I bought a bag of brown rice from a store. After having opened and used for a while, I found there were moths flying in the house. At the same time, I found worms in the rice. I suspect that the moths are from the worms(rice-size, white body, dark head). I guess but am not sure if they are called rice moths. There were also many little sand-like things in the rice bag, are they the eggs of the rice moths?

Will eating this infested rice pose a health risk?

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  • 3
    Why risk your health for a few dollars? I think the risk is negligible; you could assume that the bugs just entered the bag but the rice was still dry and therefore not affected by the bugs, so no further microbial contamination of the rice is likely to have occurred, but why take the risk? Sep 29, 2014 at 3:38
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    Humans have been consuming insects for at least 10s of thousands of years. Pick out the bugs you can find and know that the odds are extremely low that you will be harmed. Moths aren't generally known as disease vectors. Sep 29, 2014 at 4:45
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    @JoeM I'm confident that humans died rarely, if ever, from moth-born diseases. And many insects most certainly are recognized as safe to eat. Take a wilderness survival course and they'll give you a nice menu. Sep 29, 2014 at 16:04
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    @JoeM I understand your point, but I assure you that people eat insects such as these daily and are harmed so rarely that it's a nonexistent threat. All insects are not created equally when it comes to disease transmission, and moths rank somewhere near the very bottom of problem insects. Sep 30, 2014 at 0:26
  • 4
    We're not all rich, why throw away rice when we can easily save it as answered by @arcay? Mar 7, 2016 at 20:21

5 Answers 5


I haven't had that happen since the 1980's. Sound like the Flour Moth. Freezing Rice or Flour for 3-4 days will kill the eggs. I usually freeze local flour/rice for a few days so that I don't have to deal with any potential problem. If you have pantry moths, or other moths that have hatched, you may need to take extra measures to get rid of them. Once they start flying, they can get into any opened grain-food.


Everyone in Asia knows, you cannot store rice for long (over 1-2 months) at room temperature. The rice, ALL RICE has larvae in it. It's a symbiotic relationship. Unlike wheat (bread, pasta) which also cannot be stored at room temperature for long either, 1-2 months is max.

At room Temperature the larvae are in the rice, and will hatch, and become maggots, then they will escape the bag somehow and crawl around as maggots outside and become a cocoon and hatch into mini-moths and die.

The rice is still edible. When you wash it, it's real easy, ALL THE BUGS WILL FLOAT UP, just rinse like 3 times. Once you cook the rice, it will kill all insects and what ever, will become protein. You do not need to waste or throw away good rice because of those. You just cannot help it. It will always happen to rice. If you open a bag with no maggots or bugs that means the bag is fresh and a new crop. Otherwise a bag with maggots will mean it's been on the shelf over 1-2 month.

It cannot be helped, all rice has that. All Rice.

  • 5
    Dunno, I've never had larva in my rice and never seen this and it takes me several months to go through a bag. I've got a bag right now that's been sitting for almost two years. I think claiming 'all rice' has larvae in it is a bit of a broad over-generalization. Aug 4, 2017 at 22:16
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    But pantry moths and their ilk will also choose flour, nuts, cocoa, muesli.... as breeding ground once you have them in the pantry. While the animals per se aren't poisonous (but gross), I feel having their poop in my food is truly an issue. So sorry, I must disagree with your post.
    – Stephie
    Aug 5, 2017 at 6:32

I would absolutely not risk any health issues over it. I'd recommend tossing it out entirely and shopping at a new store. Your current rice supplier obviously has some issues of their own if there are bugs, rodents, etc. getting into their foods.

While these moths are indeed mostly harmless, contaminated and infested food should be thrown out. Period. The FDA agrees.

  • 9
    It's probably quite overreaching to blame the supplier for this. Nearly all grains have eggs from these types of pests in them at the time of harvest. They're so tiny they can't really be filtered out; freezing is probably the best option to prevent them from growing, but that's not generally done by the processors.
    – JasonTrue
    Oct 3, 2014 at 0:16
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    And they can spread between things in your pantry, so it's very easy for them to have come from somewhere else, with this just being the first place the OP noticed them.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 3, 2014 at 0:29
  • This is probably the most misguided advice based on fear and paranoia. You claim that FDA agrees with you but you haven't provided any references. I haven't found any evidence that months can transmit or cause any diseases and they cannot survive in the human body. Boiling kills everything. Freezing for a week also destroys them. Never make decisions based on feat and paranoia. Dec 25, 2020 at 22:14

Boiling water temperature will kill moths, larva and eggs. More food! :)

And experts say it's not dangerous if consumed http://www.saferbrand.com/articles/pantry-moths

On the same topic: https://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=24629.0


Maybe the worms and eggs will die when you cook the rice because they are not heat resistant? So you can just ignore it or just rinse your rice and check for little worms.

  • This would let you kill the larvae and eggs, but doesn't address whether it's safe to eat them afterwards.
    – Erica
    Apr 13, 2017 at 14:39

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