Indianmeal moth larvae are frequently described as “worms” found in pantries and grocery stores.
Biting into a chocolate Easter egg full of squiggly insects is high on the list of experiences no consumer ever wants to have. Sharjah Municipality in the United Arab Emirates recently responded to a consumer complaint that an Easter egg purchased in a local supermarket was full of worms. Inspectors corroborated the complaint and removed all remaining samples to protect unsuspecting children.
Sultan Al Mulla, the municipality’s Director General, told Khaleej Times that it is unclear whether the fault lies with the European manufacturer or with the supermarket. If inspectors discover that the worms hatched as a result of poor storage, the (unnamed) grocery could face “hefty fines.”
A municipality-wide search is on to determine whether there are worms in the same product sold by other stores. If so, then the cause can probably be attributed back to the manufacturer. In this case, the Ministry of Environment will issue a memo to municipalities throughout the United Arab Emirates to recall the chocolate eggs.
The worms discovered in food are usually moth larvae. Two examples of moth that lay their eggs in grain, dog food, dried fruit, nuts, spices, pasta, and of course chocolate, include the attractive Indian Meal moth and the plainer Mediterranean flour moth. It is not clear whether either of these can be implicated in the Sharjah case.
According to All About Worms:
“Indianmeal moths are notorious pantry invaders. They are among the most common and are difficult to eradicate. As adults, they lay eggs in crevices, especially in the folded edges of packaged foods or directly in the food.”
In order to get rid of an infestation, it is necessary to thoroughly clean and disinfect areas where the eggs might be have been laid, and to discard suspect foods. Freezing and heating foods that may already be contaminated will also destroy the eggs and larvae. It is also preferable to store food stuffs in solid containers since flimsy bags do not adequately protect against moths.
Where to shop:
Local residents told the paper that they are afraid to shop at small grocery outlets in Sharjah. Many are suspected of turning off their refrigerators at night in order to reduce energy consumption, while others are accused of unsanitary conditions. The municipality said they are addressing these concerns, and also ask customers to check the validity date on all canned and frozen food purchases.
Salim Al Mohair told the paper that he prefers to shop at Carrefour or the Cooperative Society, since they “follow the regulations.”
image via wikicommons