In the December 2009 issue of BIRD TALK Magazine, you learned about the shelf life of your bird’s products. Now learn more about how to keep food fresh and store it properly.
Food Gone Bad?
Improperly stored seed and food can attract moths, mice and other pests and may develop mold and mildew that can be health threatening if birds eat it. How do you know if food has gone bad? If your bird stops eating a formerly accepted food, it might be bad. Look for signs of insect and moth infestation, such as webs, worms, dead insects or live moths. According to Zupreem’s marketing director, Gail Shepard, “Bird owners can extend the shelf life of food, particularly hand-feeding products, by storing it in the freezer. The refrigerator has too much moisture. If you come across a sale, and you’re not going to use the food right away, put it in the freezer. If a package has been opened, squeeze the air out before zipping or clipping it closed to help maintain freshness.”
Does the seed or food look moldy? Does it appear to have a powdery coating on it that cannot be blown off? That “powder” might be mold. If seed has clumped together or feels damp, mold might be present. Take a whiff! You can often detect a musty odor that is indicative of mold or a sour smell that means food is rancid.
Food Storage Tips
• Buy quantities of seed or other food that you will use within a short period of time, such as within a month. Check the dating on the package prior to purchase.
• Store food in a cool, dry place.
• Choose appropriately sized containers for your storage needs. I purchase a 25 lb bag of seed/pellet mix for my birds each month and store it in a plastic trash can with a lid. I keep 3 pounds handy for daily use in a canister in my bird supply cabinet. Heavy-duty plastic zipper style bags, plastic bins and galvanized metal cans are also popular food storage containers. Many bird food products now come in canisters or bags that can be resealed for easy storage.
• Be sure that container lids seal tightly to keep pests out and to reduce the risk of mold, especially in humid climates.
• Choose clear or see-thru containers so that contents are easily visible.
• Rotate seed and formulated food. Never throw add food on top of an existing supply. Instead, use all the food in a container before replenishing the supply. Wash and thoroughly dry the storage container before introducing fresh food.
• Don’t use pesticides or toxic chemicals near food storage containers. Instead, relocate clean bird food temporarily, thoroughly clean the storage cabinet, and use pheromone-based moth traps to eradicate the pests.
• Read and follow storage instructions on food packaging. If you have questions, contact the manufacturer directly. You can often find a phone number or web address on the package.
What About Cleaning Products?
How do you properly store cleaning products? Try these tips:
• Most cleaning products can be successfully stored in a cool, dry area.
• Consult package directions for specific instructions. Prolonged exposure to sunlight may change the color or efficacy of some formulas.
• Be sure that lids are on securely so that liquids do not spill or evaporate.
• Store cleaning products out of reach of children, birds and other pets.
• Read package instructions and contact manufacturers for specific advice.