Corn as the main ingredient for pet food can cause harm to dogs and cats if contaminated with aflatoxin.

What are Aflatoxins

Aflatoxin is a kind of mycotoxin produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus fungi which are most common in warm and humid regions. These aflatoxin-producing fungi are found in agricultural crops which can be contaminated in the field, during harvest, and storage.

Corn, a popular main ingredient used in commercial pet food, has the highest incidence of aflatoxin contamination. Other plants and crops that may be contaminated with aflatoxins are:

  • Peanuts
  • Milk and cheese
  • Other nuts (like almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and Brazil nuts)
  • Grains
  • Soybeans
  • Figs
  • Dried spices
  • Cottonseed

People and animals are exposed to aflatoxins by ingesting contaminated crops and plant products. It can also be acquired by consuming the meat or dairy products from animals that ate aflatoxin-contaminated feed.

Aflatoxin B1 is the most prevalent and most toxic type of aflatoxin. It is a very potent liver toxin and carcinogen. Exposure can pose serious health problems to all organ systems and can increase cancer risk.

Aflatoxins in pet food

Because of its adverse health effects, aflatoxins are tightly regulated worldwide. Aflatoxin contamination is so prevalent that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 25% or more of the world’s food crops are destroyed annually due to this.

In the pet food industry, the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) mandates pet food companies to monitor all the raw materials that they source and use. This is due to frequent outbreaks in the past, like in 1974 when hundreds of stray dogs (have) died after ingesting aflatoxin-contaminated corn in India. In the US, a large recall on a certain brand happened in December 2005 after 76 dogs died from aflatoxin-contaminated pet food.

Signs and symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning

Aflatoxicosis, or aflatoxin poisoning, can cause adverse health hazards and can be life-threatening for dogs and cats. Studies suggest that continuous consumption of 100-300 ppb (aflatoxin level) in pet food for several weeks to months can cause aflatoxicosis to develop.

Signs and symptoms of aflatoxicosis include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Discolored urine
  • Severe vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes, gums, and belly)

aflatoxin dog food

Aflatoxin suppresses the immune system and damages the liver more than any other organ. As drugs and antibiotics are not effective against aflatoxicosis, the best way to fight this toxin is to prevent it from contaminating your pet food product.

How to avoid aflatoxin contamination in pet food

Despite having strict regulations for aflatoxins in commercial pet foods, low concentrations can still sneak in the food if manufacturers are not careful. An aflatoxin outbreak can cause a recall on your product in the market, resulting in an immense economic loss to your business.

When you choose Addiction Foods as your manufacturing partner, you are linking up with a pet food company with a high level of production standards. We are proud to call New Zealand home where the highest food safety standards, premium meats, and organic produce are found.

Addiction Foods Private Label is the biggest and most technologically-advanced dry pet food plant in New Zealand. Our continuous investment into our manufacturing equipment and leverage of digital technology mean that all our products are of the finest quality and made with maximum production efficiency.

And by adhering to New Zealand’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, all our outputs pass through metal detection and microbiological testing. This ensures that all the food we produce is free from any contaminants and the final products are of the highest food safety standards.

Our dog and cat food products are all natural and made with the freshest, free-range meat. We produce pet foods that are gluten-free and grain-free, made with no wheat, corn, and soy to ensure safety against mycotoxins like aflatoxin.

Addiction Foods believe that all pets deserve high-quality food designed to nourish and keep them healthy. That is why we make it a point to pass on that principle to all our partners by being committed to the responsible production of all our pet foods.

For more information about Addiction Foods Private Label service, please visit our website.

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