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The Effects of Chocolate and Chocolate by-product Consumption on Wild and Domestic Animals

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Abstract

Modern, high-yield cocoa plantations have a negative impact on biodiversity, and there is a pressing need for financial incentives to encourage use of less destructive farming systems. The use of low-value cocoa by-products, particularly cocoa husk, in animal feed has potential economic benefits for many cocoa-producing countries. Inclusion of chocolate and its by-products in animal feed has led to fatal toxicity in pigs, poultry, cattle, and horses. Theobromine is the main toxin responsible for accidental poisoning in domestic and wild animals. Horses, pigs, chickens, and dogs are particularly sensitive. Chocolate is one of the most common causes of accidental poisoning in dogs. Chocolate toxicity is rarely encountered in wildlife, but it does occur. Chocolate has been used to poison coyotes.

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... 216 Reports of chocolate toxicity in captive birds are rare and anecdotal. 216,219 It has been suggested that birds are less likely to eat toxic quantities of chocolate but they may also be more sensitive to its effects; all reported clinical cases have resulted in the patient's death. 216,219 A wild adult male kea (Nestor notabilis) was found to have died acutely with only 20 g of chocolate in its crop. ...
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A study was undertaken to evaluate and compare the chemical composition of the cocoa byproducts CPH (cocoa pod husk), CS (cocoa shell) and CD (cocoa dust), and to establish a rational use of CS and CD in the diets of growing goats. CD had a high crude protein (CP) content of 15.9%, while CS and CPH had 13.8% and 6.7%, respectively. The byproducts were high in crude fibre (CF) content. Among the byproducts, CD had the highest ether extract value (22.0%). Fifteen growing goats, 18-20 months of age, with pre-experimental body weights of 20.9 +/- 0.33 kg, were randomly allotted to three diets in growth studies. In diet 1, dried brewers' grain (DBG) served as the control, while the other two diets had CS or CD plus DBG. The dry matter intake (DMI) was 570, 530 and 486 g/head per day for the control, CS + DBG and CD + DBG diets, respectively. The growth rate differed significantly among the goats offered the diets (p < 0.05). Dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), crude fibre (CF), organic matter (OM) and gross energy (GE) digestibility were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the goats on the control diet than in those on CS + DBG or CD + DBG. The DM, CP and OM in the CS + DBG diet were more digestible (p < 0.05) than those in the CD + DBG diet. The inclusion of DBG in the CS and CD diets improved their use by the goats.
Article
Methylxanthines were quantified in coffee, tea, and chocolate products. Tarajuilie tea from India, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs contained the highest levels of methylxanthines. Theobromine, caffeine, and theophylline combined in the ratios observed in tea and chocolate were ingested by coyotes. Although both mixtures induced acute toxicity, the symptoms accompanying the chocolate methylxanthine mimic were preferable. Manipulation of the ratios of methylxanthines in the chocolate mimic led to the identification of a 5:1 theobromine/caffeine mixture as a promising coyote toxicant. This mixture was then administered to coyotes using the coyote lure operative device (CLOD). Mortality occurred in every coyote that ingested any portion of the CLOD contents. These results indicate that mixtures of theobromine and caffeine have the potential to be developed into a selective, effective, and socially acceptable toxicant for the control of pest coyotes.
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