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The Food Defect Action Levels: Levels of Natural or Unavoidable Defects in Foods That Present No Health Hazards for Humans is a publication of the United States Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition[1] detailing acceptable levels of food contamination from sources such as maggots, thrips, insect fragments, "foreign matter", mold, rodent hairs, and insect and mammalian feces.

The publication details the acceptable amounts of contaminants on a per food basis, listing both the defect source (pre-harvest infection, processing infestation, processing contamination, etc.) and significance (aesthetic, potential health hazard, mouth/tooth injury, etc.). For example, the limit of insect contaminants allowed in canned or frozen peaches is specified as: "In 12 1-pound cans or equivalent, one or more larvae and/or larval fragments whose aggregate length exceeds 5 mm."[1]

The Food Defect Action Levels was first published in 1995. A printed version of the publication may be obtained by written request to the Food and Drug Administration or see External links below.


Health hazardsEdit

The insect fragments are classified as an aesthetic problem. The Food Defect Action Levels states that these contaminants "pose no inherent hazard to health".[1]

Additional examplesEdit

Product Type of insect contamination Action Level
Canned sweet corn Insect larvae (corn ear worms or corn borers) 2 or more 3 mm or longer larvae, cast skins, larval or cast skin fragments, the aggregate length of insects or insect parts exceeds 12 mm in 24 pounds
Canned citrus fruit juices Insects and insect eggs 5 or more Drosophila and other fly eggs per 250 ml or 1 or more maggots per 250 ml
Canned apricots Insect filth Average of 2% or more by count has been damaged or infected by insects
Chocolate and chocolate liquor Insect filth Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams (when 6 100 g subsamples are examined)
Peanut butter Insect filth Average of 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
Wheat flour Insect filth Average of 150 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
Frozen broccoli Insects and mites Average of 60 or more aphids and/or thrips and/or mites per 100 grams
Hops Insects Average of more than 2,500 aphids per 10 grams
Ground thyme Insect filth Average of 925 or more insect fragments per 10 grams
Ground nutmeg Insect filth Average of 100 or more insect fragments per 10 grams
Ground cinnamon Insect filth Average of 400 or more insect fragments per 50 grams
Shredded carrots Insect filth Average of 800 or more insect fragments per 10 grams


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d The Food Defect Action Levels, last revised November 2005

External linksEdit