What to do if You Find Bugs in Your Dry Goods

It is important to know what to do if you find bugs in your dry goods to ensure total food safety. Dry goods such as flour, whole grains, crackers and pancake mix can often have pests in the containers from the store shelves. If you happen to bring home a container that has bugs, here are several fixes to save the food. 

Freeze Your Dry Goods

Sometimes the products are manufactured and sealed with the larva of the bugs already inside the food. Other times, bugs will get into the food in if the store already has an infestation and have open packages on the shelves. 

Check the packages for dents, tiny holes and gaps in the seams as this is how the adult bugs get inside. Place the dry goods in the freezer and leave them in there for 3 to 5 days. The freezing will kill the larvae and it is now possible to decant into an airtight container. If there are adult bugs in the product, either discard the entire container or pick out the bugs individually. Items such as breads, muffins, bagels and other baked goods can be stored in the freezer, refrigerator or in a bread box. 

Store in a Refrigerator

Place the containers of dry goods into the refrigerator for storage. The main drawback with this option is that space in the refrigerator is very limited. You won’t be able to store bulk items and you won’t be able to store very many dry goods in the same small space alongside your regular refrigerated foods. If cost is not an issue, purchase a separate refrigeration unit just for your dry goods. Refrigeration will work as well as freezing and it will keep the larvae from hatching into adult bugs. 

Heat to Destroy

Spread the dry goods out onto large cookie sheets and heat in the oven until the temperature of the product reaches 140 degrees F. The larvae will die off and the product can be placed into airtight storage containers. Use an oven thermometer to ensure accurate temperature or you might end up baking your dry goods. 

Use Airtight Containers

Larvae will hatch if there is oxygen available. Use a device that can remove the air out of your containers or storage bags. The type of syringes that are normally administered for children’s medicines are ideal for this. Seal packaging with adhesive tape as soon as oxygen has been removed. The lack of oxygen will kill the larvae and they will not hatch. This method will work best if used after you have already frozen or heated your dry goods. 

Keep the Pests from Spreading

Check your pantry, cabinets and shelves for cracks, loose shelving paper and wallpaper. Bugs can hide in cracks or underneath the paper and multiply. Remove any loose paper and clean the shelves thoroughly with water mixed with either bleach or rubbing alcohol. Allow to dry completely and replace the paper. Spread some dry bay leaves onto shelves as a further means of keeping pests away. 

Taking these simple steps will ensure that you will enjoy pest-free foods in either bulk or regular packaging.