We all know by now that just because something tastes good, doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Beyond that, however, are the downright disgusting ingredients we never guessed would be hiding in our food supply.
After all, the packaged food industry is a trillion-dollar business, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get the texture, color, and flavor we have come to expect. Once you check out this list, you’ll never look at these common items the same ever again.
1. Coffee creamer.
All those flavors sure are tempting – mocha, French vanilla, pumpkin spice, Irish crème. Bottled coffee creamers are so convenient because they’re sweet; we just pour in as much as we like, and our boring black cup of joe is instantly something closer to a coffee confection from a corner café.
But in addition to all of the added sugar (or high fructose corn syrup, more likely), we’re drinking a ton of oil. Not just any oil, either – hydrogenated oils. These industrial fats are well known and studied as the root cause of many a disease. That’s on top of the fact that you weren’t expecting to drink oily coffee.
2. Citrus soda.
Often, we avoid things like soda because we know too much sugar is bad, but there’s even more to the story. Just like coffee creamer, sugar is the tip of the huge, gross iceberg.
Citrus sodas like these pictured, as well as Mt. Dew, also make use of oil. In this case, the offender is brominated vegetable oil, which also happens to be flame retardant. It’s supposed to keep the flavoring from rising to the top of the soda. The good news here is that companies are phasing it out.
3. Jelly beans.
Jelly beans give us a particular kind of satisfaction. Chewy and fruity on the inside, smooth, shiny, and slightly crunchy on the outside. Since none of us DIY our own jellybeans, you have to know some serious laboratory-industrial shenanigans are going on here.
In the case of jelly beans, they’re often coated with shellac. If that reminds you of the topcoat you use for your home manicure, it’s because they’re relatives. Shellac is also used in insulation, sealants, varnishes, and more. Oh, and it comes from bugs. No thanks.
You’ll never look at a s’more the same way again. Most of us try to avoid the nasty truth about gelatin, an ingredient in marshmallows, gummy candy, some ice cream, and obviously, Jell-O.
Gelatin is an animal product. On one hand, you may be comforted to know that the entire animal isn’t going to waste after their flesh is taken for meat. But the fact that companies boil their hides and bones to make sweet, happy-looking treats? Sinister.
There are drawbacks to both regular blocks of cheese and bags of the shredded stuff. One is animal rennet, which is derived from the gut lining of – get this – baby animals who are still nursing. Fortunately, there are plenty of rennet-free, or “vegetable rennet” options available, if you just check the labeling.
From there, be wary of your shredded cheese. If it sticks together, chances are, it’s better. The non-clumping agent known as cellulose is more familiar to us when called what it actually is: wood pulp. Instead of giving us what we pay for (more cheese, please), companies fatten up the bags by adding literal wood shavings.
6. Ground beef.
It’s very strange how we hear about the pink slime controversy as it relates to fast food and stores in other parts of the country, but rarely apply it to the same product we have in our freezer. Instead of wood shavings, meat producers are pumping up the amount per package by incorporating trimmings that have been treated with ammonia. Ammonia!
Even worse is that there’s nothing keeping them from stating what they’re doing on the packaging. Some packages may mention something to the effect of, “lean finely textured beef” or, “boneless lean beef trimmings” but guess what? It’s all just pink slime.
Lanolin is a wax that comes from the skin of a sheep. But did you know that it also makes your gum chewy? Yes, when you chew that piece of gum, you could be gnawing on sheep sweat. And that’s to say nothing of how we get the lanolin from the sheep.
You’ll find lanolin in lotions and balms, but you have to admit that putting it in your mouth changes how you feel about lanolin entirely. You may be better off chewing gum that uses actual rubber.
8. Red dye.
Unnatural shades of red in food should be avoided for a few reasons. First, you have the “ick” factor associated with knowing that it’s often made from bugs. This can be stated on labels as the ingredient “carmine”, but not always.
Some red dyes are also made with petroleum – you know, gasoline. When it comes down to it, there are a lot of toxic ingredients in our food, it’s just that as long as there’s only a tiny amount, government agencies like the FDA say we’re in the clear.
9. Canned mushrooms.
Speaking of, “it’s not bad for you as long as it’s only a little tiny bit”, we have federal guidelines for canned mushrooms. The FDA is totally fine with maggots and mites hanging out in these cans. Just not too many.
For example, 30 maggots per cup of mushrooms is totally within legal limits. Since mites are smaller, many more of them are allowed. Rotting mushrooms aren’t off-limits, either, but only 10 percent of the can is allowed to be rotted. Maggot pizza, anyone?
10. Beer and wine.
If all of this makes you want to pour yourself a drink, think again. Some beer brands make their brew using isinglass, a kind of gelatin. Except in this case, we’re not getting it from boiled cow bones, we’re using fish bladders instead. Refreshing.
Wine can use isinglass too, and in fact, they can include a lot of things without telling you. Animal byproducts found in wine can include egg, milk derivatives, crustacean shells, and more.