Chocolate may be the world’s favorite sweet, but not everyone is able to enjoy this rich, melty treat. People with chocolate allergies may experience a variety of symptoms, including stomach cramps, shortness of breath, hives, vomiting, and swelling of the lips, tongue or throat if they indulge.
Many assume that the culprit is cocoa (the raw ingredient from which chocolate is made) but people with chocolate allergies may be in for an unsettling reality check. According to some sources, their reaction is nothing to do with cocoa beans – instead, they may be experiencing an allergic reaction to consuming bits of cockroaches.
It’s the revelation no-one wanted; every time you eat chocolate, you could be chomping down fragments of filth-loving roaches. But is it really true that there are cockroaches in chocolate and, if so, why? How did they get in there, is it still safe to eat your favorite sweet snacks, and is there anything you can do to avoid including roaches in your diet?
Is it true that my chocolate contains cockroaches?
Does my chocolate have cockroaches in it?
We wish it weren’t true but, sadly, it is – there are bits of cockroach in your chocolate, and more bugs besides.
Shockingly, this is totally fine according to the FDA, whose official guidelines state that chocolate can legally contain up to 60 insect fragments per 100 grams.
It doesn’t specifically state how small these fragments must be, but you’re unlikely to find a whole leg or wing in your Snickers bar.
Be that as it may, the thought of eating even tiny pieces of cockroach is enough to turn most people’s stomachs. Which begs the question: why on earth does the FDA allow this to happen?
Why is it legal for chocolate to contain a small percentage of bug bits?
Turns out it’s not just chocolate that may contain cockroach fragments. Almost everything you eat – from broccoli to canned tomatoes and cereal – is likely to contain insect fragments. Over the course of a year this adds up to a lot of accidentally-eaten bugs, and it’s 100% FDA approved. But why is this allowed to happen?
The reality is that bugs are everywhere, and it’s impossible to keep all of them out of our food. Small numbers of insects inevitably find their way into production facilities and wind up as a component of whatever foodstuff gets churned out at the end. The result is that almost everything we eat contains a little bit of bug and, for the most part, it’s completely safe to eat them. For this reason, the FDA considers a little insect consumption to be a natural part of the food industry.
On a positive note, insects are rich in protein and other vital nutrients and are widely considered to be a valuable addition to the human diet. If you think about it that way, those cockroach fragments actually increase the nutritional value of your chocolate bar – hooray?
Is it safe to eat chocolate with bits of roach in it?
For the vast majority of people, eating a small percentage of cockroach in your chocolate won’t have any adverse effects on your health.
For people with allergies, however, it could be a different story. Cockroach allergens have been known to cause asthma for 50 years, though this happens when tiny roach fragments are inhaled from the air over long periods of time (i.e. in heavily infested housing). In fact, there has been little research into the effects of actually consuming cockroaches, so is it feasible that someone could have a reaction just from eating chocolate?
Given that skin tests have been found to cause an allergic reaction in sufferers, it’s possible that people with severe allergies could react to eating cockroaches. However, it’s important to remember two things when it comes to your chocolate.
First, while there may be cockroaches in your candy bar, they are there in such tiny amounts that they’re highly unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. And second, insects are in everything we eat. For better or worse, bug bits can be found in the vast majority of food items and we eat them all the time, without even knowing. This means that people with roach allergies would react to almost everything they put in their mouth – not just chocolate.
So, if you flare up when you eat chocolate, it’s probably because of one of the other ingredients – not the cockroach fragments.
Are there any brands of chocolate without cockroaches?
The short answer? No, there isn’t.
Although every reputable food manufacturing company will make it their business to keep their facility infestation-free, no-one can guarantee that the occasional cockroach won’t sneak in. The same is true of pretty much all foodstuffs and even unprocessed foods, like spinach and cauliflower, may have the occasional bug lurking among the leaves.
Fortunately, insects are rated highly for their nutritional value and, for most people, are completely safe to eat.
The news that there are cockroach bits in your chocolate is, unfortunately, nothing new. The FDA officially allows up to 60 insect fragments per 100g of chocolate, and it doesn’t end there. Insect pieces can be found in almost everything we consume, from coffee to cinnamon, with the result that we naturally consume quite a large quantity of bugs over the course of a year.
Though some sources suggest that this may trigger symptoms in people with cockroach allergies, there is little evidence to support this claim. Though it’s possible that people with severe allergies could react to eating small amounts of the bugs, for the general population it’s totally safe. Continue eating as you always have – and try to embrace (or ignore) the occasional insect fragment in your food!