Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Peanut contamination - bird tragedy averted

Lincolnshire bird numbers could have been decimated by 100 tons of carcinogenic peanuts seized by Trading Standards officers.

The peanut mountain was discovered in a warehouse in the county and contained enough highly toxic fungus to kill hundreds of thousands of wild birds.
Fortunately the nuts were seized by Trading Standards officers and tragedy averted.

Gary Seymour, assistant head of Trading Standards, said: "In this case there were about 100 tons of peanuts involved and our controls cover the safety of both birds and humans – as adults and children may think they were safe to eat them."

Professor Geoff Turner, an expert in fungal genetics from the University of Sheffield, who works with the aspergillus fungi that produces lethal aflatoxins, described the dangers.

"Peanuts are famous for aflatoxins and there's always a risk when they come from countries where the food checks aren't so good," he said."There are two things they do. At a high enough level they can kill an animal straight away, but it's also one of the most carcinogenic substances ever known."

The peanuts have now been exported to Holland for decontamination and Trading Standards are taking no further action.
This story was reported in the Lincolnshire Echo. For more on the averted bird holocaust, see Wednesday's Echo.

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