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In the News – Chocolate Allergies Linked to Cockroach Parts

By Chris Williams on April 19, 2012.

So you’re one of those poor unfortunates who are allergic to chocolate. Hold on a minute. You may not be allergic to chocolate at all; you may be allergic to cockroach parts in your chocolate!

Allergists have known for more than 50 years that many people exhibit allergic reactions, including asthma, when exposed to cockroach body parts and droppings. In fact, cockroaches are the leading cause of asthma among inner city children. Other allergic reactions to cockroaches include migraines, cramps, itching or hives.

chocolateNow a new study has found that most people who are allergic to chocolate aren’t having a reaction to the cocoa or any other official food ingredients in the chocolate. Instead, they are reacting to ground-up cockroach parts that are incorporated into the chocolate as it is processed. Now that’s a disgusting thought. You may or may not already know that the Food and Drug Administration allows a certain level of insect parts and rodent hairs in the foods that we consume. A typical chocolate bar can contain about 30 insect fragments before it is deemed unsafe to eat. About 8 insect parts are found in the average chocolate bar.

So, you may ask, “How is all that cockroach getting into my chocolate?” Cockroach parts aren’t added to chocolate on purpose. The contamination happens at the source, when cocoa beans are harvested on farms. The cockroach parts travel with the cocoa beans right through the manufacturing process.

cockroachSwearing off chocolate alone won’t keep you safe from roach parts and roach droppings. Other foods made with cocoa beans have the same problem. Allergists say that most foods contain natural contaminants. Many other foods like peanut butter, macaroni, fruits, cheese, popcorn, and cereals also contain insect bits.

Now you want to know, “How do food producers get away with this?” The answer is that it’s almost impossible to harvest, process and package foods without some insect parts. In order to have totally insect-free food, growers and producers would have to use more pesticide. It’s the consensus of FDA that trace amounts of insect parts in food pose less of a hazard to human health than additional pesticides would. The only way to avoid insect parts in your food is to stop eating. After all, insects are just protein and are purposely eaten in many cultures. Of course, if you happen to be allergic to the insect parts in your food, that’s another issue. [Sources: ABCNews, Mar. 26, 2012; LiveScience.com, Mar. 30,2012]

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