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Help with our charcuterie

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Hi! i am working at a restaurant in south africa where we are curing our own meet.
We are having a problem with tiny little white bugs (they look almost like lice) that are inside our leg hams.
Does anyone know what they are and how we should get rid of them.

the picture attached is the damage they have done on one of our legs.


Edited by silverfux (log)
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I have never experienced your problem, but have had insect issues with other foods.


The insect you are dealing with may be local to your area. HERE is a helpful document on dealing with various insects that affect curing hams.


I would recommend looking at the situation using the HACCP program as a model. You have a fairly good idea of what the hazard you're facing is: bugs. (not that big of a deal to not know the type) You then need to ask how they and/or their eggs are getting into the storage/curing area and how you can stop them. DO NOT USE PESTICIDES. I would start with cleaning and sanitizing the curing room, washing the walls, ceiling, and floor. I would look at how air gets into the room from the outdoors or other rooms. Are there cracks in the walls, or dirty old drains, or air vents in need of cleaning? Can you control the humidity and temperature? I would also look into employee hygiene, are hands being washed frequently, how clean are their shoes, are delivery people kept away from the curing room, are only people with clean uniforms allowed in the room? And then, I would look at every step of the curing process and the path of every ingredient as it enters your establishment. Is your sugar fresh and dry when purchased, is it kept sealed? Is your wrapping paper/cloth clean or does it get handled by too many people, or stored in a questionable area?


I know that this is a big project. The solution may be as simple as requiring staff to wear disposable shoe covers when they enter the curing room, or making sure that the sink has been sanitized before starting to rinse off the meat.


Good luck!

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Hi thank you for the reply. These are things we are already taking into action we are regulary deep cleaning the room with a pressure hose and we have now tirmmed all out meat to carve out any infected areas, Staff that is allowed into the room is being limeted aswell in order to prevent contamination. We have moved any other items that we have stored here before like our fermentation expriments and other things. The room is now strictly only for meat.

After reading the link you sent I can say that i am quite sure that it is mites that are our problem. We have used the same curing mix for a while so I think that might be one of the problems in the room so we are now going to only make the mix as we are about to cure our new meat.

Thank you again for the help. I am doing a further investegation into the problem and will write again here when it has been resolved.


and sorry for my bad english it's my secound language.

Edited by silverfux (log)
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It looks like you're getting some good information. Please do let us know more about your investigations, and the final resolution.

Welcome to eGullet. :smile:

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Try scrolling about halfway down this page. It has some information on insects that can be a problem when curing meats and some ideas for dealing with it. I have no idea if anything they list is your culprit but it might be a place to start.

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is my end report on the bug problem we had thank you guys for all the help:



Mites on cured meat and how to prevent them




Exposure – mites get to the meat product either traveling on humans or on insects like flies.

They may live and breed in grains, flour and other food products.

A single mite female lays up to 800 eggs in a life cycle that last about 2 ½ weeks.

Usually this is a surface problem only.




The room needs to be cleaned and scrubbed properly. It needs to be sanitised and cracks needs to be filled.

The meat needs to be trimmed and surfaces needs to be regularly checked for insects.


Another problem that needs to be solved is the entryways to the room.

We need to find out where they are coming in and how we can prevent it.

The largest problem there is the door to the room in needs worked on in a way where when its closed it does not let anything in.


Low Ph levels are need when curing pork in order to speed up the moisture decrease.


We also need to look at wrapping the meat for curing and curing it in sacks in order to prevent surface problems and insects reaching the meat.





We have thoroughly cleaned out the room, We moved all meat out and used pesticide fogger.

We have also purchased a ultra sonic insect repeller that we are using as a pro cation.

Staff has been limited to the room

Hair nets have been purchased as well.

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Sounds like you are on top of things. I would also take in to consideration of the source of the meats you are curing just to be sure it is on your end of the process. Heavily wash down the fresh meats you recive before entering your curing room.

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