April 10, 2024

Close-up of an almond moth larvae- image credit: https://www.mothidentification.com/

In our blog post today, we solve the more than two-decade-long mystery of which insect caused the numerous consumer complaints of ‘worms’ in Cadbury Chocolates in India.

We found it amusing that despite a common stored product pest (SPP), moth larvae infesting Cadbury chocolates, a popular consumer product, the insect’s identity has not been known to the public for too long.

With our path-breaking pest management industry moves, we reveal which insect has resulted in consumer complaints of “worms in Cadbury chocolates” in India.

Continue reading this blog post to discover which insect larvae have been infesting Cadbury chocolates in India.

Background: If you go through the various articles on the so-called “worms in Cadbury chocolates” in India over the past two-plus decades, beginning in 2003, you will not find a single article in which the writer has discussed the identity of the so-called worms.

We find it surprising that neither (then) Cadbury India Limited (now Mondelez India Foods Private Limited) nor the government food safety authorities or the media have mentioned the name of the insect sometimes found in Cadbury chocolates.

Even more surprisingly, the Indian pest control industry, which claims to be the guardian of people’s health, has not highlighted or created awareness of a common SPP in a popular snack.

The word ‘worm’ is used for an insect in Cadbury chocolates in India, a generic name for insect larvae. The numerous worms reported in Cadbury chocolates in India are larvae of the common SPP Almond Moth. We help you understand the almond moth and share how the Indian chocolate industry can manage it through this blog post.

What is the almond moth, and where can you find it? The almond moth (Cadra cautella), or the tropical warehouse moth, is a globally distributed pest notorious for infesting stored food products.

The almond moth belongs to the family of snout moths (Pyralidae) and is a serious pest that poses an economic threat to a diverse range of food products:

Dried Fruits: Raisins, dates, figs
Grains: Flour, oats, bran
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews
Other: Cocoa beans, spices, pet food

You can correlate from the above list that almond moth is likely to occur in chocolates with dried fruits and nuts, as such products contain three of the four food types it prefers.

Anecdotal evidence from Indian consumer complaints of insects in chocolate has indicated that the product variants, which have dried fruits and nuts, may contain insects.

However, even plain chocolates have also been reported to have almond moth larvae, which shows that the pest infests a wide range of chocolate types, not just the ones with dried fruits and nuts. In short, almond moths infest chocolates and may occur in those products purchased by Indian consumers.

Life Cycle of the Almond Moth:

A female almond moth lays hundreds of small, white eggs during her short lifespan.

These eggs hatch into larvae, the pest’s most destructive stage and most reported in consumer complaints.

The larvae are creamy-white with dark spots and a brown head. They feed on the food source while tunnelling through it, leaving webbing and frass.

The tunnels inside a food product are evidence of almond moth larvae as sometimes the larvae may be absent as they would have moved to pupate elsewhere.

After several weeks, the mature larvae pupate within a silken cocoon. In warm conditions, the entire cycle may take only about a month.

Damaging Potential of the Almond Moth:

Consumption: Almond moth larvae eat significant portions of stored products, leading to weight loss and quality degradation.
Contamination: Almond moth larvae produce webbing, cast skins, and frass, contaminating and rendering infested products unsellable.
Reputation: Almond moth infestations can damage the reputation of businesses, as infested goods repulse consumers.

Management Strategies to Control Almond Moths

Successful management of the almond moth relies on an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach:

Incoming material inspection: Carefully inspecting incoming shipments of dried fruits, nuts, grains, and similar products gives a much better chance of spotting almond moth eggs, larvae, webbing, or adults. Detection of the almond month in incoming materials prevents infested goods from entering storage or processing areas, breaking the cycle and stopping a potential infestation from taking hold in clean inventory.
Sanitation: Sanitation is the cornerstone of almond moth control, as the pest relies on food residues to thrive. Cleanliness of storage areas, disposal of infested products, and removal of food residues are crucial to almond moth control.
Physical Control: Heat treatment and freezing can kill larvae and eggs in infested items. Typically, chocolate product manufacturing involves heat or a kill step, which kills any life stage of the almond moth during product manufacturing.
Pheromone Traps: Pheromone traps that contain the almond moth pheromone-lure attract male moths and aid in monitoring infestations. However, pheromone traps are useful mainly for monitoring and do not lead to a population reduction of the pest.
Chemical Control: When necessary, targeted insecticides can be used judiciously to kill almond moths in the product or the premises. Fumigation with approved fumigants kills almond moths inside products. Post-cleaning approval of food industry-approved chemical pesticides helps to control their population on-premises.
Inventory rotation: Older products, including samples, have a greater chance of almond moth infestation. Periodic inventory evaluation and disposal of older products ensures inventory rotation and avoids the build-up of older stock with a higher chance of almond moth infestation.

Almond moth complaints in chocolates – a wake-up call to the Indian chocolate brands: In today’s blog post, we have revealed the identity of the SPP moth most likely to infest chocolates in India – the almond moth.

As we have discussed above, the different Cadbury chocolate variants resulting in consumer complaints had larvae of almond moths.

The rapidly growing Indian chocolate industry needs to accept the pest risks in its supply chain and adopt pest risk mitigation strategies for controlling almond moths in its products.

Pheromone traps – simplest tool to monitor almond moths: The easiest step to monitor almond moths is to monitor for their presence by using pheromone traps. Almond moth pheromone lures detect male almond moths even at low population levels and are a very useful management tool for the Indian chocolate industry.

The Indian chocolate industry needs to adopt pheromone trap monitoring to better control almond moth infestation in its products and increase consumer confidence in them.

Management of almond moths in the chocolate supply chain: Indian chocolate manufacturers must adopt material inspection, sanitation, physical treatments, pheromone trap monitoring, pesticide use, and inventory rotation to holistically control the presence of almond moths in its products.

The IMM+4 pheromone lure and SPP Diamond Trapp to monitor almond moths: We offer tools for the Indian chocolate industry to monitor almond moths as Giridhar Pai Associate LLP (GPA) is the sole Indian distributor of USA’s Trece Inc’s Inc’s Storgard Insect Monitoring Systems which includes the IMM+4 pheromone lure that monitors male almond moths. Further, GPA also distributes Gumtree Traps Private Limited’s SPP Diamond Trapp.

Using the Storgard IMM+4 pheromone lure with SPP Diamond Trapp, Indian chocolate brands can monitor almond moths throughout their product supply chain.

As the IMM+4 lure lasts for two months, users must replace the SPP Diamond Trapp and the IMM+4 pheromone lure once every two months for optimal results.

If you are interested in sourcing the IMM+4 pheromone lure and the SPP Diamond Trapp from GPA, you can contact us with your requirements.

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