Some of the ingredients in pumpkin pie are not found on any label–for good reason. WARNING! Do not read further unless you are ready to be grossed out.
As a pest control company we wondered what, if any, pests would be found in a pumpkin pie. We were happily surprised that pumpkin, eggs, and cream are pest-(not bacterium) free; however, it was shocking to discover that spices are very dirty indeed. (Our spicy findings are below.)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes the maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use that pose no health hazard. Natural things, you know, like ground up insects, mold, rodent hair and rodent poop. To set your stomach at ease, the FDA sets the MAXIMUM levels. The FDA states on its website:
The defect levels do not represent an average of the defects that occur in any of the products–the averages are actually much lower. The levels represent limits at which FDA will regard the food product “adulterated”; and subject to enforcement action under Section 402(a)(3) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act.
In other words, you probably have more of a chance of finding one of grandma’s gray hairs in a slice of pumpkin pie than an actual bug (that is, unless grandma fails keep her flour sealed in an airtight container!).
Although we started researching pumpkin pie from a pest control perspective, the most disturbing finding had nothing to do with pests. The FDA also enforces the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and has determined that articles labeled “pumpkin” or “canned pumpkin” may contain golden-fleshed, sweet squash, or mixtures of squash with field pumpkins. In other words, the delicious, custardy, sweet, cinnamon infused pie may not be pumpkin at all. It may be Squash Pie. It is no wonder that pumpkin pie made from homegrown or supermarket pumpkins tastes odd. It’s missing golden-fleshed, sweet squash–whatever that is.
The Spicy Findings
In recipe ingredient format, here are the ingredients that may find their way into your pumpkin pie:
All purpose flour 1 ¼ c. including up to 234 insect fragments and 5 rodent hairs
Sugar 2 t.
Salt 1/6 t.
Butter 1/4 cup
Lard ¼ cup (Lard is rendered and hydrogenated pig fat)
“Pumpkin” puree* One 15 oz. can
Light brown sugar** 3/4 cup packed
Eggs, lightly beaten 3
Half-and-half 1-1/4 cups
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
Ground cinnamon 1 ½ t. including up to 57 insect fragments
Ground ginger ½ t. including a minute quantity of insect fragments and a minute quantity of mammalian excreta
Ground allspice ½ t. including up to 7 insect fragments
Ground nutmeg ¼ t. including up to 12 insect fragments
*Canned goods labeled “pumpkin” may be packed from field pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) or certain varieties of firm-shelled, golden-fleshed, sweet squash (Cucurbita maxima), or mixtures of these. Pumpkin and squash are sometimes mixed intentionally to obtain the consistency most acceptable to users.
**Brown sugar is not “raw sugar.” It is processed refined white sugar with molasses added back in.
How to Combat Pumpkin Pie Pests
Smother the pie with whipped cream, empty your mind and enjoy your pie. Then when you have a real pest control problem, call Thrasher Termite & Pest Control, the best pest control in San Diego and Silicon Valley. We’ll take care of the pests troubling you, and even sample your pie, if you insist!