Pantry moths discovered flying inside unopened packets of roast chicken stuffing mix

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A man walked in to Auckland's TVNZ Headquarters with two unopened packets of Paxo stuffing mix full of unidentified flying bugs and their creepy crawly young.

The Paxo mix was bought online through Union Jacks in October and contained the Indian meal moth.
Source: Fair Go

Pete Toomey and his Whangaparoa family very nearly ate the stuffing mix with their last chicken roast, before realising the stuffing mix was infested with the insects. 

The rest of us aren't so lucky. It's estimated we all eat about 500 grams of insect meat a year, without even realising.

The English expats bought the little taste of home online through Union Jack's in October - the Paxo sitting in between the pasta and crisps in the Toomey's pantry, since November.

After discovering their roast night favourite was "live" the Toomeys thought they could have a bio-hazard on their hands.

Short on time and wanting answers the Paxo ended up on Fair Go's desk.

We were clueless, so called in well-known entomologist Ruud Kleinpaste, who identified the bugs as the Indian meal moth or the pantry moth, which has a life-cycle of anywhere between 30 and 300 days.

So our agricultural and horticultural industries were safe, but who was to blame for the common critter being in the Toomey's tucker.

None of their other food was contaminated and their pantry looked squeaky clean. Mr Kleinpaste reckoned the Paxo could have been contaminated before it was packaged but believed it was probably contaminated in long-term storage. 

We talked to Union Jack's and the makers of Paxo, Premier Foods, who have both been investigating.

Neither had received any other complaints.

Premier foods say they were sorry to hear about the Toomeys' experience and that they're adamant the infestation must have occurred after the product left their control.

Union Jack's say they had the Paxo for just three days, after the product had travelled in controlled conditions, while the Toomeys had it in their pantry for nearly four months.

They also say it's impossible to know when the bugs entered the product, but in good faith offered the Toomeys a full refund, gift vouchers and delicious looking hamper.

The question is what do you do with contaminated stuffing mix? Mr Kleinpaste says your best bet is to put the Paxo in the freezer for 24 hours, kill the bugs, then eat the stuffing as you normally would. 

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