There’s No Such Thing as Perfect: A Philosophy Held by the FDA

There’s no such thing as perfect. We can try to reach an ideal, but the realities of the world will always cause us to fall short.

This truth holds for the purity of food. Sure, you’d ideally like your chocolate to contain zero insect parts. But in reality, some insects are going to make it in. Nobody at Heinz says, “Let’s include mold as an ingredient.” But it’s still going to be in your ketchup. And those pitted olives? Chew gently, because more than 1 pit per 100 is okay.

Don’t get me started on all the things that are allowed in spices. You’re basically shaking ground get-that-away-from-me into your food.

Here’s a handy infographic highlighting some of the defects that are allowed in our necessarily imperfect food.


Not listed here is fig paste, which is allowed to contain 13 insect heads per 100 grams. I adore the reporter’s remark on this:

To Live Science, the designation raises several questions, including where is the rest of the insect? How are only the heads getting in?

While a part of me wants to grab a jar of fig paste and a magnifying glass and go treasure hunting, I think I’m just going to enjoy my next fig newton without examining the gritty bumps within.





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