Pet food company recalls several types of Sportmix brand dry dog and cat food after 28 dogs died and eight others fell ill, likely due to ingestion of lethal levels of a toxin produced by mold.
Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. of Evansville, Indiana, on Wednesday announced a voluntary recall of some of its Sportmix products distributed nationally online and in retail stores after tests showed the toxin levels , aflatoxin, exceeded acceptable limits.
Aflatoxin is produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and grains used as ingredients in pet foods, the FDA said. At high levels, the toxin can cause disease or death in pets, or cause liver damage without symptoms, the department said. The toxin, he says, can still be present even if there is no visible mold.
“Pets are very susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because, unlike people who eat a varied diet, animals generally eat the same food continuously over long periods of time,” the FDA said. “If an animal’s food contains aflatoxin, the toxin could build up in the animal’s system as it continues to eat the same food.
Midwestern Pet Foods responded to a request for comment Thursday with reference to the company’s recall announcement, which had been shared by the FDA.
No illnesses were reported in cats or people on Wednesday. The FDA said it was “carrying out follow-up activities in the manufacturing plant” where the food is produced, and warned that the number of cases and the scope of the recall could increase. Vets have been encouraged to report any new cases, especially those that have been confirmed by diagnostic testing.
The recall includes Sportmix Energy Plus in 50 and 44 pound bags; Sportmix Premium High Energy in 50 and 44 lb bags; and Sportmix Original Cat in 31 and 15 lb bags. Retailers have been instructed not to sell or give away the affected pet food, which has an expiration date of March 2-3, 2022.
Pets poisoned with aflatoxin may show symptoms such as laziness, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or jaundice – a yellow tint in the eyes, gums, or skin due to liver damage . People whose pets have eaten the recalled foods should stop feeding them and contact a veterinarian, especially if their pets are showing symptoms of the disease, the FDA said.
The FDA also suggested using bleach to disinfect pet food storage bowls, spoons, and containers if the recalled food is consumed.
There is no evidence that pet owners who handle food containing aflatoxin are at risk of poisoning, but the FDA has suggested that they wash their hands after handling their pet’s food.