5 Revolting Things The FDA Legally Allows In Your Food
Water. I'm having filtered water for lunch after reading this.
A few years ago, Buzzfeed wrote an article called "21 Disgusting Things That Are Legally Allowed in Your Food" that's resurfaced on people's Facebook Newsfeed and in the Twittershpere this week. I made the horrible mistake of opening it right before lunch...and well, misery loves company so I have to share what I read!
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that when you're trying to mass-produce food to feed millions, there's bound to be some food that's slightly defective in one way or another. To avoid an increase in food waste, the FDA will allow a certain level of these defects to exist in food that makes it way to your kitchen table. Many of these so called "defects" aren't actually hazardous to your health, but they certainly will make your stomach churn when you realize they're legally allowed to be in your food!
As the FDA's Defect Levels Handbook points out, these levels in no way represent an average of what's actually present in food sold to Americans. They represent the limit at which the FDA will considered the food product "adultered" and subject to enfroucement action under Section 402(a)(3) of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. Manufacturers need to stay below these levels.
...that said, this is still so, so gross!
1. Beetles in Canned or Frozen Asparagus
According to the handbook, that up to 10% by count of spears/pieces of your asparagus can contain six or more attached asparagus beetle eggs or sacs before they step in. This tends to happen if the asparagus was infested before it was harvested. They consider it an aesthetic problem rather than a health hazard.
2. Mites in Frozen Broccoli
I more often that not go for the fresh broccoli in the produce department at Albertsons if I'm buying this veggie, but I make an exception from time to time if a recipe I'm following specifically calls for the frozen stuff. The handbook states that a mite defect isn't truly present until an average of 60 or more aphids, thrips or mites per 100 grams exists. Like the asparagus, it's usually caused by a pre-harvest infestation and is considered an aesthetic problem.
3. Rodent Hair in Ground Cinnamon
I love cinnamon on anything I can possibly put it on: apples, oatmeal, hot cocoa, strawberries...but now I'm a little nervous about sprinkling it on! Ground cinnamon isn't considered defective until an average of 11 or more rodent hairs per 50 grams show up. It shows up in your spice because of post harvest or processing contamination with animal hair. Somehow this is also considered aesthetic.
4. Bug Fragments in your Peanut Butter
I'm not sure what happens after I go to sleep. I'm fairly sure hubby wanders across the street to buy a jar of peanut butter and eats the entire thing while I'm sleeping. I've found empty jars in the trash in the morning even though I know there wasn't peanut butter in the house before I called it a night. Joke's on him. There's a chance that he could be eating broken up insects out of that new jar. Peanut butter isn't considered defective until an average of 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams shoes up. It happens due to pre/ post-harvest or processing insect infestations. Gross, but still only considered aesthetic.
5. Sand in Your Rasins
I'm not even sure why this is a thing. Natural & Golden raisins may contain an average of 40 mg or more of sand/grit per 100 grams of raisins. Apparently this defect normally happens because of post harvest contamination...and now I really want to know where these are being stored before they're packaged! It's considered aesthetic, but our teeth hurt thinking about it.
If you want to see other gross things allowed in your food, you can read more about food defects HERE. As a reminder, it's always a good idea to wash your produce no matter where you buy it: grocery store or one of the many farmer's markets across the Treasure Valley. Also make sure that you cook your meats to an appropriate temperature to avoid any illnesses associated with E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella and Listeria.