A pet food company is recalling various types of its Sportmix-branded dry dog and cat food after 28 dogs died and eight more became ill, possibly due to ingestion of deadly amounts of a toxin produced by mold.
Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. of Evansville, Indiana, announced Wednesday the voluntary recall of some of its Sports Mix products, which are sold online and in retail stores nationwide, after tests showed that aflatoxin toxin levels exceeded acceptable levels.
Aflatoxin is made by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and grains that are used as ingredients in pet foods, according to the FDA. In high concentrations, the toxin can cause pets to get sick or die, or cause liver damage with no symptoms, the department said. The toxin could still be present even if no mold was visible.
“Pets are very susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because, unlike people who have varied diets, pets generally eat the same food continuously for extended periods of time,” said the FDA. “When a pet’s food contains aflatoxin, the toxin can build up in the pet’s system if they continue to eat the same food.”
Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. responded to a request for comment on Thursday, referring to the company’s recall announcement that had been shared by the FDA
No illnesses in cats or humans had been reported as of Wednesday. The FDA said it is “doing follow-up work at the manufacturing facility” where the food is made and warned that the number of cases and the scope of the recall could increase. Veterinarians have been asked to report new cases, especially those confirmed by diagnostic tests.
The recall includes Sportmix Energy Plus in 50- and 44-pound bags; Sports Mix Premium High Energy in 50- and 44-pound bags; and Sportmix Original Cat in 31- and 15-pound bags. Retailers have been advised not to sell or donate the affected pet foods.
Pets with aflatoxin poisoning may have symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or jaundice – a yellow color in their eyes, gums, or skin due to liver damage. People whose pets have eaten the recalled food should stop feeding them and see a veterinarian, especially if their pets have symptoms of the disease, the FDA said.
The FDA also suggested using bleach to disinfect bowls, scoops, and storage containers for pet food when the recalled food was eaten.
There is no evidence that pet owners handling aflatoxin are at risk of poisoning. However, the FDA suggested washing your hands after handling your pet’s food.