11 Gross Things the FDA Does Not Ban From Your Food

Aug 10, 2010
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.
(photo: Getty Pictures).

Now and again, the FDA will bolster its image as the beacon of safety and regulation by catching some poor suckers with their pants down.

Inspectors sweep through kitchens, doling out pink slips for rusty ice makers, unclean floors, and room-temperature meat.

We all sigh with relief that justice is being served to the food contaminators of the world.

But the FDA condones a lot we don't hear about—rat droppings, maggots, and the occasional cigarette butt, for example.

Aina Hunter of CBS News describes in gagging detail what we're unwittingly eating. According to Hunter, the FDA handbook allows small amounts of "filth." What does that revolting word mean, exactly? "Objectionable matter contributed by insects, rodents, and birds; decomposed material; and miscellaneous matter such as sand, soil, glass, rust, or other foreign substances."

Maggots in your food? No problem—in limited amounts, of course. (Photo: gruntzooki/Creative Commons)

The logic goes that it's economically unfeasible to regulate on such a massive scale, and besides, a little bit of the "filth" that's allowed won't hurt anyone.

Here are some current filth limitations that the FDA abides by:

Maggots—up to 19 maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms are acceptable.

Mold—the average mold count can be as high as 12 percent of an apple.

Rodent hair—one hair per 100 grams of food is permitted.

Grit—up to 25mg of grit per 100 grams of peanut butter is allowed.

For the full slide show, go here.

Photo: gruntzooki/Creative Commons via Flickr

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