When you sit down to a nice meal, you typically want to know what’s in your food. Maybe you have an allergy to a certain ingredient or maybe you want to know how it’s been prepared. It’s common to read ingredients and see things you might not recognize. None of us want to eat mystery meat or other foods with murky nutrition labels but you won’t believe what could be in your food right now.
10. Beaver Butt Secretions
You’ll never find the words “beaver butt secretions” on a list of ingredients. What you will find is the word “castoreum” or even worse “natural flavoring.” Castoreum is natural all right, but consumers would be shocked to discover that it is naturally found in the anal glands of beavers. More specifically, the substance is found in the beaver’s castor sac, which is located between the pelvis and base of the tail. This location is close to the beaver’s anal glands, which means it often picks up anal secretions and urine. How does this figure into your food?
The beaver butt secretions smell like vanilla and are often used to add flavor to raspberry and strawberry products. It is often used in perfumes.
9. Rat and Human DNA
Image: Fox 8
Hot dogs continue to be a mess. Research performed by Clear Labs found that 2% of all hot dogs contain human DNA – including hot dogs were are supposed to be vegetarian! The company said the most likely contaminant was a fingernail, eyelash, hair, or skin that was accidentally added during manufacturing. Clear Labs also found rat DNA in hot dogs and hamburgers.
8. Cereal, Bones, and Hearts
Americans love hot dogs. According to the Nation Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Americans eat over 155 million hot dogs just on 4 July alone. Unfortunately, hot dogs contain some pretty nasty stuff. By law, hot dogs only need to contain 54.5% meat. That means over 40% of the hot dog is stuffed with something else. Studies have shown that dry milk, cereal, fat, and sodium nitrite have been added to make up the rest.
Hot dogs include things referred to as “chicken trimmings,” which are made when a manufacturing process forces bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieze or other device to separate bone from the edible tissue. Hot dogs also include “variety meats” – a euphemism for ground up kidneys, livers, and hearts.
7. Pink Slime
Pink slime is a filler that is added to beef to reduce the overall fat content. Pink slime is made through a process of squeezing beef trimmings into a fine paste. The paste is then exposed to citric acid or ammonia to kill bacteria. Although pink slime is approved by the United States Department of Agriculture for limited human consumption, pink slimmed is banned for human consumption in the European Union if it was “purified” using ammonia gas.
Nearly every standard package of ground beef you buy – and most of the fast food burgers you crave – contains pink slime.
Image: USA Today
Maggots aren’t just found in rotting food – they are legally found in things like canned mushrooms and cherries. How can this be? Well, chalk another one up to the lobbying arm of the food industry. They’ve convinced the FDA that a small amount of bugs is perfectly acceptable. The FDA’s sanitation standards say that it is impossible to eliminate all bugs from crops. Bugs can procreate and stay on after a crop is harvested and packaged. As a result, the FDA has some curious guidelines, such as the requirement that cherries contain no more than 4% maggots. That means that if a can of cherries is 3% maggots, it’s all good. The same rules apply to your fruit juice – one maggot (or five maggot fly eggs) iper 250 milliliters is allowable.
5. Silicon Dioxide
Silicon Dioxide is an anti tacking agent that is used to avoid clumping. The compound is found in many industrial applications, like construction, mining, steel, and sandblasting. Silicon Dioxide contains sand, and it is often added to powdered foods, spices and creamers to absorb anything that may cause the powder to clump.
Is it safe?
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) refused to give the additive the green light for human consumption because nano-sized particles that could be harmful. In a departure from the way that the FDA does business, the EFSA refused to declare it safe without any studies taking place.
4. Silly Putty
Image: Kids Discover
The unusual compound used to create silly putty, polydimethylsiloxane, is used in sealants, caulks, adhesives, automobile grease, fluids and other lubricants, including hair conditioners. This substance is also found in fast food and fountain drinks. The FDA has not conducted any study of silly putty since it was first approved in 1998. As a result, the food industry has used it extensively in things like McDonald’s french fries, Chick-fil-A sandwiches, KFC mash potatoes and biscuits, Five Guys french fries, Domino’s breadsticks, and Taco Bell’s cinnamon sticks. It is also found frequently in fountain drinks, which have a different mix of chemicals and ingredients than what is found in the bottled and canned sodas.
3. Ground Beetles
Red food colorings are usually bad news. Carmine is a red food coloring that comes from grounding up beetles. Carmine is so ubiquitous, the only way to avoid it is to stop eating anything that has artificial red coloring added. If the drink is red or pink, it’s got lots of ground up beetles to give it that color.
2. Titanium Dioxide
Food coloring strikes again! Titanium dioxide, which is a substance added to sunscreen and paint, is also regularly in your food. If you take a close look at the label on your favorite salad dressing, it’s a good bet that your dressing is colored with titanium dioxide too. Where else is this lovely substance? Coffee creamer or icing. Meanwhile, in the European Union, the substance is classified as suspected of causing cancer.
1. Fish Bladders
Image: Food Hacks
Lots of crazy things are included in beer. Isinglass, which is made from the swim bladders of subtropical fish, is key to providing beer with golden color. When the bladders are macerated and dissolved in acid, they create a solution that is mostly made up of collagen. This colorless substance is added to your brew to settle yeast and beer proteins. It is also a clarifying agent for wines.
Vegetarians have called on British brewers to stop using the 19th century process, since it essentially filters beer through fish bladders. Previously there was a notion that this posed no problem, since the fish were harvested to eat, not for their bladders, which made the existence of the bladders fine for people who didn’t eat meat. But vegetarians and vegans have called foul on the entire process, which is not disclosed on the label.