Mars closing plant that produced pet food linked to human illness

December 15, 2008

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Mars Petcare is closing a plant in Everson, Pa., that produced dry pet food that investigations suggested was the source of an outbreak of human infection with Salmonella enterica serotype Schwarzengrund.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Nov. 7 that the total number of cases in the outbreak had risen to 79. Because dry pet food has a one-year shelf life, the CDC noted that food from the Everson plant could still be in consumers' homes, despite recalls by the company.

The CDC, Food and Drug Administration, and multiple state health departments first investigated reports of human infection with Salmonella Schwarzengrund in 2006 and 2007. The investigators initially identified 70 cases, mostly in children, and identified the source of infection as dry dog food from the Everson plant.

Testing by the FDA at the Everson plant found the outbreak strain in two brands of dry dog food. On Aug. 21, 2007, Mars Petcare recalled specific sizes of the brands. The Everson plant ceased operations from July to early November 2007 for cleaning, disinfection, and renovation.

From Dec. 29, 2007, to Sept. 18, 2008, investigators identified nine more cases of human infection with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Schwarzengrund. On July 29, Mars Petcare suspended production at the Everson plant.

In August, testing by the FDA found the outbreak strain in multiple brands of pet food at the Everson plant. On Sept. 12, Mars Petcare recalled all dry dog and cat food that the Everson plant produced from Feb. 18 until the suspension of operations. On Oct. 1, the company announced the permanent closure of the plant."


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