I’m Eating What?! Gross Hidden Foodstuffs

All right, let’s be honest, food is pretty gross before Alice Waters or Mario Batali zhuzhes it up. We eat bugs in our lettuce all the time. There’s dirt and grime on most of our fruits and veggies, and unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you know by now that conventional factory-farmed animal flesh and dairy products are dizzz-gusting! But did you know there are hosts of other innocuously named ingredients that are pretty darn nasty?

Castoreum is a flavoring commonly added to enhance anything raspberry. Logic would tell us that it probably is a concentrated raspberry derivative, or at least coming from some type of berry. And I guess you might call the anal gland of a beaver berry-like, especially since that is the source of castoreum. I’m sorry, castoreyummmmm.

Ever send back a meal at a restaurant because you found a hair in your sandwich? Well, joke’s on you—that bread may actually have hairs intentionally in the mix. L-cysteine or cystine can be made from human hair and/or duck feathers.

Confectioner’s glaze sounds harmless enough. You might think it’s a syrup coating, which it is. It just happens to come from the Lac beetle, who converts tree sap into resin, similar to a bee’s production of honey. The Lac resin is collected, crushed and made into food glaze.

Carmine also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red #40, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a red coloring frequently found in candies, fruit drinks, fruit flavored yogurt and cosmetics. It is actually made from the dead, ground-up husks of female red beetles.

Next time you’re thinking about enjoying a nice gum chew, you might want to ask yourself how you feel about rolling sheep goo around in your mouth for hours. Lanolin, which is also often added to body care products, is the oily substance secreted by sheep into their thick wooly fur. Gums will often list the ingredient as “gum base” because of standards where manufacturers are not required to list out each ingredient.

We weren’t all that shocked to see Taco Bell called out for its less-than-beefy burrito meat, which contains a host of nasty ingredients including silicon dioxide, which is, yes, sand. It’s also added to Wendy’s chili and a bunch of other processed food items to prevent caking.

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