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Attention: Pet Food Product Recall

By Dr. Andrew Jones

On September 2, 2020, Sunshine Mills announced a pet food product recall of its three pet food brands after a retail product sample was found by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry to contain an unsafe level of aflatoxin. And on October 8, Sunshine Mills expanded its recall to include additional 21 products.

Sunshine Mills Inc. which is headquartered in Red Bay, Alabama and distributes affected products in retail stores throughout the U.S., and two were exported exclusively to distributors in Japan and Colombia.

Sunshine Mills announced voluntary recall of several pet food brands for containing an unsafe level of aflatoxin

What is Aflatoxin?

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. Most animals can generally tolerate dietary levels of aflatoxin without experiencing side effects, but clinical disease (aflatoxicosis) and death can occur if they consume too much.

How can it affect you and your pet?

Pets with aflatoxicosis may show symptoms of illness including sluggishness or lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, yellowish tint to the eyes or gums, diarrhea, and in worst cases, death. Pet owners are advised to immediately stop feeding their pets the recalled products listed below and consult their veterinarian, especially if the pet is showing signs of illness.

Humans are also at risk of aflatoxin exposure. The mold byproduct is a naturally occurring carcinogen, meaning it has a cancer-causing potential. The primary disease associated with aflatoxin intake is liver cancer, according to the book Aflatoxins—Recent Advances and Future Prospects. There is no evidence to suggest that pet owners who handle products containing aflatoxin are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning. However, pet owners should always wash their hands after handling pet food.

This is a developing situation and the FDA is continuously conducting follow-up investigations and testing at the manufacturing facility. I will be post more updates when new information becomes available.

To see the full list of Sunshine Mills brands and pet food product recall, click here.

Sources: FDA advisory, Newsweek article

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Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM