RECALL: Kroger Pet Food Contaminated with Toxic Mold

Kroger pet food recall

Deadly toxin found in pet food sold across 19 states

Kroger is recalling cat and dog food due to aflatoxin contamination, a deadly toxin, in danger of poisoning pets in 19 states, “Reason: The products may be contaminated with aflatoxin which can cause serious illness and even death to pets if consumed” according to Kroger’s website. Brands include Pet Pride, Old Yeller and Kroger Value.

Aflatoxin leads to severe liver damage if ingested, and possibly death, in cats and dogs. Signs of poisoning are: lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and jaundice indications, such as yellowing eyes and gums. Severely affected dogs can produce blood-tinged vomit or stools. Dogs can take several days to exhibit serious signs of illness.

Even if dogs shown no signs of illness, if they have eaten the affected food, they should have liver function tests and blood tests, which can detect liver injury and clotting problems.

Kroger’s announced the recall through a press release yesterday and on a Friday no less, a very sleazy PR maneuver.

Kroger pet food recall

Kroger Pet Food Recall

The Kroger Co. said today it is recalling select packages of pet food sold in some of its retail stores because the products may contain aflatoxin, which poses a health risk to pets. Kroger stores in the following states are included in this recall:  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky,  Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

The recall also includes Dillons and Gerbes stores in Kansas and Missouri; Baker’s stores in Nebraska; Food 4 Less stores in Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana (Chicago area); and Jay C, Hilander, Owen’s, Pay Less and Scott’s stores in Illinois and Indiana.

Customers who have questions about this recall may contact Kroger toll-free at (800) 632-6900. For more information, please visit  http://www.kroger.com/services/Pages/recall_information.aspx. (List of affected products appear below the jump)

Kroger pet food recall

Aflatoxin: The Killer Mold

To better understand the implications of this recall you need to know that aflatoxins are carcinogenic, genotoxic, mutagenic, teratogenic, and immunosuppressive. In short, they are downright dangerous, to human beings as well as to livestock.

Aflatoxins are toxic metabolites produced by certain fungi in/on foods and feeds. Aflatoxins have received greater attention than any other mycotoxins because of their demonstrated potent carcinogenic effect in susceptible laboratory animals and their acute toxicological effects in humans according to Cornell University Department of Animal Science.

Kroger pet food recall

Poisonous Pet Food

According to Cornell Feline Health Center Cornell University aflatoxin is a poison [mold toxin] that can cause serious liver injury if ingested for cats as well as dogs.

In the past aflatoxin contaminated pet food resulted in serious health problems and deaths of dogs as a direct result of ingesting toxic pet food. According to records, Cornell veterinarians had to immediately develop a better method to screen affected dogs so they could be treated as soon as possible, Cornell veterinarians report that they now have a new test, adapted from one used in humans, to accurately assess aflatoxin poisoning in dogs (see companion story).

During that time, Cornell’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) analyzed blood and liver samples from sick dogs around the country, testing suspected dog food, conducting autopsies and collecting as many livers as possible from dead dogs to confirm cause of death, tracked dogs that died and did follow up on the health of dogs that survived the food poisoning. The AHDC has information for veterinarians on its Web site http://diaglab.vet.cornell.edu/news.asp.

Kroger pet food recall

Deadly Health Consequences

Cornell’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) for necropsies that revealed a common cause of death in dogs related to liver damage. AHDC toxicologist Karyn Bischoff conducted tests on food consumed by all the infected dogs, revealing the presence of aflatoxin, a deadly substance produced by fungus (Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus) that leads to severe liver damage if ingested. The fungus can grow on maize and many nuts, including peanuts, walnuts and pecans.

Kroger pet food recall

Symptoms to Look For

Owners should watch for signs of poisoning. These include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and jaundice indications, such as yellowing eyes and gums. Severely affected dogs can produce blood-tinged vomit or stools. Dogs can take several days to exhibit serious signs of illness. Even if dogs shown no signs of illness, if they have eaten the affected food, they should have liver function tests and blood tests, which can detect liver injury and clotting problems.

Kroger pet food recall

Toxic Milk

Dairy cows that eat aflatoxin-contaminated grains secrete the toxin in their milk, which we then consume.  Although levels in milk and other foods can be regulated, it is difficult to do so, especially in developing countries and in places where knowledge and means of aflatoxin control are lacking.

Ingesting even just trace amounts of the substance can place our health at risk. Research into aflatoxins by Craig A. Townsend, professor of organic and bioorganic chemistry at Johns Hopkins University explained, once inside the body, the toxin is transported to the liver, where enzymes that normally deactivate potentially dangerous substances inadvertently activate aflatoxin, turning it into a form that reacts with DNA in liver cells.  This DNA-reactive metabolite operates as a carcinogen by inducing mutations that lead to liver cancer.

Because aflatoxins, especially aflatoxin B1, are potent carcinogens in some animals, there is interest in the effects of long-term exposure to low levels of these important mycotoxins on humans . The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) , part of the World Health Organization’s report on cancer, placed aflatoxin B1 on the list of human carcinogens. This is supported by a number of epidemiological studies that have demonstrated a positive association between dietary aflatoxins and Liver Cell Cancer (LCC) .

Kroger pet food recall

The Circle of Poison

We may dismiss the pet food recall as an isolated incident having little or no direct effect on human health, but what we must remember is how we care for and feed animals of whose products we depend on are only going to be as healthy as how they were cared for.

The consequences of mass industrial farming and cheap feed is being passed on to us through the human food chain. Whether the animals live on a farm or in our home, we need to be aware of the impact consumers have when making choices that support animal health or support manufacturers who pay more heed to profit than the welfare of the animals they are entrusted to keep and care for. Every time we make a purchase we send a clear message to the market what our preferences are. The health of every being on the planet starts with the choices we make.

Kroger is recalling the following items:

  • Pet Pride Cat Food sold in 3.5 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111088128
  • Pet Pride Cat Food sold in 18 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111071357
  • Pet Pride Tasty Blend Poultry & Seafood Cat Food sold in 3.5 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111088152
  • Pet Pride Tasty Blend Poultry & Seafood Cat Food sold in 18 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111074580
  • Pet Pride Kitten Formula Food sold in 3.5 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111071903
  • Old Yeller Chunk Dog Food sold in 22 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111074566
  • Old Yeller Chunk Dog Food sold in 50 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111074563
  • Kroger Value Cat Food sold in 3 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111000018
  • Kroger Value Chunk Dog Food sold in 15 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111071559
  • Kroger Value Chunk Dog Food sold in 50 lb. packages with a sell by date of OCT 23 11 DP and OCT 24 11 DP under the following UPC code: 1111000108

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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