Mars Petcare US Chow Toll of Human Salmonella Hits 79

 

Source of Article:  http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=aEIOAzftWiVw&refer=home

By Kurt Heine

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A Mars Petcare US Inc. factory churned out bacteria-contaminated dog and cat chow for three years, spreading salmonella that sickened at least 79 people in the first human outbreak traced to dry pet food, a report said.

The last reported illness was Oct. 18, after Mars said it would permanently close the Everson, Pennsylvania, factory. That suggests people are still feeding pets tainted dry food that the company voluntarily recalled Sept. 12, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published today.

The report is the first to conclusively link the Mars Petcare plant to a rare form of salmonella that sickened people, mostly children, in 21 states since 2006. Salmonella is a type of food poisoning that can kill, though the CDC said it knows of no fatalities associated with the Mars Petcare chow. The disease likely was spread by handling the kibbble, lax cleaning of pet food bowls or touching animal droppings, said the CDC, based in Atlanta.

``Dry pet food has a one-year shelf life, and contaminated product might still be in the homes of purchasers and could produce illness,'' said the CDC, which recommends people throw out food from the factory.

The Mars Petcare recall is among 13 involving 135 pet products for salmonella since 2006, the CDC said. No human illnesses have been associated with any other recall, according to the agency. The Mars Petcare withdrawal involved 105 brands of chow, including Special Kitty Gourmet Blend cat food and Pedigree and Retriever dog food.

Bertille Glass, a Mars spokeswoman, had no immediate comment.

Mars Petcare, based in Franklin, Tennessee, is owned by McLean, Virginia-based Mars, the maker of M&M candy and Snicker's bars.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Heine in New York at kheine1@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: November 6, 2008 15:26 EST

 

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