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Do You Know What’s Hiding in Your Food?

If you’ve ever found a hair in your food, brace yourself — this will turn your stomach even more. According to the FDA’s Food Defect Levels Handbook,“ It is economically impractical to grow, harvest or process raw products that are totally free of nonhazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”


The FDA established standards to keep food defects to a minimum, but they say there’s no way to ensure that unwanted creatures or items don’t end up in your food somewhere along the processing line. Here’s a look at what could be hiding in your food throughout the day, according to FDA standards:

Coffee — The FDA allows an average of 10 milligrams or more of animal poop per pound of coffee beans. As much as 6% of the beans are allowed to be moldy or insect-infested.

Peanut butter — As one of the “most controlled” foods on the FDA’s list, peanut butter may contain an average of one or more rodent hairs, or 30 insect fragments for every 100 grams.

Apple butter — Apple butter may contain, on average, four or more rodent hairs for every 100 grams, as well as five insects.

Golden raisins — For every 8 ounces, golden raisins may contain 35 fruit fly eggs and 10 or more insects.

Tomato juice — Up to four maggots and 20 or more fruit fly eggs could be hiding in 14 ounces of tomato juice.

Spaghetti — One 16-ounce box of spaghetti can contain nine rodent hairs and 450 insect parts.

Canned sweet corn — Two or more larvae of the corn ear worm, in addition to larvae fragments and the worm’s discarded skin, may be hiding in your canned sweet corn.

Frozen or canned spinach — An average of 50 aphids, mites and thrips may be hiding in your frozen or canned spinach, along with the larvae of spinach worms.

Paprika — The FDA allows paprika to contain up to 20% mold, 11 rodent hairs and around 75 insect parts for every 25 grams.

Crushed oregano — Crushed oregano may contain 300 or more insect pieces and 2 rodent hairs, for every 10 grams.

In case insect pieces and rodent hairs weren’t enough to worry about, there’s also the chance of stone, metal, plastic or glass shards ending up in your processed food, plus the threat of foodborne illness. So what’s the best way to avoid unwanted ingredients? Choose high-quality, organic foods. Even better — grow your own!

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