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FDA warns pet owners after Indiana-based dog food linked to over 130 pet deaths

Posted at 9:11 AM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 09:11:38-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Food and Drug Administration is warning dog owners after finding that dry dog food produced by an Indiana-based pet food company has been linked to the illness and death of hundreds of pets.

On Tuesday, the FDA said they issued a warning letter to Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. after they found that more than 130 pet deaths and over 220 pet illnesses were likely linked to their pet food.

According to the FDA, an inspection at the company's plant in Oklahoma found that samples of Sportmix dry dog food contained high levels of aflatoxin, which is produced by mold.

The FDA sent a warning letter to Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. on Aug. 9. that stated in part:

"Following the receipt of the first complaints on December 29, 2020, the Missouri Department of Agriculture collected and analyzed samples of your product “SPORTMiX High Energy Dog Food” with expiration dates of February 6, 2022, and March 3, 2022, for the presence of mycotoxins. Analytical results identified elevated levels of aflatoxin above 20 parts per billion (ppb). The Office of the Texas State Chemist and the FDA collected additional samples. Analysis of these subsequent samples found that additional SPORTMiX branded products, spanning multiple products and lot codes, contained aflatoxin at levels as high as 558 ppb... Therefore, these pet food products manufactured in your OK facility are adulterated in that they bear or contain a poisonous or deleterious substance which renders them injurious to health."

The warning letter also stated that the company had "failed to implement preventative control" in multiple areas in response to the FDA's initial inspections at multiple facilities.

You can read a full copy of the warning letter sent to Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. by the FDA on Aug. 9, here.

Aflatoxin can grow on pet food ingredients such as corn, peanuts and other grains, according to the FDA. The toxins can be present even if there is no visible mold.

High levels of aflatoxin can cause severe illness, liver damage and death in pets.

According to the report by the FDA, at least 120 pets have died and over 220 are believed to have become ill due to poisoning from dry dog food produced by the company.

"Not all of these cases have been confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning through laboratory testing or veterinary record review," the FDA said in the release. "This count is approximate and may not reflect the total number of pets affected."

Symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning in pets include:

  • Sluggishness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Jaundice

If you suspect your pet is showing signs of aflatoxin poisoning, take him/her to a veterinarian immediately.

On Tuesday, the FDA released the following statement:

“The FDA is dedicated to taking all steps possible to help pet owners have confidence that the food they buy for their animal companions is safe and wholesome. We are issuing this corporate-wide warning letter because inspections of Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc.’s manufacturing plants revealed evidence of violations, which were shared across multiple plants and were associated with the illness or death of hundreds of pets who had eaten the company’s dry dog food. Samples of dog food were found to contain high levels of aflatoxin. It is imperative that manufacturers and distributors of pet foods understand their responsibility to comply with all requirements of federal law and FDA regulations and, when applicable, to implement a robust hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls program. We’ll continue to hold companies accountable and protect animal health as a core element of the FDA’s public health mission.”