Course:FNH200/Lessons/Lesson 05/Page 05.3

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5.3 Insects, Rodents and Parasites

  • Pests are major contributors to post-harvest losses
  • Rodents alone ruin >30,000,000 tonnes of food each year worldwide
  • Insects are believed to destroy 5-10% of the U.S. grain crop annually, and in some parts of the world this figure can be as high as 50%
  • Pests will damage the food and open it to microbial contamination
  • Rodent, insect and bird control are important factors in the agriculture and food industries.

You may have had first-hand experience with insects or rodents causing food deterioration in your home. These organisms are often referred to as food pests and the food industry pays a great deal of attention to pest management. If you have had problems with food pests in your pantry or cupboards, you will appreciate the damage they can cause and the fact that great efforts must be taken to control their activities and invasiveness.

Parasites can cause damage to food quality. An example is the visible appearance of parasitic cysts in fish flesh which lowers  the quality and market value of infested products. Parasites such as Trichinella spiralis in pork and Anisakis species in some types of fish can also cause health problems in humans if they are ingested through inadequately cooked or improperly processed foods, infested with those parasites.