The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a recall for some Sportmix pet food products, following the deaths of at least 28 dogs after eating the food. So far, there are concerns over the safety of nine total lots of cat and dog foods manufactured by Midwest Pet Food, Inc. for potentially fatal levels of a toxin. The affected products were distributed to online retailers and stores nationwide. Here’s what to know about the recall, and how to keep your pet safe.
Why is the food being recalled?
Midwestern Pet Food, Inc. announced the recall on December 30, 2020, after the FDA was informed of the deaths of at least 28 dogs, as well as eight that have fallen ill after eating the recalled Sportmix pet food. At this point, there have been no reports of feline illnesses or fatalities.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture tested numerous samples of the food and found them to contain very high levels of aflatoxin — a toxin produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus. When present at high levels (which is possible even if there is no visible mould) it can cause illness and death in pets.
The FDA is still investigating the situation, including conducting follow-up activities at the manufacturing facility. Today, the agency issued a public advisory regarding all the products involved to make sure people don’t feed the potentially toxic food — which may have been purchased a few weeks ago and is still sitting on their shelves — to their pets.
What does aflatoxin poisoning do to pets?
According to the FDA, pets with aflatoxin poisoning may experience symptoms including:
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage)
Because cats and dogs don’t tend to have much variety in their diets, when they eat food containing aflatoxin, it can build up over time, in some cases causing long-term liver issues and/or death. It’s also important to note that some animals suffer liver damage without showing any symptoms, so even if your pets seems to be OK, if it has been eating any of the recalled products, contact their veterinarians.
Currently, there is no evidence that humans who handle products containing the toxic mould are at risk of poisoning, but the FDA recommends washing your hands after touching it.
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Which pets foods are involved in the recall?
The FDA says that it will be continuing to update their advisory if/when other products are found to contain the toxic mould, but for now, here are Midwestern Pet Food, Inc. products that are part of the recall:
- Sportmix Energy Plus, 23 kg. bagExp 03/02/22/05/L2Exp 03/02/22/05/L3Exp 03/03/22/05/L2
- Sportmix Energy Plus, 20 kg. bagExp 03/02/22/05/L3Sportmix Premium High Energy, 23 kg. bagExp 03/03/22/05/L3
- Sportmix Premium High Energy, 20 kg. bagExp 03/03/22/05/L3Sportmix Original Cat, 14 kg. bag Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
- Sportmix Original Cat, 7 kg. bagExp 03/03/22/05/L2Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
Lot code information may be found on the back of bag and will appear in a three-line code, with the top line in format “EXP 03/03/22/05/L#/B###/HH:MM.”
What to do if you’ve purchased recalled pet food
If your pet looks or acts sick after eating these products, call your veterinarian right away. Bring your pet’s full diet history to your vet, along with photos of the labels (including lot numbers) of the food that you suspect made them ill.
Of course, don’t feed the recalled foods to your pets. If you’re not sure how to dispose of the food, contact the company listed on the package for further instructions, or throw it away in a way that ensures children, pets, and wildlife cannot access them. Finally, sanitize your pet’s food bowls, scoops and storage containers using bleach, rinsing well afterwards with water, and drying thoroughly, the FDA recommends.
How to report a suspected case of aflatoxin poisoning
In Australia, the RSPCA recommends that in cases where you’re concerned about the safety of certain dog foods, you should contact the pet food company right away. It also states that complaints can be made to the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA).
Editor’s Note: This article was originally written for a U.S. audience, but we’ve done our best to update for Australian readers.