Bugs in your food?

by (2011-05-21)
It wouldn't be feasible to grow, harvest and process food without a few creepy-crawlies catching a ride. The FDA has tolerance levels or what they call "naturally occurring defects". Here's an example: a 24 ounce container of cornmeal can have up to 13 insects, 745 insect fragments, and 27 rodent hairs (eeww). Other potentially buggy foods include pasta, nuts, peanut butter, dried beans. grains, coffee beans and horror of horrors, chocolate.Canned tomatoes can have maggots (again, eeeww!), and some fish can have parasitic cysts. Unappetizing? for sure; dangerous,usually not. The "experts" say that these levels are generally not hazardous to human health when encountered at low levels. Most companies work hard to keep defects to a minimum the FDA says and the majority of the "defects" are far less that the legal maximums. And regardless of the level of adulteration, the FDA is authorized to take action if health issues crop up. Last summer for example, Abbot discovered beetles in a manufacturing plant, leading the company to voluntarily recall some Similac powdered infant formula because there were concerns that insect parts or larvae could irritate infant's gastrointestinal tracts.

What you can do: If you discover these unwanted visitors in a newly purchased product, return it to the store or manufacturer for a refund. If you've had the package for a while, even if it is unopened, the pests may be from your own panty. Whenever you find bugs, empty your cupboards and vacuum the shelves, especially the cracks and corners. Then be sure to toss the buggy food AND the vacuum-bag contents into the trash outside. Keep critters out by storing dried foods in tightly sealed glass, heavy plastic, or metal containers; bugs munch through cardboard, plastic wrap, and foil. If you're not sure whether or not the food is infested, freeze it for four days or heat it in the oven at 140 deg. for an hour to kill insects and eggs.