Dead Bugs Found In Health Valley Soup

I’m not sure what’s more disgusting, the dead bugs, or paying $4.00 for a paper cup of freeze-dried pea soup. Elaine writes:

I bought a Health Valley split pea soup at Publix Supermarket in Miami, FL on Friday 01/11/08 in the morning before coming in to work. Around 12:30 or so when I finally felt ready to have lunch, I opened the soup only to find it infested with dead bugs.

There was actually one live one still crawling around in there but by the time I found my camera to take a picture it had escaped. All the brown things are actually dead bugs. People should be aware of these types of dry soups. Such a disappointment…not to mention that these soups cost around $4.00.

We asked Elaine if she took it back to Publix and she said, ‘Honestly, I was so disgusted that I couldn’t fathom putting that thing in my car. I threw it away.” Ew. Can anyone identify the bugs? How, and when, did they get in there?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Juliekins says:

    Mmm, extra protein!

  2. Hanke says:

    This is why I like food with preservatives and extra chemicals.

  3. You should have returned it, or at least copied the information to give the store. When I worked at a supermarket, we had two customers return the same kind of vegetable juice in a very short period. I alerted my manager, and we checked the #’s on them, and they matched. We checked the ones on the shelf, and they matched the numbers, so we removed them all from the shelf, and opened one, and it too was “spoiled”.

    Also, was there any marks/holes on the packaging that could have allowed the bugs in? I doubt they survived the freeze drying process, so I’m guessing a pallet got bumped, and an opening allowed entry to the bugs.

  4. formatc says:

    Awesome. I had one of these for lunch on Tuesday. I thought it tasted a bit thicker and meatier than usual.

  5. @fitjulie: DAMN SKIPPY!

  6. Dibbler says:

    Those are bonus protein nodules. :)

  7. ancientsociety says:

    Is like one of those 3D pictures? Because those don’t look like dead bugs to me, just little black spheres (seeds?).

  8. faust1200 says:

    Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?
    Um, looks to me to be backstroke, sir…

    Please tip your servers. Good night!

  9. Balisong says:

    Hey! I’m trying to eat lunch here!

    Made my sammich somewhat less tasty.

  10. kris in seattle says:

    I am not so hungry now… gross

  11. RottNDude says:

    So you had the presence of mind to take high-resolution pictures of the problem and whine to Consumerist, but you threw the fucking thing away without notifying the manufacturer or store?


  12. timmus says:

    Man, I’ve heard of “blame the victim”, but… wow.

  13. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Ew, that’s not vegan!

  14. Murph1908 says:

    I had a Campbell’s Chunky soup once that after one bite, I thought it rotten. I emailed Campbell’s with the lot number. They sent me an email back with a coupon for a free can. Didn’t redeem it. The $2 didn’t bother me, but as you said, I just wanted to give them the info in case there was a larger-scale issue.

  15. topgun says:

    Hard to tell from the picture but I’d say either a Larder beetle,a Merchant grain beetle or grain weevil. I’ve got a call into Gill Grissom for a definitive answer. What’s most distressing is that they probably died from eating that stuff. You can’t go wrong with a nice greasy burger.

  16. rewinditback says:

    they might be the same bugs that can infest wheat products. Bags of flour can commonly have wheat bugs when you buy them… just sayin.

  17. DavidS722 says:

    WTF, $4.00 for a freeze dried paper container of soup?

  18. themediatrix says:

    Once, when eating a fresh fruit salad from the produce section of Whole Foods (watermelon, melon, kiwis, and strawberries), I stabbed a half-slice of kiwi with my fork and held it there while talking to someone.

    And then while chatting, I looked at the fork and my vision did this weird flashing in and out optical illusion thing, and I realized what was on my fork was not half a kiwi slice, but a curled up GRASSHOPPER, with black eyes and black markings on it.


  19. Rando says:

    lol @ buying raman for $4.00

  20. ChrisC1234 says:

    Grain weevils can get into anything. Actually, their eggs are in most of what you eat. I’ve had them turn up in Bisquick before. Usually, the food needs to be stored in heat for an extended period of time for them to hatch though.

    My grandmother owns a feed store, and every few years, some of the bags will get a weevil outbreak. The weevils come from the INSIDE of the bags though (and certain feeds seemed to have been more susceptible to it than others)

  21. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @randotheking: You’re paying extra for the “organic contents.”

  22. Juliekins says:

    @ChrisC1234: I had a couple of boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix do that to me once. Opening those boxes and seeing the contents moving around nearly made me jump out of my skin. I know the eggs are in there, and I mostly don’t care. Grubs, however….fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck no. *shudder*

    I make all my cornbread from scratch now. Jiffy is kinda gross, “animated” or not.

  23. ChChChacos says:

    I used to shop at Publix all the time when I lived in Florida. They gladly return absolutely anything you bring them, even if your excuse was buying the wrong kind of orange juice. They have always been a friendly,helpful grocery store. I would have returned this right away.

  24. pegr says:

    Did you check the ingredient label?

  25. VA_White says:

    This would have been better if she’d spilled the contents across her counter or a piece of cardboard and taken the picture. Composition is so important in photography.

  26. Sherryness says:

    I lived in Florida for 3-1/2 years and could never get anyone to speak to me in English, especially at Publix. It was impossible to ask an employee where a certain item was located and get any other answer than “que?” Therefore I certainly never bothered to try to return anything to the store. It was a complete nightmare. This was in Miami/Metro Dade.

  27. samurailynn says:

    Oh, that makes me shudder.

    Once I was at a friend’s house and something dropped from their ceiling onto their table. We looked up to see maggot-like bugs crawling around on the ceiling. I pretty much flipped out because I have a phobia about things getting in my ears. They cleaned all the bugs away and later found out they were coming from a canister of flour in their kitchen. At least we were playing a game at the table instead of having dinner.

    Finding bugs in/near food = ick!

  28. Nicholai says:


    Hey! I’m eating! ew.

  29. nardo218 says:

    @VA_White: You people are horrible. :D

  30. floydianslip6 says:

    $4!! clearly you must be paying for the rare bugs…. this is like a step above ramen with fancier packaging and no noodles.

  31. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    Bay Leaves– that deters them, but you still have to throw the afflicted food out.

  32. stillkarenann says:

    It’s hard to tell from the picture, but they do look like Pantry Beetle Larvae.

    This page might help you – has pics and descriptions of bugs that it might be.

  33. emilu says:

    This happened to me once, but with Near East couscous and moths (no, really). Even the one-live-bug part. I called the company and they sent me a boatload of coupons for free products. I was placated, considering I was a poor college student and vegan at the time – the couscous mixes were one of few cheap semi-prepared foods I could eat. At least without the moths.

  34. Mr_Human says:

    “An Ohio University fact sheet estimates that we eat from one to two pounds of insects each year, and without knowing it.”

  35. MYarms says:

    Miami huh? Are you sure you bought this at a Publix and not a bodega?

  36. IrisMR says:

    Well where did you think the 7g of protein came from? :)

  37. TangDrinker says:

    I worked at a heath food store in high school. One of the things I had to do was to routinely check those clear bags of grains, trail mixes, and nuts (especially the nuts) – for webbing and insects. Infestations happen quite frequently. I walk the trail mix aisle in Trader Joe’s and I shudder thinking of the stuff that may be in there. Just make sure you check before you buy that bag of raw almonds.

    I could tell you a story about finding live bugs in HOT kasha at a University cafeteria in Russia, but that might gross out way too many people.

  38. Mr. Guy says:

    Dennis Duffy, Beeper King: “You know you eat a pound of rat crap every year without knowing it?

    Jack Donaghy: “Ah yes, i think i read about that in the New Yorker.”

  39. aquanetta says:

    Is it still an infestation if the bugs are already dead?

  40. MDSasquatch says:

    The same folks that are bashing the OP about $4 Ramen have no problem buying $20 hot dogs and beer at sporting events. My last NASCAR race I bought a 24 ounce can of Bud for $8; $4 for noodles could be a bargain depending on the perspective.

    Just take the bug out and eat the soup, what’s the big deal?

    Imagine this: A dog take a dump, a fly lands on the “leavings” and enjoys the moment. Terd Walking gets old, so said fly heads out for something to eat, he lands on your sandwich, you swoosh him away and eat your sandwich. A dead bug in some dried soup taint too bad depending on the perspective.

    Remind me to tell ya’ll about my carrot-cake/ant fiasco some day

  41. vanilla-fro says:

    @Sherryness: the problem was the Miami/Dade part. in the rest of Florida, you can find at least one guy/gal in any publix that speaks english.

  42. MyPetFly says:

    When I was a kid, my mother bought some cookies that came in a plastic-wrapped open-top box. I ate one cookie, looked down for the next one, and saw dozens of small worms crawling around. They were thinner than maggots but about the same length, slightly tan in color. Needless to say, I brushed them off and continued eating. JUST KIDDING! That was they only cookie I ate.

  43. caffeinequeen says:

    I’m printing this picture out for thinspiration.

  44. rooben says:

    You know that near-east stuff is bad bad bad – I had gotten one with ants with wings (at least thats what I want to think they were). Unfortunately, I didn’t see them until after the boiling water was added, and it was partially consumed (i noticed a strange spicy taste, and looked closer…)
    Will never buy Near East products again.

  45. rawsteak says:

    so that’s why my microwave was screaming bloody murder… i thought it was air escaping from the cup of noodles i was making!

  46. Curiosity says:

    I always found Publix to be a very responsible store, though obviously there is controversy [] .

    Considering their good PR programs like free antibiotics [] , I would have been surprised if they did not only more than rectify the situation, but also made sure that Health Valley was notified.

  47. sfinkster7 says:

    I owned a pest control company for 10 years n NYC and can tell you all sorts of stories, but the pertinent information is those insects could have come from something next to it on the shelf at the store, in the retailers warehouse,whatever it traveled next to on the way between warehouses or from the packaging facility. You should not condemn the product itself as the manufacturer may have had nothing at all to do with the insect infestation.

  48. ElizabethD says:

    So much for organic products. Bleah.

  49. remedies says:

    it’s ‘garden split pea’ flavor. they’re obviously just trying to provide you with a realistic garden fresh experience.

  50. MyPetFly says:

    There’s always the option of growing your own food, at least if you’re a vegetarian. If I had a place for a garden (my wife and I are apartment dwellers), I’d do it for a good part of what we eat.

  51. typetive says:

    Part of what happened is that back in the 80s with the deregulation of interstate trucking was that the trucks are no longer cleaned and/or fumigated. So food gets cross-contaminated and infested with bugs while being trucked around. It causes huge losses for the grocery store because they get stuff off the truck with critters in it, which then spreads around their warehouse.

    It’s very important to let the stores know when you get stuff that’s infested. Most of it is harmless (the grain moths) in the sense that you won’t get sick, but you should get your money back and they should address whether it’s in their warehouse or some other place so they can pull the product.

    I think it’s irresponsible for someone to take the time to write to a blog but not even call up the store where it was purchased or email the company with the info about the infestation … Consumerist, you took the time to email her with questions, why not give her the same advice you give the rest of us … tell the company who made it and the company who sold it to you!

  52. BuddyHinton says:

    “No soup for you!”

  53. UpsetPanda says:

    I’ve just sort of lost my appetite. I really shouldn’t have read this while eating. Then again, if I had read this after eating, I’d freak out a little, wondering whether all I just ate was just merely a salad.

  54. MyPetFly says:

    Let’s not forget about OTHER things that end up in our food. Way back when sodas came in glass bottles in those cardboard six pack holders, I pulled a bottle of root beer out and saw a folded up Lay’s Potato Chip bag inside. It was obviously recycled by someone who fell asleep while monitoring the endless conveyor belt. : )

  55. j-damn says:

    If you’re dumb/lazy enough to spend $4 dollars on 8 oz of split pea soup when you can buy an entire pound of dried peas for a buck, well…

  56. picardia says:

    I once bought a packet of peanuts late at night at a gas station; I was finishing a long drive home and was ravenous. I opened it up without really looking and tilted the bag back into my mouth for some peanuts —

    — and instead got a huge hunk of human hair.

    I failed to contact Planters, as I was too busy gagging. However, my appetite was definitely no longer an issue. It was years before I could eat nuts again, and I still inspect carefully.

  57. picardia says:

    @j-damn: Yeah, I’ll just cook up a huge vat of soup at the office tomorrow. Great tip, genius!

  58. snoop-blog says:

    this was the completely organic version. know i bet the op is all for pesticides and preservatives if they weren’t already!

  59. wesrubix says:

    I almost cried when I saw this article; I’ve been eating these soups for the past few days because my girlfriend doesn’t like them! :- I really hope I didn’t eat any bugs, because I just peel back the lid half way, fill to fill line, and microwave… :((((((((((((( X_X

  60. gaya2081 says:

    I just had a bag of cat litter that had the grain moths (I think) Since I use a plastic container for daily feedings and fill it up from a big bag, it had been sitting in my closet for about 3 weeks (holidays) I opened the door Tuesday morning and there are maggots on the bag, in the food, cocoons on the closet wall and live flying bug/moths. I immediately threw that bag out. Still cleaning up the bugs. Thankfully I haven’t found any aside the ones that try to escape (they die).

  61. Confuzius says:

    Same here. I also worked in a “health food” store in high school, needless to say, I don’t shop there anymore. The webs, moths and weevils were one thing, but It was when the vegan girl that I worked with bit into an organic fig only to end up with a mouth full of flies (actually Fig Wasps) that took the cake.

    Personally I was raised vegetarian until I tasted bacon at 13 years old.

    I remain convinced that “organic” is just a joke played on Vegans to get them to eat some more animal protein.

  62. LiC says:

    What was the expiration date on the soup? I’ve found bugs in expired foods before, insect eggs get in somehow, they hatch and then they eat.

  63. Antrack says:

    Those types of bugs are everywhere in South Florida. They can get into most packaging unless it’s airtight, which is why most Floridians keep their bread and pasta products under wraps. This EASILY could have happened while the product was in her possession if she didn’t keep it under wraps. Just sayin.’

  64. slowinthefastlane says:


    Those are all over California, as well. They will burrow right through cardboard. If you get a few of them in a container, they will multiply like crazy. We had to have one of our apartments fumigated to get rid of them a few years ago.

  65. Froggmann says:

    Am I the only one who has been mis reading the brand as “Death Valley”?

  66. bluebuilder says:

    I read an article recently somewhere (don’t ask me to find it, that’s google’s job) urging us to eat more insects….a much more environmentally friendly form of getting protein in our diet. Better than vegetables or meet.

    How committed to the environment are you now all you tree-huggers?!??! Or are you only green when it’s convenient?!


  67. bluebuilder says:

    @bluebuilder: It’s spelled MEAT, i know.

  68. jonworld says:

    Reminds me of when some guy found a dead frog in a can of Kroger soup a few years back. Now that’s “MMM…MMM…good!”

  69. Curiosity says:

    There is always the article [] which states “Entomophagy (the eating of insects) has yet to become a day-to-day activity for most people in the United States and Europe in spite of the superior nutritional content of edible insects compared to other animals”

    Moreover it has nutritional values and recipes like:
    Banana Worm Bread
    1/2 cup shortening
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 bananas, mashed
    2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup chopped nuts
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup dry-roasted armyworms

    Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 deg F for about one hour.


  70. edwardso says:

    I eat those soups all the time and I never pay more than $2.

  71. UpsetPanda says:

    *shudder* It’s like when I watch Man vs. Wild, I always look away when he’s eating some insect or some other formerly live animal. I think the worst one has to be when he ate a little snake. Ugggh. Bugs are bad though, it makes my stomach turn when he shows the bug and then on top of that disgusting view, he has to eat it.

    I hate bugs.

  72. @JD: What about the episode where he crawled inside of a dead camel, and got water by squeezing it’s stomach contents. That’s nothing compared to some bugs. Of course, they have revealed that Bear Grills has spent nights in hotels when he makes us believe he was “roughing” it. Survivor man is the tough guy.

  73. forgottenpassword says:

    I had a tiny moth fly out of a sealed box of velveeta shells & cheese I opened. I immediately tossed it out & that’s it. Was a little pissed that I wasted a couple of bucks on a tainted product, but thankfull that I discovered it & didnt eat it.

  74. timmus says:

    Well in all fairness it’s not just organics. Last month I had to throw out a few boxes of Kroger saltines near their expiration date because I could see live larvae and bugs in the -unopened- packaging. When I was a kid in Germany in the 1970s (military dependent) it wasn’t uncommon to find cereal infested with bugs or ants… the regular old Kelloggs boxes that came from the states. I think a lot of food is infested but you don’t see the signs until it’s near expiration, and most supermarket stuff rarely gets to that stage before it’s used.

  75. SpaceCat85 says:

    Ew. Not getting these again. Maybe that’s why the mix in all of the Healthy Valley soup cups I’ve tried seemed to be dead-set against dissolving like a normal soup cup’s ;)

  76. Bix says:

    Not to excuse the bugs, but:

    Complain to Health Valley. When I was a little kid, my mom bought something (maybe another soup?) that tasted terrible. Since she liked their other products, she wrote them a nice letter saying she was surprised given their high standards. A few weeks later, we got a package the size of a coffee table filled with free food from them.

    A few years later, the same thing happened, and we got ANOTHER big package, though it was closer to the size of an end table.

  77. shrtcrt says:

    $4 for that! You can buy a can of soup cheaper! I would still contact the company, how many more have dead bugs.

  78. kittenfoo says:

    one thanksgiving we found a dried up lizard in a coffee mug. never found stuff in food, though.

  79. Quaoar says:

    From the US Food and Drug Administration

    Review this section of the Code of Federal Regulations
    The Food Defect Action Levels
    Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods
    that present no health hazards for humans

    RAISINS, GOLDEN Insects and insect eggs
    10 or more whole or equivalent insects and 35 Drosophila eggs per 8 oz [drosophila is the fruit fly].

    TOMATOES, CANNED Drosophila fly
    Average of 10 or more fly eggs per 500 grams
    5 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots per 500 grams
    2 or more maggots per 500 grams

    This is the document that defines in the US what level of “defect” is allowable in commodity food products.


  80. trujunglist says:


    Yeah, thanks for that. I’ll be right back, I just have to go vomit so hard it comes out of my nose.

  81. Me. says:

    I found hairs in a soup package like this. I called the company and they sent me numerous coupons for free product. I, like any good college student, used those free coupons and ate like a queen for a few days! Hair-shmair!

  82. serves you right for buying “organic ramen noodles”

    if you’re gonna go tasteless, do it full monty (cup-o-noodle or nissin). This product just screams white trash/faux high class status.

    seriously, if all you need to do in order to prep a meal is pour hot water and wait 3 minutes, something is definitely wrong

  83. ionerox says:

    Omg, gag. I’m making everything from scratch from now on.

  84. hossfly says:

    Weevils, nothing more.
    It’s larvae is in ANY unprocessed grain product; flour,wheat-germ(love the name),cereal, barley, corn meal,rice,beans, dry-soup, the list goes on.
    More in some, less in others.
    Doesn’t matter who’s name is on it.
    It’s a natural thing; they’ve been around since groceries have been on the shelves and will always be there.
    Thing is, you never know it until the temp’s just right and they hatch and start eatin’ and then you see these little black things in your cereal or the corn meal you bought 2 months ago that’s been siiting in the cabinet……..

  85. MickeyMoo says:

    Damned if we do – damned if we don’t. You think $4 a cup is expensive for soup? Wait till they remove all the undocumented guest workers from the supply chain and replace them with legal ‘mericans (I’m a damn foreigner so save the hate mail) who want a living wage and benefits – you’re either going to be eating $20.00 cups of soup with just as many bugs in them, or $4.00 cups of bugs with some soup. Can you imagine how much intense manual labor would be involved in going through each and every speck of ingredients that go into modern “foodstuffs”?

  86. MickeyMoo says:

    PS: it would take about 10min to throw the ingredients into a crockpot – and maybe another 10min to ladle it out into tupperware that you can freeze and nuke when you get to work. $4 would probably get you enough rice peas carrots and spices for 20 meals.

  87. omyard says:

    They’re part of Health Valley’s new “organic” line.

  88. Wynner3 says:

    I ate at a Burger King in San Jose once and got chicken filet and the fish was breaded but started to fall a part. As it did, I noticed black spots all over the food. I looked closer and it was dead ants, lots of them too. I complained to the manager and told him I would never eat there again. I gave him the food too.

  89. Parting says:

    Eeewwww. Reminds me of the time when we opened a box of Lindor chocolates with nuts.

    Actually, there were WORMS in EACH candy. And the worst part : I’ve ate 2 already :(

    I should have sued :) We were so disgusted, we simply threw the box away.

    Let’s say I’m not a fan of Lindor’s chocolates any more.

  90. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Well, I live in Texas and I eat crawfish. Imagine my surprise when I found that it’s considered optimal for there to be 12 to 13 large bugs in each dozen.

  91. econobiker says:

    Went to dinner with the family at an older lady’s home. Only noticed the little dead meal worms in the noodles she cooked after our first helping! Yikes! Not her fault as she probably had the bad of noodles for years and couldn’t see well also…

  92. harshmellow says:

    I think all you people that throw away stuff that has bugs or other stuff in it should make an effort to either bring it back to the store or contact the manufacturer. I know that isn’t always possible, but if there is filth in on package, you can bet there is filth in more of the same product. Seems to me the best bet would be to bring it back to the store since other packages from the same batch are probably still on the shelf. Can’t say for sure, but I bet grocery stores have a process whereby they let the manufacturer know so things can be checked out. This might decrease the bugs & filth for everyone else.

    For everyone that balked at the $4 price (cost of peas, cost of rice, etc.), I think the best deal for making a single serving of soup would be to grow all the ingredients yourself (buy a farm and tractor first & learn how to farm) and then make a giant barrel of the soup. Then you have enough soup for the whole year, and you can do the same next year for your next year’s soup. Seems like a lot of work, but you certainly won’t be paying $4 for a cup of soup.

  93. dcartist says:

    I’d bring it back to show them immediately, so I could get the money from the lawsuit.

  94. xenubarb says:

    “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!”

    “There can’t be, we used them all in the raisin bread.”

  95. shadow735 says:

    so What did you do? Did you choose the lesser of two Weevils? hah hah
    Seriously though just because something is sealed doesnt mean it is not going to have bugs. Its part of life, grain, rice, cerial,, oatmeal it can all have bugs in it.

    Sorry but $4 for dried soup/noodles is crazy, I hope its good because if not you are so getting taken.

    You should have just taken it back to the store.

    Look people mold, bugs and other pests in food is going to happen no matter how clean a place is. The world isnt a hermetically sealed and sterile so you will be eating stuff you didnt plan on eating.
    Its called life. You just have to find a way to deal with it.
    Oh and the weevils probably wouldnt kill you in fact they would be a good source of protein. Depending on how long they have been dead.
    Ten to one odds there were a lot more then just one alive in that cup of Bugs hah hah