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Bugs in Rice-Is it still edible?

  • i

I have a giant bag of jasmine reice I bought a few months ago and it now has these tiny little gray bugs in it. Some are dead and others are alive and when I rinse my rice they float to the surface.

The weird thing is that I had one air-tight container for daily use in the kitchen and another one to store the larger quantity in the garage and both have the same bugs. This has never happened to me before with rice even in large quantities used over the period of several months (normally purchased at an asian market such as Ranch 99) so I assume there was something in the bag when I bought it.

Is this rice safe to eat after I rinse it and see no more bugs float up to the surface or should I try and take it back to Costo...would they even take it back considering I bought it so long ago?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. They are an annoyance, just rinse and use the rice. All grains have them, it is just storage that hatches them out. If grains, pasta, cereals,flour, mixes etc. are exposed to the right amount of heat you will have bugs. I have even had them hatch out in freshly ground new chili powder. At one time I thought I was being bright keeping crackers and cereals in the cupboard over my wall oven reasoning that the heat from the oven would keep them crisp. After I had to take the entire kitchen apart and all of the shelving out and get a q-tip to dig out the larvae from the shelf peg holes I almost learned my lesson. What I neglected to do is move the dog kibble from the cupboard next to the dishwasher. After learning, dog kibble is stored in my garage which is always cool being on the lowest level and birdseed is kept in a covered container down there too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Candy

      I had done the same thing - keeping grains in the cupboard above my stove hood. Now all I keep there is glassware that I don't use very often.

      To get back to the original issue - yes, everything has bugs. I wash rice well and if there are any dead bugs I rinse them away. I have never had a dead bug corpse show up in cooked rice, because even a live bug will float to the top of a pot of water. I do sometimes have to get the last bits out of the simmering pot before I put the top on.

      I stop short at bugs in flour. This happens infrequently, and when it does, I toss the flour.

    2. i had the same problem. i read that a few bay leaves placed inside the container of rice will keep those little critters away. it seems to have worked and now i put the bay leaves in all of my different rice containers. hope this helps.

      2 Replies
      1. re: acme
        Ms. Plaza Street

        I do the same thing for all sorts of grains, including oatmeal. This is an old trick of my mother's.

        1. re: acme

          I do the same. Bay leaves are a cheap and effective answer. I put it in cupboards, in the flour, bisquick etc-no bugs

        2. w
          Wayne Keyser

          Let's see ... you rinse the rice, and rinse and rinse until no more bugs float out.

          Then you cook the rice. And when you serve it, it's MOSTLY free of bugs. Oops - there's one or two in the middle of (what would have been) your next forkful.

          How do you feel about the rice, and about your whole dinner after that? It's either going to cast a pall over the whole dinner ("Don't be silly Mom, Sis, Honey ... it's only just a FEW bugs!") or else it's the darnedest new diet aid around (cook something cheap, 'cause you won't be eating it, and it won't look any better the next day.)

          Trash the rice and buy somewhere else next time.

          1. Even though bugs add protein...yuck! I would take it back. Don't know from experience but I read on this board that Costco had a reasonable return policy. (I've also read that putting grains in the freezer for 24 hrs after purchase obviates this problem--I end up just storing them there--they last longer).

            1. Not to make you more squeamish, but about 20 yrs ago, there was a special on a PBS station about grains and the way they are fumigated with fairly harsh chemicals as they go into storage, and when packaged. It said the practice was virtually universal in this country. Otherwise, when you opened any grain pkg, it would be infested with weevils, etc.

              Grocery stores also regularly spray their cereal isles, because of eggs hatching in packages. Yet another reason to shop at a health food store, where presumably they would not do this.

              5 Replies
              1. re: toodie jane

                Oh no no no!!!!!!!!! My local co-op so called health food store is where some of my worst weevil/miller infestations have come from. Unless you keep any dried bulk and boxed grain/cereal products from them in the freezer and in tightly closed containers you are going to have major infestation problems

                1. re: MZG

                  I think the scientific name for these insects is "co-op moths" :-)

                  If your grain and flour hasn't been harshly fumigated during
                  processing, you're going to have some bugs in there. If you
                  think about it in a certain way, it's the lack of bugs that's

                2. re: toodie jane

                  If I've ever heard an urban myth, this is it:
                  "Grocery stores also regularly spray their cereal isles, because of eggs hatching in packages."

                  That aside people, food is prone to pests. Rice and grains in particular. Storing grains properly alleviates most concerns: keep them in a cool place; keep open grains and pasta, or grains and pasta not sold in airtight packaging, in sealed containers; and only buy a quantity you are likely to use up relatively quickly.

                  The bugs that appeared in the original poster's rice would probably be a welcome addition in some parts of the world. Here where we like our food hermetic, just rince them off and you'll be fine. The worst that would happen is that your guests would get a little extra protein. Oh, the horror! In the future you can prevent it by storing the grains properly, and not buying more than you will use in a reasonable time.

                  Food is not the enemy.

                  1. re: DanaB

                    Try putting bay leaves in the container. A friend swears they repel the little creatures.

                    1. re: DanaB

                      ....of course, he could have been lying, but this spray info came to me from a friend who worked the night stocking crew at a local chain grocery....

                      and, yes, been freezing grain and/or using bay leaves since the 70's. Store in airtight glass jars in pantry. Bugs don't bother me, unless they make a mess in the cupboards. Extra protein!

                  2. The responses are amusing. There was a similar thread last year (linked below) where the response was the exact opposite.

                    Basically the consensus was that rice and bugs go together. Don't be a wuss about it and just rinse the rice and eat it.

                    Personally, I would toss it. But I'll bet I've eaten my share of rice separated from varmits in any number of restaurants. I just don't want to know about it. Dirty rice indeed.

                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rworange

                      yeah. And about the costco front, I know they'll take it back. they don't ask when you bought it. If you just have your card, they'll give you a refund on a costco gift card...

                    2. The bugs were in the rice when you bought it. At least their eggs were. That's why they're in both containers.

                      One reason to use airtight containers is so the bugs don't travel among your foods -- from the rice to the cornmeal to the granola . . . you get the picture.

                      1. Whether it grosses you out only you can decide, but it's absolutely edible and absolutely safe to eat.

                        That being said, if it's a new bag you hadn't opened yet, I'd probably return it too (or better yet, start checking the bags before you buy them.) I'm willing to live with minor insect issues as the price of leaving stuff lying around for a while in my own kitchen, but if it's in that condition when you buy it, it's been lying around somewhere for a while already. With things like grains and dried chiles (another common occurrence), I consider it a freshness issue more than anything else.

                        1. A ten pound bag of jasmine rice costs what? $10? Without any hesitation I'd chuck it and buy new rice. Considering the lengths we go to to find the best tasting, freshest, highest quality ingredients, why in heaven's name would you want to eat bug-infested rice? Seriously, if a friend served me buggy rice, that would be the last time I ever consumed anything he or she prepared.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: David Kahn
                            Jim Washburn

                            All rice is buggy. It's a matter of degree. I eat a hell of a lot of rice and buy it in big bags. Before it all gets used up there are almost invariably some visible bugs in it. I just wash them out. This works. The finished rice I eat and serve to guests NEVER has any visible bug parts in it. Looks great. Tastes great. There is no rational reason to throw out buggy raw rice.


                          2. I recently discussed bugs in my rice with my daughter-in-law. I remember my great-grandmother putting all pasta, rice and meals in her deep freezer. My grandmother used bay leaves. My mother just bought less rice. I discovered that all 3 methods are very effective, but I’ve never had bugs in my rice until recently. So, I’m going to start freezing the next rice, flour and meals that I buy.

                            However, I’ve solved my present dilemma by using a large strainer to shake out any bugs in my uncooked rice. (Food costs too much to throw away!) I do this over a white paper towel in order to see the bugs. Then I put bay leaves in the container with the strained rice and seal the opening with cling wrap. After that I put the top on the container. I have had no trouble since.

                            You can, however, simply rinse the rice until no more bugs appear on top. Also, double-check the rice just before it comes to a boil. If any stragglers are left, they would appear just before the boil. As a result, you rinse them away and there’ll be no bugs in your cooked rice.

                            1. I don't know what I am doing wrong, but I haven't ever seen bugs in my flour, rice, or pasta. I've only had them once, many years ago, in a package of Quaker oats. I don't do anything special, either.

                              I'm sure I have now jinxed myself, and will soon be overrun with critters.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: al b. darned

                                As mentioned above, all grains have insect eggs in them they are dormant but will hatch when the conditions are right. There is even a USDA maxmium allowable standard for insect eggs, rodent hairs, bug parts, and other natural little goodies. Do yopu know haw miuch of these critters you have consumed over your lifetime in processed foods? It is all protein!!!!!

                              2. When my dad traveled to Vietnam, he said you couldn't get any bread in Saigon that didn't have dead bugs in it. It's just extra protein and won't hurt you. Just pick them out. The rice boils, killing any bacteria.

                                1. reading all the replies are so reassuring. those tiny little gray bugs totally freaked me out!!! what are they called any way?

                                  4 Replies
                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      That's just sick and wrong, I tell ya... Yet, to my disgust, I actually can hear myself beginning to compose a sort-of "summer-camp" song in my head...
                                      "♫ Amongst all the rice grains--some weevils did crawl... I ate up the rice, though -- Yes, weevils and all!" ♫

                                      1. re: CLODER1243

                                        And kool aid was called bug juice...

                                      1. I wash the rice & use it, if there are just a few discrete and easily spotted weevils in there, and the grains look good. When it comes to moth larvae, or anything else that makes little webby clumps, or makes the rice grains look messed up, I would toss it.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. O.M.G. Now I KNOW there are bugs and insect parts and stuff in things we eat. I'd just rather not have to face the little guys eyeball to eyeball.
                                          Personally? I'd chuck the rice and buy some new stuff. Might be a psychological thing, but really, rinsing bugs outta rice and hoping for the best isn't my idea of a good meal.
                                          I've had bugs hatch out of stuff before, and I store pretty much everything in sealed plastic bags (due to an unfortunate carpenter ant infestation 2 years ago, it scarred me for life if you really wanna know the truth).
                                          SO, I'm happy to feign ignorance of what is in my cereals/grains until I have evidence of hatching, then I dump the lot and move on.
                                          Look at it this way, if you went back to Costco to return it, would they put it back on their shelves for resale? And would you buy a bag of rice with active bugs in it? You'd probably shriek in horror and let the management know. Same goes with home storage. It costs virtually nothing to replace the rice. That's what I would do.

                                          1. Just to give a perspective from another country, in India rice, wheat, flour, dal, etc. very often has bugs in it. Personally, I have found that rice is worst for this. If people were scared and fussy, no-one would eat anything. You just have to do your best to get rice from a good source and rinse/wash well before using.

                                            One good tip is to put all grains, dal, etc. in the freezer for a few hours. Apparently it kills the bugs and then they easily float to the surface when you wash the rice. This was told to me by a friend who got it from her mother and I have used it ever since. Does it work? Well, since I started using it I have never found living bugs in my grains and yes the dead bodies easily float to the top when washing!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Muchlove

                                              Bugs in rice, parasitic worms in seafood, rat hairs in your hamburger; .....well who said "Life is not risk free"? Grin and eat it.....(if it is natural and humanely raised)

                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                And sometimes when I wash the lettuce I've grown in my own garden, I find small pea-sized slugs. I wonder when I miss one of these creatures and chomp into one if I will eat my own lettuce ever again.

                                                1. re: Sushiqueen36

                                                  Once bought organic broccoli, tossed it into the fridge, planning to wash & cook it in the evening. Grabbed it about 5 p.,m., only to find a large green wormy thing crawling from the bag. Tossed the worm outside, washed the broccoli, and it was delicious.

                                            2. The bugs are edible. They show up in the cooked rice sometimes if I didn't get rid of all of them when rinsing. I shrug and continue to eat it, think of it as extra protein. :)

                                              1. It certainly is for the bugs...

                                                1. "Bugs in Rice-Is it still edible?"

                                                  If it weren't, no one in a tropical country or a third world country would ever eat rice, and yet, they eat it by the tonne.

                                                  I've had at least a half dozen different types of bugs infest my rice, sometimes at the same time. My rice has also gone mildewy. Welcome to the tropics. Wash it and proceed.

                                                  1. What a great source of knowledge.
                                                    We took the decision to throw our bug infested rice prior to looking this up on the web but now realise that was pure folly.
                                                    We couldn't understand how the critters got in there as we had previously purchased brand new Tupperware with efficient rubber seals as the problem existed in our older storage containers.
                                                    The sight of the containers having bugs in our state of the art, nuclear bomb proof and anti germ warfare hermetically sealed containers made us feel unclean, but more importantly, confused how nature could play us such tricks.
                                                    Rather than fight it, we'll take the advice and use nature to enhance us by utilising the bay leafs and the freezer methods.

                                                    It also reminded me of old sea salts who used to eat their biscuits at night. They knew weevils were in their prized bickies but they knew they would provide a source of protein and therefore keep the scurvy at bay!!!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Andypbs3

                                                      I wouldn't be at all surprised if the bugs were *in* the bag when you bought it. Or bug eggs, anyway. They are when I buy my rice. And lentils and dried beans and other foods.

                                                      1. re: Andypbs3

                                                        Scurvy is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency so it wasn't Scurvy that it kept at bay it was hunger.

                                                      2. If you have the space, storing rice, flour, and other such things in the freezer or fridge is a good idea. Keeps it fresh and no little buggies. When this happened to my 20lb bag of rice, I just cooked it up and mixed with the dog food. They loved it!

                                                        1. I had the same as well. Just rins the rice a lot of time.

                                                          1. When I lived in the tropics (Hawaii), I adopted a practice I learned from friends from India. Buy rice in bags small enough to go in my freezer. Toss them in there for a day or two. Then, after full defrosting, store in tightly lidded containers. That at least kills any bugs (and their eggs) that already may be in the rice, and in the tropics, there usually are some. As for getting them out of the rice, that's why you should wash it carefully every time. Live or dead, they usually float away. Eating them won't hurt you. There probably are minuscule amounts of animal protein in every bowl of rice or beans, or loaf of bread, you've ever eaten. Prolonged freezer storage can make dried foods taste funny.

                                                            1. I experienced my first encounter with larvae in my stored rice this morning. I thought they were husked rice mixed in with the white until they started to move. I almost freaked out but kept calm and threw it out. I stored the rice in a large tin can for about 6 months so I don't think these bugs had a chance of getting inside the tin can. My conclusion is: rice and grains are infested with larvae eggs and if not eaten within a reasonable time, they will hatch. I've eaten rice since the day I was born and hadn't come across this situation before. I'll need to change my mindset about rice and accept the fact that I am eating unhatched larva eggs in the mix. I've done it for years without knowing it, and I'm still alive.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Plainer

                                                                Perhaps it is why you are still alive.

                                                              2. Yes it probably is if you rinse it thoroughly. We had a close call with a bag of rice in which the larvae turned into pantry moths. Now I keep every edible thing in a tupperware and I freeze my rice for a week before I put it in the pantry, in plastic in a tupperware.

                                                                I think I lucked out because I have not seen another moth for almost a year. If allowed to spread it can be very difficult to get rid of them. The key is to keep the larvae from getting to food.