Shocking Ingredients You Didn’t Know Were In These Common Foods

By Juliet Smith 1 year ago

Forget about ground beef... what about ground insects!

Image Source/ Reddit
To kick off this list, we thought we'd put you off some of your favorite foods by introducing you to ground insects! Desert bug shells are ground down into a fine texture to make carmine, a red culinary food coloring for drinks and sweets. If you want to avoid (and rightly so) look for red items created with Red #40, a coal-based color.

Hairs from your favorite rodents

Image Source/ Reddit
I'm so surprised how food manufacturers actually get away with this! They don't sprinkle it in like a garnish, but can find it hard to keep them damn rodents away. So, the FDA approved that a certain ratio of rat hair is allowed. For example, ground cinnamon is allowed up to 11 hairs per 50 grams... ew!

Insect poop...

Image Source/ Reddit
Insect poop? How? Well... the secretions of the Thai bug Kerria lacca provide shellac, which gives sweets that irresistible glossy look. Not so irresistible now, huh? Don't think that being healthy will let you off though... some fruits and vegetables even contain it. If you're looking out for it, labels might list it as "confectioner's resin" or "natural glaze."

Don't forget beaver poop!

Image Source/ Reddit
Yep, there's even more poop to add to this list! This time, beaver poop, and the beaver might not always be as cute as this little guy. Castoreum is derived from glands of beaver's anus with a yellowish tint with a fairly strong odor (no surprise). Most products containing synthetic flavors like strawberry, vanilla, or raspberry also include casstoreum. Who even found this out?!

Grease squeezed from sheep wool

Image Source/ My Life with Shetland Wool
I mean, we use pretty much most of a sheep as it is, it's hardly surprising we use it's wool-grease too! It's actually called lanolin, and keeps their wool somewhat waterproof. It's found to be rich in Vitamin D and incredibly cheap (of course). So they just shove it in foods like chewing gum!

Bladder of a dead fish

Image Source/ Reddit
Okay, so at first glance, this kinda does sound bad, but in reality it's not. Fish bladders work opposite to ours, instead of holding pee, it holds air! So don't get too panicked when you see Isinglass as an ingredient on your favorite bottle of wine. Drink up!


Image Source/ Instructables
There's no way manufacturers are out here letting us eat anti-freeze, right? While it's more common in cosmetics, the odorless and colorless liquid propylene glycol is in our food too. Propylene glycol can be found in sodas, artificial sweeteners, a few types of frosting, and ice cream. To be fair, it helps ice cream by preventing ice crystals. (No brainer, really).

Delicious animal cartilage

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Remember the breaking news when it was unveiled that Jell-O is made with animal cartilage, skin, and bones to extract gelatin? Well, your favorite types of marshmallows, Starbursts, gummies, and other candies also use gelatin. I'll give it to them, they're resourceful!

Acid (and no, not

Image Source/ Reddit
Acid, and not that hard-stuff kind either. It's called Sodium bisulfate and is made up of sulfur, oxygen, sodium and hydrogen. In all fairness, it sounds pretty beneficial, keeping the hue of foods and inhibiting bacteria spread (it's also great for wine too!).

Yep, the deadly Carbon Monoxide

Image Source/ Reader's Digest
We've all heard about how dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning is, so wait until you hear this! It was an urban legend for a while but supermarkets genuinely put carbon monoxide into the packaging of their perishable meat so that it can be sold long after losing its freshness. Surely this can't be safe for us?!

Plastic, plastic...

Image Source/ Reddit
Who would have thought that plastic was safe to eat? Dimethylpolysiloxane is a kind of silicon and has been used in shampoos, contact lenses, and conditioners. But it's also a key component in many fast food staples including McDonald's, Subway, and Wendy's. I'm not sure I'll ever go again! (Just kidding.)

...and more plastic!

Image Source/ Reddit
More plastic?! How? Answer: phthalates. Pthalates can be found in a wide variety of everyday products, including perfume, hairspray, shampoo, air freshener, laundry detergent, the list goes on. Many of the foods we eat and the water we drink also contain phthalates, including dairy products, and some meats. You're basically a walking water bottle at this point.

Believe it or not... fertilizer!

Image Source/ Reddit
And now you're even eating fertilizer... can this get any worse?! Ammonium sulphate, which is essentially the same in appearance and texture as salt, is one of the main components of fertilizer. It lacks the distinctive flavor and aroma of table salt though. It's apparently good at improving the texture and structure of dough. Not sure I'll ever eat bread again!

Pretty much everything from your favorite animal...

Image Source/ Reddit
If that photo isn't enough to put you off your dinner, I don't know what is. Forget about enjoying hot dogs and slim jims from now on. There is a good likelihood that we have all consumed mechanically separated meat it without realizing because it's so common. It blends up all parts of the animal, including the skin, blood vessels, and nerves.

Pinocchio's pulp

Image Source/ Reddit
And to say you loved poor Pinnochio as a child too! Shame on you. Did you know that cullulose, which is pulled from wood and plant fibers, is used in your favorite cheese (like Parmesan) to stop it sticking together? Well, you do know, so avoid, avoid, avoid!

Sparkly floor cleaner

Image Source/ Reddit
Believe it or not, you may as well be heading for your bottle of floor cleaner... okay maybe it's not that bad. Ammonia, which is found in floor cleaner, is also found in our yummy ground beef. It ruffled so many feathers back in 2012, school lunches banned ammonia-treated beef due to public outcry. Don't be too worried though, research has shown it's safe!

You're secretly being drugged with antibiotics...

Image Source/ Twitter
Imagine being drugged by a food manufacturer... well, kinda. Animals are given antibiotics to promote rapid growth which contributes to their massive size. So we eat them via the animal carcass and it's actually caused a human resistance to antibiotics.

Sawdust smoke... that can't be healthy!

Image Source/ Reddit
Liquid smoke is more than just a fancy label you know. In fact, it's precisely what it says. Condensation droplets from the steam produced by burning sawdust byproducts are captured, condensed, then bottled, all for us to enjoy. Consumers worry that ingesting pure smoke is carcinogenic (cancer-causing), but experts say it's fine in moderation. Hmm...

Crisp, thirst-quenching salt-water

Image Source/ Reddit
Usually, when we refer to something that contains saltwater, we think of the ocean, right? Well... a lot of prepackaged meats have had saltwater pumped into them to add moisture and flavor to the meat. Careful if you're watching your salt-intake, meat can just catch you out.

Hairs from a hog!

Image Source/ Pinterest
As you go through this article, you'll realize that L-cysteine is in lots of your food and comes from various types of animal hair, so vegans will want to pay attention. First up, we have L-cysteine recovered from the hairs of a hog! Can hardly be clean, right?

Liquid Smoke or Carbon?!

Image Source/ Twitter
Yep, you're favorite Liquid Smoke isn't as safe as you think it is!
Liquid Smoke is a staple in the American household and gives our steak that distinctive smokey flavor. Some liquid smoke brands only utilize smoke concentrate and water but other contain Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, a chemical compound of carbon that is known to cause cancer in humans. Erm... safe much?

A little thing called Irish Moss

Image Source/ Twitter
This one's not really that bad considering the rest. Apparently, it's common for foods to have carrageenan added to them which is derived from red seaweed, often called Irish moss, before it is used in any meal. Yet, there's not actually any nutrients in here. It's just used to make yogurt, soy milk, cottage cheese, and ice cream thicker.

A lot of intentional "bacteria"

Image Source/ Two Wandering Soles
As if COVID wasn't enough, eh? Well, as it happens, some meat, poultry, and egg companies spray viruses on their food products to keep customers "healthy." Sounds a bit risky to me to be honest! In 2006, the FDA approved "bacteriophages" to be sprayed onto food which can fight viruses like Listeria.

All kinds of chemicals

Image Source/ Reddit
Most of us are walking round like a portable chemist and we don't even know it! Sodium benzoate is a widely used food preservative, responsible for the carbonation of our favorites Coke and Sprite. Somehow, it actually manages to enhance the flavor of the drink as well. But, can it really be safe?

There's nothing better than sand!

Image Source/ Reddit
Silicon Dioxide is absolutely everywhere, and that includes sand! There are traces of it in the air, water, plants and animals as well. Silicon dioxide's main function as a food ingredient is to keep things from getting lumpy. Seems like it would be such a dry ingredient...

Hair from a human's head!

Image Source/ Reddit
Back to the L-cysteine, companies actually extract the amino acid from human hair too! While it's a little bit different than finding that stray hair in your favorite take-out, it's still a little off-putting. Apparently, it's put in to strengthen the dough of baking. Seems a little arbitrary to me!

Feathers off a duck's back

Image Source/ Reddit
Last, but certainly not least, is the L-cysteine pulled from that of duck feathers. That's right, they're not just useful for stuffing into your pillows and bedding! Plus, companies can actually artificially make the amino acid, but it's expensive, so they just extract it instead. Lazy!

High Fructose Corn Syrup... that's not so bad, right?

Image Source/ Reddit
While it might not sound so bad, you definitely don't want to consume too much HFCS, a corn-syrup based sugar substitute. It's actually been linked to metabolic syndrome, which includes type 2 diabetes and weight gain. The EU restricts its use, but it can still be found in many American staples like apple sauce, cola, and even ketchup.

Bisphenol A (practically estrogen)

Image Source/ CBS News
Great, even more chemicals pumped into our body! Bisphenol-A (BPA) is found in many common food and drink containers, including metal and plastic cans and bottles. It's been found in 67% of canned goods, according to one study, and it's reportedly in over 16,000 different packaged goods. Campbell's recently gave up using the chemical given its estrogen-like effects.

Yep, the carcinogenic Titanium Dioxide

Image Source/ Reddit
Apparently, preservatives like this one help food last longer and protect it from getting clumpy. Yet, what food manufacturers fail to realize is that titanium dioxide is potentially harmful to humans, which certain studies have proven. But of course, it's found in all our favorite foods like Totino's Pizza Rolls and Lil Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes.

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