Aflatoxin-contaminated pet foods may have been exported to as many as thirty-five (35) countries, according to an update on the Midwestern Pet Foods aflatoxin investigation released today by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Damage Done
The FDA is now aware of more than 110 dogs that died and more than 210 pets that became sick after having eaten a Sportmix pet food.
Although the vast majority of the case reports involve dogs, the FDA has received a couple of reports of sick cats, according to an agency spokesperson.
Not all of these cases have been officially confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning through laboratory testing or veterinary record review, according to the FDA.
Reports submitted only to the pet food manufacturer are not shared with FDA and are not a part of this count.
On January 11, 2021, Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. expanded an earlier recall to encompass “all pet foods containing corn and manufactured in the company’s Oklahoma plant, and having an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022.”
The list of recalled products includes multiple lot numbers of the following items:
- Pro Pac Adult Mini Chunk
- Pro Pac Performance Puppy
- Splash Fat Cat 32%
- Nunn Better Maintenance
- Sportstrail 50
- Sportmix Original Cat 15
- Sportmix Original Cat 31
- Sportmix Maintenance 44
- Sportmix Maintenance 50
- Sportmix High Protein 50
- Sportmix Energy Plus 44
- Sportmix Energy Plus 50
- Sportmix Stamina 44
- Sportmix Stamina 50
- Sportmix Bite Size 40
- Sportmix Bite Size 44
- Sportmix High Energy 44
- Sportmix High Energy 50
- Sportmix Premium Puppy 16.5
- Sportmix Premium Puppy 33
According to the recall notice, the affected products were distributed nationally to online distributors and retail stores nationwide.
The FDA has since determined that one or more of the recalled products may have been exported to the following countries: Bahrain, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Polynesia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Singapore, Taiwan, Trinidad, Ukraine, UAE, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
The State of the States
Several state departments of agriculture are aiding the FDA in its response to the aflatoxin contamination by monitoring the effectiveness of the recall at the retail level and by testing samples of Midwestern’s products.
Several states, including Arkansas, Kansas and New Mexico and Washington, are in the process of analyzing multiple Midwestern Pet Foods samples for the presence of aflatoxin.
As of the end of last week, New Mexico had tested twelve samples, eleven of which were negative for aflatoxin. A sample of Sportmix Original Cat Food (Lot: EXP 04/29/22/05/L3/B167 14:21) contained 46 parts per billion (ppb) of aflatoxin, according to a Department of Agriculture spokesperson.
Kansas has completed testing on three samples, according to a spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Two of the samples did not contain aflatoxin; however, a third sample contained, on average, ~80 ppb, which is approximately four times the FDA’s 20 ppb action level for aflatoxin in pet food.
What Pet Owners Should Do
If your pet has symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning, contact a veterinarian immediately. Even pets without symptoms may have suffered liver damage, so you may want to contact your veterinarian if your pet has eaten any of the recalled products. Provide a full diet history to your veterinarian. You may find it helpful to take a picture of the pet food label, including the lot number.
Don’t feed the recalled products to your pets or any other animal. Contact the company listed on the package for further instructions or throw the products away in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access them. Sanitize pet food bowls, scoops, and storage containers using bleach, rinsing well afterwards with water, and drying thoroughly.
There is no evidence to suggest that pet owners who handle products containing aflatoxin are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning. However, pet owners should always wash their hands after handling any pet food.
You can report suspected illness to the FDA electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. It’s most helpful if you can work with your veterinarian to submit your pet’s medical records as part of your report. For an explanation of the information and level of detail that would be helpful to include in a complaint to the FDA, please see How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.
What Veterinarians Should Do
The FDA urges veterinarians treating aflatoxin poisoning to ask their clients for a diet history. We also welcome case reports, especially those confirmed through diagnostic testing. You can submit these reports electronically through the FDA Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. For an explanation of the information and level of detail that would be helpful to include in a complaint to the FDA, please see How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.
At least two class action suits already have been filed against Midwestern Pet Foods by pet owners, alleging their dogs were poisoned by the company’s products.