Who Ya Gonna Call?

Ever wonder who investigates all those reports of claws in the canned peas or eyelashes in your TV dinner? It’s a crack team of 22 chemists, microbiologists, and food science experts at the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Acting as the “food world’s version of CSI,” these food forensics experts are called in when something turns up in a packaged good that shouldn’t be there. According to a Washington Post article (reprinted in the L.A. Times), the team handles about 1,000 “foreign-object” cases a year, the vast majority of which turn out to be benign: “What someone mistakes for an eyelash is really plant material. What looks like glass is a natural ingredient that crystallized during processing.”

The GMA team was called in when parishioners in the Calvary Baptist Church in Darien, Connecticut, got a burning sensation when they sipped their Communion grape juice (dishwashing liquid was the culprit) and when consumers found pills in fish fillets (a family member put them there). It’s comforting to know that these scientists are keeping a close watch on our packaged food, even if they don’t have a sexy television show to portray them.

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