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More than 130 dog deaths, 220 illnesses linked to company's pet food, FDA warns

The FDA says products made by Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. have been linked to aflatoxin poisoning that has killed or sickened hundreds of pets.
/ Source: TODAY

The Food and Drug Administration is warning dog owners after it found that products made by Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. have been "associated with the illness or death of hundreds of pets who had eaten the company’s dry dog food."

The agency said in a release on Tuesday that it has issued a warning letter to the Indiana-based company after finding as of Aug. 9 that more than 130 pet deaths and more than 220 illnesses may be linked to eating brands of pet food manufactured by Midwestern.

Pet dried food dish
The FDA has issued a warning to pet owners after it found that food made by Indiana-based Midwestern Pet Foods has been associated with the illnesses and deaths of hundreds of pets. Mercedes Ranca?o Otero / Getty Images stock

An inspection of Midwestern's plant in Chickasha, Oklahoma, found that samples of the company's Sportmix dry dog food contained high levels of aflatoxin, which is produced by mold and can grow on corn and other grains used to make pet food, according to the FDA. High levels of aflatoxin can cause illness and death in pets.

"Not all of these cases have been confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning through laboratory testing or veterinary record review," the FDA said in the release. "This count is approximate and may not reflect the total number of pets affected."

Symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning in pets include vomiting, jaundice, diarrhea and loss of appetite.

"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, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement.

The company has not responded to a request for comment by NBC News. The FDA has requested a written response from Midwestern within 15 working days outlining steps it has taken to fix the violations.

The FDA's findings come after it issued a recall in December for several products made by Midwestern and then expanded it in January when becoming aware that more than 110 pets have died and 210 pets were sickened from eating pet food made by the company.

That was followed by Midwestern issuing a voluntary recall in March of certain dog and cat food brands because they were potentially contaminated with salmonella.