Cargill is expanding a recall of livestock feed products over fear they may be tainted with a toxic fungus that, if eaten, can kill animals.
The Minnetonka-based agribusiness announced over the weekend that it is voluntarily widening the recall after the company found elevated aflatoxin levels in additional Southern States feed products that all contained corn from the same supplier implicated in the initial May 6 recall. The expansion raises the total amount of affected product from 150 tons to 12,000 tons.
The problem was initially discovered earlier this month by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Cargill traced the contamination to moldy corn bought from a supplier for a Cargill plant in Cleveland, N.C. The company said earlier this month it would not buy ingredients from this supplier until it could identify how exactly the fungal toxin made its way into the supply.
In recent weeks, the company said it has received reports of several adverse health events but didn't elaborate on the outcome of those cases, citing ongoing investigations to determine if they were linked to the feed.
This expansion — which includes horse, cattle, poultry, goat and sheep feed — takes the total recalled products from 300,000 pounds to 24 million pounds.
Aflatoxin is found on moldy crops, including peanuts, corn and tree nuts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Aspergillus fungus can colonize crops at any point from field to storage. Consuming aflatoxins can cause hemorrhaging and bloody diarrhea, and kill both animals and humans within a few days.
People can be exposed by eating contaminated plants, or eating meat or dairy products from animals that consumed contaminated feed, though no such outbreak of human illness caused by aflatoxins is known to have happened in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute.
The affected products were sent to retailers and distributors in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
Cargill asks customers to check the list of affected products, manufactured between Oct. 31 and March 1, and contact the company's customer-service representative for replacement or a full refund.