Top Tips for Pest-Free Holiday Baking

Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Keep Your Food Safe From Wandering Pests

 

It seems as though everyone brings out the flour and cookie sheets around the holidays. The smell of sweets wafting from the kitchen can put the whole family in the holiday spirit, but not having proper storage for food can bring festivities to a halt. Improperly stored food can attract pests, and if left unchecked, a small problem could turn into an infestation.

There are many types of pests that could be attracted to a leaking bag of sugar in the pantry such as mice, ants, cockroaches, Indian meal moths and merchant grain beetles. Some of these pests are fairly harmless but can spoil food and cut short any plans to bake a batch of cookies. Others, like mice and cockroaches are known to carry diseases and be a trigger for asthma and allergies.

The best way to keep your food safe, fresh and ready to eat is to incorporate a few simple habits into your routine when dealing with groceries.

Inspect the food: Pests have creative ways of getting inside our homes. Many hitchhike in or on grocery bags that have been placed in the car or on the ground during transport. Inspecting bags before bringing groceries inside can save food from getting spoiled later. It is also a good idea to look over the packaging of all items before even purchasing them at the store. If a package is opened or shows the slightest sign of damage, do not purchase it. For products already in the home, sift through ingredients and boxes to ensure they remained pest-free while in storage.

Purchase proper storage: Purchasing sturdy Tupperware-type containers with secure lids will be a good investment for your stored food. These will not only keep your pantry organized, but it will also protect your food from pantry pests and even small rodents that may be looking for an extra meal. Anything made of plastic or glass works well, as long as it comes with a tight-fitting lid.

Check the date: Certain baking ingredients such as brown sugar or baking soda might not get used during the rest of the year. A lot of these goods will last a while, but it is good practice to toss any food that is past the expiration date printed on its label. Make a habit of periodically sorting through old items in the pantry and toss out anything that has expired or been left open for a long time.

Practice good sanitation: Do not let spills sit for a long period of time. Immediately wipe up any crumbs or spills from countertops, tables, floors and shelves, and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles. Also, consider periodically emptying the cupboards and cleaning them with soap and water to get rid of any bugs that may be hiding inside.

While the holiday season is a big time for cooking and baking, these tips can help keep your food safe from pests all year round. Preventing pests is ideal, but if you suspect you have a pest infestation, contact a pest professional right away. For more tips on preventing pantry pests from ruining your baking fun, watch this short Pest 101 video.