Peanuts And Aflatoxins

Posted by Patty on

photo by theheadnut.com

Peanuts are not, in fact, a nut. They are a legume – in the same family as beans and peas. They are seeds, enclosed in pods, that grow underground.

Peanuts are a great source of protein and because the protein is plant based, they don’t contain cholesterol and are low in saturated fats. They are an antioxidant.
They are popular in cooking in many parts of the world, especially China, where they are used much in the same ways as nuts traditionaly are. It’s no wonder that nut loving parrots also love peanuts.
Unfortunately, peanuts have a dark side. About 2% of the US (human) population have an allergic reaction to peanuts ranging from mild (hives) to severe (anaphylactic shock). There are reports of parrots suffering from peanut allergies as well, although this and other allergies in general are a rare occurance in parrots.

photo by bhg.com

A more relevant concern is something called an aflatoxin. Simply put, an aflatoxin is a naturally occuring carcengenic toxin produced by a species of mold. Its preferred habitat is soil and decaying grains and vegetation. That means it is often present where crops grow. It thrives in moist and warm conditions and often contaminates feed and storage bins.
Aflatoxins are most commonly a problem in seed and other feed for animals, nuts, wheat, and concerningly, corn which is a staple food in almost all cultures. Peanuts, which grow in soil and have very porous outer shells are perfect recepticles for the molds which produce aflatoxins. Unfortunately, parrots are great recepticles for peanuts and many cherish them as treats.
In the US, the FDA tests each truckload of peanuts for aflatoxins in order to keep the risks to a minimum. Each load must not exceed the recommended safe level. Animals have a more severe reaction to aflatoxins than do humans and your bird’s susceptibility depends largely on its age, diet and overall health.

photo by howstuffworks.com

Should you buy peanuts for yourself or your parrots, buy them roasted in the shell because the roasting processes reduces aflatoxins by 70%. Peanut butters also contain traces but falls within acceptible levels according to the FDA. It is one of the rare cases where I will recommend to you that you purchase the MORE processed version of the food. The more processed the peanut butter, the lower it tests for aflatoxins.

It is an individual’s choice as to whether or not you allow your birds to have peanuts. Many people fear the possibilities and many feel the risk is worth taking because their parrots so enjoy them. Your parrot, your rules. However, now you can make an educated choice.

 


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3 comments

  • hi, i recently caught and rescued an injured senegal parrot. he loves the nuts but im having difficulty training him. he is very protective and scared if we come to close to him. what can i do? please advise

    moegamat on
  • Lina Sombrea
    We feed our sun conure roasted peanuts, sun flower seeds and crushed M &M candies either with nuts or chocolate inside. She also loves to eat ice cream. I usually give her the bottom part of the cone stuffed with vanilla flavoured ice cream. She holds it with her right foot/claws and eat with gusto.

    She lays eggs every year. This spring she laid 3 eggs. She sits on her eggs all the time and comes up only to eat. She is over-protective of her eggs. I feel sorry for her because I knew the eggs are not going to hatch because they aren’t fertilized. Last year she just abandoned her 4 eggs after sitting on them for almost 20 days.
    Any comment……..?

    Lina Sombrea on
  • what if you grew your own then rosted them up. u’d know the kind of soil and stuff, any comments

    lynd on

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