Monday, May 23, 2016

So, let's talk migraine triggers.  For those of us who suffer with this disease, we eventually learn what causes them and try hard to avoid those triggers.  I know that mine are driven by the barometric pressure, hormones, and food allergies.  I can't do much about the pressure.  And at my age, hormone management is as mythical as the unicorn.  But allergy triggers can be avoided if I know where to look for them.   Raw onions, chocolate, and aged cheese and wine are my big four.

Chocolate - public enemy number one?  Um no, as it turns out.  While I've avoided chocolate like the plague for nearly 40 years, I learned quite a while ago that it isn't the chocolate, but the BUG PARTICULATE in the chocolate, that I'm really allergic to.  Gross right?  Here's the truth.  The FDA allows a certain acceptable level of bug particulate in cocoa beans.  That means, when you consume chocolate, well let's just say there are other things in it that you didn't count on eating.

Fast forward to 5 years ago. I underwent allergy testing, and, wouldn't you know it, my worst allergy trigger was roaches.  So I felt somewhat justified in my avoid "polluted chocolate" stance.  I have always avoided the other known triggers, but I've still been having too many migraine episodes over the last 4 or 5 years.  Many of those headaches had completely unidentifiable triggers.  But I may have discovered a new culprit.


Well, not coffee, but the ROACHES in the coffee.  Yes, coffee falls under that FDA allowable bug particulate thing.  So when you buy pre-ground coffee, either at the grocery store or at the restaurant, you're getting those little bonus bits in there, too.

I have tried to quit coffee forever, thinking it's the caffeine that may be causing the headaches.  I had never been successful.  But, this time I tried a different approach.  I didn't cut the caffeine. I replaced it with hot tea (which I love.)  Now, a month later,  I'm down to maybe 2 cups of coffee a week, ideally from fresh ground beans.  And guess what.  Nearly no headaches.  Well, except for those evil barometric pressure change headaches.

Now I'm looking into what else contains the buggy particulate.  Because I think I'm on to something here.

Max levels for acceptance according to the FDA Defect Levels Handbook
Cocoa Beans
( MPM-V18)
More than 4% of beans by count are moldy
Insect filth
( MPM-V18)
More than 4% of beans by count are insect-infested including insect-damaged
Insect filth and/or mold
More than 6% of beans by count are insect-infested or moldy
NOTE: Level differs when both filth and mold are present
Mammalian excreta
( MPM-V18)
Average of 10 mg or more mammalian excreta per pound
DEFECT SOURCE: Mold - post harvest infection, Insect infested/damaged - post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Mammalian excreta - post harvest and/or processing animal contamination
Significance: Aesthetic, Potential health hazard - may contain mycotoxin producing fungi
Chocolate and Chocolate Liquor
Insect filth
(AOAC 965.38)
Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined
Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments
Rodent filth
(AOAC 965.38)
Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examined
Any 1 subsample contains 3 or more rodent hairs
(AOAC 968.10-970.23)
For chocolate liquor, if the shell is in excess of 2% calculated on the basis of alkali-free nibs
DEFECT SOURCE:  Insect fragments - post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Rodent hair - post harvest and/or processing contamination with animal hair or excreta, Shell - processing contamination 
Significance: Aesthetic
Coffee Beans, Green
Insect filth and insects
( MPM-V1)
Average 10% or more by count are insect-infested or insect-damaged
If live external infestation is present use the Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) titled " Food Storage and Warehousing-Adulteration-Filth" (CPG 580.100) in accordance with "Interpretation of Insect Filth" (CPG 555.600)
( MPM-V1)
Average of 10% or more beans by count are moldy
DEFECT SOURCE:  Insect infested/damaged - preharvest and/or post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Mold - post harvest and/or processing infection
Significance: Aesthetic, Potential health hazard - mold may contain mycotoxin producing fungi