Worms in Strawberries and Levels of Filth, Mold, and Insects Allowed in Our Food By The FDA Oh My!

Growing up with Holocaust survivor parents, our refrigerator and pantry overflowed with food. So much food that there was spoilage. That did not bother my parents at all. They would consume food and vegetables with visible mold. They would consume bread that had turned brown and black with mold. Nothing was thrown away.

All the while, as my brother and I could barely watch them devour the spoiled food, we would be told stories of them starving, eating bark off trees, drinking their own urine to survive, so that eating this food was nothing. No food should be thrown away, according to our parents. Food was precious to survival. Children in Europe were starving (speaking of the period of World War II and it aftermaths) so we should appreciate this food no matter how bad it looked.

My brother and I just gagged. I am now queasy about any mold or the like with food. I wonder if watching my parents added to the PTSD about anything related to the Holocaust.

As a child and adult, I love strawberries. My grandchildren love strawberries. Our granddaughter’s favorite go to food is strawberries. I wrote blog posts about strawberries.

Candied Strawberries Made With Sugar or Stevia For a Healthy Treat

CombineTwo Grandchildren Favorites for Chocolate-Strawberry Waffle Ball on a Stick

I can no longer eat strawberries.

Unfortunately, I came upon this article about worms in strawberries with photographs and a video to prove it.

Why Are Worms Coming Out of Strawberries in This Viral Video? We Asked an Expert to Explain: It raises questions about what kind of worms they are and what happens if you accidentally consume them,” by Claire Gillespie, Health, Updated May 21, 2020.

The major quote did not help a bit:

There’s no proof that consuming a few maggots with your fruit has any negative health effects—and people have probably been doing it for centuries. So try to forget everything you’ve just read and carry on eating them.”

Although the sight of translucent worms crawling out of a fresh strawberry fruit might not be appealing, there are no known ill effects of eating them,” says Lahiri. “In fact, if you accidentally consumed some maggots, all you did was get some extra animal protein in your salad or fruit shake.”

The reality is that in most cases, fresh market produce and stored grains have some amount of insect infestation that is impossible to get rid of. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even has contamination guidelines for each type of food—including how many bugs or how much mold is allowed to be inside the foods (although there doesn’t seem to be anything on the FDA website concerning bugs inside strawberries).”

We would need an insane amount of pesticides to follow a zero maggot/grub tolerance policy in our food, which is neither environmentally friendly nor beneficial for human health,” explains Lahiri. “Having pesticide residue on our food versus having to ingest some extra animal protein can be considered as a fair trade-off.”

I sent the article to my grandchildren. I feel it necessary to educate them about the world. Now, the only grandchild that will eat strawberries is the one too young to read and the one who has a mother who just said, “more protein, great.”

Of course, I went to the FDA website and looked up their favorite foods and mine, especially that” [t]he criteria considered is based on the reported findings (e.g., lengths of hairs, sizes of insect fragments, distribution of filth in the sample, and combinations of filth types found).”https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredients-additives-gras-packaging-guidance-documents-regulatory-information/food-defect-levels-handbook

The introduction to the information gives us the law governing worms, mold, and such. Yes, there is a law about allowable “action levels” of such.

Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 110.110 allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use that present no health hazard. These “Food Defect Action Levels” listed in this booklet are set on this premise–that they pose no inherent hazard to health.”

The FDA set these action levels because it is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects. Products harmful to consumers are subject to regulatory action whether or not they exceed the action levels.”

It is incorrect to assume that because the FDA has an established defect action level for a food commodity, the food manufacturer need only stay just below that level. The defect levels do not represent an average of the defects that occur in any of the products–the averages are actually much lower. The levels represent limits at which FDA will regard the food product “adulterated” and subject to enforcement action under Section 402(a)(3) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act.”

If you do not want information about filth and such in the following sampling of our favorite foods, stop reading now.


Insect filth

(AOAC 965.38)

Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined OR Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments Average is 60 or more insect fragments

Rodent filth

(AOAC 965.38)

Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examine

Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examined

OR any 1 subsample contains 3 or more rodent hair


Insect larvae

(AOAC 973.61)

Insect larvae (corn ear worms, corn borers) 2 or more 3mm or longer larvae, cast skins, larval or cast skin fragments of corn ear worms or corn borer and the aggregate length of such larvae, cast skins, larval or cast skin fragments exceeds 12 mm in 24 pounds (24 No. 303 cans or equivalen


Insect filth

(AOAC 969.41)

Average of 225 insect fragments or more per 225 grams in 6 or more subsamples

Rodent filth

(AOAC 969.41)

Average of 4.5 rodent hairs or more per 225 grams in 6 or more subsample


Insect filth

(AOAC 968.35)

Average of 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams

Rodent filth

(AOAC 968.35)

Average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams


(AOAC 968.35)

This Grandma cannot handle any more. If you want more, go to the FDA link above.


Fortunately, the one recipe for July Fourth that I thought contained strawberries actually contains raspberries. “Celebrating the Red, White and Blue. . . .Foods to Make With Grandchildren for the Fourth of July.”

No, I have not checked raspberries for worms, insect or rodent filth.





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