This is nuts... man who found worms in two separate bags of pistachios shellshocked
A man found worms in two separate packets of pistachio nuts bought within days each of other.
Gareth Edwards was horrified to come across a foreign body – later identified by the company as a navel orangeworm – after buying the Forest Feast Roasted and Salted Pistachios.
A few days afterwards, having been assured that the incident was a one-off, he bought another packet of nuts – and encountered another worm.
Snacking firm Kestrel Foods has apologised to Mr Edwards for his "unsatisfactory experience" and said it has launched a full investigation into the matter.
But the 29-year-old Belfast man, who bought both products from a Centra store near City Hall, said he had been put off pistachios forever.
He said: "I put one of the nuts in my mouth but it tasted funny and when I spat it out I was horrified to see what looked like a dead maggot.
"It was stuck to the shell and I was almost sick. My stomach felt funny and I couldn't just bring myself to eat anything else from the packet."
Mr Edwards contacted Kestrel Foods directly about what had happened and he sent the product back for investigation as instructed.
However, eight days later, when he bought another £1 packet of Roasted and Salted Pistachios, yet another worm turned up in the snack.
Photographer Brian Little, who was there when the second product was opened, said the foreign body fell out of one of the shells.
"It definitely wasn't a nut; it was some sort of worm-like creature. Mr Edwards couldn't believe the same thing had happened twice," he said.
Dr Archie Murchie, a scientist at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, said the small creature looked like "a chrysalis of navel orangeworm".
He also said that, while unlikely to be harmful, it was best to avoid eating insect-damaged nuts as they "may have fungal contamination".
A Kestrel Foods spokeswoman said the company was "disappointed to hear about the unsatisfactory experience Mr Edwards had".
"Kestrel Foods takes any customer complaint extremely seriously and the safety and quality of our food is our top priority," she said.
"Further investigation and monitoring is on-going.
"Occasionally in nature, navel orangeworm can get inside fruit and nut- bearing trees, where larvae can remain undetected.
"We have many processing steps and quality control checks in place to prevent nuts containing foreign objects from reaching consumers.
"It does not pose any risk to humans and we take this natural occurrence extremely seriously and work hard to contain it. We extended our apologies to Mr Edwards and sent him a selection of Forest Feast products by way of apology."
Dr Archie Murchie, a scientist at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, told the Belfast Telegraph: "It looks like a chrysalis (pupal stage) of navel orangeworm. This small moth is a pest of pistachios. As the company says, you will get pests from time-to-time. In some respects it is not a bad thing as it means that the growers are not over-spraying with pesticides. Although not what you want, the chrysalis is unlikely to be harmful. All that the moth has been eating is the pistachio, so you are getting basically the same nutrients. However, insect damaged nuts may also have fungal contamination, which could be a food safety concern, so best to avoid eating."