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FDA expands pet food recall after at least 70 dogs die; 80 more pets sickened

The FDA is encouraging pet owners to throw out affected products that were found to have high levels of aflatoxin, which can cause liver damage and death.
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expanding a pet food recall that has been linked to the death of at least 70 dogs and the illnesses of at least 80 other pets.

The recall was first issued Dec. 30, when it was reported that 28 dogs that ate certain types of Sportmix pet food had died and at least eight others were ill.

The original recall affected nine total lots of Sportmix products, but the updated and expanded version is now recalling "additional products that contain corn" that were made in Midwestern Pet Food Inc's Oklahoma manufacturing plant.

The Sportmix pet food products, manufactured by Midwestern Pet Food Inc., "may contain potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin," a toxin produced by a type of mold that can grow on corn and other grains used in pet foods. Upon testing the products, the Missouri Department of Agriculture found "very high levels of aflatoxin," which can cause illness and death in pets, per the FDA. The affected products were distributed to stores and online retailers nationwide; other state agriculture departments are investigating as well.

The pet foods and corresponding lot codes being recalled by Midwestern Pet Food Inc. as of Dec. 30 are:

  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 50-pound bag
    • EXP 03/02/22/05/L2
    • EXP 03/02/22/05/L3
    • EXP 03/03/22/05/L2
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 44-pound bag
    • EXP 03/02/22/05/L3
    • Sportmix Premium High Energy, 50-pound bag
    • EXP 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Premium High Energy, 44-pound bag
    • EXP 03/03/22/05/L3
    • Sportmix Original Cat, 31-pound bag
    • EXP 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 15-pound bag
    • EXP 03/03/22/05/L2
    • EXP 03/03/22/05/L3

Lot code information may be found on the back of bag and will appear in a three-line code, with the top line in format “EXP 03/03/22/05/L#/B###/HH:MM”

The expanded recall, issued Jan. 11, affects more than 1,000 lot codes, according to the FDA, so individual codes are not listed. Instead, owners who have products that expire on or before "07/09/22" or products that include "05" in the lot code should throw out their products.

The following list is all pet food products containing corn made at the company's Oklahoma plant:

  • Pro Pac Adult Mini Chunk, 40 lb. bag
  • Pro Pac Performance Puppy, 40 lb. bag
  • Splash Fat Cat 32%, 50 lb. bag
  • Nunn Better Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 15 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 31 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Maintenance, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Protein, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Stamina, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Stamina, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Bite Size, 40 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Bite Size, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Energy, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Energy, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Premium Puppy, 16.5 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Premium Puppy, 33 lb. bag

Retailers who have sold affected Sportmix products should not sell or donate it and instead contact the manufacturer for further instructions. The FDA recommends retailers contact consumers who have purchased the recalled pet food to alert them, if possible.

Midwestern Pet Food Inc. said in a statement to TODAY that it is issuing a voluntary recall and confirmed that so far there have been no reports of illnesses in cats or humans.

What is aflatoxin poisoning?

Animals who consume aflatoxin may experience symptoms including sluggishness; loss of appetite; vomiting; a yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage, known as jaundice; and diarrhea, according to the FDA. In some cases, it's possible for animals to experience liver damage without showing any symptoms.

If your pet has eaten one of the above products, especially if it shows signs of aflatoxin poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately and provide a full diet history, Midwestern Pet Food Inc. advised.

The FDA also recommends that pet owners throw away any recalled products in an area where children and animals, including wildlife, cannot get to it, even if there's no visible mold. While the FDA has said there's no evidence to suggest that pet owners who touch products with aflatoxin are at risk of illness, owners should always wash their hands after serving pet food.

The FDA is currently conducting "follow-up activities at the manufacturing facility."

To continue to track the spread of affected products, illnesses in pets should be reported to the FDA. Veterinarians can submit case reports online through the agency's Safety Reporting Portal or by phone by calling state-specific FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. Owners can report suspected illnesses using those same sites, but should work with a veterinarian so that detailed medical records can be included in the report.

For more information, visit the FDA's guide to reporting a pet food complaint.