A New York woman has filed a class action lawsuit against the makers of Sportmix, Pro Pac and other pet food products, which were recalled late last year amid dozens of pet deaths linked to aflatoxins that contaminated the products.
Shanda Marshall filed the complaint (PDF) last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, indicating that Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. manufactured and distributed pet food products laced with the poisonous mold byproducts.
The pet food lawsuit seeks class action status to pursue damages for herself and other similarly situated purchasers of the recalled products, alleging that the manufacturer failed to disclose, and actively concealed, that the pet food was contaminated with aflatoxins, which are toxins produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus.
Aflatoxins can grow on grains, corn and other natural ingredients used in pet foods. If animals are overexposed to aflatoxins they may experience symptoms including sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice, and may suffer long-term liver issues that could result in death.
Marshall indicates she bought Sportmix Premium High Energy and Sportmix Premium Energy Plus formulas to feed her four French bulldogs and her Chinese Tibetan Mastiff. All of the dogs experienced diarrhea, sluggishness, and loss of appetite. Two of the dogs died, and one gave birth to a litter of six puppies, all of whom died.
Marshall blames the illnesses and deaths on the dog food, which cost her $2,376 to purchase from June 2020 to December 2020.
“Prior to Defendant’s initial recall announcement, Plaintiff was not aware nor had any knowledge that Defendant’s Pet Food Products might contain excessive levels of aflatoxin, or that Defendant did not adequately test or inspect its Pet Food Products before selling them,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant uniformly omitted these material facts on its package labels.”
Midwestern Pet Foods issued the first dog and cat food recall on December 30, 2020, after the Missouri Department of Agriculture performed a series of random sample testing, which discovered very high levels of aflatoxin in certain Sportmix Energy Plus, Sportmix Premium High Energy and Sportmix Original Cat foods.
Another Midwestern pet food recall was issued on January 11, indicating at least 70 animal deaths and 80 illnesses were linked to products produced at the company’s Chickasha Operations Facility. As a result of the increasing number of pet deaths and illnesses reported, the manufacturer expanded the recall to include all Sportmix brands, as well as Pro Pac Adult Mini Chunk, Pro Pac Performance Puppy, Splash Fat Cat 32%, and Nunn Better Maintenance brands.
The recalled pet food products were distributed nationally to online distributors and retail stores, who have since been instructed to pull all recalled lots from their inventory and shelves, and to not sell or donate any remaining recalled products.