HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Bugs in rice.

  • p

There are flying insects in my bag of rice. Is throwing it all out the only solution?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)

    7 Replies
    1. re: MORE KASHA

      What should I do to prevent any remnants from infesting the next bag of rice?

      1. re: Peter

        I store all this stuff in the freezer. Rice, flour, bread crumbs, grains and cereal all that stuff. No problem.

        1. re: Peter
          Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

          Array Ba-baa Peter, You cannot prevent any of your bugs that are already in your bag of rice from infecting the next bag of rice. Each bag of rice most likely already contains their own larvae (remember that from their origin in India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand, China, or wherever, the rice has most likely sat a while in open conditions, insects have given larvae and all this while the rice has been processed, milled, packed, trucked, containerised, shipped, arrived in the US of A, gone into storage, sold to the distributor.......and you have then gone to your local supermarket and brought it home, having paid $$ for the rice (with the larvae thrown in free).

          The only way you can prevent these bugs from infecting (producing more larvae) is by teaching them how to have safe sex. Foreget it, you cant.

          Please read my earlier message and enjoy your rice.

          OK, its midnight over here and have had a long day so goodbye.

          1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

            Hey, I thought rice came from the Sacramento Valley or Louisiana. Ok, China too. But I don't think China exports much.

            1. re: Robert

              yeah. actually, I heard once that arkansas was the biggest producer and exporter of rice in the US...

              1. re: Robert

                If you go to an asian grocery store (or even costco) you will get a different picture. Basmati comes mainly from Pakistan, the favored long grain jasmine rices, as well as specialty rices such as round grain (sweet) rice come from SE asia, mainly, arborio rice from italy, etc. etc. The japanese style short grain rice that we find in our stores here mostly comes from Cal. and is exported to Japan, Korea etc too.

              2. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                Very true. I saw rice being processed all over Vietnam. Often huge bags would be stacked on bare ground with barely any shelter and I even saw rice being spread out along the side of major roads to dry? (or whatever). I would worry more about the possible rodents that came into contact with it than the bugs. But maybe nobody really wants to think about that.

          2. I agree, throw the rice out. Now, if you have to save that particular bag of rice, does it have sentimental value?, you could freeze it until all the bugs are dead. But even for a 5 lb bag of rice that takes a long, long time and then you still have to wash the dead bugs out of the rice before you use it. And you have to keep the rice in the freezer because you can never be certain the insect eggs won't survive. I actually had to do this once to placate a roommate whose fugality had crossed the line into insanity. It's your life and it's your rice: which is worth more to you?

            6 Replies
            1. re: chortle

              Well actually it's 2 25lb bags of rice, one white and one brown. So it's not insignificant, though not compared to life itself.

              1. re: Peter

                what to do depends on what kind of insects you have. If its the dirty grey meal moths about 1/8 inch long that flutter around, you will need to act or your rice will be ruined. - if there are a lot of them in there it will be ruined already - just a few you can cope with .

                If they are little skinny black beetles, they are not quite so destructive as the meal moths.

                I would sieve the rice first - put it in a fine strainer and jiggle it around - that will get out the debris and most of the bugs, if they are small.

                repackage the rice airtight in glass or plastic so you can keep an eye on it and freeze if possible to kill the bugs.

                I just repackaged a big bag of jasmine with both types of bugs - there are still a few of the black guys in there, but the rice still smells and looks good, and these beetles will float out of the rice when you wash it before cooking.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Thanks, it's the meal moths. I'll try the re-packaging method. What about the future? Will I have problems with new bags of rice?

                  1. re: Peter

                    There was a thread in the "Not About Food" section last week or so, where I posted some links to university entomology departments. These are likely Indian Meal Moths. They are hard to eradicate, and short of never buying any grains or cereals, you'll bring more in eventually.

                    1. re: Peter

                      On a past CH thread I read that grains, etc. brought into the house could be placed in the freezer for 24 hrs. to kill bugs, then stored in cabinet. I did this with all my grains. I was worried because my birdseed in the garage had a BIG hatch and it's just off the kitchen. I've had no problems in my cabinet. But I continue to do the 24 hour freeze thing when I buy stuff. That doesn't make them immune to future birdseed problems, though. Glass jars are your friend.

                      1. re: Peter

                        I have lots of experience and problems with meal moths - with rice, mostly they start to be an issue after the bag is opened, so get it sealed up tight or repackage immediately.

                        Usually mealmoths dont go for white rice. Lookout for birdseed though, which is "dirtier" - I just had to dump a big bag that caused a major infestation in my pantry. Keep it out of the house if you can.

                2. Well, at least seal it well so the kitchen doesn't get infested. I think there was a rather detailed thread about getting rid of THAT problem sometime back...fyi, grain bugs are different from the kind that eat your clothes.

                  Anyway, don't be alarmed. Many grains come with bugs, which hatch if the grain is stored for a long time. They won't hurt you in the least - you can wash the rice and the dead bugs float to the surface of the water. It's not as gross as it sounds!

                  By sealing it well, I am suggesting decanting the rice into a jar with a screw-top lid, or something like that. Glass is nice because then you can see if you have more bugs.

                  1. I agree with Pitu. No need to be wasteful. Grains and bugs are a fact of life. Just wash or sift them out.

                    1. My Japanese roommate in graduate school used to wash the bugs out of the rice and now I do the same too. I can't throw it out after listening to her stories about her parents in World War II and how frugal they had to be and how no one in Japan can bear to throw rice away... Anyway, what I do now is freeze it to make sure everything's dead, because it's easier to deal with dead bugs, and if I miss anyway, they won't keep infesting the place. Then as I use it, I put it in some water and let the bugs rise to the top, scoop them out, and rinse.

                      Anyway, bugs are nutritious. I swear I once read that vegetarians who move from India to countries with more strict sanitation get B12 deficiencies because they are no longer eating little tiny animals. And what's mostly dangerous about bugs in your food is if they've brought something dirty on their little tiny feet. If they hatched inside the container, they haven't been anywhere dirty, right?

                      1. a
                        Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                        eat the bugs, throw out the rice.
                        No, seriously, bugs are a fact of life in rice. The larvae are virtually impossible to get out, and in India/Pakistan, with aged Basmati, a sign of rice being aged and ready to cook is when the bugs start moving about.

                        In hot climates (CA/AZ etc) one can put the rice on a table (spread on a newspaper) outside in the sun. The bugs automatically start walking away from the rice, then you just use the newspaper to filter the rice back into the container.

                        In places where you are not able to do such tricky stuff such as in Ny or in apartments (condos to you), you can either use a colander (put the rice in a colander or a sieve and shake the thing about till the bugs fall through the slits in the colander or sieve).

                        in the unlikely event of some resilient *!!&&&*** bugs still remaining, when you boil them they will anycase be dead -those remaining will be too tiny for you to see with your eyes anyhow.

                        Eat the rice !!! People are starving in Africa and you are worried about a few bugs ? Geeezz.. you guys are really spoilt in the West.

                        Some large millers / packers use nitrous oxide to seal the top of the bags. This does not kill the bugs but only prevents them from hatching, and once the bag is in your kitchen and opened, they then start to hatch, so how many bags of rice do you intend to throw ?

                        -you can also (after the sifting process but before boiling the rice), first spread it on your table on a newspaper, and with your fingers gently spread the rice around. Any bugs still there will start moving about. Then wash the rice prior to placing in the pan for boiling / cooking it. Doubt if you will have any remaining by this process of elimination.

                        Do you know that in India/Pakistan the housewife either invests her money in gold (rings, bangles etc) or in new crop rice which she stores in her garage for about 6-8 months, then re-sells it on the open market at about 40-60% profit ? This is true.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                          i was just about to suggest putting the rice out in the sun. my mom usually puts the rice in a thin layer in a metal pizza plate or something. i think the metal makes it hotter and gives the bugs more incentive to fly/crawl away.

                          1. re: arifa
                            Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                            Have been travelling and returned only last evening so it will be a while before I get back in form, however am heartened by the comments from Arifa & veebee.

                            Don't know about Thai/Chinese/Vietnamese specifications however in India/Pakistan, there are two basic types of specifications included in the sale terms (one is 'admix of contrasting varieties' and the other one I forget offhand), however one of these covers the sellers patooie should there be a small percentage of bird, rat, or insect crap, as for a vast amount of time the grains are spread in open fields for moisture reduction by way of sun-drying (Mechanical driers can cost upto a million dollars -no kidding).

                            Modern mills today have colour sorters (such as the UK made sortex machine) to distinguish off colour grains and chuck them away, however it may be expecting a bit too much for such machines to distinguish between white rice and white crap from a bird or brown rice and brown crap from some other pest.

                            hence, would suggest either using a small meshed sieve or thorough washing before boiling the rice.

                            Am curious to know as to what the OP did in the end. Peter (were you the OP ??) -Hope you enjoyed the rice and chucked out the insects.

                        2. Spray some RAID on it and then it will be fine.

                          1. My husband exports rice - he said that even with flying insects it's safe to eat - just rinse well, and bugs will float to the top. He would eat it. No advice on secondary infectation of your other grains though.

                            1. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. I stole that from one of the Patrick O’Brian novels.

                              I’d rinse the rice as needed and use it unless the infestation was really bad. I’m not particularly germophobic, but if my squeamishness kicked in before my depression-parent practicality, I’d probably heave it into the trashcan, screaming all the way. I do have a freezer in the garage so freezing even a large bag of rice wouldn’t be a problem.

                              If you notice them after you start cooking, they do float to the top and can be skimmed off. After you’ve boiled them of course, they’re sterile so they’re just extra protein.

                              Just kidding. But it would still probably be fewer bug parts per million than what’s allowed in every processed food that we eat in the USA.


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: BeaN

                                ...LOL! one of my favorite lines from the film 'Master and Commander' with Russel Crowe....is this the book you're referring to?

                                1. re: toodie jane

                                  yeah, there is a whole series of books by Patrick O'Brian about the two main characters, Aubrey and Maturin, in Master and Commander. Wonderful.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    Agreed. An absolute "must read."