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 Rachelle 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.
If you recently purchased the box of dry pancake mix return it to the store for a refund and also contact the manufacturer with your complaint.
Start making your own homemade pancake mix to avoid the problem. And keep it tightly wrapped in a plastic ziplock bag. There are a lot of bugs and critters during the summer months.
I always keep my pancake mix, flour, etc. in the refrigerator. I've had these bugs in grain products & it seems to me they sort of "hatch" in warmer weather.
When you open anything like pancake mix, flour, meal, etc., always put a bay leaf in the package before you close it back up. This will keep your packages bug free. I've been doing this for years and believe me, it works.
The one lady who mentioned grain or rice weevils is probably right (could have done without the pics though! LOL)
My mother had a policy that I have followed through with: If it doesn't come in a can or a bottle, it goes in the fridge! That's because here in the south so many bugs come from the stores with the foods.
I found a product that keeps not only bugs but also moisture out of my food. It's called Lock & Lock. They are different sizes and shapes of clear plastic containers, each having a lid with a rubber gasket built in and 4 "locks" that lock it tight. They are wonderful! Here's my best example: I bought some brown sugar about 3 months ago. You know how it gets hard as a rock in no time at all. Well, I opened the bag and dumped it into one of my Lock & Lock containers. To this day, I can shake up the container and the brown sugar is still soft and fresh as the day I bought it.
So my policy has changed a little. Now I say if it doesn't come in a can or a bottle, and I can't put it in Lock & Lock, it goes in the fridge.
I just discovered these critters in whole wheat flour I have had since Christmas. I threw out everything that was opened in the cabinet, wiped down all the jars and cans, and removed everything from the cabinet. I did wash down the inside of the cabinet and the ones on either side with bleach water, but there are still a few showing up in the corners of the cabinets.
I was bothered with these at one time. I tried everything, bay leaves, spearmint gum sticks, etc. What finally worked for me was this:
I threw out everything that had grain in it, all my flours, corn meal, cereal, etc. I then vacuumed the cabinets out using a crevice tool for the corners. Next, I washed them out thoroughly with soap and warm water. That was the end of them and they never came back!
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.
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.
Every grain, or cereal or pancake mix and all the flour in our house has been protected for many years by purchasing one bag or two of bay leaves at the bulk food store. Drop bay leaves in all the jars of the above products and you will never be troubled by bugs or beetles of any sort again. It has worked in our family for years and continues to protect our pantry shelves without having to freeze any of it.
I don't believe the bugs are actually harmful to ingest, but I do believe it is a cultural perception issue. The high temperatures in cooking/baking will kill off the bugs and eggs.
I have found that storing flour cake mixes etc. in the fridge takes up too much room and I don't have enough room for my food! I store in Glass or plastic containers and keep a few sticks of Wrigleys spearmint gum. This keeps out any critters.
They definitely will get inside of a Jiffy Mix in the refrigerator I just threw out a big box of Jiffy Mix