The internet is going crazy for a video from TikTok (and accompanying Buzzfeed article) showing what appear to be tiny worm-like insects emerging from fresh strawberries soaked in salt water. This is serious? Have we been without knowing it? enjoying larvae in our triple berry parfaits? Should we just never eat fruit again? I spoke to some experts to find out.
Here is the short answer: this is something real that can happen, but is not common. Ad nFood safety experts and insect experts advise washing the fruit in salt water.
What's really going on in this video?
Krista Torres, who made the video, writes: "I filled a bowl with water at room temperature, poured a ton of sea salt (about five tablespoons), put the strawberries on it and waited about 30 minutes." She then notices small white worms that come out of strawberries and concludes that they are the larvae of spotted wing fruit flies, Drosophila suzukii.
It is unclear from the video whether he has identified the species correctly, but more of that in a minute.
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Saltwater soaking is actually a technique that producers and wholesalers use to verify the presence of fly larvae in berries, entomologist Hannah Burrack he told me. She assists berry growers with pest management at North Carolina State University. The berries are sold from producers to wholesalers (who pack them in those clam boxes) and from there, they are resold to supermarkets. "If (the wholesalers) find larvae in the fruit that comes from the grower, they will ship all that fruit directly from that grower," says Burrack.
Since they only analyze a sample of the fruit in each shipment, there is no guarantee that the rest of the berries are free of larvae, but in general The idea here is to minimize the chances that there are berries full of insects turning it into the supply chain.
Are there bugs like this on all strawberries?
No. yesut there are probably mistakes in Some strawberries.
You know fruit flies, right? Those little little guys that pop around the overripe fruit that you've left on your counter too long? They are often Drosophila melanogaster or Drosophila simulansBurrack says, if not One of his relatives. The adults you've seen and taken away a million times, reproduce by laying your almost microscopic eggs in the soft parts of the fruit. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae, also known as worms, which look exactly like the "worms" in the TikTok video. Eventually, the larvae grow into flies, and the circle of life repeats itself.
You usually find these types in fruit that is damaged or overripe, but there is a species called Drosophila suzukii who uses a sawtooth ovipositor (a, uh, butt spike) to inject your eggs into fresh berries while the fruit is still growing on the plant.
As the Buzzfeed article says, “Females shoot their eggs into fruits that are just beginning to ripen, especially blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. IT MEANS THESE ERRORS ARE LIKELY ON ALL BERRIES!
But Burrack tells me that there is no way of knowing if the larvae in the video are D. suzukiisince everyone Drosophila The larvae are alike. And since producers and wholesalers do their best to maintain D. suzukii Outside of the food supply, it is not very likely: These larvae could also come from a fruit fly buzzing around the grocery store or Krista Torres. " kitchen.
Would it be harmful to accidentally eat these insects?
No The thinks they are lurking inside your berries can be unappetizing but they won't hurt you. "You can eat them, but a little gross," he says. Ben chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University.
"Natural" protein tweeted Courtney Crist, food safety specialist, when I asked her about it.
"If you're eating berries, I guess you probably ate them in a moment," says the entomologist. Joe Ballenger.
Excuse me, the mistakes in the food are stupid
A valid point. But since you mentioned it: TYours is nothing new. Did you know that vegetables are grown outdoors, in the ground, and that there are many insects out there? Ballenger casually mentioned he & # 39;I recently picked a vegetable bug (i.e. I'm not kidding, its real name) from its lettuce. Bedbugs inject their saliva into the leaves and then suck out the resulting suspension. You've probably eaten a lot of insect saliva.
Similarly, Chapman noted that worms in fresh fish are so common sushi restaurants must freeze raw fish before serving to kill any worm. What does it meanthe worms are still there, they are simply dead.
I could go on, but I won't. Suffice it to say, andYou have probably eaten a lot of things that you would rather not think about. Or as Ballenger says: "If you look at it very closely, almost everything is disgusting."
Okay, so what should I do with my strawberries?
Everyone I spoke to said the same thing: You don't need to dip them in salt water or do anything special. A regular rinse is fine.
Burrack points out that you should keep your berries in the refrigerator. This makes them last longer and it keeps them away from fruit flies buzzing around your counter. yesload: AAfter three days of refrigeration, any fruit fly eggs or larvae in their berries are likely to be dead, at least.
Everybody classic strawberry maintenance tips still applies the other big problem is not wash your berries until you are ready to eat them. Washing can slightly damage the berries, creating opportunities for mold and microbes to enter under the skin. So just take the handful of berries you intend to eat, wash yourself those, and leave the rest in the fridge until next time.