WASHINGTON -- Contaminated dog food that was sold in more than 20 states, including Massachusetts, killed nearly two dozen dogs and sickened 18 more, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.
The deaths and illnesses sparked an FDA investigation into pet food made by Diamond Pet Food Co. at its Gaston, S.C., manufacturing plant.
The FDA said 23 animal deaths have been linked to the food.
The company, based in Beta, Mo., issued a recall of 19 varieties of dog and cat food Dec. 21 because some of the food made at the Gaston facility was discovered to contain aflatoxin.
Aflatoxin, a naturally occurring chemical that comes from a fungus sometimes found on corn and other crops, can cause severe liver damage.
Aflatoxin poisoning can cause sluggishness, a lack of appetite, and, in severe cases, vomiting, fever, and jaundice.
The recalled pet food was sold under the brand names Diamond, Country Value, and Professional, and bears the date codes of March 1, 2007, through June 11, 2007.
Consumers are asked to stop giving the product to their pets.
In the United States, the pet food was distributed to stores in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Vermont, and Virginia.