FDA Approved Bugs in Food
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, there is a certain level of “defects” in food which are “acceptable” for human use, since they present no health hazard. The FDA allows maggots, thrips, insect fragments, “foreign matter”, mold, rodent hairs, and insect and mammalian feces in your food, as long as they don’t pass a “Food Defect Action Level”. I guess this is because according to the FDA, it is economically impractical to produce food that is completely free of all naturally occurring defects.
To give you an example what is “acceptable” to the FDA:
- Canned Apricots – 2% insects
- Berries – 10 or more whole insects per 500 grams
- Ground Paprika – 75 insect fragments per 25 grams
- Ground Cinnamon – 400 or more insect fragments per 50 gram
- Macaroni and Noodle Products – 225 insect fragments or more per 225 grams
- Peanut Butter – 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
You get the point? If you want the entire detailed list see the FDA Defect Levels Handbook.
If you need a clearer picture, check this out:
The Jewish Position on Bugs in Food
On the other hand…Jewish Law and Tradition finds the FDA regulation totally unacceptable to our lifestyle. According to the Torah, we must not eat even one bug (never mind the amounts approved by FDA). In fact the prohibition of consuming one little bug is more severe than eating a slice of pork or bacon (“Of course we keep Kosher, we would never allow pork in our home”).
In a home where Kashrut is observed, products like rice, beans and leafy vegetables, must be inspected for infestation. As I mentioned in a earlier post (What is Kosher to Eat Anywhere – Part 2), these foods are Kosher anywhere in the world, but you will need to make sure they don’t contain bugs.
Guide to Checking Lettuce for Bugs
For a quick course in bug checking for lettuce, see this video from Star-K Kosher: