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The Food and Drug Administration says more than 130 deaths and 220 illnesses in dogs may have been caused by the Midwestern Pet Foods dog food brand, after inspections revealed “evidence of significant violations” of food safety rules.
In a warning letter sent to the pet food manufacturer, the FDA said the inspection detected high levels of aflatoxin, a toxin produced by some types of mold that can cause illness and death in pets.
“We are issuing this company-wide cautionary letter because inspections of Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc.’s manufacturing plants revealed evidence of abuse, which was shared across multiple factories and linked to the illness or death of hundreds of pets that ate the company’s dry dog food.” Stephen Solomon, MD, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, wrote in a statement.
The FDA also said it found Midwest food safety programs insufficient to prevent or reduce contamination. The agency has given Midwest 15 days to respond with an action plan to correct the violations before it faces legal action.
Inspections took place at four plants after the company recalled several products, including dry dog food from Sportmix. After screening, the Food and Drug Administration found 558 parts per billion of aflatoxin in food. The maximum aflatoxin for dog foods is 20 parts per billion.
Midwestern also recalled several other brands after testing positive for salmonella, which the Food and Drug Administration said after testing the company did little to prevent it.
Midwestern Pet Foods has not yet responded to NPR’s request for comment.
Josie Fishels is a news desk intern at NPR.