FDA warns of ‘hundreds of deaths,’ illness linked to company’s pet food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning pet owners that “hundreds of pets” who had eaten Midwestern Pet Foods Inc.’s dry dog food have gotten ill or died.

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A letter, sent by the agency to the company on Tuesday, warned that inspections of the company’s manufacturing plants have shown evidence of violations.

“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,” Steven Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “Samples of dog food were found to contain high levels of aflatoxin.”

Aflatoxin is a byproduct of mold that can grow on pet food ingredients such as corn and other grains. According to the FDA, at high levels, “aflatoxins can cause illness (aflatoxicosis), liver damage, and death in pets. The toxins can be present even if there is no visible mold on the pet food.”

The FDA issued a warning in December 2020 that consumers had reported deaths and illness from aflatoxin after their pets ate food manufactured at a Midwestern Pet Foods plant.

The agency said that of Aug. 9 it had received more than 130 reports of pet deaths and more than 220 reports of pets becoming ill after eating pet food that may be linked to food manufactured by Midwestern.

Not all of the cases have been confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning through laboratory testing or veterinary record review, the FDA noted.

Pets that have aflatoxin poisoning may exhibit the following symptoms:

Sluggishness.

Loss of appetite.

Vomiting.

Jaundice (a yellowish tint to the skin, eyes or gums due to liver damage).

Diarrhea.