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Contaminated peanuts pose risk to birds - CJW Press release

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11th Jan 2001

Dangerous levels of toxin in peanuts marketed as bird food pose a potentially fatal threat to the birds. High levels of aflatoxin are present in most imported peanuts. The British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) advises the public not to feed the peanuts if they do not meet UK bird food standards.Chris Whittles is chairman of CJ WildBird Foods, Europe?s largest supplier of bird food, he says that the world-wide reports of high levels of aflatoxin contamination is incredibly worrying for bird welfare.He notes that although all peanuts must be tested and have a certificate from their point of origin prior to transportation, contamination often develops during transit. ?CJ WildBird Foods has a policy of triple testing all incoming peanuts and work to a nil detectable level of aflatoxin. But to the best of our knowledge we are the only bird food supplier to do this.?Our concern is that thousands of tonnes of peanuts are available to bird food suppliers at very low prices and the majority contain aflatoxin levels up to 200 parts per billion, which will harm the birds,? he says.Adverse climatic conditions in peanut growing regions has resulted in aflatoxin contamination world-wide, placing the welfare of birds at risk. Aflatoxins can develop in the country of origin or in transit to the UK. Andrew Cannon of the BTO?s Garden Bird Watch project says that if peanuts have not been rigorously tested following their arrival in the UK, there is a possibility that those available could be contaminated.?More research into levels of aflatoxins affecting birds is needed, but we do know that turkey and geese exposed to high levels of aflatoxins have died.?He adds that there is no apparent difference between a contaminated and safe peanut and there is no evidence that the birds can tell the difference either. ?But, it is difficult to find out if birds have been contaminated because sick birds will hide away and evidence of fatalities is hard to detect,? he says.Chris Whittles adds that CJ WildBird Foods has already rejected nearly 1000 tonnes of contaminated peanuts and therefore will not meet their normal demand for safe peanuts. ?We are recommending our customers switch to alternative food sources such as seed mixes,? he says.If you have fed birds peanuts and are concerned they may be contaminated, call the CJ WildBird Foods hotline for more information on 0800 731 2820.

4th July 2014