UPDATE FEBRUARY 2, 2010 : The FDA has taken samples to test and launched an official investigation, also pulling seed bags from other local retailers, ECM has learned. In addition, samples have been sent to the manufacturer to test for toxins or contaminants.
By Miriam Raftery
January 31, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Milt and Laura Cyphert of Lakeside suspect that Morning Song Wild Bird Seed, which they purchased at an El Cajon Wal-Mart last month, is linked to the sudden death of nearly 100 birds in their outside aviary. Only eight birds survived. Dozens of field mice that ate the seed also died suddenly, they report. The manufacturer has previously faced other product recalls and disciplinary actions from federal regulators.
Morning Song previously recalled numerous bird suet products in 2007 due to salmonella contamination from peanut products, though wild bird seed was not among the products recalled: http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/morning_song/pdf/MorningSongRecall.pdf . Recalled products were linked to bird deaths: http://deadbird.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/scotts-bird-food-morning-song-k....
Numerous additional recalls of this manufatucturer's feed products, including Morning Song wild bird seed, were made by the FDA in 2008 due to pesticide contamination: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/EnforcementReports/2008/ucm120508.htm.
Morning Song’s manufacturer, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, its affiliates and retailers, also faced enforcement actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 for illegally producing and selling a variety of unregistered or unlabeled pesticide products:http://www.epa.gov/reg5rcra/ptb/news/
Laura Cyphert said the deaths were "gruesome" and that the bodies looked "sunken," not like normal daed birds.
The Cypherts are prominent community leaders as co-founders of the East County Community Action Coalition, which represents groups with over 79,000 members supporting legal battles against Sunrise Powerlink. Milt Cyphert was also recently elected chair of a citizens' oversight committee for the Lakeside Fire Board.
Initially, the Cypherts suspected another cause for the sudden death of their birds and contacted County authorities. But after feeding the seed to field mice trapped for relocation, then discovering all mice dead within 12 hours of eating the seed, they made the connection.
A County vector control officer informed the Cypherts that there are no diseases that would have produced such rapid deadly results or that are transferrable between rodents and birds, they said. The County official advised that it appears the seed is contaminated, the Cypherts said in an e-mail sent to East County Magazine on Friday. Wal-Mart asked that the seed be returned, however the Cypherts intend to seek independent testing of the product.
A manager of the Wal-Mart store on Las Coches Road in El Cajon, where the 20-pound bag of seed was purchased, advised that Wal-Mart does not remove products unless a recall has been ordered, according to the Cypherts. But that process can take time.
The manager was not on duty today. So East County Magazine spoke with Joel Olivas, assistant manager of the store, this morning. “What I can do is call the supplier,” he said.
Asked if Wal-Mart plans to be proactive by notifying government regulatory authorities and/or removing products from shelves of this store and others, Olivas said he would also contact Wal-Mart’s corporate offices.
ECM called Wal-Mart ‘s media relations office in Bentonville, Arkansas and left a message on a recording. We also sent an e-mail requesting attention to this matter.
Morning Song wild bird feed is also sold at many other major retail outlets including major pet store chains and Amazon.com.
If you have used Morning Song wild bird seed products or other bird feed manufactured by Scott and have observed deaths of birds or animals, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and notify
Also please post comments below to inform our readers.
Over the weekend we have not been able to reach regulatory agencies but due to the eminent potential deadly threat to local wildlife, we are opting to publish this information immediately. We will publish any responses from Wal-Mart and/or regulatory agencies once received.