If you really love your favorite foods, then maybe it’s best to not read the ingredient label. There’s a reason many of the ingredients have long, hard to pronounce names. Sometimes ignorance is bliss since many of your favorite foods actually have gross food additives that when revealed, can make anyone want to give up eating altogether.
We’ve all heard the warning to stay away from processed and fast foods but in order to know why, you really have to know how those foods are made. Have you ever wondered why they are so tasty and addictive? Because they contain ingredients that not only contain health warnings on most food additive lists, they also originate from the most disgusting places. Even common foods like cereal, bread, and even some vegetables have gross additives. When it comes to weird food additives, what you don’t know can hurt you.
Check out this list of gross food additives you’re eating without realizing and then vote up the grossest food additives of them all.
- 1Beaver Butt Secretions Is the Secret Ingredient to Tasty Desserts
- Ingredient name: Castoreum
Foods that contain it: Vanilla and raspberry flavored desserts like ice cream, cookies, and cakes
When it comes to gross food additives, this one literally takes the cake. Castoreum is used as a substitute for vanilla and raspberry flavoring and is made from secretions from the castor sacs of a beaver’s anus, which produce anal gland juice. Beavers combine this juice with urine to mark their territory. On food labels, castoreum is not listed because it’s called “natural flavoring.”
- 2Does Your Gum Taste Like Wool?
Ingredient name: Lanolin
Foods that contain it: Chewing gum
In order to soften chewing gum, lanolin is added. Never heard of lanolin? It’s an oily secretion found in sheep’s wool.
- 3Do Your Jelly Beans Taste a Little Buggy?
Ingredient name: Shellac
Foods that contain it: Jelly beans
Candy is more appealing when it’s shiny, so oftentimes hard candy like jelly beans are coated with shellac, a sticky substance made from the secretions of the Kerria lacca, an insect native to Thailand.
- 4You Have a Very Sexy Salad
Ingredient name: Propylene glycol
Foods that contain it: Salads
A key ingredient in sexual lubricant, propylene glycol is added to bagged salad and fast food restaurant salads to keep the lettuce looking fresh and green.
- 5How About Some Human Hair for Breakfast?
Ingredient name: L-cysteine
Foods that contain it: Breads, bagels, and cakes
A non-essential amino acid, L-cysteine is made from dissolved human hair or duck feathers and used as flavor enhancer and to add texture to various types of breads.
- 6Your Cold Brewski May Once Have Had Fins
Ingredient name: Isinglass
Foods that contain it: Beer
Advertisers tell you it’s the hops that makes your beer taste so good, but some beers may be seem so tasty due to an ingredient called isinglass, a gelatin made from dried fish bladders.
- 7Your Beans Can Also Kill Weeds
Ingredient name: Glyphosphate
Foods that contain it: Dried beans, tea leaves, sunflower seeds
The active ingredient in weed killers like Roundup, glyphosphate is also used on genetically engineered corn and soy crops.
- 8Waiter, There’s Grit in My Soup!
Ingredient name: Silicon dioxide
Foods that contain it: Salts, packaged soups, and packaged instant foods
Silicon dioxide, a sand-like additive is added to instant foods to prevent clumping and used to control humidity.
- 9What SPF Is Your Cupcake?
Ingredient name: Titanium dioxide
Foods that contain it: Icing, salad dressing, and coffee creamers
What do sunscreen and paint have in common with the cake, coffee, and salad you eat regularly? A yummy additive called titanium dioxide.
- 10Who Knew Cheese Grew on Trees?
- Ingredient name: Cellulose
Foods that contain it: CheeseFillers like wood pulp ( aka cellulose) have long been used in cheeses, but one cheese maker in Pennsylvania went too far, selling “100% Parmesan” filled with all kinds of wood pulp, which sounds just plain gross.
- 11The Flavor Enhancer in Your Canned Mushrooms Are Maggots
Ingredient name: Maggots and mites
Foods that contain it: Canned mushrooms
The FDA actually allows for a certain percentage of “natural contaminants” in our food like insects and mold, so don’t be surprised to find maggots and mites in your canned mushrooms since legally, the FDA allows 19 maggots and 74 mites in a 3.5-ounce can.
- 12How About a Little Vaseline with Your Chicken Nuggets?
- Ingredient name: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
Foods that contain it: Fast food chicken nuggetsTBHQ is a synthetically-created preservative derived from petroleum, which is also used to make petroleum jelly and oil. Some fast food restaurants either spray TBHQ directly on the chicken nugget or on the inside of the box it’s packed in to help preserve freshness.
- 13Is That Rover in This Wine?
Ingredient name: Methylparaben
Foods that contain it: Sodas, wine, and juice
Naturally occurring in a female dog’s sexual organ during heat, methylparaben can be found in some juices, wines, and soft drinks, serving as a preservative and anti-fungal ingredient.
- 14Is Your Cheese Real?
Ingredient name: Rennet
Foods that contain it: Cheese
It’s common to use rennet which comes from a mucous membrane in a calf’s fourth stomach to make cheese. But, these days the trend is to use to CLONED calf stomachs instead.
- 15Light Your Fanta on Fire!
Ingredient name: Bromine
Foods that contain it: CItrus sodas
The active ingredient in “vegetable oil” is bromine which is used as a flame retardant and can be toxic. Generally listed as BVO or brominated vegetable oil, it’s found in sodas like Fanta Orange and Mountain Dew.
- 16Can You Use That Lettuce to Dry Your Hair?
Ingredient name: Phthalates
Foods that contain it: Produce
A chemical used in soaps, shampoos, and pesticides, phthalates can also be found in produce that was exposed to certain pesticides.
- 17There’s a Reason That Red Velvet Cake Looks Unreal
Ingredient name: Petroleum
Foods that contain it: Almost any food with artificial dye
Usually listed as “food coloring,” synthetic food coloring was originally made from coal tar, but is now made from oil derived from petroleum.
- 18Here’s Why Your Caviar Is So Clean
Ingredient name: Borax
Foods that contain it: Caviar
A popular cleaning agent, Borax is also used as a food preservative in caviar. It’s banned in the U.S. but some imported caviar may still contain it and is listed under the ingredients as “E285.”
- 19Your Cereal Can Also Fly a Jet
Ingredient name: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Foods that contain it: Cereal
Not all antioxidants are healthy. BHT, an antioxidant chemical compound that’s also found in petroleum products like jet fuel, is used to keep cereal fresh longer.