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Are tiny grain mites infesting your pet's food?

Your pets aren’t the only ones that like to chow down on that dry kibble.
So do tiny microscopic bugs called grain mites.

These pests thrive in hot summer months and in high humidity, able to lay hundreds of eggs on one dry nugget. Store your pets’ food carefully and monitor your supply, or grain mites could be having dinner at your house.

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So far this month, there have been at least two reports of consumers finding mites in Beneful dry dog food, made by Purina; one in Newport News, VA and one reported through a syndicated pet column in the Washington Post. In both cases, the pet parents discovered a weird dust proliferating in the places where they kept their dogs’ food – and one day noticed the dust was moving. It actually was the residue left behind by hungry grain mites.

A Tallahassee television station also carried a story this week about a family finding grain mites in a Purina product. Although the station didn't report the brand, watch the video and you'll see a Beneful bag being tossed in trash.

Purina spokesman Keith Schopp said the manufacturing process would kill any mites in raw ingredients, but that an infestation could occur after the products left the plant or in the customers’ homes. He did not know if the affected customers all bought the same Beneful flavor or if the products were made in the same facility.

The company has not recalled any Beneful food but “we take this very seriously when we hear from a customer,” Schopp said. Vicki Lemay, the Newport News customer, said Purina offered to cover her extermination expenses.

Veterinarians said grain mites should not cause serious illnesses if eaten, but that pets might have an allergic reaction that could include itching, and intestinal and skin problems.

How can you control grain mites?

* Store pet foods in airtight containers. Don’t store food in garages, sheds or basements.

* Immediately throw bags away outside after the food has been put into a container.

* Don’t buy or use old or outdated food.

* Wash food dishes frequently in hot water and dry thoroughly.

* Buy only 30 days worth of food at a time.

* Don’t purchase food in bags with holes or tears.

* Avoid low quality food with a lot of debris in the bottom of the bag.

* Periodically check food and the area around where the food is stored for signs of mites: a recurring brown dust.


Here is a good fact sheet from the University of Nebraska's extension service on food storage mites, including grain mites, and how to clean up after them.

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Comments (16)

TJF:

I have not had any problems with either dry cat or dry dog food, since I went to Petsmart and got a couple of those air-tight "vittles vaults" in a big size for my dog and a small one for the cat food. They are completely airtight and the food doesn't get moldy, infested with mites or spoil at all...very good product.

jerry:

I just found the same problem with my beneful food bag today too, and I'm in Chicago.

Jaimee:

I want to say that I noticed these strange little bugs too and am glad to find out that I'm not just seeing things! They jump like fleas but are elongated in shape and have antennae like feelers. They are tiny and you almost cannot see them unless you are looking. Here's a question though, if these mites are laying hundreds of eggs on one morsel of cat food, are they harmful to my cat when he is injesting them?

Diane Lade:

Hey Jaimee:
As I mention in the post, vets say mites won't cause "serious harm" if your pet eats them. But they can cause allergic reactions, which can lead to skin problem or gastrointestinal issue. TJF recommends keeping your pet food in a Vittels Vault, and I am going to post on that in a minute. I think I am going to buy one (although we keep our food in a plastic container with an air tight lid, and have not had a problem so far). They are available in pet stores everywhere, in a variety of sizes.

Susan Bonn:

Oct. 9, 2008. On September 27, 2008 I purchased a bag of healthy weight beneful, my regular dog food, and after a week I noticed a billion tiny white/tan bugs infesting the food and my food container. I called my daughter, who also uses that food, although purchased at another location here in Huntsville, AL, and her food as well, was infested. My mothers dog food, a different brand, was also infested, we believe because it sat next to the container of beneful. The store has refunded my money in full, and I have switched brands. I am having a hard time getting rid of these bugs, I have thrown out all the dogs food, the container and scoured the food bowls. I have wiped down the walls and floor where the dog food container sat wit bleach. I have a cabitnet with a fish tank in the same area and now they are all over the fish tank, probably look for food. It's been an awful situation. Shortly after I purchased this bag, the smallest dog began getting an upset stomach, and I didn't know why, and by yesterday, Oct. 8, all three dogs were intermitently vomiting. They have now had two meals of the NEW food and seem better.

Frustrated in NC:

I have had this issue too with a bag of Beneful Healthy Weight Dog Food. I just discovered it Friday night and I am still cleaning.

katierave:

Aieeeee!! Just a few hours ago, I noticed that my dog's food looked like each piece was covered with crumbs. I was afraid it might be mold, so I got my jeweler's loupe out and the "mold" was moving! I called the local pest control and asked what they thought it might be, and they suggested grain mites, which led me here. This was my dog's first (and last!) bag of Beneful Healthy Weight!!! He has been having a lot of allergy-type problems for several weeks, and vomiting every few days, which he has never, ever had a problem with before, so I'm pretty suspicious now that this may be the cause. This bag was purchased at WalMart in Prattville, AL. Glad I seem to have identified the problem, but hate to hear that it looks like I'm in for lots and lots of repetitive cleaning!

In NC too.:

We discovered the grain mite problem in our Beneful several weeks ago. They were everywhere all over our kitchen. We have been dealing with the claims department of Purina to reimburst us for all of our food, time, and other items we have had to throw away.
We have not seen any in a week. What we did was vacuum several times and get in every crevice (be sure to change the back and filter each time). Used a couple different insecticides that specifically said it rids of grain mites. That reduced them greatly. We also purchase Cedercide oil with a fogger that seemed to work well.

FrustratedinNC:

I have found the same problem with a bag of Beneful Healthy Weight food in North Carolina

Newport Tennessee here and I noticed this issue with my Beneful Healthy Radiance dog food. I've thrown away the remains and cleaned up. Still going through pet food items to make sure they are mite free. I just got another bag of the same food, I hope it's not infested as well. After this, I will be changing brands for sure.

Lori Lomelino:

I've been seeing the mites in Beneful Healthy Radiance but thought it was the store I purchased the dog food from. I went to a different store for the last purchase and once again, we had mites. Just bought another bag tonight but I'm not sure I want to open it. Now I'm wondering if her allergy problems are related to the food and mites!

m.v. tampa florida:

had this problem twice. air tight container full of bugs, both times with beneful.

Go to this FDA site to read about U.S. Marshals seizing animal food products stored under unsanitary conditions that allow grain eating insects to contaminate the food:

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2008/new01854.html

josh drake:

i found this exact infestation in my kitchen this week. i live in decatur, al and got my bag from the local kroger. my local pest control guys didnt have any idea what it was. after the sample they said they were brown grain mites. the problem is the fact that they go unnoticed due to their appearance of food debri, untill they have literally infested your house. i called purina and they offered a coupon for another bag which i politely turned down. the customer service rep said that the bugs were not from the food and that this was all just a coincidence. this is hard for me to believe and i will contact them again should my dog or house suffer any damages.

ty:

same thing happened today with my bag of beneful. I was about to refill the container when i noticed a powder dust all over the bag. There was so much of it, i looked closer to see if it was cornmeal or something. The specks were moving around in different directions. Those damn mites! Are they just grain mites or could they be such mites as scabeii?

Kingsburg, CA

Mary:

I just found this in my Dog Food as well and I am in Detroit Michigan!

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