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So, a lot of pasta I've bought lately came with some white substance. At first it looked like uncooked starch or something. But when looking closely I noticed it was MOVING ON ITS OWN.

After a while this incident repeated a couple times. Even when buying pasta from other factories, they have that self-moving white substance.

So... what is it?

On penne for example, in the "channels" that the pasta have, the white stuff collects there. It is quite tiny and long, and clearly alive.

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    Nothing on properly made and stored pasta is supposed to be alive. This is impossible to answer without a video. If it is actually moving on its own, I would bring it back to the retailer. – moscafj Mar 18 at 23:52
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    Did you notice this just after buying the pasta, or after it had been in your pantry for a while? If it's the second one, it sounds like you might have some sort of infestation – Joe Mar 19 at 0:08
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    my rule, if it moves and shouldn't throw it away and it if doesn't move and is moving throw it away. (or something like that) – Max Mar 19 at 0:08
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    @Max, I thought the rule is "if it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape; if it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40". :D – Marti Mar 19 at 13:47
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    @Marti in the kitchen one would use duck pate on everything - easily confused, as they have a similar taste and texture in addition to the spelling similarity. – brichins Mar 19 at 15:49
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Assuming these are open packets that have been open for a while - you probably have a mite infestation, probably the flour mite (Acarus siro), or a closely related mite. These are tiny almost-invisible-to-the-naked-eye members of the Acari, which is an animal order including the ticks and mites.

They are very small - between 0.33 and 0.66 mm (00.13-0.026 in), with translucent/whitish bodies and or pink legs. They are, as the name suggests most commonly found in flour, but are also seen living on a range of grains, cereal products, dried fruit and nuts. They can promote allergic reactions upon consumption of food contaminated with the mites.

Because they are so small detection is difficult and usually not noticed until fairly heavily infested - if you are seeing the dust/flour/whatever move, then you most likely have a heavy infestation. You may be able to find them on the food or in your cupboards with a magnifying glass or using a piece of sticky tape to press down on cupboard surfaces, then examining it under bright light.

Severely infested foods should be discarded, but the mites can be killed by freezing the affected food-stuffs for 7 days. Just be aware that this will not kill off any antigens from the mites - they can still cause an allergic reaction upon consumption. They are difficult to eliminate because they are so small, but you can thoroughly clean your cupboards and any food storage containers with regular house-hold cleaners to get rid of food residues that they use as a food source.

There's a more detailed version of the above advice on wikihow.

| improve this answer | |
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    Thank you for giving me one more thing to worry about. – Reinstate Monica -- notmaynard Mar 19 at 17:33
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    Are the mites nutritious? – Andrew Morton Mar 20 at 11:59
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    Y'all, let's not go overboard about the allergy thing - the answer just mentions that allergies are possible in the given situation. We don't need to debate exactly how likely and severe they are; the answer is just providing that information, and readers can use it based on their own needs. – Cascabel Mar 20 at 18:16
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Cascabel Mar 20 at 18:16
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    @AndrewMorton Asking the real question here I see. – Cloud Mar 22 at 12:10

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