Lawsuit raises profile of Diamond pet food salmonella recall

It took a lawsuit by a New Jersey couple who says their infant son was sickened by tainted dog food to make the nine-state recall of Diamond Pet Foods-produced pet chow a national news story.

The couple filed suit May 25 against Diamond Pet Foods, which has had an ever-expanding recall of its various pet food brands after salmonella was discovered in a batch of dog food made in a Gaston, South Carolina plant in April.

In all 16 people, including two in Pennsylvania, and thirteen other states as well as in Quebec, Canada, have fallen ill after handling the infected dog food.

The Pennsylvania state Department of Health has issued no advisory, saying it was leaving that duty up to the federal government, despite the fact that the two people made sick here came from different sides of the state, indicating that the product purchases were not isolated. Other states, among them Ohio, have issued advisories to the public.

The Marlboro, N.J. couple sued after their son spent three days in the hospital and suffered gastrointestinal injuries, diarrhea and pain — complications the family’s attorneys say were caused because the family dog ate Diamond Pet Foods made at the company’s Gaston plant, the Associated Press reported. 

“This child suffered severe pain due to a collapse of food safety protections,’’ said attorney Elliot Olsen, a specialist in salmonella litigation, who is representing the family. “Both of these companies knew or should have known that these products were filthy with pathogens.’’

The family is also suing Costco Wholesale Corporation, saying the company where they bought the Kirkland brand food should have been aware of Diamond and the history of its production facilities before selling the food.

The plant, was closed from April 8 until May 4 as the recalls expanded to include multiple brands of cat and dog food from the high end Canidea variety to the cheap brands of Diamond products.

In 2005 the facility produced food contaminated by toxic mold that kiled dozens of dogs. The company later offered a $3.1 million settlement after the Food and Drug Administration determined the deadly fungus likely got into the plant when it failed to test 12 shipments of corn.

FDA officials have not said if they have identified the source of the salmonella outbreak, the AP reported.

The facility was cited for poor contamination prevention efforts and messy food storage areas after an inspection during the investigation.

For more information on the recall click here.