Jan. 2, 2007 Wild birdseed contained higher levels of aflatoxins and other mycotoxins than any other kind of pet food analyzed in studies done around the world, a new review of those studies reports in an article scheduled for the Dec. 27 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Trevor K. Smith and colleagues at the University of Guelph in Ontario point out that mycotoxins are harmful compounds produced by fungi that can grow in cereal grains and nuts used in many pet foods. The compounds are carcinogenic and have other ill effects when consumed at sufficient doses.
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its counterpart in Canada have a legal limit of 20 micrograms per kilogram for aflatoxin in pet food.
"Wild bird feed was found to be the most contaminated among different types of pet foods in several surveys, possibly due to the use of corn, nuts, and seeds as significant ingredients," the researchers said. "Up to one-fourth of the wild bird feed samples were contaminated with more than 100 micrograms of aflatoxin. This presents a potential health threat to the birds."
Among commercial dog and cat foods, the percentage of samples positive for aflatoxin varied from study to study, the researchers found. However, even the positive samples generally had levels of aflatoxin below the FDA limit.
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