FDA Issues Warning About Illnesses, Deaths Linked to Midwestern Pet Foods

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Aug. 19, 2021 -- The FDA issued a public warning on Tuesday about contaminated pet food sold by Midwestern Pet Foods, which could be linked with more than 220 illnesses and 130 deaths among dogs and cats.

During an inspection of the company’s manufacturing plant in Chickasha, OK, the FDA found that samples of SPORTMiX High Energy Dog Food contained high levels of aflatoxin, which is produced by mold and can grow on grains used in pet food. High levels of aflatoxin can cause illness and death in pets.

After inspecting the Chickasha plant, the FDA also inspected the company’s other manufacturing plants in New York, Indiana, and Illinois, which showed evidence of issues across all the sites. The FDA issued a warning letter to the company last week that requested a response within 15 working days stating the specific steps taken to correct the problems.

“We are issuing this corporate-wide warning letter because inspections of Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc.’s manufacturing plants revealed evidence of violations, which were shared across multiple plants and were associated with the illness or death of hundreds of pets who had eaten the company’s dry dog food,” Steven Solomon, DVM, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement.

“It is imperative that manufacturers and distributors of pet foods understand their responsibility to comply with all requirements of federal law and FDA regulations,” he said.

Some samples of SPORTMiX-branded pet foods, which included multiple products and lot codes, contained levels of aflatoxin that were as high as 558 parts per billion. The FDA considers pet food to be tainted if it contains more than 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin.

In January, the company voluntarily recalled these products, the FDA said, as well as all corn-containing pet foods made at the Chickasha plant.

In March, the company also recalled several brands of pet food made in its plant in Monmouth, IL, after samples tested positive for salmonella, including some SPORTMiX and Earthborn cat foods.

“The FDA found that Midwestern’s food safety program appears inadequate to significantly minimize or prevent Salmonella in its pet food,” according to the FDA statement. “None of the recalled products should be available to consumers to purchase.”

As of Aug. 9, the FDA is aware of more than 220 illnesses and 130 deaths linked with brands of pet food manufactured by the company. Not all the cases have been confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning, which includes symptoms such as vomiting, jaundice, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

If the FDA doesn’t receive a response from the company or see adequate action to address violations, Midwestern Pet Foods could face legal action, including product seizure.

“You are responsible for investigating and determining the causes of any violations and for preventing their recurrence or the occurrence of other violations,” the FDA wrote in the warning letter to the company.

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