While the vast majority of insects and spiders are not harmful to humans, nobody wants to live within a house that is known to be infested with creepy-crawlies. Some insects and spiders maintain a regular presence within homes year round. These types of insects maintain a low profile and are rarely spotted by a home’s inhabitants. Other insects, such as bed bugs, make their presence known quickly within certain areas of a home. For example, bed bugs gravitate to areas of a home where fabrics are abundant, namely beds, while termites gravitate toward structural wood. While these insect pests are understandably scorned by the public, most people would agree that a pantry is the worst place to find an insect infestation. Several types of insects can spread disease-causing pathogens onto human food sources, and the idea of eating insect-contaminated food is enough to make many people lose their appetite. In order to keep insects away from food, food needs to be stored within the proper conditions. Despite this common knowledge, school administrators in Westford came under fire several years ago for storing cafeteria food within an insect and spider infested barn. The food kept within this insect and spider riddled barn was served to children who later became sick, possibly as a result of consuming food contaminated with pathogens or feces spread by insect pests.

Back in 2011, a barn that had been used for 30 years to store school cafeteria food came under investigation after 70 kids from one Westford school became ill. Although the Massachusetts Health Department did not find a clear connection between the infested food and the children’s illnesses, officials found that the barn’s conditions constituted numerous health code violations. The barn was reportedly full of spiders, ladybugs and other arthropods that easily crawled through several holes in the walls, and the barn was not temperature controlled. Much of the packaged food was found covered with insect and rodent droppings. The department ordered that all the food within the barn be thrown out as a public health measure. The cost of all the discarded food amounted to 12,000 dollars.

Did you ever suspect your cafeteria food at school to be exposed to insects?