8.3.11  Pests

Foods can be damaged and also contaminated by pests. Many stored grains are lost through the damage done by pests, including termites (mist), beetles, locusts, cockroaches, flies and rodents such as rats and mice. Pests can damage and contaminate foods in various ways, such as boring into and feeding on the insides of grains, or tunnelling into stems and roots of food plants. For example, weevils cause large losses of stored grains, especially in warm and humid conditions such as in lowland areas of Ethiopia.

Pests also damage the protective skin of foods allowing microorganisms to get inside the food and causing it to rot more quickly. Pests can pollute food with their excreta, and with bodies and body fragments when they die. They also transfer microorganisms on to food while walking on it (Figure 8.6). Flies and cockroaches readily move between wastes and foods, transporting microorganisms with them as they go.

Insects crawling in flour
Figure 8.6  Insects can leave dirt, excreta and possibly pathogenic microorganisms if they are allowed to crawl on food. (Photo: Basiro Davey)

8.3.10  Poor personal hygiene

8.4  Avoiding food contamination