Forensic investigation of stored products: infestation in the food industry

Wednesday, November 13, 2013: 2:30 PM
Meeting Room 18 B (Austin Convention Center)
Mahsa Fardisi , Department of Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Linda J. Mason , Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Pest infestation of food may start at any stage during the production process; from storage facilities, the retail market, or at consumer’s house. Stored food is susceptible to a variety of pests which can cause significant economic loss or sickness in individuals and make for complicated court cases. In criminal proceedings, finding evidence of the source of pest infestation is very difficult, if not impossible. Sources of infestation include: infested products brought into the area, factories located near infested warehouses, and pests living in infested material that then disperse throughout a factory. Improper fumigation by pest control companies may also leave oily residual on products and not effectively control the pest. Packaging type and wrapping can significantly prevent insects infesting stored products and are examined to gather evidence of infestation source. Rodents (or their hairs and feces) and insects are the most common pests infesting stored products. Of the insect pests, Indian meal moth larva (Plodia interpunctella Hübner) and saw-toothed grain beetle adults (Oryzaephilus surinamensis L.) are two of the most important. This presentation covers the forensic aspect of pests causing economic damage to stored food from manufacturing to the home, and reviews some common legal questions.