Hundreds of Dogs Deaths Leads to FDA Warning Letter to Midwestern Pet Foods

Federal regulators have issued a warning letter to the makers of Sportmix dog food, following reports of more than 200 pets becoming sick, more than 100 dog deaths linked to the products sold by Midwestern Pet Food.

The FDA sent the warning letter to the company on August 17, after inspections at manufacturing plants revealed multiple violations, and samples of the dog food tested positive for aflatoxin and Salmonella.

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.

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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.

Inspections at the Chickasha plant prompted investigators to inspect the company’s other three plants. Multiple violations were found at all four of Midwestern’s manufacturing plants which linked manufacturing problems to the hundreds of illnesses and deaths associated with the company’s dry dog food.

Samples of dog food were found to contain levels of aflatoxin as high as 558 parts per billion. The FDA allows limits the presence of aflatoxin to 20 ppb in dog food.

Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus. It can grow on corn and other grains and at high levels it can cause illness and death in pets.

The first recall involved products manufactured at the Chickasha plant. Then in March, the company recalled several brands of pet food manufactured at its Monmouth, Illinois plant after samples tested positive for Salmonella.

The FDA found the food safety program used by Midwestern to be inadequate to minimize or prevent salmonella in any of the products, and in violation of federal regulations.

In April, a dog food class action lawsuit was filed against Midwestern, alleging the company failed to disclose, and actively concealed, the pet food products were laced with poisonous mold byproducts.

The FDA has requested a written response from the company within 15 working days outlining the steps it plans to take to correct the violations. Failure to do so can result in legal action, product seizure and injunction.

“It is imperative that manufacturers and distributors of pet foods understand their responsibility to comply with all requirements of federal law and FDA regulations and, when applicable, to implement a robust hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls program,” Steven M. Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a press release. “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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