Food producers have a difficult task. They have to come up with food that stays unnaturally fresh on store shelves and looks and tastes good in order for lots and lots of people to buy it (and for them to make lots and lots of money). They go to some pretty extreme lengths to make that happen. They’re counting on nobody noticing the disgusting things they’ve used to do this.
Our apologies if you’re reading this on your lunch break.
Here are the 5 Grossest Things Commonly Found in Processed Food
Know what a beaver’s butt tastes like? Chances are you do because the food industry has been adding castoreum to food for years. Castoreum is procured from a beaver’s castor sac (located between the tail and pelvis). It’s used as a food additive to enhance flavours like raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla but don’t look for it on the ingredient list because it hides behind the description of ‘natural flavouring’. The Beaver may be our national symbol but that doesn’t mean he’s welcome in our ice cream.
They’re pretty hard to see. Cochineal are little tiny bugs that blend right into the cactus leaf they call home. But if you crush them, you get a vibrant, deep red and that’s why they’re in your food. So, if you look at your food and think, ‘this colour isn’t natural’ and check the label expecting to see a food dye but find only ‘natural food colouring’ – it’s probably bugs. Natural bugs.
Much like we use virus cells to inoculate ourselves against illness, the food industry also exposes our food to viruses to help the food fight off bacteria. Sure the food lasts a bit longer but the idea of chowing down on anything intentionally injected with bacteria has us saying ‘ewww’. If you want to avoid it, eat fresh and local foods or steer clear of anything labeled with the term ‘bacteriophage preparation’ on the ingredient list.
Who’s up for a nice frosty glass of fish bladder? Most famously used in Guinness, isinglass is an additive that helps reduce cloudiness in wines and beers. It’s created by boiling the dried up swim bladder of large, fresh-water fish. It’s not that commonly used but you may want to stick to making your own. Bottoms up, everyone!
We’ve all eaten a little sand in our lives; what picnic at the beach doesn’t result in a little unintentional sand-eating? Did you know that’s not the only place your getting sand in your diet? Food manufacturers use silicon dioxide (aka sand) in food to absorb moisture, as an anti-clumping agent and to maintain the right liquidity of a product. The good news is that despite it being weird to think about eating sand, silicon dioxide is also found in natural fruits and vegetables and has some health benefits. Some people even take it as a health supplement! That would make this one a good-gross.
We hope we helped you lose your lunch – as in, trash that nasty processed food and go find something fresh, whole and healthy!