updated 2/1/2006 7:35:35 AM ET 2006-02-01T12:35:35

The maker of contaminated pet food that caused the deaths of dozens of dogs nationwide acknowledged Tuesday that workers at its South Carolina plant failed to follow internal testing procedures to ensure its products were safe.

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Diamond Pet Foods made the acknowledgment after the federal Food and Drug Administration released a report showing the company has no record of test results for 12 shipments of corn in September and October, when grain tainted with the deadly fungus aflatoxin slipped into the plant.

“The company had stringent guidelines in place to test incoming shipments of corn for aflatoxin exposure,” the Diamond Pet Foods said in a statement. “It was apparent by the FDA report that those guidelines were not followed. The company has taken the necessary actions to prevent these oversights from happening in the future.”

The company recalled 18 varieties of dog and cat food distributed across the country and overseas after a New York veterinarian called in December to say she had linked a dog’s death to the company’s food.

Testing procedure changed
The company since has narrowed the batches of potentially toxic dog food to two varieties: Diamond Maintenance Dog and Diamond Premium Adult Dog with “Best By” dates of April 3, 4, 5 and 11, 2007.

The federal agency began an investigation after the company recalled about 1 million pounds of dried dog food on Dec. 20, said FDA investigator Phil Campbell.

The company said in its statement that it has changed its testing procedure for incoming corn and added a test of the final product, which the company says will add “an extra layer of protection prior to the bagging and shipping of products.”

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