You have to be very selective when buying products with a bird in the house. It should come as no surprise to owners that non-stick coated cookware, chemicals and aerosol sprays can be deadly to the birds. (If this DOES come as a surprise, please click on the links provided for further information – it could save your bird’s life).
The marketing world is a confusing place…it is also a manipulative place. Products are brought to our attention by people who want us to buy them. They say what needs to be said, what we want to hear, while staying within the wavy lines of the law. That leaves us to decipher their words and sometimes lessons are learned the hard way.
The vast majority of products on the market are developed with humans in mind. Because most pets are mammals, just as humans are mammals, they can use a mathematical equation to determine just how much toxicity a small mammal can withstand compared to how much we know a human can tolerate. Terms like “pet friendly” do not consider a bird’s fragility where even small amounts of toxins are concerned. “Safe to use around pets” does not include your bird.
So much information about our toxic world has come forward in the last 20 years that even those trying to look away can’t help but be aware. Marketers are cashing on our fears by using terms like “green”, 100% organic” and “all natural”. As consumers, we snap up these “safe” products.
I want to briefly point out that these terms are very gray areas where law is concerned. The criteria for which marketers can legally use one of theses terms is slanted in their favor. A “green” product might simply come in recyclable packaging, but is made in a factory that pollutes everything around it. Organic products DO use pesticides, just not those that are synthetically manufactured. With all the buzz words and marketing trickery out there, we have to think things through before we assume certain products are safe.
I want to linger on the term “all natural”. Someone posted a question recently asking about the safety of a certain product that boasted all natural ingredients. I actually have this product under my kitchen sink but have never considered it safe for use with birds. While it only lists 2 of the ingredients on the packaging, they do, in fact, come from nature. However, the packaging also gives multiple warnings about the dangers of ingestion and prolonged contact with this product.
‘Natural’ does not equal ‘safe’. The warnings on the all-natural product in question tell you that the ingredients can cause severe irritation to a human. Don’t forget that arsenic is 100% natural. Asbestos is 100% natural. So is lava, for that matter.
Don’t equate marketing terms that conjure up images of walking in the country and eating an apple picked straight from the tree with safety. I applaud corporations that do not use synthetic ingredients in their products because it will have a big impact on our global ecology. Just know that the term doesn’t make these products harmless.
There are so many things that we have to be wary of that it is stressful to go shopping for anything when we have birds in the house. I have found it helpful to research and identify companies whose values seem to be on track rather than sift through the multiple products on the shelf. For instance, Lundberg Family Farms in Richvale, Calif., which sells rice and rice products, is very forthcoming about their farming practices and they exceed the laws set for testing their products. This is the company that supplies the brown rice used in our Feed Your Flock pellets. They have earned their clients’ respect.
When in doubt, ask before you buy something and DEFINITELY before you use it.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.