Slowly put down that can of mushrooms and walk away—it probably has an average of 20 maggots in it.

The crew over at Live Science stumbled upon an official booklet from the FDA called the “Defect Levels Handbook” which details just how much “natural or unavoidable defect” can be present in food before it is considered unfit for human consumption.

Some of these “unavoidable” defects? Fly eggs, cigarette butts, mouse poop, mites, maggots, sand, and grit (just to name a few).

bbc1Screencapture via BBC Radio 1


The list of over 100 different foods and their various acceptable levels of disgusting includes everything from cranberry sauce (which has 15 mold filaments on average) to peanut butter (which can have up to 30 insect fragments per 3.5 ounces).

While these may be incredibly gross, they (apparently) won’t make you sick.

“It’s helpful to think of these substances as defects in food quality rather than as food contaminants, which are things like pesticides, metals (such as mercury and arsenic) or environmental chemicals like PCBs,” Benjamin Chapman, a food safety specialist and associate professor at North Carolina State University at Raleigh, told Live Science.

The guide doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that there’s no way to avoid nasty bits, explaining itself by saying, “…it is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of nonhazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”

So the next time you grab a bag of potato chips, just know that 6% of the bag is rotten—and the FDA is totally cool with it. Maybe you should be too?

[via Live Science]