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Maggots in our mushrooms – and other fine foodstuff OK with FDA

Picnics are a prime time to get ants dancing in our pants – or flies breeding in our potato salad.

My fave egg photo/Ryn Gargulinski

One fine story involves a friend of my dad’s who bit into a hamburger only to find the squirming back end of a bumblebee.

Another features a friend who spent a weekend in an upstate New York trailer. She found out the trailer was infested with carpenter ants when the raisins in her granola cereal started swimming in the milk.

This, of course, was after she already ate half the bowl.

While knowing we are eating bug parts may gross us out, we most likely do it daily without even blinking an eye. And that’s just fine and dandy with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

After all, no one is perfect – so why should our food be?

Foodstuff is allowed to contain a number of bug parts, rodent hairs, maggots and other contaminants before they reach “Food Defect Action Levels,” or amounts that put them off the shelf and into the trash can.

Anyone who prefers broccoli over Brussels sprouts, with the argument that Brussels sprouts look like little brains, may change their minds when they find out the defect action levels of these two dandy greens.

My fave cupcake photo/Ryn Gargulinski

Frozen broccoli can contain up to 60 aphids, thrips or mites per 100 grams while frozen Brussels sprouts is only allowed up to 30 of the insect trio.

Canned or frozen asparagus falls in the middle, allowing up to 40 of the insects. But up to 10 percent of the spears or pieces can also be infested with up to six asparagus beetle eggs or sacs. How nice to give the buggers a free ride.

If that’s enough to make you swear off broccoli forever, you can always rebel by eating only snack foods.

Popcorn is allowed up to 20 “gnawed grains” per pound and, to go with those gnawed grains, a certain amount of rodent hair. The rodent hair should not be present in more than half the samples.

A luscious piece of chocolate is only allowed up to 60 insect fragments per 100 grams, or about the size of an average Snickers bar.

OK, a Snickers bar is not solid chocolate, so the insect leg and torso chunk count better be a bit less. But it would be hard to tell if maggots nestled in that nutty nougat.

Maggots are allowed, to a degree, in canned mushrooms. Canned mushrooms can contain up to 20 maggots of any size or up to five larger maggots – 2 millimeters or longer – per 100 grams of foodstuff. Up to 75 mites per 100 grams is also allowed.

And you thought mushrooms were disgusting just because they grew in manure.

Broken bread/Ryn Gargulinski

Speaking of manure, up to 5 milligrams of “mammalian excreta” is allowed in sesame seeds, along with a portion of “insect filth” and a dapple of highly elusive “foreign matter.”

On a more appetizing note, what we don’t know can’t hurt us, and the litany shall stop here. You can always read more on your own, however, by checking out more defect action levels on the FDA website.

And you can at least get to sleep at night by knowing most contaminant levels allowed in foodstuff are still lower than the number of ants found swarming in the bowl of raisin cereal.



Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who loves mushrooms – at least until she read the Food Action Defect Levels. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail

What do you think?

Will you ever eat mushrooms again?

Did you ever eat mushrooms before?

Should we have even stricter food regulations?

Have you ever found rat hair in your nacho dip?

What’s the grossest contaminant you’ve found in your food?


What do you think?

0 thoughts on “Maggots in our mushrooms – and other fine foodstuff OK with FDA

  1. A different flavor of Soylent Green.  My mom got a chocolate bar from the vending machine at work that crunched on the first bite, but then she realized that she bought a plain.

    I have received a bowl of corn flakes in Guaymas that some of the cereal had legs.

    1. oh, yuck!
      thanks for sharing fine dining moments, alan in kent wa (haha).
      cereal with legs – or raisins in cereal with legs – seems to be an all too common one everywhere.
      and poor mom! i hope that didn’t make her swear off chocolate forever.

  2. Love your site. Always something of interest and humor (dark humor but always insightful). Its a relief from the SB1070 manure from the rest of the bloggers. (sorry had to say that)!!

    1. hahahahaha! aww, thanks, fraser007 –
      both on (dark) humor and insight compliments – and noticing i do try to pick topics other than immigration to write about (hahaha).
      although i have to admit, i sometimes get sucked into the gloppy fray….hahah.
      appreciate your comments!

  3. Ryn:
    To think I was harboring the idea of eating only vegetables for the rest of my life. Now I know candy bars and all those other goodies contain extra nutrients for me. Yummers, thanks for the wealth of info on food nutrients. You always write about the most interesting subject matters. Keeps me well informed, keep up the fine work.

    1. hey oldwest2,
      cool to hear from you – and thanks for enthusiastic compliments! (hahaha).
      i am honored i could assist with your dietary choices and yes, great nutrients are hidden all around us. i’m just here to help!

  4. Nice, information packed piece Rynski! Now I have to go vomit… 😉
    Where the heck did you ‘dig up the dirt’ on this overlooked area of extraneous nutrition?
    I’d heard stories to this effect, now here it is in all it’s vermin infested glory.
    I guess we should expect some buggy bits and hamster doodles along with our
    Big Mac and fries…but to think that all my hard work in the kitchen is only window dressing, lipstick on a cockroach so to speak, well, it all seems so pointless now.
    Hey, my fried chicken is burnin’! Catch ya later.
    PS- Please do follow up story on allowable amounts of E-Coli, salmonella, ptomaine and botulism in our meats and canned goods…so I can become a total paranoid psychotic. 🙂

    1. oops, should be ‘where the heck did you get the notion to ‘dig up the dirt’…
      my humblest apologies media maven. 🙂

    2. hahahahhaha! lipstick on a cockroach! hamster doodles!
      you’re most welcome, radmax, for bringing you such tasty information. i think you’ll be OK with fried chicken, as the copious amounts of grease are sure to drown or gag anything that dares come near the sizzling pan.
      i would also love to help in your quest to be a ‘total paranoid psychotic’ and promise to do would i can going forward.
      p.s. i dug up this dirt at the request of a very fine friend who began to tell me about all the bug parts the FDA allows in the massive amounts of cereal i eat. he told me this, of course, as i was enjoying a bowl of vanilla special k.

      1. 🙂 You’re a lucky gal. Friends like that obviously don’t grow on trees Rynski…

  5. Reminds me of a joke from elementaty school:

         Whats worse than finding a worm in an apple?
         Finding half a worm.

    1. ha! i remember that one, koreyk!
      that is DEFINITELY along the lines of my dad’s poor friend with the squirmy bee half in his burger.
      thanks for flashback.

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