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FDA inspection at Diamond Pet Foods plant helps pet owner lawsuits

A US Food and Drug Administration inspection at Diamond Pet Foods' production plant found numerous health violations after a series of earlier petfood recalls for Salmonella contamination, which one expert says will be used to help support lawsuits against the company.

The inspection, conducted six days after the first of eight recalls by Diamond Pet Foods, found violations at the Gaston, South Carolina, USA, facility such as failure to clean and maintain equipment and a lack of contaminant screenings on raw ingredients.

According to Benjamin England, founder of consulting firm, the inspection's findings do not help Diamond, which is being sued in three separate cases by human victims and pet owners. England says that if Diamond's plant was in compliance with Food and Drug Administration rules, the company would appear less at-fault. Instead, England says the inspection's findings will be used against the petfood manufacturer as the lawsuits specifically cite the inspection report as evidence of negligence and breach of warranty. "It looks to me as though there's a relationship between the violations at the facility and the adverse situations the company is facing now," England said. "You can't predict when an outbreak or recall might happen, but you can eliminate a lot of risk through compliance."

England says the administration's inspection report will be used as evidence to help plaintiffs win higher settlements, and may also be used to search for prior inspection reports for further evidence or noncompliance. England said he would be "shocked if Diamond didn't settle on all fronts."

Pointing to the lawsuits against Diamond Pet Foods, England warns petfood manufacturers: "Don't make the mistake of thinking this happens to the other guy. It happens to whom it happens to, and it could be your company. One unfortunate event can bring the entire weight of the federal government to bear upon your door."

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