine states were infected by the outbreak and subsequently, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine detected a strain of Salmonella virus at Diamond’s manufacturing plant in Gaston, S.C., according to the suit.
Starting on April 6, 2012, Diamond initiated several recalls of its pet food due to Salmonella and in all, it recalled nine brands of pet food, including Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, Professional, 4Health, Taste of the Wild, Apex, Kirkland Signature and Canidae.
The plaintiffs were represented by Samuel H. Rudman, Mario Alba Jr., Mark S. Reich and William H. Geddish of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd.
The case is assigned to District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York case number: 2:12-cv-02708
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The original article by Legal Newsline

Here is what I tell my clients about finding the right pet food:

  1. Buy from a reputable pet food manufacturer. The big guys have been in business a long time and generations of healthy pets makes a difference. They have proven formulas and established consumer assistance services.
  2. You get what you pay for. Better ingredients are more expensive than poorer quality ingredients.
  3. You are what you eat. 
  4. Buy your pet food from a place that specializes in pet food. Not a place that specializes in farm animal food.
  5. Ask your vet for help in picking the right pet food not the teenager at the big box store. He either doesn't know what he is talking about, or he has been coached to sell his stores food, or both.
  6. Use safe food handling practices. Keep your food stored in a cool dry place. Keep all dry food closed. All wet food refrigerated after opening.
  7. Opened bags should not be re-sold. (Remember guidelines for pet food is FAR different than human food). Dented cans should not be used.
  8. The feeding guidelines on the food are general amounts. Remember they are supposed to apply to every breed of dog, at all activity levels. A working border collie who runs for miles and miles does not eat the same amount as a Basset Hound who spends all day on his moms lap, but the amount of food recommended to feed on the bag is the same.
  9. Buying pet food is similar to buying kids cereal. If there is a cartoon character on the front, day-glo colors not found in nature inside (this includes marshmallow shapes, neon orange/yellow/green), or shapes formed by an extruder (shamrocks, rainbows, hearts, moons), another words, color and shapes found in Lucky Charms, then your pet food more closely resembles a higher sugar kids cereal than a higher fiber whole grains more wholesome product. Avoid cartoon characters and colored kibble made from dyes.
  10. Lastly, after living  through a multitude of food recalls I will testify that the established trusted food companies stood by their product. They paid for the diagnostics and treatment of the pets who were affected, or even suspected of being affected. Personally, I saw Purina, Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Wal-Mart step forward be proactive and provide assistance to those pet parents who had been asking for help and providing care to their pets anyway, even after it appeared that no one might.

For up to date information on pet food recalls visit; US Food and Drug Administration Recall site.

If you have a pet question, or want to share what you know to help other pets, or if you just want to show off your pets cute photos, please visit us at Or find me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.


  1. I remember the recall and since this was related to dog foods, I was also made aware of the recall on the cat foods they distributed as a precautionary move until they knew all the facts. Thankfully, the cat food used for some of my fosters "Chicken Soup for Cat Lovers ,was not affected. So, I see this as a plus for Diamond for the recall (not sure it was by choice, but I hope it was) of April 2012.

    1. Recalls are a fact of life these days. Look at whats going on with automobile manufacturers. The bright side is certainly that manufacturers are being held responsible, which I believe is fueling the more promptly speaking up when they know there is a concern.

      Unless we decide to raise all of our food from start to finish we are at the mercy of the manufacturers we support AND the many producers who contribute to their products. And plain old luck.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Also know who your pet food company of choice uses to do the actual manufacturing. Many, many well known and reputable companies do not own their own manufactuing facilities. That is one the reasons so many other brands ended up on the recall list after the Diamond recall.

    I recently had to change up the food for my gang and aprox. half of the brands I had short listed as possible choices were cut from the list because they either used Diamond's facilities or they did not / would not specify where their manufacturing was done.

    1. Hello,

      Thank you for this very important point..As I stated to Mr Biser in the previous comment we are all at the mercy of the producers, manufacturers and companies that make our food.

      The greatest benefit's to this tragic event was the public's desire for better notification, better dissemination of the products affected, an intense desire to understand how it happpened, hold people accountable for it AND people reminding those companies that the affected lives were family members.

      It was a loud clear message that although the law doesn't hold pet food manufacturers to stringent high standards the pet parents do.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to mention this.

      XOXO to the pitties!!

  3. "the fair market value of the pet"

    This makes me sick. I paid nothing for one of my dogs, and $25 for the other (the rescue I got him from reduces adoption fees on senior dogs), but clearly they're worth far more than that to *me*.