In years past, the concept of what to feed a companion parrot was typically limited to bags of “bird seed” mixes of dubious ingredients and quality. Most were “animal feed” grade offerings, designed to maximize profits for the companies that sold them. Then came “pellets” – kibble-like products that are touted by manufactures as an “optimal diet.” But are most of them made with “human grade” ingredients? The likely answer is no.
The difference between “animal feed” grade diets, and “human grade” food is immense. There are very few impartial articles relating to avian or exotic commercially-available diets, however there are many good articles as the terms relate (legally) to the production of “pet” foods – mostly for dogs and cats.
Here is an excellent article on the difference between “feed” and “food” —
While this article primarily relates to manufacture of dog and cat foods, the takeaway for families with birds is this: if you are buying your “feed” at a pet store, the regulations regarding it’s manufacturing and packaging DO NOT MEET HUMAN FOOD STANDARDS. In the aforementioned link to Susan Thixton’s article, you see:
” …“CPG Sec. 675.200 Diversion of Adulterated Food to Acceptable Animal Feed Use” states “The *Center* will consider the requests for diversion of food considered adulterated for human use in all situations where the diverted food will be acceptable for its intended animal food use. Such situations may include:
a. Pesticide contamination in excess of the permitted tolerance or action level.
b. Pesticide contamination where the pesticide involved is unapproved for use on a food or feed commodity.
c. Contamination by industrial chemicals.
d. Contamination by natural toxicants.
e. Contamination by filth.
f. Microbiological contamination.
g. Over tolerance or unpermitted drug residues.”
Diversion means THE WASTE (unallowable, contaminated foods) from HUMAN FOOD processing is used (DIVERSION) for “animal food use.” So things like “pesticide contamination in excess of permitted (FOR HUMANS) tolerance” or “contamination” by chemicals, toxins, FILTH, MICROBIOLOGICAL (germs!) and DRUG RESIDUES — ARE — allowed in “pet foods” aka “animal feed” grade food ingredients.
So these same STANDARDS govern what goes into ANY “animal feed” grade foods – be it a can of wet cat food, any of the dry kibbled/pelleted foods, or even seed and grain mixes. Aflatoxin levels permitted in HUMAN food are held to 20ppb (parts per billion) as opposed to 300ppb that is allowed in “animal feed” for feed lot cattle. (Note that lower allowances are made for immature animals). Information on the action level for aflatoxin contamination is here:
Do you want to trust your bird’s health to ingredients that are UNFIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION? Avoid foods that are not human grade. If it’s prepared by standards that make is SAFE for us to eat, then it’s going to be SAFE for them to eat.