Insects are not a specific ingredient in ketchup, though a very nominal amount of insect parts may be detected in the product. Since tomato plants are grown in soil and insects feed off of them, insect fragments may be present on the plants when they are processed. As such, the United States Food and Drug Administration makes allowances for a small amount of insect remains that may be contained on or within ingredients used.
Ketchup is made from tomatoes, vinegar, sugar (or some type of sweetener), garlic and onions. Other ingredients may be added for variety. Traces of insects may also be found in spices added to ketchup for flavor. The Heinz Company, the largest ketchup manufacturer in the world, uses more than 200 million tons of tomatoes each year.
The USDA recognizes the virtual impossibility of removing all traces of insect fragments, given the large quantities of ingredients that food manufacturers use, and permits a marginal amount of insect traces in consumable food products. The amount of allowable insect traces varies slightly between the various tomato products and is measured both before and after harvest. An allowable mold count is also permitted in ketchup products.