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Food Bank supplies severely infested during COVID-19 outbreak

Food Bank Supplies Severely Infested During COVID-19 Outbreak

Now with the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses such as shops, pubs, entertainment and travel companies have had to close down because of the coronavirus lockdown and many people lost their jobs. 
 In 2019 more than 1.5 million people used a food bank in the United Kingdom. Roughly 100,000 households used food banks supplies for the first time during the first lockdown in March. There are many covid- related reasons that so many people are currently relying on food bank support - job losses, schools being closed and incomes are just three of them.

What Are Food Banks?

Food banks usually help people who struggle to afford to buy enough food to eat. Other essential items such as toilet paper and soaps are also available. Most common items that are provided by a food bank are cereals, flour,  rice, pasta, lentils and other dried pulses, tinned goods like soups and beans, washing liquids and also nappies or baby wipes. Many housing associations partner with food banks to help vulnerable tenants.
During these difficult times and people struggling to cover their basic needs and seeking help from food banks, Archers Pest Control is noticing more than 30% increase in calls from people having issues with stored product insects such as weevils and beetles. Many people are reporting small insects crawling in their donated food supplies.

Weevil Infestation Recently Found in Food Bank Supplies

Recently, one of our pest control technician Mario Stanchev came across an unusual problem at a flat in Ilford. He had been called to the property to deal with a carpet beetle infestation but when he arrived, he found something different - weevils. As you may guess from the name, these insects don't eat carpets and so Mario had to find out the source of the problem. In the end, he followed the trail back to a pack received from food bank suppliers. The client was using food bank supplies to survive the coronavirus outbreak. In the intervening period, the weevils had decided to take advantage and infest the supplies. These days it is not common to see weevils in the United Kingdom but in the past, they were very popular pests.
weevil image
Where Weevils can be found?
Usually, weevils can be found in flour, grain and cereal products, spices, pasta dried fruits and nutmeats.  These tiny insects can cause huge economic damage in the food industry, from the farm through the storage, transport, processing, distribution and in homes or businesses. They can contaminate and spoil a significant amount of food supply.
Our Advice
The professionals from Archers say it is highly important to conduct a detailed inspection of food bank supplies and the storage areas to identify an infestation as early as possible. Inspect deliveries on arrival and make regular checks on food that has been in storage for a while.
Common signs of weevil infestation are:
  • Holes in packaging 
  • Damaged packaging 
  • Live or dead insects in the food and also food storage areas
  • Food spillages containing live insects or larvae 

Here are some frequently asked questions Archers are receiving regarding weevils and their behaviour.

Are weevils dangerous to humans?
Luckily weevils pose no physical threat to humans. These insects prefer to eat only plants, nuts, seeds, roots and fruits. They don't carry or transmit diseases or parasites. Weevils are just a nuisance that can cause a financial loss in the form of food and plant life.
How do weevils get inside my house?
As a matter of fact, weevils prefer to be outdoors, but when the weather is too dry and hot, they will seek shelter somewhere else. Some weevil species can fly, so they can enter through open windows. Some weevils can't fly, but they can crawl under doors, under cracks or can hitch a ride inside after being accidentally packed into food.

If you find out your food is infested you should dispose of the infested items and clean thoroughly the cupboards. If you want to prevent future pest infestation the key is sanitation and regular inspections. Products such as flour, grains, dry fruits, cereals, pasta, rice and sweets, should always be stored in plastic containers or metal. It's a good idea to store these products in the fridge or freezer if possible.

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