Insect-Eating Birds Pose Comparatively Low Food-Safety Risk, Study Finds
|Related ATTRA publication:
Beneficial and Pest Birds: Vertebrate IPM Tip Sheet
Research from the University of California, Davis, found that wild birds may not pose the food safety risk once suspected. Researchers found that starlings and other birds that flock on the ground near cattle are more likely to spread pathogenic bacteria to crops like lettuce, spinach, and broccoli, while insect-eating species are less likely to carry pathogens. Researchers compiled more than 11,000 bacteria tests of wild bird feces and found that Campylobacter in 8% of samples. Meanwhhile, pathogenic E. Coli and Salmonella were only found in less than 0.5% of the samples. The researchers say this means that the current practice of removing bird habitats around produce growers’ farms may not solve food safety problems and could, in fact, benefit the species that pose more risk and harm the beneficial, pest-eating ones.