Keeping pests out of your rice to prevent contamination and infestations is a must to secure your food storage, but does rice actually turn into maggots?
No, rice does not turn into maggots. The bugs in your rice are likely not maggots at all and are probably eggs laid by weevils, which hatched and turned into larvae. Weevils and moths will often lay eggs in rice during the packaging process, which eventually hatch and turn into unharmful larvae.
After extensively researching food storage tactics and survival strategies, I have gathered enough information to determine the best ways to store rice. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at whether rice turns into maggots, and what you can do to prevent infestations in your rice storage.
Does Rice Turn Into Maggots?
It can be quite unpleasant to open up your pantry or food storage to discover that an infestation of bugs has made its way into your rice. Preppers take extensive measures to prevent pests from penetrating their stockpiles and bugs are notorious for sabotaging emergency goods.
However, despite what many people believe, rice does not turn into maggots. In fact, what you are likely seeing in your rice are not even maggots at all, but another type of bug.
Although the larvae from maggot eggs may have a similar appearance to rice grains, the rice did not physically transform into a maggot. They are actually from eggs that hatched in the rice after being laid by bugs during the packaging process.
Which Bugs Are In My Rice?
While the bugs in your rice may look like maggots, they are more than likely from moths or weevils. Maggots generally appear in food and waste from flies. The flies feed on the decaying matter and then lay their eggs, which eventually results in maggots hatching.
Rice is not a common type of food that flies would pursue, making it highly unlikely that you have maggots in your rice unless it’s spoiled food. The main reason why larvae appear in your rice is that bugs such as moths and weevils have laid eggs in the rice before it was even packaged.
Moths and weevils are very common pests known for cleverly making their way into rice while it's processed. These insects lay their eggs in the rice and eventually hatch. Once hatched, larvae will become present in your rice, which looks a lot like a standard maggot from a fly.
What Happens If You Eat Rice With Maggots Or Bugs?
We’ve been conditioned to think that any type of bug in our food is an immediate sign of it being rancid. However, consuming rice with a few bugs should not pose any health risks, and can actually be a good source of added nutrients.
Many cultures around the world eat maggots and bugs as part of their daily diet and this is just another food source. The bugs in your rice are more than likely due to rice weevils and moths. Implying that they are not there due to the rice being rancid from contamination.
Moths, weevils, and even maggots for that matter are excellent sources of protein and are not dangerous to eat. So long as the rice is not rancid, it should be safe to eat, even if it has bugs.
That being said, you should always inspect your rice thoroughly before eating it, especially if you notice there are bugs. Undeniably, I do not find bugs very appetizing and prefer to remove them from my rice before I start cooking.
How To Remove Maggots And Bugs From Rice
If you don’t have the stomach for eating rice with bugs, you are not alone. Despite the added nutrients that bugs can offer, most of us prefer to get our protein from other sources.
What most people tend to do when they discover a small bug infestation in their rice is immediately throw it out. Most of the time, this is unnecessary, and it actually wastes food that could have been consumed.
These procedures can help you get rid of bugs and maggots from your rice so you can eat it without worrying.
Step 1: Heat the Rice
Maggots and bugs will not survive extreme temperatures. One of the best ways to kill the bugs is to use either a hairdryer or boiling water.
Simply blowing hot air from your hairdryer over the rice for several minutes will kill any larvae and unhatched eggs. You need to lay the rice on a flat baking sheet or pan for this to work. Once the rice is on a flat surface, blow hot air around the rice evenly.
Alternatively, cover the rice with boiling water and let it sit for at least five minutes. You might need to drain the water and do it again at least once if you are cooking a lot of rice. Alternately, the oven and microwave work quite fine. But watch out not to burn the rice by heating it up too much.
Step 2: Remove the Larvae
After you’ve heated up the rice and killed the larvae and eggs, you need to remove the bugs from the contents. Putting the rice into a bowl or saucepan and then filling it with hot water is the ideal way to accomplish this.
Let the rice stand in the dish of boiling water for about five minutes. Bugs should be floating to the surface of the water when you go back. To get rid of any lingering insects or larvae, remove these pests with a cup or filter.
How to Prevent Maggots and Bugs in Rice
Discovering a bug infestation in your rice is not very appetizing. Although these bugs may not be dangerous to your health, they make the idea of eating your next meal rather unsavory, to say the least.
Removing the larvae from the rice is a reliable option. However, many people prefer to keep the bugs out entirely. Unfortunately, preventing maggots and bugs from appearing in your rice is next to impossible.
The bugs you are seeing are from eggs that were laid long before you purchased the rice and have likely been there since the packaging process. This makes preventing the bugs from accessing your rice quite a challenge.
What you can do is take measures to ensure the eggs never hatch. While you cannot keep them out, you can prevent the larvae from becoming active with one of the following methods.
Eat Rice While It’s Fresh
If you don’t want to deal with seeing bugs in your rice, try eating it sooner rather than later after buying it from the store.
The insect eggs in your rice take time to hatch and you can avoid them completely by eating rice while it's fresh. I advise keeping the rice in its original box, unopened, and consuming it within three months.
For about three months, eggs will remain inside the rice grain before eventually hatching and developing into larvae. Eating rice within this time window will greatly lower the likelihood of pests in the rice.
Freeze or Refrigerate
The insect eggs and larvae in your rice do not handle the cold well. An effective way to kill the eggs before they hatch is to put the rice in your fridge or freezer for 24 hours.
Doing so will kill any bugs in your rice, regardless of whether the eggs have hatched. If you want to prevent the eggs from hatching completely, I recommend freezing or refrigerating your rice after buying it, especially if you are planning on storing it for more than 3 months.
Heat the Rice
Heat is another good way to kill eggs and larvae in your rice. Heating the rice at more than 120F for 15 to 20 minutes will kill any food insects inside.
There are a handful of different ways that you can do this, but I find that microwaving tends to work best. It’s important not to overheat the rice, as this can burn it. I recommend either keeping the microwave on low for a longer period, or on high for a shorter warming period.
Alternatively, you can use other heating methods such as baking, blow drying, or boiling water.
The bugs inside your rice need to breathe. Depriving them of oxygen will kill all of the bugs in your rice and prevent the eggs from hatching.
For this method, you will need to transfer the rice to an airtight container. Once the rice is inside, place an oxygen absorber in the container and seal it shut so that it’s completely airtight.
Store Rice Properly
While most of the larvae that appear in rice are due to eggs laid during the packaging process, some bugs will actually make their way into your goods afterward. Rice that has not been stored properly will attract various types of insects that will lay more eggs.
It’s essential that you store your rice properly to prevent any additional rice bugs from accessing your goods. If you plan on keeping rice for a longer period, make sure to store it properly. The best way to do this is to use airtight containers that seal and are 100% airtight.
How To Tell if Rice Has Gone Bad
Bugs in rice are very common and normally do not imply that the product has gone bad. However, it’s important to tell the difference between normal weevils and moths that are unharmful to your health and rice that is legitimately rancid.
If larvae and bugs appear in your food due to contamination after the packaging was opened, this could be a potential sign of rice being bad. Some bugs in particular, such as maggots are a sign of rancid food and are from flies after they lay eggs.
Given that flies generally feed on rotten food, this would indicate the product is likely not safe to eat. Keep an eye out for the following signs to determine if rice has gone bad:
- Foul Smell
- Oil Texture
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker