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What are the small bugs I see in the box of dry pancake mix? Are they harmful? How can I avoid having this occur again?
By Raeb22 from Denver, CO
They are probably grain or rice weevils. Usually found in food processing plants. They could've been in the mix when you bought it or something else you had stored near it. They like old flour, rice, and even chocolate. I worked at a candy shop and we had a problem with them. Throw the mix out and check your other goods. Clean where ever you had it stored with bleach water. They will spread. I don't think they are harmful but I wouldn't want to eat anything that bugs have crawled over that I couldn't wash.
The way to keep bugs from your flour products: clean clear glass jars. Nothing better. If the flour is suspect and you have a deep freeze place the flour in there for 2 weeks. That will kill any bugs present. Not sure I'd want to use it though. I agree, if it's a new product take it back. If it's one you've had around the glass jars are the way to go. I get my large jars (they hold a 2.5kg bag of flour) from the Subway near us. The restaurants get their pickles etc in them. They give them to me free for the asking. I also agree that you can make your own mixes. It's so easy and will cost you about 10 cents instead of $2 for the same amount.
The first thing I do when I buy flour, pancake mix, cake mixes, rice, any grain products, etc. is put them in the freezer for about 3 days then all the bug eggs are killed. Most of the time the products have the bug eggs in them already. After about 3 days I take them out of the freezer. I haven't had any problems with anything after I do this. After opening anything I usually keep my food in tight lidded plastic or glass containers.
Yes, they're weevils and you don't want them! You'll have to throw that pancake mix away. In the future, store grains, flours, mixes, etc. in well-sealed plastic boxes or in the refrigerator.
I keep all of my flour products, grains, etc. in sealed gallon sized storage bags. This helps keep the pantry bugs out.
You have to be careful with things like granola bars too. It is best to keep any bar or cookie made from whole grains in the freezer or fridge. Even some cereals like corn chex, etc will get bugs. Always check before you cook or eat anything to do with grains. I live in the South and we learn to check first.
When I bring flour goods home I put the bag in a large food storage bag and add a couple of whole bay leaves both inside the storage bag and inside the flour itself. Also, if I am buying large quantities of pasta I freeze it for 3 days before storing it with bay leaves. Just watch out for bay leaf pieces when you decide to cook with the flour etc.!
There are different kinds of pantry bugs including some that look like a hard shelled spider. Do not eat this mix. Throw it out. For me it's rare to find this stuff but it does happen. And yes, Keep your flour in the freezer.
I use the 2 quart jars for canning.
They are big enough to hold lots and you can quickly see what is in each jar.
Not a lot of people use these big jars for canning anymore so you should be able to find them easily.
I know this is gross, but I remember as a kid that my mom found those things in the flour and sifted them out and used the flour. We never got sick, but as for myself. I would toss it.