What could taste better than rat hair, maggots and cigarette butts? Insect feces of course. But not to worry, says the FDA. Food manufacturers are kept to strict limits of all kinds of weird things that can wind up in food. The agency says just a little bit really won't hurt you.
Insect Eggs and Maggots
Canned mushrooms are a good place to find maggots. If there are "over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms" or "five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams," the FDA will pay attention. Otherwise, eat up.
Mold and Rot
What says wholesome goodness like apple pie, apple sauce and apple butter? But apples get moldy, and the FDA will have something to say to the producer if the "average of mold count is 12 percent or more." Wholesome, indeed.
Is there mouse fur in your peanut butter? Insect parts? Could be. The FDA says peanut butter can have no more than an average of one rodent hair per 100 grams.
The FDA says food products can contain a certain amount of "foreign matter," a term that includes cigarette butts for that special smoky flavor.
What could smell more heavenly than cinnamon bark, bay leaves and cocoa beans? The fact that the FDA allows a smidge of "mammalian excreta" to end up in the mix doesn't seem to affect the aroma at all. Does it?
Fruit Flies and Their Maggots
Fruit flies love tomato sauce so much they lay their eggs in it. But the FDA has its limits, allowing no more than 15 or more fruit fly eggs and one or more maggots per 100 grams of sauce. Sounds super fly.
Sand and Grit
You can buy smooth or chunky peanut butter, but maybe food producers should offer "gritty" peanut butter too. The FDA allows up to 25mg of grit per 100 grams of that yummy sandwich spread.
Thrips are slender, winged insects, also known as thunderflies and thunderblights. Among their favorite foods are asparagus and the hops used to make beer. If too many thrips show up on asparagus - 40 or more per 100 grams - the FDA takes action. Otherwise, enjoy.
Meet copepodkils. The FDA says it's okay for fish to contain parasitic cysts like this one - up to a limit. In the case of fresh water herring, the limit is 60 parasitic cysts per 100 fish. Yum.
Credit: Uwe Kils/Wikimedia
Bugs love spices. They feed on spices, poop in spices - and even leave their body parts behind after they die. The FDA allows up to 325 insect fragments per 10 grams of ground thyme, to take one example. So spice up that dish and enjoy.
The picture is cockroach feces, by the way, in case you want to add it to your dish.
Sticks and Stones
Stick and stones can break your bones. Turns out they can legally wind up in food products too - just in small amounts.