As the Air Fryer Bro I have come across some interesting claims about air fryers over the years, but nothing prepared me for this one! I was browsing the internet when I came across posts saying that air fryers can kill birds! At first, I thought this was a joke. But no, there are really people out there claiming that air fryers killed their (or people they know’s) birds. So I decided to take a closer look at this and see if there is any truth to this claim.
Just to be clear, they are talking about exotic birds such as parrots, not wild birds flying past their house and suddenly kicking the bucket 🙂
As a disclaimer, I am not a scientist or medical expert. I am an avid air fryer user, that is all. I did research for this article and simply want to present my findings and related opinions. I would recommend that you do the same if this is a topic that affects you. Preferably by contacting an expert 🙂
Who is saying that air fryers kill birds?
I came across (what appeared to be) the same person posting on bird related forums that air fryers are not safe for people with birds and that they will kill them. I saw titles such as “WARNING! Air Fryers kill birds!” and “Bird people! Do not use an air fryer”. As someone who has been immersed in the air fryer world for a while now, I was surprised I hadn’t heard this before. Is it really a problem? Let’s find out!
Let’s look closer!
Of course, my next step was to see if I can really find any evidence for or against this claim. When doing research, most posts that were talking about this issue were on forums. The problem with forums is that anyone can post on them and it’s hard to verify the credentials behind these people posting. They could be crack pot bird fanatics for all we know 🙂 Or just misinformed 🙂
What a lot of these forum goers were saying is that the Teflon in the air fryer is what caused their bird to die. Although, I didn’t see anyone trying to explain their reasoning behind this. It just seems that a lot of exotic bird owners have conditioned themselves to avoid Teflon. Surely so many people couldn’t be wrong! They must have had real experiences to suggest that birds are killed by Teflon! Or is it just a vicious rumour that got out of hand? We need science to answer this one 🙂
So I had to dig harder, to try to come up with a more credible source (and hopefully a scientist or something!!). Thankfully, a local newspaper in South Carolina ran a piece on this (they must have a lot of bird lovers in their state :)) They are called WLTX19 and they interviewed a Doctor….well he must be a Vet if he is talking about this and owns an animal clinic 🙂
Anyway, the long and short of it is, he backed up this idea of avoiding Teflon when you own a pet bird. This is what he talked about… When the teflon gets heated to a certain temperature in your air fryer, it could release a gas that, when inhaled by the bird, might coat its air sacs/ lungs and cause it to die.
I found another interesting article on a website called PetCoach, in which they claim to give you answers to pet related questions directly from vets. Although, this is a hard thing to verify. They had an article that talked about this problem and called it Teflon toxicity. They explained that a birds lung needs to be very efficient to give them enough oxygen to fly (flying is quite a task, I can tell you!). Although, the problem is, this efficiency can quickly transport both good and bad things through their system. This is why birds are particularly sensitive to anything toxic in the air.
The final article my research brought up was this one from 2003. It is talking about Teflon frying pans and their toxicity to birds. Even though it is not directly related to air fryers, we can surely take on board their findings about Teflon frying pans all the same. The applications seem similar to me. They also came to the conclusion that offgas from Teflon products could infact be harmful to birds.
Bringing this all together, it does seem to be a valid concern that Teflon could cause harm to a birds delicate respiratory system. And this is not only limited to Teflon, it would include any type of PTFE that is heated to the point where it starts to degrade and release gas.
Can an air fryer really kill a bird?
Yes, an air fryer with a Teflon or PTFE based coating could conceivably kill a bird. This is due to the gases these coatings could produce under the high heat of an air fryer. Although not enough to harm humans, birds are much more sensitive and could be affected even in trace quantities. Although there is no scientific research directly relating to Teflon air fryers, there are for Teflon frying pans. This is more than just a tentative link.
What should an air fryer user do if they have birds?
If you own pet birds but still want to experience the joys of an air fryer, have no fear! There are actually air fryers on the market that are free from Teflon and PTFE coatings. I wrote an article going into the finer details, I will leave a link below if you want the long answer:
For the short answer, the easiest thing to do is to buy one of the newer air fryer ovens. As they are based on traditional ovens, you will find that a lot of them have mostly stainless steel and/or metal construction. This means very little Teflon or PTFE coatings need to be used. An example of a popular air fryer oven would be the Ninja Foodi below, click the image to see it on Amazon.
If you are interested in a particular air fryer, I would recommend contacting the manufacturer directly if you have doubts about Teflon/PTFE coatings. Better to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. And better to be safe than sorry too!!
It is NOT only air fryers that can kill birds!
As you can see from the studies highlighted above, people have been worried about the effect of Teflon/PTFE on birds for a while now, not only since the advent of air fryers. Teflon is the problem, not specifically air fryers! (I wish those forum posters had highlighted this in their titles, rather than blanket accusing all air fryers!!).
This means that you should watch out for Teflon in everything you keep in the same room as your birds. These are some of the appliances/utensils you might find Teflon in:
- Non-stick pots, pans, and other cookware
- Stain repellants
- Space heaters and heat lamp covers
- Non-stick irons and ironing board covers
- Hair dryers
- Non-stick oven drip pans and broiler pans
- Non-stick griddles, woks, waffle makers, electric skillets, tortilla presses
- Non-stick hot air corn poppers, coffee makers, bread makers
- Non-stick slow cookers, roasters, pizza pans
- Ceramic cooking stoves
You CAN have an air fryer with birds
I was a bit worried when I first heard about these reports of air fryers killing birds, and to be honest at first I thought it might be baseless gossip. However, it turns out to have a real valid backing (from several vets at least) and warrants our attention and care.
Although, this doesn’t mean you cannot have an air fryer if you keep pet birds. It just means you need to be extra vigilant and make sure you research one that is totally Teflon/ PTFE free. That way you can enjoy your pet birds and the delights of air frying too!!
If you have your own experiences with air fryers and birds, we would love to hear all about them in the comments section below.