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Salmonella-based recall spreads to bird food

Posted March 10, 2009

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— State inspectors determined Tuesday that samples of Wild Birds Unlimited bird food tested positive for salmonella, prompting the Kentucky-based manufacturer to issue a recall.

The salmonella that has killed numerous birds is likely linked to a nationwide outbreak of the disease in humans, said Joe Reardon, food and drug protection director of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Wild Birds Unlimited Wildlife Blend bird food Tainted bird food recalled

Burkmann Feeds immediately recalled 20-pound packages of Wild Birds Unlimited Wildlife Blend bird food with the manufacturing date code of 81132200 2916 08124. The food is sold exclusively at Wild Birds Unlimited Stores.

Wild Birds Unlimited, Inc. Chief Naturalist John F. Schaust said in a statement that stores “supplied by Burkmann Feeds have been notified not to sell the affected products.”

Jack Baumer, who owns two Wild Bird Unlimited stores in Cary and Raleigh, said this is the first time a seed recall was directed at one of the store’s blends. The product was pulled off of the floor.

“We are in the process of contacting our customers that have purchased the Wildlife Blend in the last three weeks,” Baumer wrote in an e-mail to WRAL News.

The agriculture department has been investigating reports of dead wild birds across the state, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said.

On Monday, Bill Kastern, a biologist and owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Aberdeen, said his shop had received numerous calls from Southern Pines residents concerned about dead birds in their yards.

Kastern said he suspected the birds were infected with avian salmonella, a strain not related to the national peanut recall.

Tuesday’s recall contradicts that opinion.

“We are pleased that the testing has enabled us to remove contaminated feed from the market,” Troxler said in a statement. “Food safety is a No. 1 priority for this department, for both humans and animals.”

In January, the FDA ordered a nationwide recall of peanut products linked to a Georgia plant after a salmonella outbreak killed eight people and sickened hundreds more.

"We were made aware that (Burkmann Feeds) did, in fact, receive some peanuts that were associated with the recall out of Blakely, Ga. So, there's a real likelihood that this (bird food) product may contain some of those recalled peanuts," Reardon said.

State inspectors are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to identify the source of the contamination at Burkmann Feeds.

Consumers were urged to discard the contaminated bird food and avoid touching it with their hands. Anyone who handles the bird food should wash their hands thoroughly, officials said.

Dave Lank, who enjoys feeding birds behind his Durham home, said he was troubled to hear about the bird food recall.

“What a waste of all those products - because someone wanted to be dishonest and put knowingly bad products out to the public. I think it’s a real crime,” Lank said.

8 Comments

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  • cbarnett Mar 11, 2009

    Although I personally don't buy bird feed from Wild Birds Unlimited, I have found two dead birds in my yard on separate occaisions within the last six months. It bugs me to think I could kill the wild birds too, hammerhead.

  • Sandollar Mar 11, 2009

    WRAL thanks for informing the public. There are a lot of people in NC that love birds. This information will help us make wise purchases.

  • St Ives Mar 11, 2009

    We have lost so many birds over the last decade at an alarming rate this can turn out to be serious.

  • justiceforall Mar 11, 2009

    Bail out for the birds!

  • Si Deus pro nobis quis contra no Mar 11, 2009

    I'm not sure about the food, but I personally know Jack Baumer and his wife. They are wonderful people and any of their customers know they will do whatever it takes to correct the problem.

  • Hammerhead Mar 10, 2009

    Good one, turbo. Knowing that I'm feeding potentially lethal food to the birds in my backyard disturbs me. You might note that if the feed lot is not tainted would increase the problem you allude to, not solve it.

  • mrtwinturbo Mar 10, 2009

    Perhaps they should use this tainted food around busy airports and air force bases

  • ribbons55 Mar 10, 2009

    I'm glad NCDA saw fit to fully investigate this, but I suspect had the complaint not come from some place fairly affluent, like Southern Pines and area, they would have done nothing. I reported an incident of bird poisoning two years ago, and they fooled around with the case for nearly two years before finally giving the guy responsible a slap on the wrist.