On December 30, 2020, Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. located in Evansville, IN, issued a voluntary recall of 16 dry dog and cat food recipes, most notably its Sportmix line of products. More than 70 dogs have died, and more than 80 pets have been sickened, allegedly as a result of a deadly mold found contaminating the kibble. The mold, called Aspergillus flavus, produces aflatoxins, poisonous carcinogens and mutagens. Aspergillus flavus grows on decaying vegetation, including grains such as corn and wheat, which are often used as main ingredients in dry pet food.
The Food and Drug Administration, with the cooperation of the state departments of agriculture in Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Texas, is conducting an ongoing investigation and has confirmed aflatoxin poisoning in many of the cases. Not all of the cases brought forward have been officially confirmed through proper testing, and the FDA warns the numbers are approximate, and may not reflect the actual scope of the issue.
On January 11, 2021, Midwestern Pet Foods expanded its recall to include more recipes manufactured out of the Chickasha Operations Facility in Oklahoma, “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the press release. This is the first recall in almost 100 years for the fourth-generation, family-owned company. In a statement, Midwestern Pet Foods said,
“We continue a thorough review of our facilities and practices in full cooperation with FDA in an effort to better serve our customers and pet parents who put their trust in us. A call center staffed with licensed veterinarians has been established for our customers and pet parents who have questions or concerns regarding their pet’s health.”
Aflatoxin poisoning may cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver damage, and death. Pet owners, veterinarians, and retailers are urged to remove and properly discard the recalled products. Pet owners who have purchased any of the recalled products should consult a veterinarian, even if the pet is not showing any signs of illness, since liver damage does not always present with visible symptoms.
Pets are highly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because it can build up in their system over time. Similar to oak or toad poisoning, the body is unable to process and get rid of the poison in a quick manner. The toxin does not need to be visible to be present. Currently, there is no evidence that handling products with aflatoxins is dangerous, but people are encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly after discarding the recalled products.
More than 1,000 lot codes were recalled, which feature an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022, and a date/lot code of “05.” Included in the recall are corn-containing lot codes of Sportmix, Pro Pac Originals, Splash, Sportstrail, and Nunn Better dry dog and cat foods. Lot codes are located on the back of the bags in a three-line code.
Image via Midwestern Pet Foods press release
Some of the recipes among the recalled pet food include:
- Pro Pac Adult Mini Chunk, 40-pound bag
- Pro Pac Performance Puppy, 40-pound bag
- Splash Fat Cat 32%, 50-pound bag
- Nunn Better Maintenance, 50-pound bag
- Sportmix Original Cat, 15-pound bag
- Sportmix Original Cat, 31-pound bag
- Sportmix Maintenance, 44-pound bag
- Sportmix Maintenance, 50-pound bag
- Sportmix Stamina, 44-pound bag
- Sportmix Stamina, 50-pound bag
- Sportmix High Protein, 50-pound bag
- Sportmix Energy Plus, 44-pound bag
- Sportmix Energy Plus, 50-pound bag
- Sportmix Bite Size, 40-pound bag
- Sportmix Bite Size, 44-pound bag
- Sportmix High Energy, 44-pound bag
- Sportmix High Energy, 50-pound bag
- Sportmix Premium Puppy, 16.5-pound bag
- Sportmix Premium Puppy, 33-pound bag
- Sportstrail, 50-pound bag
Image via Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. press release
No human illnesses have been reported.
Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. urges retailers and distributors to immediately pull the recalled lots from their inventory.
“Do not sell or donate the recalled products. Retailers are encouraged to contact consumers who have purchased the recalled products, if you have the means to do so (frequent buyer cards, etc.),” Midwestern Pet Foods said in a statement. “Do not feed the recalled products to your pets or any other animals. Destroy the food in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access them. Wash and sanitize pet food bowls, cups, and storage containers. Always ensure you wash and sanitize hands after handling recalled food or any utensils which have contacted recalled food.”
If aflatoxin poisoning is suspected, the FDA asks that cases be reported through the Safety Reporting Portal or brought to the attention of a local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.
For a full list of recalled products with lot codes and dates, visit Midwestern Pet Foods.
Call 1-800-474-4163, ext 455, or email [email protected] with any questions or concerns.
Featured image credit: Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. press release