Last week, the FDA announced that a recall by Sunshine Mills, maker of several brands of pet food products, was being expanded to include more products under more brand labels, shipped not only nationwide but also to distributors in Japan and Colombia. Though the recall had initially been announced by Sunshine Mills in September after the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry discovered concerning toxins in samples of the company’s dog food, the recall list now includes roughly twice as many products and might grow even longer as the FDA continues to investigate.
The problem is aflatoxin. According to the FDA, “Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and other grains used as ingredients in pet food. At high levels, aflatoxin can cause illness and death in pets.” It’s not necessarily visible, either; you don’t have to see visible mold growth for the toxin to be present. And while humans eat a variety of foods each day, dogs eat the same kibble for every meal, meaning that aflatoxin can build up in their system to dangerous levels. Aflatoxin poisoning in dogs can take the form of sluggishness, yellow eyes (a sign of liver damage), loss of appetite, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Sometimes, the toxin can be fatal.
The detailed list of all the recalled pet food brands can be found here and includes labels like Heartland Farms, Paws Happy Life, Champ, Family Pet, Old Glory, and many others. If you’ve purchased any of the items in the full list, it’s important to not only stop feeding it to your dog immediately, but also dispose of the bag safely so that other animals won’t eat the recalled kibble from the trash. (You can call the company listed on the package for instructions on how to do this.) Sanitize whatever containers the food might have had contact with, such as dog bowls, food scoops, and plastic tubs. And of course, monitor your dog for the symptoms of poisoning and contact a vet if they begin to exhibit any.