While this cosmopolitan mite is an important pest problem in stored foods such as flour, cereal products, dried fruit and dried meats, and even in mattresses and stuffed furniture, it also is used deliberately to impart a distinctive flavor to certain cheeses. During the production of the cheese the mites are introduced to it and eventually will completely cover the cheese with mites, their molted exoskeletons, and their feces, providing what is described as a certain “piquant” flavor. Their presence in numbers like these gives the food the appearance of having a thick layer of dust on it.
Control where the mites are unwanted relies heavily on sanitation. Rooms where cheese is stored must be emptied periodically and thoroughly sanitized or washed with scalding water. Older cheeses should be rotated out of stock. Floors, walls, and storage shelving must be washed to kill or remove mites. Temperature in the storage room should be kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce mite activity and breeding.