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Are some Recalls Hidden from Public View?

We had an instance today where a product we purchased from the supermarket contained live pantry moths, and maggots.

A not so pleasant surprise on the kitchen bench when opened.

The package was sealed in cellophane type wrap, and contained a honey soaked block of mixed grains for a bird feeder.

On returning the product to the supermarket (all sealed in a moth and maggot proof bag), there was a polite discussion with the store manager, followed by a refund. Thank you Woolies. Although it was a special trip and there was a brief flurry of kitchen decontamination.

While waiting it became apparent that another type of product from the same supplier had been reported by a customer with the same problem the previous day. That stock had been inspected and removed from the shelf because it was unclear if they were also contaminated.

Now there are two different products from the one supplier both in sealed packages with the same significant problem. True it’s not human food, but doubtless how many of us would open it in the kitchen area. The other observation is that as a sealed package would the moth eggs and larvae have entered at source or in store?

At what level do stores quietly remove products from the shelves, hoping to minimise the fall out, and nothing reported to the public? No Recalls required.

It may be useful to know if anyone else has a similar recent experience with the same product range.

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Birds often eat insect larvae (including birds such as parrots), so the contamination is unlikely to be any issue for a bird consuming the product.

Possibly it could be seen as an additional protein source for the birds or a treat.

It is also interesting to note (and many might find gross), but many foods (anything which isn’t processed or heated to sterilise) we eat have either live insect eggs, insect larvae, nematodes, amoeba etc in addition to the food. Most processed foods also have insect or simple animal parts.

This is just a fact of life and humans have evolved eating such things. It is also worth noting that many other living organisms on food aren’t seen unless they are getting close to pupating age (meaning they are getting bigger and easier to see) or wriggle a lot when one looks closely at the food.

If a recall was done for this one (live insects in the seed), maybe most foods on the supermarket shelves or within fruit and vege shops would also be recalled as these will also have similar insect contamination which can’t be avoided. We would have no choice but to eat highly processed foods with dead insect parts.

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I believe that it happens, but I don’t know the circumstances of your situation are particularly unusual.

Seed is very commonly harvested with small insect eggs present at some level. And if it’s not treated or cooked those eggs can eventually hatch and become moth larvae. There’s little the supermarket or manufacturer can do to stop this without destroying the seed itself. It’s likely after several instances the supermarket removed the items from the shelf while they waited to hear back from the manufacturer or manually inspect the stock.

Unless there was a packaging issue or major contamination this is not a recall issue as no particular batch may be responsible

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