Vegan and vegetarian Starbucks aficionados are aghast at recent revelations that the company replaced an artificial dye in its Strawberry Frappucino with cochineal extract. The dye, an approved food additive, is made from the crushed shells of cochineal beetles, which vegans and many vegetarians eschew as part of their dietary practices.
Unfortunately for vegans, avoiding all animal byproducts — especially bugs– in the American food system is basically impossible. The Food and Drug Administration even keeps a list of how many bugs and bug parts manufacturers are allowed to have in their products — including many that vegans or vegetarians eat. So how much non-vegan content might be in your food? We had a look at the standards and, leaving aside how much animal feces and hair is allowed, compiled 10 of the grossest.
1. Frozen or canned asparagus
Producers are allowed to leave 6 or more attached asparagus beetle eggs and/or sacs on 10% of their spears and either: an average of 40 thrips per 100 grams; or make sure the remaining insects or insect parts have an average aggregate length of 7mm or longer per each 100 grams. Crunchy!
2. Canned lingonberries
They taste so good at Ikea — but that little extra protein comes from the 3 larvae per pound allowed.
3. Frozen Brussels sprouts
Look closely: producers can have up to 30 aphids or thrips in every 100 grams.
4. Canned orange juice
Tangy! Producers are allowed 5 fruit fly and other fly eggs or 1 maggot in each 250 milliliters.
5. Canned corn
Each 24 pounds of corn can have up to two corn ear worms or corn borer larvae less than 3 millimeters or longer, as long as the total larvae, shed skin or fragments thereof does not exceeds 12 millimeters.
6. Chopped, sliced or macerated dates
Producers are allowed up to 5 whole insects (or parts equivalent thereto) in each 100 grams, or up 10 whole insects (or parts equivalent thereto) in no more than 1 subsample. And you thought the dates that killed the monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark were gross.
7. Fig paste
Producers must have less than 13 insect heads per 100 grams in less than two subsamples.
In each 225 gram portion, producers are allowed up to 225 insect fragments in up to 6 subsamples. Buon appetito!
9. Dried mushrooms
That earthy taste in your porcini might be more than just the mushrooms. Each 15 grams of dried mushrooms are allowed up to 100 maggots of any size — but only 2 maggots longer than 2 millimeters in length. They’re also allowed 75 mites.
10. Frozen or canned peaches
Each 1-pound can or equivalent is allowed only 1 larvae (or fragment thereof) of less than 5 millimeters.
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