can humans eat bird food

As the title suggests we do sometimes get asked, “Can you eat bird food?” We like to tell our customers that our high-quality bird seed is super-clean and safe for birds; however, even though some of the ingredients we use in our bird diets are human food grade, bird food is for the birds.

Some customers reply, “If the birds can eat our seed, why is it not good enough for humans?” The main difference between human grade seed and bird seed is the production facility and storage conditions. Human grade seed warehouses quite rightly have very strict hygiene standards and are usually monitored by the government. We’ve long since argued that bird food companies should enforce robust quality control, and indeed Haith’s set the bar very high in this department as we have an award-winning quality control programme that’s audited by a specialist veterinary expert.

White millet is one of the oldest known foods that are consumed by birds and humans but the grain must be hulled for human consumption. Most bird seed millet still has the husks intact and that’s fine because some birds get enrichment from cracking open the tiny shell to get to the millet inside. Take a moment to watch the rolling action birds such as Greenfinches use to crack open husks. So can you eat bird food? In a way, yes, you can – but buy it from your local health food shop or supermarket as ours is for the birds. Birds eat an astonishing variety of items when they are available and just like humans they love to eat things like sunflower seeds and millet. However, we owe it to our garden birds to offer super-clean and dust free seeds.

Here at Haith’s, we are proud to say that we have an audited quality control programme as can be seen from the following infographic:

Most propriety bird diets in the United Kingdom are not subject to screening or health-monitoring analysis other than visual, naked eye and manual checks for apparent quality and consistency. Haiths, however, under the supervision of professor John E Cooper FRCVS, FRCpath, has introduced a Quality Control (QC) programme for its diets, based on laboratory testing. This helps to ensure that Haiths products intended for wild birds do not pose significant health risks. The additional value and safety of Haiths diets – because they have been subject to a laboratory testing QC procedure – is part of our SUPERCLEAN™ seed preparation process. It is well-recognised that diets that are inadequate or unsatisfactory in quantity or quality, or both, may cause a bird to develop a deficiency or metabolic disease and compromise its welfare. Food items that are dusty or contain sharp or abrasive material may damage a bird’s respiratory or alimentary tract. In addition, diets can be a source of potentially pathogenic organisms, especially bacteria, yeast and protozoa, and toxins originating from fungi (e.g. mycotoxins) and other sources. We have an extensive range of bird seeds ranging from peanuts and sunflower seeds to our bestselling Huskfree Advance. All of which have been through our thorough cleaning process.

With our award-winning super-clean seed cleaning programme, we are aiming to raise the bar within the industry and help people to understand the importance of feeding clean seed.

The majority of proprietary bird diets in the UK are only visually inspected, manually checked for apparent quality and consistency, and not subject to screening or health-monitoring analysis. However, Haiths has implemented a Quality Control (QC) program for its diets, based on laboratory testing, under the direction of professor John E. Cooper FRCVS, FRCpath. This makes it possible to guarantee that Haiths products meant for wild birds don’t present a serious health risk. Our SUPERCLEANTM seed preparation process includes the added value and safety of Haiths diets because they have undergone laboratory testing and quality control procedures. It is commonly known that diets that are insufficient or unsatisfactory in terms of quantity, quality, or both can lead to the development of deficiencies or metabolic diseases in birds, thereby jeopardizing their well-being. Dusty food items or those containing sharp or abrasive materials can harm a bird’s digestive system or respiratory system. Furthermore, foods may contain potentially harmful organisms, such as bacteria, yeast, and protozoa, as well as fungus-derived toxins (e.g., g. mycotoxins) and other sources. We offer a wide variety of bird seed options, including our best-selling Huskfree Advance, sunflower, and peanut varieties. All of which have been through our thorough cleaning process.

One of the earliest foods that humans and birds have ever eaten is white millet, but hulling the grain is necessary before it can be eaten by humans. The husks of the majority of bird seed millet remain intact, which is acceptable because some birds find enrichment in breaking open the tiny shell to access the millet within. Watch the rolling motion that birds use to crack open husks, like greenfinches. In a sense, you could eat bird food, but ours is for the birds, so you’d have to buy it from your neighborhood supermarket or health food store. When food is available, birds consume an amazing range of foods, and they share human preferences for foods like millet and sunflower seeds. But we owe it to our garden birds to provide incredibly clean, dust-free seeds.

We like to tell our customers that our premium bird seed is extremely clean and safe for birds, but bird food is for the birds—even though some of the ingredients we use in our bird diets are human food grade. As the title suggests, we do occasionally get asked, “Can you eat bird food?”

The production facility and storage conditions are the primary distinctions between human grade seed and bird seed. Some customers ask, “If the birds can eat our seed, why is it not good enough for humans?” Human grade seed warehouses are typically inspected by the government and, understandably, adhere to very strict hygiene standards. We’ve long maintained that manufacturers of bird food should implement strict quality control, and Haith’s has raised the standard in this area with an award-winning program that is examined by a veterinary specialist.

The following infographic illustrates our audited quality control program, which we are proud to have at Haith’s:

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Nothing is added to the seeds, but it’s likely that some components were left in the original harvest.

Numerous foreign materials can be found in grains and other seeds, including dirt, debris, and seeds from different plants. After all, they are grown in a field with soil, wind, and rain before being harvested and transported. “Cleaning” the batches and performing quality standard tests are two processes in the food production process for seeds and grains. Although biting down on a stray stone can be extremely painful and keep your dentist busy, effectively eating up any potential savings from buying bird food over human food, these contaminants are generally harmless overall. However, things can get nasty if you have a batch of grains or seeds that have gone bad or contain harmful other seeds.

For animal feed, cleaning procedures are less rigorous, and for bird seed, processing is minimal (essentially limited to what’s needed for storage), since in the end, the birds will still pick up the seeds one by one—just think of Cinderella and the doves.

So in short, the choice is yours. The bird seed should be edible; it’s up to you whether it satisfies your standards for safety (assuming we’re talking about plants that are typically found in food stores, not just any random seeds). If cost is a concern, I would prefer to see if there are any less expensive options, such as purchasing in bulk or non-name brands. For the latter, however, time is important because seeds, particularly those that are oily, can turn rancid quickly, so careful calculations may be necessary.

Rats and mice are permitted near bird seed and other animals. Contaminants not found in seed suitable for human consumption are what you will be consuming.

Items such as bird feed are typically clearly labeled as not being meant for human consumption. Because of this, manufacturers can eschew many safety measures that ensure food products are fit for human consumption. There is virtually no chance that you or your family will have a good legal outcome if you are poisoned by eating such items. Animal feed should not be consumed unless there is an emergency and you have no other option.

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Is bird feed safe for humans?

Be careful of birdseed- most are just grains (millet, rye, corn, sunflower) and not harmful, but as they are animal grade, they may have exposure to mold, mildew, agriculture chemicals, dirt and generally yucky stuff. Eat your own seeds like organic sunflower, pepitas, roasted corn, or nuts.

Can humans eat sunflower seeds for birds?

Sunflower seeds are very versatile. They can be eaten or fed to the birds. Keep an eye on your sunflowers this fall, whether you want to harvest them for people food or bird food.

Is bird suet edible for humans?

Can humans eat suet? Yes. I am told that suet pudding, dead man’s leg and spotted dick are traditional English dishes that contain suet. These dishes have not yet caught on in the United States.

Is bird millet safe for humans?

While more research needs to be done on the subject, for now we can say that millet is an excellent grain to include in your diet, especially if your diet is plant-based and allergen-friendly.