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Are there Cockroaches in Chocolate?

Cockroaches, like other bugs, are attracted to the smell of cacao beans and are considered natural pests of the plants. Moreover, the areas where the chocolate plant is harvested have a tropical climate that supports cockroaches all year round. Therefore, cockroaches are closely related to chocolate beans.

Are there Cockroaches in Chocolate? Yes! There are cockroaches and their fragments in chocolate. This is because roaches are cacao trees’ natural pests and get inside the chocolate during manufacturing. Therefore, It is humanely impossible to get 100% roach and bug-free chocolate. However, cockroaches or their parts are in levels that are considered insignificant by regulatory authorities, including the FDA.

Chocolate is produced from cacao beans harvested through a labour-intense manual process. The countries that harvest cacao plants are developing nations that do not have highly sophisticated equipment and mainly rely on old harvesting techniques that increase the chance of mixing cockroach fragments into the chocolate.

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Does chocolate have cockroaches in it? Explained

Interestingly, Bugs, including cockroaches and their body fragments, are present in several food items, including peanut butter, chocolate and coffee. This is because cockroaches are natural scavengers and decomposers and are closely found in places where these products are harvested.

After the chocolate seeds are harvested, they undergo fermentation to remove the bitterness, and then cacao beans are dried, roasted and ground.

During the whole manufacturing process of the chocolate, some parts of cockroaches get mixed and crushed into very fine fragments that are impossible to remove.

Therefore, it is customary that chocolate has cockroaches in it. However, these are in such minute quantities that are considered insignificant.

Similarly, all our food items, including water, contain a minimum quantity of bugs, bacteria, viruses and even faecal matter that pose no serious threat to humans. Again, this is because the human body and immune system can resist them.

Other bugs in chocolate

Besides cockroaches, many other bugs are also attracted to the smell of cacao beans and plants. These bugs, including mirid bugs such as Helopeltis, are considered chocolate plant pests.

Moreover, mealy bugs, thrips and scale insects are also known to destroy chocolate plants. As explained above, during the manufacturing process of chocolate, these bugs or their fragments also get mixed and are impossible to screen and remove.

Therefore, similar to cockroaches, other bugs in chocolate, including mirid bugs, thrips and scale insects, are also prevalent. However, none of them is considered significant to warrant action.

FDA Allows cockroaches in chocolate up to a specified limit

The US food and drug administration (FDA) has specific protocols and standards to ensure the safety of food items across the country. Anything from food items to medicine deemed unfit for public consumption or use is strictly prohibited.

FDA also have specified limits of cockroaches and their fragments in chocolate and other consumable items, including peanut butter and coffee. The levels specified by FDA are deemed fit for public consumption, and no one should worry about it.

Under the CPG Sec. 515.700 of FDA protocols: The 100-gram chocolate subsamples that contain an average of 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams represent the chocolate’s direct reference seizure criteria.

This means that if 100 grams of chocolate contain more than 60 fragments of insects, whether it is a cockroach or any other bug, it will be considered unfit. Any level less than this is allowed for public consumption.

Therefore, eat your chocolate snake without worrying; the FDA is checking everything for you behind the screen.

Roaches in Chocolate can be Dangerous!

Allergies occur when our immune system overreacts to the foreign substances known as allergens (Source). It is essential to know that normal human beings do not react to most substances in the environment and are not deemed as foreign or allergens.

Cockroaches are known to trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions in atopic individuals.

The immune system of some of the people around us interpret bugs in chocolate as allergens and start triggering an immune response against it, resulting in an allergy.

The signs and symptoms of allergy include

  1. Genralized body rash
  2. Difficulty breathing
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Nause and vommiting
  5. Head ache
  6. Fever

Therefore, it is advised not to consume chocolate by people known to be allergic to roaches or their fragments. For more guidelines on cockroach allergy consult your registered medical practitioner.

If you are afraid of roaches, you might be interested in reading Katsaridaphobia, An Extreme Fear of Roaches! A very interesting blog.