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Extensive Recall of Dog Food Contaminated with Aflatoxin


The FDA has announced a recall of dog food produced by Midwestern Pet Foods as a result of fatality and illness diagnosed as aflatoxicosis.  The Missouri Department of Agriculture ascertained the presence of "very high levels" of aflatoxin in feeds produced by the company. Investigations are in progress, but the ingredient responsible, presumably corn has not been identified. Major outbreaks of aflatoxicosis in dogs required feed recalls in 2006, 2012 and September 2020. 


Dogs are highly susceptible to aflatoxin with a threshold toxic dose range of 0.5 to 1.5 mg per Kg of body weight.  This would be associated with feed levels of 200 to 500 ppb and proportionally higher levels in corn or other contaminated ingredients incorporated into commercial feed. Dogs are also vulnerable to toxicity since a large container of contaminated feed may be the sole diet fed over successive weeks contributing to hepatic damage.


An evident problem relating to recalls for toxicity or deficiency in pet foods relates to the multiplicity of brand names applied to packaging of common product from a single plant.  In the present case involving a December 31st recall, three brands of Sportmix products were implicated. In previous cases, a single plant producing both premixes or complete feed was responsible for a significant number of brand recalls. This emphasises the need for traceability through the entire chain of production from ingredients through to finished products, distributed through pet stores, supermarkets and E-commerce.


Assay of corn, DDGS and other vegetable ingredients should be assayed for the presence of mycotoxins as a component of the plant HACCP plan using