FDA Recalls Sportmix, What You Need To Know.
The latest pet food recall involves a pet food company called Sportmix, manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods. The FDA issued an alert that it contains potentially fatal levels of aflatoxins after the death of twenty eight dog and the illness of many others. Signs of sickness included: sluggishness, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and jaundice. It’s also important to note that pets can sustain liver damage without showing any symptoms.
What are aflatoxins and how do they end up in pet food?
Unlike chemicals, pesticides, and antibiotics that end up in our food chain, aflatoxins come from mold that grows naturally on grains, such as corn and wheat. Aflatoxins are produced by the common mold known as Aspergillus. Molds are ubiquitous in the environment. Think of the mold that grows on bread left on the counter. In this case, the big difference with molds in dog food is invisible to the naked eye. Pets are especially vulnerable as they continuously eat the same food unlike humans that eat a varied diet and are not subject to repeated insults. Pet food can potentially be laden with low levels of molds that can sicken pets over time.
In September of 2020, Sunshine Mills announced a “voluntary recall” of several of their foods (Family Pet, Heartland Farms, and Paws Happy Life) due to elevated levels of aflatoxins. Routine sampling by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture found the elevated levels in a sample made by Sunshine Mills. Kudos to Sunshine Mills for notifying their suppliers and customers to discontinue feeding the product. Alarmingly, this is not required by law! It was strictly voluntary to report it on their part. This brings several important points regarding feeding kibble.
Feeding kibble should be properly stored in a clean container and kept in an environment free of heat and humidity to ensure the best freshness. Kibble and packaged treats can also harbor storage mites when not stored properly. As a veterinarian I know when a pet is consuming them in their pet food as the eggs from the mite feces show up on fecal analysis. Yuck! They are also a cause of allergies in many pets, much like fleas.
So how can you prevent or decrease these critters and molds in kibble? Do not buy gigantic bags of dog food and store them for prolonged periods of time. Store them properly in containers that are not left in the garage and exposed to heat for example. Kibble containers should be cleaned with a diluted bleach solution (1:9) between bags and allowed to dry thoroughly. Do not pour another bag of food in with the old kibble without cleaning the bin. Repeatedly doing this is a mold and storage mite haven! Consider feeding a variety by rotating an assortment of quality foods. This way your pet benefits from a variety of nutrients and if there is an issue with a food, they are not repeatedly exposed to it. Pet food companies have pushed the one food fits all for life. You would never accept this for yourself, why would you think this is best for your pet?
The Holistic Vet Blends’ Mission
My mission is to educate and inform pet owners, not to scare them. Knowledge is power! I’ve cooked for my pets for many years and became even more passionate about it during the pet food recall of 2007. Tragically, hundreds of pets died from melamine contaminated foods. My clients were understandably terrified of feeding their pets dog and cat food. They continued to do this for prolonged periods (months to even years in many cases). How could you blame them?
I recommended premixes to help them balance their home cooked food, but after researching I found that many of them contained dehydrated foods (many from China which is where the melamine came from). I knew that I could do better for my pets and my patients. I remain passionate about helping people have control over what they feed their pets by picking the meat and vegetables themselves. Furthermore, you can feed the best quality processed diet you can find and step up the nutrition by supplementing it with home cooked. Although I cook for my pets, I have backup kibble in case of emergency. I can’t always keep up with cooking for my human and pet family and it’s there to back me up when needed. During the pandemic, the kitchen has been busier than ever so there are times I have to rely on it as I get behind on cooking for the humans and animals.
I encourage you to check out Holistic Vet Blend canine and feline supplements for balancing home cooked dog food. The cookbook will be available towards the end of January and premix ready to ship in early February. Sign up to receive a cookbook with recipes on how to cook wholesome, fresh food for your pets at www.holisticvetblend.com