01-22-2001, 06:59 PM
A long time ago I heard that most people were not really allergic to chocolate but rather were really allergic to the bugs that are in the chocolate.
Is this true?
Duck Duck Goose
01-23-2001, 10:28 AM
Well, I've heard this too, but frankly it never occurred to me until just now to run it past Google http://www.google.com and Snopes http://www.snopes2.com/ and Cecil http://www.straightdope.com/search.html and I believe that I am safe in stating that no, it is not true.
Here is a website from Ohio State University, addressing the issue of using insects as human food.
Not all insects are edible. Some insects are toxic and may create allergy problems. Use only species mentioned in this Entomology fact sheet.
While it is true that some insects may cause allergy problems, the kinds of insects that are usually found in food are not the same insects.
The articles by Berenbaum and Blum show clearly why it is not a good idea to collect insects willy-nilly for eating. In cultures that have routinely used insects as food for centuries, however, one would expect that those species presenting a substantial toxic threat would have been screened out long ago simply on the basis of user experience. Berenbaum presented a "fairly comprehensive" list of species known to sequester hostplant toxins, 62 species belonging to 49 genera in 18 families. When one checks this list against a list of the nearly 400 genera containing species that are used as food, it is not surprising to find that there is only one solid overlap, the genus Zonocerus in the grasshopper family Pyrgomorphidae.
Insects that are toxic are frequently that way because they eat plants that are toxic. The kinds of bugs that live in and around human food, like weevils (flour beetles), flies, and cockroaches, are not these kind of bugs.
The Food and Drug Administration does allow a certain number of insect body parts to be present in foodstuffs, Here's the FDA/CFSAN Defect Levels for chocolate and chocolate liquor. http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/dalbook.html
CHOCOLATE AND CHOCOLATE LIQUOR Insect filth
(AOAC 965.38) Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined
Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments
(AOAC 965.38) Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examined
Any 1 subsample contains 3 or more rodent hairs
(AOAC 968.10-970.23) For chocolate liquor, if the shell is in excess of 2% calculated on the basis of alkali-free nibs
DEFECT SOURCE: Insect fragments - post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Rodent hair - post harvest and/or processing contamination with animal hair or excreta, Shell - processing contamination
To repeat, the significance of it is merely "aesthetic". People think it's icky to have insect body parts in their food. So it's not allergenic. If it were true that some insects that are commonly found in human food caused allergic reactions, I'd think that sometime during the past 10,000 years of the Agrarian Revolution, someone would have noticed, and the FDA would be screening for it.
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