How many rat hairs are allowed in your jar of peanut butter? How about how many dead insects are allowed in your broccoli? While the amount isn’t going to harm you, it certainly does hold a certain shock factor once you realize that the FDA has some interesting regulations when it comes to food.
Fully established in June of 1906, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was created to protect the consumers in the marketplace. Even with this, many regulations the FDA has put into place when it comes to what is allowed to be consumed, are not entirely well known- like how many rat hairs are allowed to be in a jar of peanut butter.
Many times food and edible products are mass produced in factories. Efficiency wise, this is the best way to make, package and distribute food. However, it is impossible to remove all natural or unavoidable defects in food. The FDA provides maximum levels that food companies and producers are not allowed to breach, all of which is covered in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 110.110. Things like rat hairs, rat filth, rot, insects parts, mold, insect filth and various other things including insect larvae are all allowed in food in strict regulations. As the FDA states in the Defect Levels Handbook, “These “Food Defect Action Levels” listed in this booklet are set on this premise–that they pose no inherent hazard to health.”
Here are just a few regulations:
1) Peanut Butter allows on average 1 rat hair per 100 grams, and 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams.
2) Potato chips on average, have 6% or more pieces, by weight, containing rot.
3) 45% or more strawberries (canned sliced, or frozen) contain mold.
4) When around 6 100-gram samples are testing, on average 60 insect fragments are allowed in chocolate, while 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples are allowed.
While those are only a few of the products, there are hundreds more regulations for hundreds of other items. The defects in these products aren’t going to harm you, but they will sure make you think twice before you take a bite out of your chocolate, or enjoy that PB&J.
And as for what students think about these regulations, many decided that while yes it was ‘gross’ they would continue to eat their food anyway, maybe after a slight pause for thought however. “I don’t care, I don’t see it, and it’s never affected my health visibly that I know of,” Adam Delafield, a senior, said. This is very true, none of the levels of insect fragments or rat filth are harmful, however it does make many people take a second glance.
Whether or not they would keep eating those foods though, many shared a common idea with Emily Gage, a sophomore, “That’s gross, but I’ve gone this long already. I won’t stop eating peanut butter.”