The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a publication that sets the limits on food contamination before it intervenes. It’s called Food Defect Action levels, and it is set by the FDA. You may be surprised at what you are about to read.
Here are some of the guidelines from handbook published by the FDA.
What follows are what is considered acceptable levels of contamination in food enforced by the FDA:
Ground paprika: Average mold count is more than 20 percent; or average of more than 11 rodent hairs per 25 grams; or average of more than 75 insect fragments per 25 grams. (There is a glossary in the handbook that helpfully details “insect fragments” — to get the equivalent of a “whole insect,” all you have to do is count the body portions that have heads.)
Red fish and ocean perch: Three percent of the filets exampled contain one or more copepods accompanied by pus pockets. (Back to the glossary: “Copepods — Small free-swimming marine crustaceans, many of which are fish parasites. In some species the females enter the tissues of the host fish and may form pus pockets.” Yum-O!)
Hops: Average of more than 2,500 aphids per 10 grams (!!!).
Macaroni and noodle products: Average of 225 insect fragments or more per 225 grams.
Mushrooms, canned and dried: Average of 20 or more maggots of any size or average of five maggots 2 millimeters or longer per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid or 15 grams of dried mushrooms.
Paging Rep. Kucinich! Pitted olives: Average of 1.3 percent or more by count of olives with whole pits and/or pit fragments 2 millimeters or longer.
Popcorn: 20 or more gnawed grains per pound and rodent hair is found in 50 percent or more of the subsamples.
The FDA admits these levels are on the high side, and on average the number of contaminants in food is far lower than the levels they set. However, you might want to just do a quick check of the next bag of pasta you buy.
Thanks to Salon.