A new study has revealed that eating food after a fly has land on it is more dangerous than previously thought. Picture: CSIRO
A new study has revealed that eating food after a fly has land on it is more dangerous than previously thought. Picture: CSIRO

Why you should never eat food a fly has been on

SEEING a fly land on the food you have been tucking into isn't an uncommon occurrence and most of us just shoo the fly away and continue eating.

After all, it's not like you are going to throw the whole meal away just because of one little fly right?

Well, according to a new study, that is exactly what you should be doing.

Researchers at Penn State University's Eberly College of Science, Singapore's Nanyang Technological University and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro have found that insects carry a lot more dangerous bacteria than previously thought.

The study reveals that even if a fly comes into contact with your food for only a moment it is still enough time for all kinds of nasty bacteria to be transferred. Picture: iStock
The study reveals that even if a fly comes into contact with your food for only a moment it is still enough time for all kinds of nasty bacteria to be transferred. Picture: iStock

The research, published in Scientific Reports, studied 116 house and blowflies and found that they carry a plethora of potentially harmful bacteria such as to carry salmonella, e-coli and others that can result in stomach ulcers and deadly sepsis.

Flies pick up bacteria from faeces and carcasses where they are often the first organisms to arrive and subsequently feed, breed and lay eggs.

They then transfer these germs to other surfaces and hosts, with the study describing them as the perfect "airborne shuttles" for bacteria.

So when a fly lands on your lunch it is bringing all those nasty germs with it.

"People had some notion that there were pathogens that were carried by flies but had no idea of the extent to which this is true and the extent to which they are transferred," Professor Donald Bryant of Penn State University told BBC News.

Houseflies and blowflies were found to carry a number of harmful germs that have the potential to make a person extremely ill.
Houseflies and blowflies were found to carry a number of harmful germs that have the potential to make a person extremely ill.

The research reveals that the insect's legs appear to transfer the most microbial content from one surface to another, with the results suggesting that flies contribute to the rapid spread of pathogens during the outbreak of a disease among humans.

"We believe that this may show a mechanism for pathogen transmission that has been overlooked by public health officials, and flies may contribute to the rapid transmission of pathogens in outbreak situations," said Professor Bryant.

"It will really make you think twice about eating that potato salad that's been sitting out at your next picnic."


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