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How Many Rodent Hairs Allowed in Your Paprika by the FDA?
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The recently published Defect Levels Handbook by the FDA enumerates the levels of defect beyond which it becomes actionable.


So, what is the level up to which there may be defects in your food? The FDA has patiently charted out the regular levels of defect which is not actionable, like in case of berries (blackberries, raspberries, etc) action will be taken only if mold count exceeds 60%, or 4 or more larvae per 500 grams or an average of 10 or more whole insects are there per five hundred grams. However in case of whole insects, the number of thrips, aphids and mites are excluded, possibly because it may be beyond count.

That’s okay, because if the defect level is below an average of 60 aphids per 100 grams of frozen broccoli, it is not actionable.

The FDA says the defect levels set out in the booklet mention the levels on the premise “ – that they pose no inherent hazard to health.”

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Though the state of your mental health can be subject to doubts, if, when having your favorite hot and spicy dish, you are mildly informed that according to the FDA, the ground paprika in your food can contain up to 11 rodent hairs per 25 grams without making you sick. And that according to the FDA booklet the significance of such a defect would be classified as “Aesthetic.”

This is not to bash the FDA in any reason, but it is fun to have the realities in print before us. According to the FDA such levels of defects could be unavoidable in manufacturing, and pesticides (poisons) in premises where food is prepared isn’t always the right remedy.

The booklet says clearly, “It is FDA’s position that pesticides are not the alternatives to preventing food defects. The use of chemical substances to control insects, rodents and other natural contaminants has little, if any impact on natural and unavoidable defects in foods.” In fact, the booklet emphasizes, “The primary use of pesticides in the fields is to protect food plants from being ravaged by destructive plant pests.”

So, it’s nothing new, but when you read the protein percentage in your canned food, now you can be sure that some of it might be from unmentionable sources of nutrition.



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