What’s Inside Your Coffee Is Likely A Bit Grosser Than You Want To Know

After a year of daily coffee drinking, you've probably consumed more than 130,000 insect fragments.


Published:

Every coffee drinker has their own preference. For the purists, it’s straight up “black, hold the sugar,” while the lactose-inclined tend to enjoy a bit of milk with their morning brew. Then there are the ingredients none of us have a say in selecting. For starters, how about insects?

If you just spat a mouthful of joe back into your mug, that’s fair enough. But the reality of the situation is that coffee is just one of many daily ingredients we ingest that likely contain a bit of bug. In fact, the FDA makes special allowances it calls “unavoidable defects” for all the insect fragments that end up in common foods like cornmeal, macaroni and peanut butter, as well as fruits and vegetables. How many insect fragments exactly?

Terro, an insect control company, calculated that answer last year using information provided by the FDA’s “unavoidable defect” allowances for packaged food. They put together this handy chart published on Huffington Post to illustrate their findings, which included the average number of insect fragments you are likely to ingest after a year of drinking coffee daily. The amount was—prepare yourself—136,080. (This is bad news for coffee-loving vegetarians and vegans, who might consider straining their coffee through a very fine mesh.)

Although that number may disgust you, it shouldn’t. First off, the figure represents minuscule fragments, not entire bugs. And then there’s the stigma around eating insects. The fact is, the sooner we all start warming up to the idea of chowing down on a crunchy cricket or two, the better.

Unfortunately, this was not the only discovery made last year regarding unwanted additions to takeaway java.

Ice from three of the U.K.’s largest coffee chains was found to contain bacteria from feces. At least, that was the findings of an investigation conducted by a BBC One consumer series called "Watchdog," which used samples taken from Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero. Following tests, the investigation found fecal coliforms, a disease-causing pathogen, in seven out of 10 ice samples from Costa and in three out of 10 samples from Caffe Nero and Starbucks.

“The level of contamination of fecal bacteria concerns me a great deal,” Tony Lewis, a member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, told "Watchdog" in an interview. He added that the disease-causing bacteria “should not be present at any level—never mind the significant numbers found.”

Rob Kingsley, an expert in foodborne pathogens, added his own concerns about the findings in an interview with the Guardian. He said that the identification of coliforms in the samples means that “somewhere there has been some kind of breakdown in hygiene or the source of the water used for this ice.” In response, all three coffee chains made guarantees they would be addressing the issue and implementing measures to improve the cleanliness of their facilities.

Of course, this sort of response is expected at risk of losing business. But before we throw the baby out with the, er, ice water, it’s worth putting the results of this investigation into perspective. In an interview with the Guardian, Lewis admitted that the samples indicate the presence of a problem. But given the fact that there are thousands of coffee shops across the U.K. “at the end of the day the public should not panic about this,” he said. “You can’t generalize from the small sample size that we have got here.”

Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist and associate professor at North Carolina State University, further questioned the results of this investigation in an interview with Livescience. According to Chapman, detecting fecal coliform does not guarantee the presence of disease-causing bacteria, but is merely an “indicator” of potential harmful agents. In fact, he added, this bacteria is present in a number of other foods such as fruit and vegetables.

“Bacteria is everywhere, and if you look for it, you’re going to find it,” Chapman told Livescience. Instead, he added, investigators should have tested for the presence of actual harmful bacteria, such as E. coli.

It’s easy to be grossed out by a lot of what we unwittingly consume. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? As Chapman notes, the more important issue the BBC investigation raises is concern around the hygiene of coffee shops. If there is going to be any potential health risks posed by drinking dodgy iced coffee, it will be apparent from the cleanliness of the environment in which the drinks are sold.

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York. He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.

This article was republished from Alternet.

See also:
You (And Most Of The Millions Of Holiday Travelers You Encounter) Are Washing Your Hands Wrong
You’re Probably Drinking Plastic In Your Tap Water

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

February 21, 2018

Love in its many faces finds expression today. Venus and Neptune are conjunct in mystical Pisces. From the most mundane “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” to the most exalted, unconditional giving without any expectation of return, we are bathed…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2018

Spend a cozy winter weekend with colleagues diving into the rich material contained within the Dàodéjīng. While each class builds upon the material covered in the previous...

Cost: $325

Where:
Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts
317 North Main Street
Natick, MA  01760
View map »


Sponsor: Eastern Medicinal Therapies Education Center
Telephone: 617-435-3586
Contact Name: Lauren Paap
Website »

More information

Great readings at a great rate - only $20 for 15 minutes. Join us for a great day with lots of specials too! Our web site is not currently able to take registrations for the psychic fair. Please...

Cost: $20 for a 15 minute reading

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Join us for an afternoon of messages from your loved ones on the other side. As an empath and a healer, I am able to connect with random loved ones on the other side and connect them with the right...

Cost: $30 in advance/$35 day of show

Where:
Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church
9 Ayer Road
On The Common
Harvard, MA  01451
View map »


Sponsor: Wachusett Music Series
Telephone: 978-365-2043
Contact Name: Jean or Denise
Website »

More information

February 18 - 23, 2018 With Rev. Michelle Renee Pelletier, founding director of the Center for Psychic Healing, Harwich, MA.

Where:
Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
Calistoga, CA


Sponsor: Center for Psychic Healing
Telephone: 707-849-7793
Website »

More information

Are you curious about yoga but don't know where to begin? The Intro to Yoga Series is a great place to start your practice. This series will provide a safe, non-competitive and welcoming...

Cost: $90 for series

Where:
YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut St, Suite A
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Telephone: 603-969-8968
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is...

Cost: $11-$15 per class

Where:
Chelmsford Wellness Center
3 Littleton Road, 2nd Floor
Westford, MA  01886
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

A guided tour in discovering, confirming and verifying your personality, behaviors and habits. A three part series at the Waltham Public Library Monday, February 5 7:15PM Monday, February 12...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 781-314-3429
Contact Name: Louise Goldstein
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

February 20 - 22, 2017 Three day training including new techniques for advanced Reiki training, Reiki master training, and Holy Fire II upgrade. Includes discussion, demonstrations, practice...

Cost: $1025 ppd.

Where:
Women of Wisdom
, MA


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Website »

More information

Experience the power of singing gospel music with more than 250 others as part of the Mystic Chorale, led by award-winning director and composer, Jonathan Singleton. Join Mystic as we prepare...

Cost: $105

Where:
First Parish Unitarian
630 Mass Ave.
Arlington , MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Mystic Chorale
Telephone: 781-738-1920
Contact Name: Jai Kaur Annamaria
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is integrating into treatment plans. By...

Cost: $12-$17 per class

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Ceneter
176 Jackson Road
Devens, MA  01434
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come by anytime during open shopping hours! Friday, February 23: 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm Saturday, February 24: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Sunday, February 25: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm We are very...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

6 Week Series with Sherri Snyder-Roche Start your year with greater awareness. In Kundalini Yoga, we harness the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and put them under the...

Cost: $90

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 East Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come by anytime during open shopping hours! Friday, February 23: 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm Saturday, February 24: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Sunday, February 25: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm We are very...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Romy Valdez There are few instruments like the Gong that can heal us through its purification properties of sound vibrations. In this energy field, the beginnings of removing all blocks can...

Cost: $30 early bird ($35 at the door)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags