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FDA warns pet owners of pet food containing dangerous toxin

To date, 28 dogs have died after consuming Sportmix pet food

Photo (c) pedphoto36pm - Getty Images
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a safety advisory concerning pet food containing high levels of aflatoxin, which is toxic to pets. The agency said 28 dogs have died in connection to the pet food in question and eight others became ill. 

The FDA said it has found that certain lots of Sportmix products, manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods, caused the canine deaths and illnesses. The company voluntarily recalled the products last week. 

The agency said it is still looking into whether more products contain high levels of aflatoxin. In total, nine lots of Sportmix products have so far been found to contain high levels of the toxin. 

“Case counts and the scope of this recall may expand as new information becomes available,” the FDA said in its announcement

What is aflatoxin? 

Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, the FDA said. It can grow on corn and other grains used to make pet food. Consuming high levels of the toxin can cause pets to become ill or even die. 

FDA officials said symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning include 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,” according to the agency. 

To be safe, the FDA recommends that owners of pets who have eaten the products involved in the recall contact their veterinarian.  

“Pet owners should stop feeding their pets the recalled products listed below and consult their veterinarian, especially if the pet is showing signs of illness,” the FDA said. “The pet owner should remove the food and make sure no other animals have access to the recalled product.” 

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