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!


Last Updated:   4 November 2003
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John R. Meyer
Department of Entomology
NC State University