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Birdchick Blog: Peanut Butter Recall, Salmonella, Suet and Birds

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Peanut Butter Recall, Salmonella, Suet and Birds

This post will be updated as we hear from more suet manufacturers.

Okay, I have communicated with three different suet manufacturers regarding their nut flavored suets and the salmonella peanut butter recall. Currently, peanut butter produced from Peanut Corporation of America is at issue for salmonella contamination, not commercial brands that many of us have in our cabinets. Here are what three manufacturers told me:

C & S states on their website that their nut suets are safe due to their testing and that they do not use any of the recalled industrial peanut butter products from Peanut Corporation of America.

Pine Tree Farms grinds their own nuts and since just the nuts themselves are not part of the recall, their suet is safe.

Woodpecker Products said that their suet is safe because they do not use peanut butter from Peanut Corporation of America.

UPDATE 1: Thanks to Donald the Birder, we also have info that Heath Manufacturing is also saying that their suets are salmonella free since they do not use any of the recalled peanut butter products.

UPDATE 2: Thanks to hscott, we also have info that Wildlife Sciences says that their suet products do not contain peanut products affected by the current recall.

UPDATE 3: Scott's Wild Bird Food has recalled some of its products.

I called Cornell Lab of Ornithology for good measure and they said that if you do not know where the peanut butter ingredients came from in your flavored suet cake, don't feed it to birds. They did offer that since consumer grade peanut butter is currently not on the recall list, making your own peanut butter suet using ingredients you have on hand should be safe.

If you are looking for a suet recipe, I highly recommend Julie Zickefoose's Peanut Butter Suet Dough Recipe.

While making different phone calls, I did have one person tell me, "Birds can't get salmonella."

"Yes, they can," I said.

"No they can't," they argued.

"Yes they can..." and just as I was about to start listing salmonella outbreaks in birds in the last year, he said, "Well, they can't get the strain that's involved in the recall."

I disagree and asked Cornell about this matter. At the moment, there is so little information about the salmonella involved the outbreak we cannot say whether or not it will harm birds and it's best to err on the side of caution. Here is some information from Dr. David Bonter, the project leader of our Project FeederWatch on salmonella and birds.

"Salmonellosis is caused by a bacteria belonging to the genus Salmonella. It is a common cause of mortality in feeder birds, particularly siskins, goldfinches, and redpolls, but the symptoms are not always obvious. A sick bird may appear thin, fluffed up, and may have fecal material on its vent and swollen eyelids. Infected birds are often lethargic and easy to approach. Some infected birds may show no outward symptoms, but are carriers of the disease and can spread the infection to other birds.

Salmonellosis is primarily transmitted through fecal contamination of food and water. It may also be transmitted through bird-to-bird contact. Occasionally, outbreaks of the disease cause significant mortality in certain species.

Disease transmission can be reduced by 1) cleaning areas that are contaminated with the bacteria, and 2) discouraging large flocks of birds from gathering in one location."

At a blog reader's request, I have tried contacting Scott's Wild Bird Food about their suet and they have not answered me at this time, so I cannot say whether or not their suet is free of the recalled industrial peanut butter (this does not mean it's not safe, but at the moment, it does not have the guarantee the other suet manufacturers have). I shook my head at their website. If you go to their web page for North American bird feeding, they show European goldfinches eating their food. Too bad we don't get those in the US. If a company doesn't even know basic North American feeder birds, how we trust that they know anything about feeding birds?

So that is the current info that we have on peanut butter suet being safe for bird feeding.



Blogger Mike and Lizette's Travels and Thoughts said...

Thanks for the follow up on this Sharon.

2/03/2009 9:54 PM  
Blogger donaldthebirder said...

I have found a company out of Indiana that makes the Scotts Suet products. I will call them when I get time. Odd about the European Goldfinches, Scotts is listed as a sponsor on the side of Cornell Lab of Ornithology's web site.

Meanwhile, I have found out the manufacturer of the suet my employer goes through, and they say it is safe:

2/04/2009 6:07 AM  
Blogger RuthieJ said...

Thanks for the information Sharon. I was wondering about that also.

2/04/2009 6:25 AM  
Blogger birdchick said...


Thanks for the tip about Heath, I added it to the post!

2/04/2009 8:28 AM  
Blogger donaldthebirder said...

JFYI - Heath is the manufacturer of Nature's Song Suet sold by Kroger family of stores.

2/04/2009 9:48 AM  
Blogger hscott said...

Wildlife Sciences (Suet Plus) states on their website that their suet products are safe and not affected by the recall.

2/04/2009 1:38 PM  
Blogger birdchick said...

Thanks, hscott, I'll add that to the list!

2/04/2009 1:41 PM  
Blogger donaldthebirder said...

Just spoke with a company spokesman from Morning Song (Scotts) and a Tom insured me that they do not get their peanuts from the company that is in question and that they make all of their suet themselves at their facilities, they do not use peanut butter, and have their own source of peanuts.

2/04/2009 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/07/2009 1:31 PM  
Blogger Dave-wildlife said...

I would like to know how Anonymous knows where Wildlife Sciences gets the peanut products from. We at Wildlife Sciences have never used any peanut products from Peanut Corp of America or Tidewater Blanching. It is pretty gutless to post anonymous information about a company that is serious about providing high quality nutritious products for bird feeding. We stand by the comment on our website. Please contact us if you have any concerns.
Dave Pichotta, co-owner
Wildlife Sciences, LLC

2/12/2009 10:15 AM  
Blogger birdchick said...

There were two comments before Dave from Wildlife Sciences that I have removed.

If you are going to accuse a company of lying, understand that you need to put your name to it. Otherwise, anonymous, you come off looking like either a troll or someone from a rival suet company slandering the competition.

2/12/2009 11:04 AM  

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