Opening a Can of Worms

At least its not this bad...

Although you may have heard the expression “Nothing is perfect”, you may not have truly considered that this phrase is true for EVERYTHING in life. This includes food that has been deemed acceptable by health inspection agencies. Now I don’t mean to gross everyone out, but I probably will…. (Sorry!)

Continue on if you’ve ever wondered how many bugs, bug parts, rodents and rodent parts are allowed in our food!

Since we all agree that nothing is 100%, 100% of the time, then there must be an allowable defect level. That 5-10% of wiggle room is something food producers need in the real world, because it is impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring and unavoidable defects. What this translates into, is that there are bugs in our food, and everyone is totally cool with it. That is as long as it does not exceed the “Action Level”. The following information is true for Canada (though it maybe not be in these exact numbers), but the following data is from the U.S Food and Drug Administration. 

Product Action Level
Canned Sweet Corn 2 or more 3mm insect larvae, larval or cast skin fragments of corn ear worms or corn borer
Peanut Butter Average of 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
Wheat Flour Average of 150 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
Popcorn 1 or more rodent excreta pellets are found in 1 or more subsamples
Frozen Broccoli Average of 60 or more aphids and/or thrips and/or mites per 100 grams
Chocolate Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments
Green Coffee Beans Average 10% or more by count are insect-infested or insect-damaged
Tomato Juice Average of 10 or more fly eggs per 100 grams, or 5 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots per 100 grams, or 2 or more maggots per 100 grams, in a minimum of 12 subsamples

 Kind of gross isn’t it? Rodent poop and bug parts? Well… sure the “excreta” is bad, but are eating bugs all that gross? In many areas of the world today, insects are a part of a complete diet. Sure, it may seem disgusting, but insects are actually a good source of protein, they’re easy to find and take up less space than many of the typical meat sources we farm (like say for example cows). I’m not saying that I’m going to go this minute and get me some tasty grasshoppers, but maybe we live in a world that’s too sterile and clean. What do you think? Are a few bug-bits really going to hurt us?




About Adi

A baker, a food scientist and an overall lover of new food creations

5 responses to “Opening a Can of Worms

  1. Lorraine

    Lol that reminds me… When I was in Thailand I had this drink with jelly in it and there were a string of ants in there. Tour guide joked that they were supposed to be there so I ate it but it was actually just crappy quality control lol. Oh well, an extra protein never hurt anyone!

    Tolerance for rat hairs in canned tuna also not pretty

    • Ya, the whole thing is pretty gross, lol
      You didn’t spit out the drink after he told you he was joking!?

      Once I accidentally drank an earworm, it was in my travel coffee mug, i spit it out on the lab floor once I felt something not liquid in my mouth. Afterwards I couldn’t drink from that travel mug for 6 months!

      • Lorraine

        Haha yeah I threw the rest of it out but I’m sure I swallowed a lot of bugs during that trip lol.

        EW earworm?! At least the ants I ingested were suspended in the jelly I guess haha

  2. wink wink nudge nudge

    omg. I once found a whole beetle in a box of kraft dinner. I called Kraft…but got put on hold for too long…they won this one…but I haven’t had kraft dinner since then (like 2 years ago!) UGHW$%^&*()@#$%^&*()

    • Oh ya… I remember that! This whole post applies to products that are closer to the farm then the factory. I’d like to think that Kraft’s Quality Control system is better than that….
      At least kraft diner is a product that you can lookinside before you eat, have you ever seen have a worm in your apple?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: