The Forgotten Victims of Aflatoxin Contaminated Pet Food – Truth about Pet Food

There are victims of aflatoxin contaminated pet food that no one is giving any concern to. The risks they face are carelessly ignored.

Not limited to the most recent Midwestern Pet Food aflatoxin recall, but using it as example…

On December 30, 2020 the FDA issued an urgent recall alert regarding a “fatal level” of aflatoxin in Midwestern Pet Food Sportmix dog food. The FDA alerted the public that they were aware of at least 28 dog deaths linked to the pet food. We can safely assume there are many more dog illnesses and deaths that have not been reported to the agency.

FDA pushed the recall alert to news media, the warning has been shared on local news all across the US. But there are other victims of this recall that no one has warned, no one has investigated if they are ill or recommended them to seek medical attention.

Those victims: the employees of Midwestern Pet Food.

If the aflatoxin was at “fatal levels” diluted down into the pet food, imagine how high it was in the grain ingredient(s) included in that pet food.

Kibble pet food manufacturing plants are very dusty environments. Grains are ground into fine particles, rendered meat and vegetable ingredients are powdered, and supplements are most often powdered. Imagine the dust that swirls in the mill room when grains (or aflatoxin contaminated grains) are finely ground and mixed with other dry ingredients. Employees of these pet food plants are not required to wear respiratory protection. Imagine what they are breathing in each day at work.

Below is an image of an N95 mask that was worn by an employee of pet food manufacturing for just one 8 hour shift.

Imagine the lungs of the employees that are not provided with a mask (again, respiratory protection is not required in pet food manufacturing) after exposure to multiple dusty ingredients day in and day out at work.

The New Jersey Department of Health states:

  • Aflatoxins can affect you when inhaled or swallowed.
  • Aflatoxins are CARCINOGENS and MUTAGENS and should be handled as TERATOGENS — WITH EXTREME CAUTION.
  • Exposure to Aflatoxins can cause headache, nausea and vomiting.
  • Aflatoxins may damage the liver and kidneys.

And unfortunately, “No occupational exposure limits have been established for Aflatoxins.”

There are limits for aflatoxins established in regulation for pet food, cattle feed, hog feed, and even chicken feed. But there are no regulations established to limit the exposure of aflatoxins to employees of pet food or animal feed manufacturing.

To my knowledge, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has only been in one pet food plant. This visit was to a Mars Petcare plant in Joplin, Missouri in 2012. NIOSH officials had intentions to return to this plant to perform full testing of potential hazards to employees (not only of this plant but to determine hazards for all employees of pet food manufacturing) – but, Mars Petcare closed the plant one month before NOISH was to return. You can read their report of the initial visit Here.

This is another serious crime of pet food manufacturing that absolutely no regulatory authority is giving any concern to. We have submitted to FDA a request for the agency to work with fellow federal agency NIOSH in order to establish occupational limits for common pet food and ingredient manufacturing hazards.

If anyone knows an employee of Midwestern Pet food, please ask them to contact me and urge them to seek immediate medical attention for inhalation of aflatoxins.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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