6 Gross Ingredients in Your Food

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A new (and disgusting) Food Beast report reveals that Cadbury Creme Eggs contain a substance from the castor sacs of beavers, which are located near the beaver’s tail. The secretions are found in an artificial sweetener called castoreum, listed as “natural flavoring” in the popular treats. Do a little more research and you’ll find that this “natural flavoring” is also found in ice cream, gelatin, pudding, alcohol, and baked goods.

While the discovery is rather disturbing, it’s only one of several bizarre ingredients found in food, some of which we consume daily.

1. Cochineal beetles

In 2012, some Starbucks patrons were enraged to learn the chain was using cochineal beetles in strawberry-flavored drinks like the Strawberry Frappuccino. The crushed-up beetles create a red dye effect. The chain declared it would stop using the beetles in its products. However, according to WildFlavors.com, cochineal extract can be found in meat, sausage, red marinades, jams, gelatin desserts, juices, noncarbonated soft drinks, icings, toppings, fruit preparations, confections, and dairy products.

2. Sawdust

Ever wonder how that bag of shredded cheese is magically able to avoid clumping? You can thank sawdust for that. Many brands of prepackaged, shredded cheese use cellulose to prevent the shreds of cheese from sticking together, according to Care2.com. Cellulose is also used in meat products, ice cream, and spice and powdered-drink mixes.

3. Sodium bisulfite

A combination of sulfur dioxide and sodium carbonate, sodium bisulfite remains a topic of concern. It has been known to cause allergic reactions and, in rare cases, death. While it has been banned from use in fruits and vegetables that are intended for raw consumption, it’s found in wine, potato chips, other potato products, and dried fruits.

4. Isinglass

Similar to the way cochineal beetles give red coloring to common food items, isinglass, otherwise known as dried fish bladder, is used to create the golden color of beer. According to Care2.com, it’s not necessary; yeast separates from the actual beer within a few days to create the color. Isinglass speeds up the process, though.

5. Ammonium sulfate

Fact: Ammonium sulfate is a chemical fertilizer. Fact: It’s also used in many chain restaurant sandwich breads. It feeds yeast in the baking process, says TruTV.com.

6. Propylene glycerol

Also noted on TruTV.com, propylene glycerol, commonly used in antifreeze and sex lubricants, is found in prepackaged salads. That’s how they’re able to look and stay so fresh. It’s also used in food colorings and cake mixes.

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  • Pete Davis

    It’s not biologically possible to have an allergic reaction to Sodium Bisulfite. One can’t have an allergic reaction to small molecules, that’s just not how the immune system operates. Also, it’s not “a combination of sulfur dioxide and sodium carbonate”. That’s like saying hydrogen peroxide is a combination fo water and oxygen. It’s not either of those things, it’s something completely different. And besides just sounding “chemically” do you have any reason to not like ammonium sulfate and propylene glycol in food? You don’t site a single problem with either, other than siting their other uses, like as a fertilizer. But I’m pretty sure the stuff you write could be used as a fertilizer as well.

    • OMG_LOL

      While I agree with your sentiment that this article would actually serve a better purpose if there were facts about how dangerous (or not) these things are.. you may have failed to read the title: GROSS things in your food, not dangerous or unhealthy. It’s not making any claims there.

      Also, yes you can have an allergic reaction to a singlular molecule; your entire body chemistry works on the molecular level, not the ‘fat lumps of stuff that is considered food, or not’ level – like your body is simply making a non-chemical choice to have a reaction.. not! And while we’re on the topic of chemistry and reactions… the chemical derivative of Sodium Bisulfate comes from mixing the two previously mentioned reactants together. and lastly, yes Hydrogen peroxide is a sister product of water and oxygen, just like ozone. You are spoiled because you think peroxide is only made by pharmaceutical companies. In the real world it comes about when cosmic rays like UV hit oxygen in the presence of moisture (WATER). With too much temperature, like when lightning strikes, it creates ozone instead of peroxide. That’s what chemistry is, fool – learn it before you comment like you know.

      • Pete Davis

        Congratulations for posting so much wrong… No, you cannot have an allergic reaction to a small molecule. There’s such thing as sulfite sensitivity and it is frequently referred to as an “allergy,” however, it is NOT a true allergic reaction. As evidence, I refer you to Wikipedia’s article on Sulfites: “Sulfites are counted among the top nine food allergens, but a reaction to sulfite is not a true allergy” This is the case because you can’t have a true allergy to small molecules. Small molecules can trigger the generation of allergens in the body and can cause allergic-like reactions, but they cannot be allergens in and of themselves. So you fail.

        Because a chemical is made from two chemicals does not make it necessarily remotely related to those items. To state that sodium bisulfite is “a combination of sulfur dioxide and sodium carbonate” is absolutely 100% wrong. It can potentially be a product of them, but it is not a combination of them. Sodium bisulfite can be made in at least a few ways and that is just one. Saltwater (H2O + NaCl) can be made by mixing salt and water or it can be made by mixing molarly equal amounts of hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. To say that salt water is a combination of hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide is just plain wrong for the same reason.

        Oh, and hydrogen peroxide is not a “sister-product” of water. There’s no such thing as a “sister” product. It’s a completely different molecule with completely different properties from water. Water won’t bleach your hair. Hydrogen peroxide (especially if it’s pure) can burn all the hair off your head and take a nice chunk of skin with it. Its boiling point is a full 90 degrees Fahrenheit above that of water. It’s also pretty basic whereas water is neutral.

        So, go learn some chemistry yourself, my friend.