FDA Alerts Consumers to Pet Food Recalls for Potentially Fatal Levels of Aflatoxin
On December 30, 2020, FDA issued an alert to pet owners and veterinary professionals about the recalls of certain Sportmix pet food products. Midwestern Pet Food, Inc. announced a recall of nine total lots of Sportmix pet food products after the reports of at least 28 dogs that have died and 8 that have fallen ill after consuming the products. The Missouri Department of Agriculture tested multiple product samples and found very high levels of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus and at high levels can cause illness and death in pets. The toxin can be present even if there is no visible mold.
According to the FDA, pets are highly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because they generally eat the same food continuously over extended periods of time. If a pet’s food contains aflatoxin, the toxin could accumulate in the pet’s system as they continue to eat the same food. Pets with aflatoxin poisoning may experience symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage), and/or diarrhea. In some cases, this toxicity can cause long-term liver issues and/or death. Some pets suffer liver damage without showing any symptoms. There is no evidence to suggest that pet owners who handle products containing aflatoxin are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning. However, the FDA recommends that pet owners always wash their hands after handling pet food.
FDA’s alert warned pet owners to discontinue feeding the recalled pet food products – a list of the affected products is provided by FDA on their website. Retailers have also been advised not to sell or donate the recalled products and to contact consumers who have purchased such products, if possible. Additionally, FDA asked veterinarians who suspect that their patients have aflatoxin poisoning to report the events through a Safe Reporting Portal or by calling local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. Pet owners are also encouraged to report suspected cases.
FDA is conducting follow-up activities at the manufacturing facility and notes that, as this is a developing situation, the Agency will update the alert with additional information as it becomes available.