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This Pet Food Brand Is Still on Sale After Being Linked with 130 Deaths and 220 Illnesses, FDA Warns

After almost a year of investigation, the FDA and Center for Veterinary Medicine have issued a no-nonsense warning to the manufacturer.

Unfortunately for many pet owners and their animals, two popular pet food brands made by Midwestern Pet Food appear likely to blame for a remarkable number of recent illnesses—and even deaths—among cats and dogs. And, it appears these foods still haven't been removed from all stores or online retailers.

In a warning letter issued last week, the United States Center for Veterinary Medicine announced that various state health and agricultural agencies have received "numerous consumer complaints" since December 2020 about pets becoming ill after eating Earthborn Holistic and SPORTMiX brands of dog and cat food.

This is due to the presence of aflatoxins, which the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says are "toxins produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus that can grow on pet food ingredients such as corn, peanuts, and other grains. 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."

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Noticeable symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning in animals include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, liver damage (as evidenced by yellow-ish eyes, gums, or skin), unexplained bruising or bleeding, and/or diarrhea, the FDA notes. Adding: "In some cases, aflatoxins can affect blood clotting and cause long-term liver problems and/or death. Some pets may suffer liver damage without showing any signs in the early stages of aflatoxin poisoning and if they continue eating contaminated food, they may die suddenly."

In the warning letter issued to Midwestern Pet Food, representatives at Oklahoma's Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of the toxin when testing samples of SPORTMiX High Energy Dog Food with expiration dates of February 6, 2022 and March 3, 2022. Subsequent analyses were made at Midwestern Pet Food's plants in Illinois, Missouri, New York, and Indiana between February and May 2021, which also found aflatoxin.

While the FDA notes that Midwestern Pet Food has submitted forms to demonstrate the corrective actions they have taken, the letter asserts the company has not proven that they've taken appropriate controls to prevent the occurrence of future contamination from aflatoxin as well as Salmonella. 

What's more, a quick Google search shows retailers like Amazon are still selling inventory of some of the nearly 20 Earthborn Holistic and SPORTMiX products that were recalled. (To check whether you own any of the specific recalled lot numbers, go here.)

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy