Should you still eat your food if a fly lands on it?

Musca domestica, commonly known as the house fly, is one of the most widespread nuisance insects in the world. It has found a place in and around our homes. It is closely associated with rotting organic waste, including dead animals and faeces. After laying eggs, maggots will hatch out and eat their way through the decaying organic material before pupating and then emerging as an adult fly a few days later. The adult flies can live up to a month and may lay hundreds of eggs over that time.

Flies are actually loaded with germs that could pose a serious threat to your health. Not only that, a fly will almost always vomit on your food when it lands on it. Flies on average carry more than 200 forms of harmful bacteria, thanks to the disgusting things they tend to land on, such as rotting food and fecal matter. The thousands of tiny hairs on the arms and legs of a fly mean those dangerous germs can transfer to your food if a fly lands on it. They only need to touch your food for a second for their legs or the tiny hairs all over their bodies to transfer germs from all those nasty things they eat onto what you are eating.

Flies also have a slightly bad habit of puking everything. The reason that flies do this is that they can’t chew, and so they need to spit their enzymes out onto the food they plan to consume, and then slurp it back up. So when they land on your grub, this is actually what they are doing.  Flies can carry cholera, typhoid and dysentery and they are actually twice as germ-ridden as cockroaches.

Note that flies don’t poo every time they land on anything. Flies that land out of sight and then wander about for a few minutes vomiting and pooping on your food or food preparation area are more of a concern. The more time passes, the greater the chance of pathogens left behind by the flies growing and multiplying on our food. That’s when health risks increase and such food should not be consumed.

Also they are very small, so they won’t carry that much bacteria and if they only land on your food for a few seconds, it won’t transfer germs across. Also, our immune system and antibacterial saliva do a pretty good job of killing a lot of bacteria. So if a fly lands on your food, don’t get too upset about it. Wave the fly off and continue to eat or better still you can throw that portion away. If you see a fly buzzing around your kitchen though, then you should probably kill it to prevent the spread of disease.

Improved hygiene standards assist in fly control and minimise the risk of contact with contaminated substances. Ensure your food is covered while preparing, cooking and serving outdoors and don’t leave leftovers sitting about outside for the flies. Screening windows and doors will help block flies from coming inside, but also minimising garbage around the house is critical. Ensure bins are cleaned regularly, household garbage is covered and animal waste is routinely cleaned up. The addition of insecticidal surface sprays around bin areas will help and, inside the home and a range of knockdown sprays will keep the number of flies down.

By: Mercy Kukah

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