The Food and Drug Administration has issued an unusual corporate-wide warning letter to a pet food company, after inspections of its four manufacturing plants revealed conditions that have been linked to the illness or death of hundreds of dogs that had consumed the company’s dry dog food.
The letter is directed to Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc., manufacturer of SPORTMiX brand dry dog food and other brands. Last January Midwestern issued a recall of SPORTMix after an FDA inspection of its Chickasha, Oklahoma, plant found that samples of the product contained unacceptable levels of aflatoxin, which are toxins produced by a mold that can grow on corn and other grains used as ingredients in pet food. The FDA considers pet food to be adulterated if it contains more than 20 parts per billion (ppb) of aflatoxin; the Chickasha plant samples reportedly contained levels as high as 558 parts per billion.
In March, Midwestern recalled several brands of pet food manufactured at its Monmouth, Illinois, plant after samples tested positive for salmonella, which poses a danger not only to pets but to humans who handle the contaminated food. (A complete list of the recalled products can be found here.)
The FDA’s inspection of Midwestern’s other manufacturing plants also revealed “evidence of significant violations” of regulatory standards for pet food production. As of August 9, the FDA claims to be aware of more than 130 pet deaths and more than 220 pet illnesses that may be associated with eating brands of pet food manufactured by Midwestern.
“The FDA is dedicated to taking all steps possible to help pet owners have confidence that the food they buy for their animal companions is safe and wholesome,” said Steven M. Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a prepared statement. “We’ll continue to hold companies accountable and protect animal health as a core element of the FDA’s public health mission.”
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