Monday, September 14, 2009

Insects in Food

Okay, it's true confession time: My mother used to make date squares and we kids just loved them. My Uncle David also loved them and I loved my uncle, so I decided one day when I was around 13 to make a batch just for him. I had the filling made and was just adding the oatmeal to the sugar and butter mixture, when I discovered that the oatmeal contained little green worms. [You might want to stop reading now]. It was the only package of oatmeal that I had, so I just picked out the worms that I could see, kind of squinted my eyes a bit, and went right ahead with the recipe. Everyone loved those date squares, and I never told anyone that they contained some random bits of extra protein.

To help with my ongoing guilt, I've done a bit of research to determine the insect content of the foods that we eat. Think about it--bugs and their eggs are surely harvested right along with grains in the field, and I'll bet you've never seen a farmer sitting and picking them out before the grain is ground into flour.

Don't believe me? Here is some information, somewhat gleefully presented by a bug guy from the North Carolina State University Dept. of Entomology:

Insects in Food

How many insects did you have for breakfast this morning? The answer may surprise you! Despite advances in pest control technology, it is still not possible to exclude all insects from our food supply. Most agricultural products are already contaminated with insects (or insect products) when they are harvested, and still more gain access during storage.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has adopted Grade Standards designed to protect American consumers from inferior agricultural products. The standards set legal limits for spoilage or contamination due to insects and other agents. The highest grade is "U.S. No. 1".

In order to qualify as U.S. No. 1 Grade, the commodities listed below cannot exceed the following limits of contamination:

Ketchup -- 30 fruit fly eggs per 100 grams
Canned corn -- 2 insect larvae per 100 grams
Blueberries -- 2 maggots per 100 berries
Peanut butter -- 50 insect fragments per 100 grams
Curry powder -- 100 insect fragments per 100 grams
Wheat -- 1% of grains infested
Sesame seed -- 5% of seeds infested
Coffee -- 10% of beans infested
Have some more ketchup with your fries!

Check out the article itself at I think I'll wait until tomorrow to give you that Date Square recipe. You've got a lot on your plate.

You need some time to digest this stuff. ;)

1 comment:

BiddyMom said...

now THAT was a BUG POST ( I mean BLOG POST ) lol