Pasta, rice and legumes are products that, once opened, must be kept in an airtight container, such as a container or a glass jar. If they are left in the original package and poorly closed, guests that we did not expect may proliferate and we may not realize that they are there until the food is cooked.
A lot happens with rice, or have you never wondered what those tiny black specks that sometimes appear in the cooking water are? Food technologist Miguel Ángel Lurueña explained some time ago on Twitter that in most cases they are insects called weevils.
The expert said that these bugs can appear both in rice and in other cereals. Producers keep them at bay with phytosanitary measures, but sometimes one can sneak in and reach our pantry without us noticing.
Adult weevils, which are usually brown or black, measure around 30-60mm. Their life expectancy is 6-8 months and their young usually grow inside the grains and seeds of corn, wheat or other cereals.
The optimal temperature for their reproduction is 25 to 28 °C and they can survive in environments of up to 32 °C, says a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. That is why it is more common for us to run into them in summer, when there is heat and humidity. However, they do not resist cold well and can die in a week if temperatures are close to 0 °C.
"Someone explained to me that in Nepal it was common to eat them with rice. So whether or not to eat them is more a matter of taste than of health," commented Lurueña, insisting that we are not in danger if we have ever ingested them by mistake.
If we also want to avoid finding them in food and keep them away from our pantries, Lurueña recommends not leaving rice or cereal in its original container. "These insects can pierce them. Ideally, store them in airtight containers."
In the event that they have already invaded our kitchen, the only solution is to get rid of all the ingredients that are not stored hermetically and clean the affected space, paying attention to the cracks and holes where they can hide.
To finish, Lurueña reminds us that up to a certain point it is normal to find insects in the products that we keep in cupboards. And she stresses that food may seem safe, but it's still not aseptic.