Pet food contaminated with aflatoxins has killed several pets
Pet food heavily contaminated with aflatoxin was recalled in the US at the end of December 2020 after 28 dogs died from consuming the product.

On January 11, 2021, the manufacturer voluntarily expanded the recall to include all of their products containing corn and made at one of their facilities. On January 25, the FDA published a list of countries to which the manufacturer (Midwestern Pet Foods) shipped the recalled lots. Hungary is not among the countries affected.

Since the publication of the recall, new cases have come to light, with more than 110 pets now dead and around 210 sick animals reported. No human illness has been reported in connection with the incident.

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring toxic substances (micotoxins) with strong biological effects produced by certain moulds (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus),which, depending on the amount and duration of consumption, can have toxic effects on both animals and humans.

Pets with aflatoxin poisoning may experience symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage) and/or diarrhoea. In severe cases, toxicity can cause long-term liver issues and/or death. Some pets suffer liver damage without showing any symptoms.

The possible source of the aflatoxin contamination may have been the corn in the products. The authority has asked pet owners to stop feeding their animals the recalled products and to consult their veterinarian, especially if the pet is showing signs of illness. Pet owners handling pet food are not at risk of aflatoxin poisoning, but it is important to pay attention to personal hygiene and remember to wash their hands after handling pet food.

Among the most contaminated foods with aflatoxins are certain oilseeds, dried fruits, spices and cereals, most notably maize, which can be used as a raw material for food and feed. The growth and toxin production of Aspergillus species is strongly influenced by temperature and humidity. Whereas previously they were a major problem in tropical and subtropical areas, climate change has led to an increase in the emergence and damage caused by mycotoxin-producing moulds, including in Hungary.

Because of their importance, mycotoxins, including aflatoxins, are strictly regulated worldwide. The European Commission regulates the maximum levels of contaminants in food, including aflatoxins, in Regulation 1881/2006/EC and its amendments, which also apply to Hungary. The maximum levels for feed materials and the levels of aflatoxin B1 that may be permitted in feedingstuffs are regulated by Directive 2002/32/EC.

It is primarily the responsibility of business operators to produce products that meet the legal requirements. The authority ensures that businesses comply with their legal obligations by carrying out regular checks and sampling and, where necessary, by taking official measures.


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