Have you had your daily dose of insect fragments?

May 2011, Warren Matthews

Summary

Sounds like a silly question doesn’t it? But, it is quite likely that today you will eat some parts of insects, maybe a few rodent hairs as well as some mold. Of course you will not be aware of it as it is unlikely that you will see them!

Sounds like a silly question doesn’t it? But, it is quite likely that today you will eat some parts of insects, maybe a few rodent hairs as well as some mold. Of course you will not be aware of it as it is unlikely that you will see them!

Imagine the fuss if they were visible? No doubt you have seen the reaction of a patron in a restaurant when he or she finds a hair in their soup.

So, why did I make the comments above? Surely the authorities would not allow contaminants such as these to be in our food? The answer is yes…they do. The FDA has accepted that these types of contaminants are unavoidable in practice so rather than ban food which contains them they have established ‘acceptable’ limits.

Here are a few examples…copied off the FDA website.

ALLSPICE, GROUND

Insect Filth (AOAC 981.21) -Average of 30 or more insect fragments per 10 grams

Rodent filth (AOAC 981.21) Average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 10 grams

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

SIGNIFICANCE: Aesthetic

ASPARAGUS, CANNED OR FROZEN Insect filth 10% by count of spears or pieces are infested with 6 or more attached asparagus beetle eggs and/or sacs

Insects Asparagus contains an average of 40 or more thrips per 100 grams OR Insects (whole or equivalent) of 3mm or longer have an average aggregate length of 7mm or longer per 100 grams of asparagus

DEFECT SOURCE: Pre-harvest insect infestation

SIGNIFICANCE: Aesthetic

There are many more and you can view them yourself if you go to the FDA website.

The ironic thing is that there appears to be a rule for the food industry and different rules for others. There is no way we could accept any of these in our industry. We only have to find one bit of foreign matter in a raw ingredient and the complete batch of product and ingredient is destroyed.

However, I do accept it would be difficult for the food industry to be totally contaminant free because the food is supplied in raw form and is not purified and processed such as the raw ingredients that are used in the supplement industry is.

Do any of these contaminants in food pose a health risk? Generally not, although mold could pose a serious risk as it can generate toxins.

Contaminants of the ‘natural’ type may even help stimulate your own immunity. If we ate sterile food all the time our immunity would suffer.

This information will hopefully further encourage you to prepare your own meals from natural food that has not been processed. Just be sure that the food you select is thoroughly washed to remove any pesticide residues…and avoid buying food that has been genetically modified as some of them have been bred with built in pesticide.

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