Surge Of Pet Deaths Linked to Common Ingredient
Pet Treats

Surge Of Pet Deaths Linked to Common Ingredient

Pet owners plead with FDA to go beyond recall.

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March 2, 2021

CLEARWATER, Fla. — TruthAboutPetFood.com reports that since late December 2020, hundreds of pets have died due to contaminated pet food. The deaths could have been prevented through proper monitoring of ingredients and pet foods, the report said. In the same timeframe, 60 million pounds of corn-based dog and cat food were recalled containing deadly levels of aflatoxins, poisons produced by molds on agricultural crops.

The Food and Drug Administration's maximum limit of aflatoxin in pet food is 20 parts per billion. FDA states: "Pets with aflatoxin poisoning may experience symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice and/or diarrhea. In some cases, this toxicity can cause long-term liver issues and/or death."

Pet owners across the United States sent an urgent plea to Dr. Steven Solomon, FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine to take preventive action against mycotoxins in pet food, telling the agency recalls are not enough.

"Proper monitoring of hazards and prevention is vital to pet food safety" said veterinarian Dr. Laurie Coger. "More immediate and consistent action needs to be taken by the FDA, veterinarians, and corn-inclusive pet food manufacturers."

According to TruthAboutPetFood.com, the FDA allows pet food to include inferior quality corn, including corn rejected for human consumption due to high risk of mycotoxin producing mold. Increasing the risk, most substandard corn is stored outside exposed to moisture and animal infestations — creating ideal conditions for mold and mycotoxin production.

The report said that while many manufacturers follow Good Manufacturing Practices, some do not. Unless ingredients and pet foods are tested, mycotoxins will wind up in pets' bowls leading to sickness and death.

"It's one of the most dangerous threats to pets — 700,000 tons more corn is used in pet foods than any other ingredient," said consumer advocate Susan Thixton. 

"We have asked the FDA to investigate more aggressively and issue alerts in a similar manner as the agency has investigated other issues," states documentary filmmaker Kohl Harrington. "We need action taken immediately."

Pet owners have asked FDA to:

  • Request veterinarians and pet owners to report any pet illness or death over the last 12 months to the FDA for pets fed any type of corn ingredient pet product
  • Identify the toxic corn suppliers and trace all customers over the last 24 months
  • Implement random mycotoxin testing for pet foods and treats that contain a corn ingredient over for the next 12 months
  • Issue monthly updates to pet owners providing the number of mycotoxin adverse events received and test results

Pet advocates are asking pet food manufacturers to take preventive action. The potential for more deaths is inevitable if nothing is done, they said. Manufacturers of corn-included pet foods are asked to:

  • Provide pet owners aflatoxin test results on the brand's website for every batch of pet food produced
  • Provide aflatoxin test results on the brand's website for every load of corn (corn-based) ingredient(s) received
"We cannot wait months and months, as with the melamine recalls in 2007 where 10,000-plus cats and dogs died from 150 contaminated brands. Action is necessary now," said Thixton.