Brace yourselves, America: Many of your favorite foods may contain bits and pieces of creatures that you probably didn’t know were there.
How about some rodent dung in your coffee? Maggots in your pizza sauce? Mold in the jelly on your toast?
Oh, and so sorry, chocolate lovers. That dark, delicious bar you devoured might contain 30 or more insect parts and a sprinkling of rodent hair.
Called “food defects,” these dismembered creatures and their excrement are the unfortunate byproduct of growing and harvesting food.
“It is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects,” says the US Food and Drug Administration.
So while there’s no way to get rid of all the creatures that might hitch a ride along the food processing chain, the FDA has established standards to keep food defects to a minimum.
Let’s go through a typical day of meals to see what else you’re not aware that you’re eating.
The coffee beans you grind for breakfast are allowed by the FDA to have an average of 10 milligrams or more animal poop per pound. As much as 4% to 6% of beans by count are also allowed to be insect-infested or moldy.
As you sprinkle black pepper on your morning eggs, try not to think about the fact you may be eating more than 40 insect fragments with every teaspoon, along with a smidgen of rodent hair.