Human beings have a wide range of what we consider tolerable when it comes to food safety, and how we want our food to be handled before it gets to our mouths.
Most of us, though, seem to innately agree that flies are super unsanitary, though, even if we’re not quite sure why.
It turns out there’s a very good reason for those innate heebie-jeebies.
Though the common housefly has no venom, no stinger, and no fangs, it does spend its days and nights rolling around in poop and other waste materials. And in order to eat, a fly barfs spit on its meal of trash, then waits for the saliva and bile to break down the food so they can slurp it all back up.
Yeah. You read that right. It’s that gross.
But wait… it gets A LOT worse.
As they sit on their meal during the process, they’re also pooping and/or laying eggs at the same time.
See, I told you.
So not only are they vomiting all over your food in order to liquify it enough for them to slurp it up… they’re sh**ting on your food and laying eggs in it.
Since flies are equal opportunity eaters – meaning they’ll slurp your soup or a pile of garbage and not really care which is which – it means the pathogens they consume on the waste materials can be puked back out into your salad.
A lovely picture painted better by Jeff Scott, a Cornell University entomologist.
“House flies are the movers or any disgusting pathogenic microorganism you can think of.
Anything that comes out of an animal, such as bacteria and viruses, house flies can take from that waste and deposit on your sandwich.”
The diseases they can carry are wide ranging and foul – anything from parasites to Salmonella, tuberculosis to tapeworms.
Research out of Penn State’s Eberly College of Science states that houseflies tend to harbor most pathogens on their legs, which means it can transfer to your food even if they only touch down for a moment.
Keep picnic food covered and your hands ready to wave, or you know, take your chances the way humans have been doing – with occasional success – since the beginning of time.
Godspeed, my friends. If it’s us against the flies, we’re going to need a whole lot of luck to stay healthy.