Many among us had to read Upton Sinclair’s 1906 denunciation of the Chicago meatpacking industry, The Jungle (fewer among us chose to read it -- nice to meet you, too.) The book, which exposed nauseating information about the way our most infectious comestibles were packaged, spurred the creation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) three months after its publication. Since then, the Administration has been preserving public health by assuring that foods are safe, wholesome, sanitary, and properly labeled (except for meat from livestock, poultry, and some egg products, all under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.)
The FDA keeps a document called the “Defect Levels Handbook,” which details “[the] levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans.” In other words, the number of mites that can inoffensively be packaged into frozen broccoli, or the number of insect heads into fig paste.
The Department, whose mission it is to keep its citizens safe, deems these products innocuous. Out of both ignorance and trust, we are incapable of contradicting it. However, we are capable of quoting Cleveland Brown, looking at the facts and saying: “Oh… that’s nasty.”
If you’re curious, read on, and find out the 11 secretly grossest common foods.
11 Frozen Asparagus - Beetle Eggs
Asparagus can do more than just make your pee smell funny (if it’s frozen asparagus, does it make your yellow snow smell funny?) – it can also feed you yummy-licious beetle eggs. According to the Handbook, excess occurs when “10% by count of spears or pieces are infested with 6 or more attached asparagus beetle eggs and/or sacs.”
10 Apple butter - Bugs
9 Canned Beets - Rot
8 Maraschino Cherries - Maggots
7 Cinnamon - Rodent Hairs
6 Ginger - Mammalia Excreta
Speaking of exotic spices, the FDA allows no more than 3 milligrams of mammalia excreta per pound of ginger. If you are not a latinist, ‘mammalia’ refers to mammals and ‘excreta’ refers to dung, as in “excrement.” In every pound of ginger manufacturers are allowed three milligrams of that sweet, smelly cow poop.
5 Macaroni and Cheese - Insect Fragments
Insects are crafty opportunists and, not only that, they’re also small. It makes sense that it would be difficult to keep insects out of any sort of food manufacturing. And even though we cut the makers of KD some mac, it’s pretty sickening that there are insect parts in boxes of macaroni and cheese.
4 Apricot, pear, or pear nectar - Mold
3 Raisins - Sand
2 Canned Tomatoes - Fly Eggs and Maggots
1 Wheat - Rodent Pellets
Once again, as per the handbook, there can be an “average of 9 mg or more rodent excreta pellets and/or pellet fragments per kilogram [of wheat.]” A kilogram comes out to about two and a half pounds. So there must be less than 9mg of rodent excreta per two-and-a-half-pounds of wheat.
That seems fine enough, but it makes one wonder: “How did the pellets get there? Were rodents wandering through my wheat?” and, since rodents transmit a litany of diseases, ”Will I die from eating this gluten?!”
Sources: buzzfeed, health.com
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