RECALL: Another Dog Food Recall for Aflatoxin Contamination – Again

Like the poor, long-suffering Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, hopelessly trapped in a time loop, another day arrives with another dog food recall for the very same reason as the two previous recalls (IAMS and Cargill brands, respectively) for – you guessed it – aflatoxin contamination. Yup, hard to believe, but here we go again:smiling-santa-hat-dog-xmas-christmas-cute

Advanced Animal Nutrition issues dog food recall
By the Associated Press | Friday, December 9, 2011 | 11:31 a.m. CST
A Missouri-based company is recalling three dry dog food products because of high levels of the fungus aflatoxin. Advanced Animal Nutrition of Thayer on Friday voluntarily recalled 50-pound bags each of Dog Power Adult Maintenance Formula 21-12, Dog Power Hunters Formula 27-14 and Dog Power Hi-Pro Performance Formula 26-18. The recall applies to products with the packaging codes K0004 through K1322.”
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“The company says no illnesses have been reported. The products were distributed in Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. Consumers can return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund. Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring chemical that comes from a fungus sometimes found on corn and in other crops. It can cause severe liver damage and in rare cases death.”silly dog xmas santa costume cute hat coat

Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s harmless
I could just scream, every time I read the same old phrase meant to pacify consumers: “aflatoxin is a naturally occurring bla, bla, bla“. So what? I could care less that it’s a fungus, what I do care about is that it’s highly toxic. By definition aflatoxin is natural, so technically they are correct. It should be emphasised, I believe, that however “natural” an element is, that consumers never assume that a “natural” substance is a benign one. dog xmas santa hat happy cute

Too often manufacturers carefully crafted press releases inevitably attempt to placate consumers with their favorite term, “natural”. Another factual but banal phrase is that aflatoxin is “a common fungus that can be the result of moldy corn or other grains”. I don’t care if it’s as common as dirt. As is often the case in such recalls, it is my belief, that a subtle yet deliberate attempt is made to mislead consumers to assume if it is “natural” or “common” it is therefore innocuous. Natural is good, right? Well, that’s what they would like you to believe. Aflatoxin may be natural, but it’s anything but harmless.santa hat dog sad xmas

Aflatoxins are toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known. Toxins, and especially mycotoxins, are a severe problem in the animal feed industry and feeding these contaminated products to animals, may cause severe problems, even death. High-level aflatoxin exposure produces an acute hepatic necrosis, resulting later in cirrhosis, and/or carcinoma of the liver. santa puppy dog wearing red hat  xmas cute

Chronic, subclinical exposure may not lead to symptoms as dramatic as acute aflatoxicosis, but it does lead to a high risk of developing liver cancer. Low levels of aflatoxin exposure (100-300 ppb) require continuous consumption for just several weeks to months in order for signs of liver dysfunction to appear. When you consider that the primary target organ for aflatoxins is the liver with liver disease resulting from dogs ingesting aflatoxin-contaminated dog food, this kind of natural is not so groovy.cute dog santa hat

Using that same phraseology would mean that manufacturers also include such natural elements as heavy metals. As with aflatoxin, natural elements can be both toxic and dangerous. I can see it now, “mercury, now in tuna” – who cares! Because, the tin will say, “Heavy metals are natural components of the Earth’s crust”. Yay! Gee, with a claim like that, they deserve a “It’s healthy, ’cause it’s natural!” logo. They will not tell you however that heavy metals are dangerous because they have a nasty habit to bioaccumulate.cute dog reindeer hat xmasRead:
NATURALLY DANGEROUS: Surprising Facts About Food, Health, and the Environment By James P. Collman, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University

Applied Animal Nutrition does not have a website, and no, it’s not the one in Australia with the same name. Also, no official word about this recall from the FDA. Stay tuned…

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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.