Dog food and cat food from Midwestern Pet Foods that might have lethal aflatoxin poisoning also might have gone to 35 other nations, the FDA alerted in Tuesday’s update.
The agency also said it now knows of 110 pets that have died and 210 other pets that have gotten sick after eating Sportmix dog food or cat food. When Midwestern recalled three Sportmix varieties on Dec. 30, FDA put the deceased number at 28 dogs. When Midwestern expanded the recall earlier this month to 12 pet foods sold under Sportmix and other brands, the agency said 70 dogs have died.
The change from “dogs” to “pets” indicates some cats are in the sick and dead counts now.
“Not all of these cases have been officially confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning through laboratory testing or veterinary record review,” the FDA said. “This count is approximate and may not reflect the total number of pets affected.”
But the news Tuesday was how far the recalled food might have gone.
Possible countries of export
Midwestern Pet Foods is based in Evansville, Indiana, and the problem with aflatoxin mold on corn is confined to its Oklahoma plant. But the food didn’t stay in the heartland or even domestic.
The company “might’ve” sent the food to one consignee in each of the following 35 countries, listed by region:
▪ Caribbean: Barbados, Curacao, Trinidad
▪ Central America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama
▪ South America: Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay
▪ Middle East: Bahrain, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanaon, United Arab Emirates
▪ Mediterranean: Cyprus
▪ Western Europe: Iceland, Ireland
▪ Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Lithuania, Ukraine
▪ South Pacific: French Polynesia, New Zealand
▪ Africa: Ghana
▪ East Asia: China (Hong Kong), Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam.
The Sportmix and other brands recalled
Midwestern yanked all the foods in its Oklahoma plant, with corn and with an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022. Now, that includes:
▪ Pro Pac Adult Mini Chunk, 40 lb. bag
▪ Pro Pac Performance Puppy, 40 lb. bag
▪ Splash Fat Cat 32%, 50 lb. bag
▪ Nunn Better Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
▪ Sportmix Original Cat, 15 lb. bag and 31 lb. bag
▪ Sportmix Maintenance, 44 lb. bag and 50 lb. bag
▪ Sportmix High Protein, 50 lb. bag
▪ Sportmix Energy Plus, 44 lb. bag and 50 lb. bag
▪ Sportmix Stamina, 44 lb. bag and 50 lb. bag
▪ Sportmix Bite Size, 40 lb. bag and 44 lb. bag
▪ Sportmix High Energy, 44 lb. bag and 50 lb. bag
▪ Sportmix Premium Puppy, 16.5 lb. bag and 33 lb. bag
Over 1,000 lot codes are involved, but they can be identified as including an expiration date before “07/09/2022” and an “05,” designating it as coming from the Oklahoma plant.
What’s the problem with aflatoxin?
Aflatoxins come from a mold that can grow on corn and other grains often used in pet food. Because pets eat the same kind of pet food, they’re much more likely to be affected by aflatoxin poisoning than humans.
“The ‘action level’ for aflatoxin in pet food is 20 parts per billion (ppb), but that level is unlikely to be fatal in a single exposure,” an FDA spokesperson emailed The Herald Tuesday afternoon. “Action levels and tolerances represent limits at or above which FDA will take legal action to remove products from the market.”
But, calling the amounts found in Midwestern’s pet foods “potentially fatal,” the spokesman’s email said, didn’t signify surpassing a hard number. It meant “the levels found, based on several factors (pet’s health and metabolism, amount eaten, how long it was eaten, etc.), could, and in some cases did, lead to death.”
Report any medical problem from a food or drug to your veterinarian, then either you or your vet should report it to the FDA.
Anyone with questions on this recall should call Midwestern at 800-474-4163, ext. 455, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, Eastern time, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pets experiencing aflatoxin poisoning may have symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes or gums due to liver damage), and/or diarrhea. In severe cases, this toxicity can be fatal. In some cases, pets may suffer liver damage but not show any symptoms.