Managing your own health is hard enough, so the demands of keeping up with a pet’s can certainly add to the stress of life. And while you’d hardly think what you’re feeding your beloved dog could be toxic, a new pet food recall brings that reality to life: The Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced a recall affecting six different mixes of dog kibble manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods. The afflicted kibble is suspected to contain aflatoxin, a poisonous carcinogen that develops on certain crops such as corn and grains, and in soil.
This isn’t any routine snafu either: the tainted Sportmix product has reportedly killed upwards of 70 dogs, while an additional 80 pets have become sick after eating the food. Of course, it goes without saying to be careful with Sportmix dog kibble at the current moment. Beyond that, here’s what you should know.
There’s an ongoing investigation
While it’s unclear whether aflatoxin is the actual culprit, authorities certainly suspect it’s to blame for the unnecessary deaths of dozens of dogs. As the agency writes in a news release, the toxin’s presence hasn’t been confirmed in a laboratory, which is crucial to announcing their findings with certainty:
Not all of these cases have been officially confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning through laboratory testing or veterinary record review. This count is approximate and may not reflect the total number of pets affected.
The link, however, is about the corn in Sportmix kibble. Since the product contains corn, authorities suspect there’s at least some presence of aflatoxin, which is known to flourish on corn. Aflatoxins are produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, and can cause illness and death in dogs and other pets if consumed at high enough levels.
Typically, consumption of the toxin leaves dogs sluggish and with gastrointestinal issues. Sometimes they develop jaundice, which gives a yellowish tint to their eyes and gums. In other instances, the dogs exhibit no signs that anything is wrong until it’s clearly a crisis.
The products were distributed nationally
This isn’t a simple recall affecting a few bags of kibble, but a giant one affecting much, if not all, of the products produced at one of Midwestern Pet Food’s Oklahoma factories. The recall was originally announced on December 30, with the company homing in on nine total lots of Sportmix pet food products. Since then, it’s been expanded: On Monday, the company expanded the recall to all corn-based products produced in the firm’s Oklahoma plant and that expire on or before July 9, 2022.
That is a lot of dog food—even too much for the FDA to list in its advisory—but some notable brands affected by the issue are Sportmix, Propac, Splash Fat Cat, and Nunn Better Maintenance, among others. The issues spans stores across the nation in addition to online retailers, the FDA notes.
What you should do
For starters, it might just be a good thing to get rid of anything produced by Midwestern Pet Food and switch to a different brand, for now. In lieu of that, though, the FDA recommends referencing the lot number on the bag of food, which can provide some helpful indications: As the agency writes, “if the date/lot code includes an expiration date on or before ‘07/09/22′ and includes ‘05,’” then your food is probably toxic and needs to be thrown out.
Better safe than sorry, so if you suspect you’ve been caught up in the mess, the garbage can is always the best receptacle for anything toxic to your pet.