In the event that coffee is produced using pre-ground beans, there’s a quite decent possibility people are drinking ground-up cockroaches.
That is as per one researcher, who uncovered that entomologists who work with cockroaches frequently develop an allergic reaction to the insects — and simultaneously build up an allergic reaction to pre-ground coffee.
University of Montana biology professor Douglas Emlen first spilled the beans in a 2009 interview with NPR journalist Terri Gross about his investigation into dung beetles.
Dr. Emlen depicted how as a student, he was driving the nation over with his professor doing research in the late ’80s “before there was a Starbucks on every corner” where people could get good coffee.
“He was fiercely addicted to caffeine,” he said.
“And we’d have to the driveway off the interstate to go find good coffee in that day. I mean, we’d go 45 minutes off our route to go find a place that had whole bean fresh ground coffee. I remember giving him a really hard time because we were wasting a lot of travel time trying to feed his addiction because he needed coffee every couple of hours. And he finally explained to me he had to drink only whole bean fresh ground coffee — and it was because of cockroaches.”
The professor, Dr. Emlen stated, “found out the hard way from teaching entomology year after year after year handling cockroaches, he got really badly allergic to them”.
“He couldn’t even touch cockroaches without getting an allergic reaction,” he said.
“And because of that, he couldn’t drink pre-ground coffee. And it turned out when he looked into it that pre-ground, you know, the big bulk coffee that you buy in a tin, is all processed from these huge stockpiles of coffee. These piles of coffee, they get infested with cockroaches and there’s really nothing they can do to filter that out. So, it all gets ground up in the coffee.”
As a “spin-off” from his cockroach allergy, the professor found he was allergic to pre-ground coffee. “You may not want to put that on the air,” Dr. Emlen said. Gross said, “That’s really upsetting.”
Dr. Emlen called attention to that US Food and Drug Administration imperfection standards permit coffee beans to contain up to 10 percent “insect filth and insects”.
“Technically speaking, if I’m not mistaken, the FDA regulates the percent by dry weight of foodstuffs like this that can be ground insect parts and make sure that it doesn’t end up being too much of the total,” he said.
“And it’s small, it’s a trace amount. Chocolate incidentally is the other one that — if you think of these huge piles of beans, of cocoa beans, all piled up that then gets ground up into something we all love and eat.”
A Food Standards Australia representative said there was no similar level set in the Food Standards Code “for these specific contaminants in coffee beans”.
“It’s important to note that under state and territory food laws, food can only be sold in Australia and New Zealand if it is safe and suitable,” she said.
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