Posted: May 18, 2012, 5:40 p.m. EDT
An inspection of the Diamond Pet Foods Gaston, S.C., manufacturing plant where an outbreak of salmonella illnesses may have originated revealed conditions and practices that could have led to contamination of the final product, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report.
The FDA conducted the inspection in April and made a series of observations regarding conditions at the plant. Among the observations, the FDA noted that the plant had not taken all reasonable precautions to ensure that production procedures do not contribute to contamination and that the equipment used to convey the food does not protect against contamination.
The Gaston plant does not conduct microbiological analysis on incoming animal fat, which can introduce pathogens into the production cycle and cause contamination of the finished product, according to the report. Inspectors also witnessed a Diamond employee touching in-line fat filter and oil with his or her bare hands.
Paddles along the plant’s conveyor systems had gouges and cuts, causing feed residues to cling to the equipment and creating potential areas for microorganisms to multiply, according to the report. The FDA also noted the plant’s use of cardboard, duct tape and other non-cleanable surfaces on its equipment where food residues adhered, and foam gaskets around access doors to the bucket elevators were deteriorating and exhibited an accumulation of feed residues and dust.
Finally, Diamond failed to provide hand washing or sanitizing facilities in the production areas where there is direct human contact with exposed finished feed.
To-date, 16 people in nine states and Canada have been identified as part of the outbreak linked to dog food produced at the plant. Diamond initially halted production at the plant and recalled several brands, but has since resumed production.
The inspectional observations do not represent a final determination regarding the plant’s compliance with regulations, according to the report.
Neither Diamond nor the FDA responded immediately to inquiries.<HOME>
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