Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Insects and Rodents and Molds: Oh, My!

Eureka! I found it.

Many years ago, I read an article which mentioned the specific amounts of filth that the U.S. FDA allows in our food.

Since then, I would remember to look for an updated list and I would search the FDA website in vain, never finding it, or ever finding the original list. I used all the keywords I imagined they would use to but I don't think I ever thought to use "compliance" or "defects." I think I just used what most people would use to search, "Why is there bug shit in my food?" If the FDA really wanted to be helpful, that's what they would call this list.

So here is my holy grail of online documents, if you count something that I have looked for the longest and not found:

"Defect Levels Handbook. The Food Defect Action Levels, Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans."

No health hazard, but are just disgusting to think about.


Insect filth
(AOAC 965.38) Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined
OR Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments

Rodent filth
(AOAC 965.38) Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examined
OR Any 1 subsample contains 3 or more rodent hairs

DEFECT SOURCE: Insect fragments - post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Rodent hair - post harvest and/or processing contamination with animal hair or excreta, Shell - processing contamination

"Aesthetic." 100 grams is about 3.5 ounces, or the size of that chocalate bar in your desk drawer. Or for you librarians, your "treat" for walking one-quarter of the fitness trail behind your apartment.

But it won't kill you. And chances are, you won't even see that rodent hair before you swallow it. So now you know. There's rat in your mouth.

Enjoy your treat.

[I found the FDA link from here]