Sometimes it’s best not to look too closely at the things we’re eating, because we may not like what we find. If you prefer ignorance as your bliss, don’t read on. But if you want to gross yourself out, and perhaps become a slightly more informed consumer, read on for the grossest ingredients in our favorite foods.
Sources: Smosh.com, Health.com, RodaleNews.com, RD.com, TheGuardian.com, Likes.com
Ammonia, or the chemical most commonly used to clean floors, is also used in the production of beef filler, which results in a questionable food known as “lean finely textured beef,” or “pink slime.” LFTB was often found in the beef in school cafeterias and fast food restaurants, but the backlash forced many cafeterias to scratch it from their menus. Traces of ammonia can also be found in peanut butter, chips, and more.
Castoreum, or the dried anal glands of beavers, is used as a flavoring in many candies and gums, often for strawberry, raspberry, or vanilla flavors. It is often referred to as “natural flavoring,” and is commonly used as an additive in ice creams.
Bone char is used to filter and discolor sugar, meaning that nearly anything that has processed sugar in it has passed through the charred remains of animals. Though no recipe includes “two teaspoons of char,” traces of it can still be found in candies and sweets.
Shortening, while delicious, is actually beef fat. So if the vegetarians out there thought that Hostess Twinkies were safe, they were sadly mistaken. The shortening also helps those type of desserts stay edible for years on end – not necessarily something you want to be putting in your body.
Taken from the shells of female lac beetles, shellac is often called “confectioner’s glaze,” and is used to make candy and fruit shiny. Desert beetles also give us carmine, which is commonly used as red food coloring for fruit juice and candy as well.
L-cyesteine is an amino acid that is made from human hair, hog hair, or duck feathers, and is often included in bread and bagels that have been mass produced. Let’s also not forget that most countries allow for a certain quantity of rodent hair in various products. The phenomenon is referred to as “unavoidable defects.”
Isinglass, a gelatin-like substance, is produced from the swim bladder of fish, and is perfect for removing “haziness” from cask beer and Guinness, left from residue yeast of solid particles (although, I think if you asked, most people would prefer the yeast). Arsenic can also be found in beer. Maybe they were onto something during the prohibition period. Or just stick to homemade moonshine. All you need is a bathtub!
Lanolin is often used to soften chewing gum, which makes sense – there’s nothing worse than a rock-hard stick of Bazooka to break your tooth over. Unfortunately, lanolin comes from an oily secretion found in sheep’s wool. Uck.
Rennet is a complex of enzymes that is produced from calf stomach, and is a common additive in the cheese-making process. Chymosin, the key component in rennet, helps curdle the casein in milk and allows calves to digest their mothers’ milk, but also helps cheese taste delicious.
Most people know gelatin is derived from animals, or specifically the collagen that can be collected from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of cattle, chicken, pigs and fish. It’s also a common ingredient in tons of candy, frosted cereals and pastries, yogurt, and, of course, the stuff that wiggles all the way down, Jell-O.