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Cross contamination, filthy and unmaintained equipment, no handwashing stations, employees without gloves… it all sounds like a description of the food industry before health and safety regulations were put into place, right?
Unfortunately, these are all observations made by the FDA during an April 2012 inspection of Diamond Pet Foods’ Gaston, South Carolina dog food manufacturing facility that is now shut down due to salmonella contamination.
The FDA inspection report given to Plant Manager, Douglas N. Braden on April 20, 2012 listed the following observations:
All reasonable precautions are not taken to ensure that production procedures do not contribute contamination from any source.
Specifically, no microbiological analysis is conducted or there is no assurance that incoming animal fat will not introduce pathogens into their production and cause contamination of finished product. Also, the firm’s current sampling procedure for animal digest does (sic) preclude potential for adulteration after sampling and during storage in warehouse. On 4/13/12, an employee was observed touching in-line fat filter and oil with bare hands.
Failure to provide hand washing and hand sanitizing facilities at each location in the plant where needed.
Specifically, there are no facilities for hand washing or hand sanitizing in the production areas where there is direct contact with exposed finished feed/food.
Failure to maintain equipment, containers and utensils used to convey, hold, and store food in a manner that protects against contamination.
Specifically, paddles in conveyor (South or Middle conveyor leading to the screeners going to packaging) were observed to have gouges and cuts, which exhibited feed residues. The damage to the paddles may allow for harborage areas for microorganisms and are difficult to clean and sanitize.
Failure to maintain equipment so as to facilitate cleaning of the equipment.
Specifically, firm utilizes cardboard, duct tape, and other non cleanable surfaces on equipment. These materials were observed to have residues adhering. The foam gaskets around access doors to the bucket elevators were observed in deteriorating condition and exhibited an accumulation of feed residues and dust.
It’s hard to believe that the manufacturer of some of the most expensive and most highly recommended pet foods operates under such deplorable conditions. Even still, Diamond Pet Foods says on their website that their plant is audited “regularly by a highly respected independent laboratory for food safety, quality and palatability,” and that its products go through 141 ingredient tests and 10 final product quality and safety checks prior to shipment. Really?
Clearly, the health and well-being of our beloved pets is less important to Diamond Pet Foods than their bottom line.