Safe Use Of Rodenticides STV Statement

January 2021



At the start of January The Independent published an article shaming leading UK garden and DIY retailers for “promoting poisons” that it said “cause huge suffering and kill owls”.

Click Here for The Independent Article

It is largely based on a “secret shopper” survey conducted by animal-welfare campaigner Humane Society International, with supporting comment from the Barn Owl Trust. The article is unbalanced, misleading and, we believe, factually incorrect to claim that:

•          DIY chains are selling rodenticide baits that “kill owls”

•         “retailers sell highly toxic poisons to untrained people for uncontrolled use.”

Neither assertion is true.  And as the founder of the UK’s leading supplier of home-use rodenticide baits, that are Health & Safety Executive (HSE) approved for amateur use, I want to reassure you and your customers that The Big Cheese Home Choice baits and bait stations are safe for use, provided end-users always read and follow the instructions supplied on-pack.

Here’s the background:

For the past 3 years we have produced and sold The Big Cheese Home Choice baits which carry a simple message front of pack: “Kills mice and rats. With 50% less poison.”

Our aim is to draw attention to the fact that, while The Big Cheese Home Choice product contains similar active ingredients to professional products registered for use by pest control operators, farmers, and game keepers, our formulations use 50% less poison to achieve similar results and effective control of rodent pests.

The Big Cheese Home Choice product is the only amateur registered rodenticide to draw attention to the reduced concentration of its active ingredient. And to date, end-user feed-back on efficacy and results has been entirely positive.

In addition, every pack carries an image of a bait station front of pack and clearly states: “TO BE USED IN TAMPER RESISTANT BAIT STATION.” And in line with HSE requirements, 3 years ago STV reduced its pack sizes to a maximum 300g to help prevent indiscriminate baiting.

In parallel with these developments on home-use baits, the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) has, at the request of the HSE, funded monitoring of the impact of professional use rodenticide baits on wildlife species. 

CRRU and its partners have selected the barn owl as the sentinel species to be monitored and over the past four years some 100 dead birds a year – almost all of which have been killed by vehicles or other physical traumas – have been tested for traces of rodent bait. 

The Independent draws attention to the fact that a high number of the barn owls tested revealed traces of rodenticide. But its sensationalist headline assertion that baits “kill owls” is entirely unfounded. 

In fact, after 4 years of testing, the CRRU reports that it has found only one barn owl thought to have died from ingestion of poison bait. And in a recent press interview, Dr Alan Buckle, its chair, stated, “The crucial thing is that no one has ever found any evidence that these residues have any effect on the population that carries them.”

Industry sources reckon that home-use rodent baits account for no more than 10% of the total annual tonnage used here in the UK. Or to put it another way, 95% or more of the active ingredient produced and sold for rodent baits is used by professionals rather than home-users.

Home-use baits are largely applied in indoor environments and outbuildings, most often in urban environments, and in our experience always used with consideration to safety in the home environment in particular.

It follows that home-use baits are unlikely to have any significant environmental impact, or cause harm to birds and wildlife, provided the on pack instructions are followed.

None of these facts is fairly reflected in The Independent article which, instead of providing an objective and balanced report, appears intent only on naming and shaming household names in home and garden retail.

So to conclude:

Retail sales of rodent control products have increased dramatically during lockdown, as have professional pest control operator callouts  -  in some urban areas up by 45%. This reflects the simple fact that mice and rats are commensal pests – they go where we go.

Rodent baits are an essential tool and remain the most effective and widely used means of controlling mice and rats. Sales of The Big Cheese home and garden bait stations are up over 30% since the first lockdown: further evidence that home-users are applying baits responsibly and safely.

STV will continue to offer alternative, poison-free options under The Big Cheese brand. We will also continue to invest in staff training and to promote the safe use of products that do not harm wildlife and non-target species, as well as the environment.

To this end, we would encourage UK home and garden retailers to stock The Big Cheese Home Choice baits and bait stations in the full confidence that these regulated products are safe for use provided end-users always read and follow the instructions supplied on-pack.

If we can assist you with any more detailed information please feel free to make contact directly.

Edwin Allingham

To download this Safe Use Of Rodenticide STV Statement, please click here.

Published at: 07 Jan, 2021