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Foods with Scary Surprises

RaisinsThe FDA has established guidelines for a number of contaminants that it will allow in our food supply. has assembled a list of some of the most common products for which the FDA has set contamination thresholds. Here's just a taste of what they found:

Potato Chips The FDA only takes action when 6 percent or more of chips show rot from pre- or post-harvest infection.

Tomatoes Acceptable levels of mold contamination go as low as 15 percent in canned tomatoes to as high as 45 percent for ketchup. And the FDA allows up to 30 fly eggs per every 100 grams of tomato sauces, or up to two maggots per every 100 grams of tomato juice.

Raisins The FDA won't mandate action unless 10 or more whole or equivalent Drosophila flies and 35 of its eggs are found per 8 ounces of raisins.

Macaroni To take action, the FDA must find either an average of 225 insect fragments per 225 grams in six sub-samples, or an average of 4.5 rodent hairs per 225 grams in six sub-samples.

To learn more about what found, you can click on the link below.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

According to the article above, there are acceptable levels of maggots found in US canned tomato juice, up to two whole maggots per 100 grams, before the FDA sees a problem and gets involved. Up to 45 percent of a company's ketchup samples can contain mold before the FDA cares. And if you're eating raisins, you better be on the lookout for flies and fly eggs, because they're also allowed in small amounts according to the FDA rules.

These aren't even as bad as the acceptable levels of mammalian feces allowed in peanuts or sesame seeds (up to 5 mg per 100 mg). Folks, that means rats are crawling around in your processed peanuts and sesame seeds and leaving behind feces that end up in your food.

Processed Food Manufacturing Requires Leeway with "Defects"

The problem here isn't so much the pests in the field, or "defects" as the FDA calls insect and animal invaders (along with invader feces). In fact, a few bugs on your food from the fields probably means your produce has been grown organically, and is not saturated in pesticides as is so common today with Monsanto's pesticide resistant genetically modified crops that are sprayed with double or possibly many multiples more of normal pesticide levels because they are genetically altered to resist pesticide.

And some strains of GE (genetically engineered) corn and soybeans produce their own pesticide internally, which can actually turn your gut into a pesticide factory!

No, the real problem here is food storage and processed food production. Because let's face it, processed food is not fresh food. It sits around in storage facilities to the point of potatoes rotting before they're transformed into salty, oily potato chips and to the point of mold overtaking the tomatoes waiting to be canned or pureed into sauces or juices.

And while these whole, fresh foods wait around to be processed, the flies and the rats get to them and leave eggs and hair and feces behind.

As the article above points out, most people would say the acceptable level or mammalian feces or fly eggs in your food is zero.

But not according to the FDA! I encourage you to read the entire list of acceptable "defects" that the FDA allows into your processed food in the article above, and then try eating some processed food without thinking about how many rats have walked across your peanut butter or how many pus pockets are in your frozen fish (from the acceptable number of parasites that have burrowed deep inside the fish flesh, and while this last example isn't necessarily a "processed food" problem, an acceptable number of "pus pockets" in fish really is quite disgusting).

Isn't it?

Processed Food is Not Fresh Food, and Labels May Deceive You

The food labels found today on everything that's canned, packed, packaged or wrapped fall into a realm of "anything goes". While the FDA does check food labels, they only check to see whether or not the Nutrition Facts panel is present, rather than whether or not it is true and accurate, and of course the label will never mention the "acceptable" number of rat hairs that may be found in the food.

Beyond this, the FDA also does not look for deceptive "0 trans-fat" claims (when serving sizes are so small they escape the need to label these dangerous fats) and they don't do anything about misleading "made with real fruit" (used to describe added-sugar fruit pastes) or "all natural" statements.

The FDA also doesn't check very often for mammalian feces, rat hairs or fly eggs in your food. When they do check it's usually a small batch, and in the case of tomato ketchup a full 45 percent of samples are allowed to contain mold before the FDA considers action necessary. Does this mean we can assume that 44 percent of all tomato ketchup contains some traces of mold? It wouldn't surprise me, given the track record of processed food companies caring about your health.

Folks, you shouldn't be eating French fries anyway, but if you're putting processed tomato ketchup on your fries you can add mold to the list of problematic ingredients in those fries.

And let's not forget about acrylamide.

Acrylamide, Your Baked and Fried Food Nerve Poison

Acrylamide was once believed to be only a product of industrial waste; it was not until 2002 that it was discovered to be almost everywhere in the human diet. It is a tasteless, invisible chemical byproduct formed when foods -- particularly high-carbohydrate foods -- are fried or baked at high temperatures.

The chemical is present in 40 percent of the caloric intake of most Americans (in the form of fried and baked processed food), although French fries and potato chips contain the highest concentrations.

So why is acrylamide a problem?

High-level exposure to acrylamide has caused cancer in lab animals and neurological problems in workers handling the substance. Avoiding acrylamide comes down to avoiding fried and baked carbohydrates, like potato chips, French fries, pork rinds and all manner of backed and fried snack products.

But What About "All Natural" Labels on Processed Foods?

What does an "all natural" label really mean when it comes to processed food?

Zero. Zilch. Nada. Zip.

The natural food label on a processed food has no standard definition and really no meaning at all. The term is only regulated on meat and poultry, for which an item labeled natural may not contain any artificial flavors, colors or chemical preservatives. But in the processed food arena, a "natural" product can be virtually anything -- genetically modified, full of pesticides, made with corn syrup, additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients.

It is because of this very vagueness that 7-Up is able to claim it's "100% natural" and is still within its legal rights. It's also due to this misleading label that many consumers are fooled into buying foods labeled as "natural" in the belief that these foods are better for your health, when in reality these processed foods are more or less complete junk and are most likely filled with "acceptable levels" of fly eggs and rat feces.

But you can expect that food manufacturers will continue to use the "All Natural" label claims for as long as possible. Products labeled as "natural" or "sustainable" account for $50 billion in sales annually, or 8 percent of total retail grocery sales, so don't expect them to disappear from your grocery store anytime soon.

Now, you may be asking how an "USDA Organic" label is any assurance there won't be feces or fly eggs in your food? That's a fair question and I'll just point out that USDA Organic farmers (and many small, local organic farms working without certification) must use different standards when growing their vegetables.

These standards include never using:

  • Pesticides
  • Synthetic Fertilizers
  • Sewage sludge
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Ionizing radiation

So first of all, you are avoiding those unwanted and unhealthy things when you buy organic. Beyond this advantage, I would advise you to wash your fresh produce to remove any bugs or dirt that may have traveled from the field to your kitchen.

A properly washed organic fruit or vegetable presents the most nutritious and least harmful food item you can put into your mouth, and is certainly better for you in so many ways than any processed food or conventionally grown fruits and vegetables available at your grocery store.

How to Choose High-Quality Foods for You and Your Family

Processed foods containing cheap, chemical-laden ingredients (and bugs and feces) will eventually take their toll on your body, and you'll pay for your dietary choices with both your quality of life and your pocketbook when you get ill.

As I'm fond of reminding you, 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, which is a disaster for your health even if you're buying "natural" processed foods. And these processed foods are filled with acceptable levels of bugs, eggs and feces besides all of the nutritionally void ingredients as well.

When it comes to raisins, whether organic or conventional (especially golden raisins according to the article above) your best bet is to carefully inspect those raisins for flies or fly eggs!

Of course, most raisins are perfectly fine, but a quick visual inspection of that handful of raisins might save you from a surprise in your mouth!

And again, how healthy can you really be if you're routinely ingesting pesticides, antibiotics, hormone-disrupting chemicals, genetically modified organisms, chemical additives, colors and preservatives, and an untold amount of other chemically-derived byproducts and toxins that are routinely found in processed foods, regardless of a label on the package that may say "All Natural"?

First and foremost, you'll want to avoid these processed foods by purchasing items that have no labels at all … namely fresh vegetables, preferably organic and locally grown. Grass-fed, organic meats and raw dairy products are also staples your family can safely invest in.

Next, whether you're shopping at a supermarket or a farmer's market, here are the signs of a high-quality, healthy food:

It's grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods)
It's not genetically modified. You can get your free GMO shopping guide here.
It contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs
It does not contain artificial anything, nor any preservatives
It is a whole food, and this means it will not have a long list of ingredients (for instance, high-quality almond butter should contain almonds (preferably raw) and maybe sea salt -- no added oils, sugars, etc.)
It is fresh (if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh local conventional produce, the latter is the better option)
It did not come from an Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) farm
It is grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors)
It is grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)

By educating yourself on what 'healthy food' really is, you'll easily avoid the myriad of processed foods on the market, allowing you to put your family's food money toward purchases that will not only satisfy your appetites but also nourish your health.

+ Sources and References