We have updated this informational as of 8/23/2009

We would like to thank Glideroo for her hard work gathering and sharing this information with us.

In the United States, aflatoxins have been identified in corn and corn products, peanuts and peanut products, cottonseed, milk, and tree nuts such as Brazil nuts, pecans, pistachio nuts, and walnuts. Other grains and nuts are susceptible but less prone to contamination. Raw nuts and even roasted nuts can be contaminated with aflatoxins depending on storage conditions. Another issue with raw nuts is that they contain trypsin inhibitors: substances that inhibit or prevent the pancreas from producing trypsin which is an enzyme essential for the absorption of protein by the intestine. For anyone who gives shelled nuts to their gliders as a treat, please consider roasting the hulled (de-shelled) raw nuts as this will destroy the trypsin inhibitor and render the nuts safe for your glider to eat. Directions on how to do so are given below.

How can one be sure that the nuts being given to their gliders do not contain aflatoxins? Just because the nuts are human-grade does not mean they are aflatoxin-free. So how can you eradicate aflatoxins in nuts? It's not as difficult as you might think.
We now know that there is no way to 'eradicate' Aflatoxin from food products. While you can destroy and/or kill the mold that causes it, there is no way to get rid of the Aflatoxin that the Aspergillus species of mold produces. If mold is suspected on ANY product (whether it is Aflatoxin producing mold or not) the product/food should be disposed of completely.

While you cannot rid a food of Aflatoxin, the following steps may help to prevent, at least to some extent, mold growth on nuts.

The steps involve:

1) Rinse the nuts in water first (a lot of mold is removed in this simple way).

2) Cover the nuts with water, add about 1/4 tsp. vitamin C powder (for a pint of nuts) and mix. Let stand for 5 minutes. The water penetrates the nuts, taking the vitamin C with it and the vitamin C neutralizes/detoxifies them.

3) Pour off the water and bake/roast the nuts in the oven at low heat (twenty to thirty minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring them frequently). This will also destroy the trypsin inhibitors (substances that inhibit or prevent the pancreas from producing trypsin which is an enzyme essential for the absorption of protein by the intestine) found in raw peanuts and tree nuts. DO NOT BURN THE NUTS or the result will be benzopyrene which is a carcinogenic organic compound produced by charring animal or plant matter.

4) If preferred, you can spray all nuts and seeds with a solution of 15-30 drops GSE [grapeseed extract] in 2-cups water to kill any aflatoxins mold or fungus that may be present. IF you choose this method, all nuts should still be baked/roasted afterwards as outlined above.

5) Store in refrigerator or freezer in an appropriate plastic container and/or plastic bag.

I personally never feed nuts/seeds not only due to possible aflatoxin issues but also because of two other concerns: intestinal blockage and possible impacted salivary glands. However, I know many members do feed nuts and/or sunflower seeds on some type of basis (even if only as an occasional treat) and thus the reason I have posted the steps that can be taken to avoid mold/aflatoxin problems if your glider just has to have those nuts/sunflower seeds.

Again, we want to stress that from the knowledge we now have, there is NO WAY to get rid of, destroy, or 'kill' Aflatoxin IF it is already present in the food. You cannot tell by looking at foods whether they have been contaminated with Aflatoxin, so if you choose to feed nuts to your sugar gliders, be aware of the risk and please ONLY buy human grade and make sure to check expiration date and package condition thoroughly. If you suspect contamination, discard the entire container.

Edited by sugarlope (08/23/09 01:35 PM)
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