7 Gross Ingredients You Have Probably Eaten



Forget the fact that processed foods are laden with too much salt, sugar and fat.  Something worse is happening.  More and more additives are showing up in processed foods these days.  Some of them go under hard to pronounce names.  I am here to point out some of the most disgusting.

Castoreum – This has got to be the nastiest additive on the the market.  Food scientists are using the castor anal sacs of female beavers to flavor your food.  Castoreum usually adds a raspberry or vanilla flavor.  You will never see it in the ingredient list.  It usually falls under “natural flavors” or “natural vanilla flavor.”

Cochineal Extract –  Another gross additive comes from the shells of female cochineal insects.  They eat red cactus berries and it concentrates the color on their bodies.  The bugs are trapped and shaken until they are killed.  This retains the color of their bodies.  Then they shells are dried in the sun.  Once you mix the dried shells with water, you can make a red dye.  You will see this ingredient on food labels as the one in my Dole Fruit Cups Exposed.

TBHQ –  This is an additive used to retain freshness, and extend the shelf life of processed foods like crackers, chips and even cooking spray, like in my PAM Exposed post.  It is also a chemical found in butane!  TBHQ has been known to cause nausea and vomiting.  Long term uses of TBHQ have been shown to cause cancerous tumors in laboratory animals.

Propylene Glycol –  This is used as a preservative.  It is especially used in ice cream to keep it from getting freezer burned.  It is also very common in boxed cake mixes.  What you should know is that propylene glycol is also found in anti-freeze.  Propylene glycol may not be as toxic as ethylene glycol (also found in anti-freeze), but I still would not suggest eating it.

Cellulose –  Cellulose is basically “wood pulp.”  It can come from many plants, but the most popular form used by the food industry, comes from wood pulp.  Food scientists use this as a calorie reducer.  Humans cannot digest it, so it contains no caloric value.  It also acts as a cheap filler, adding bulk to processed foods.

Shellac –  This additive is how conventional apples and tomatoes get that unnatural shine.  Personally, I think they look freakish and always go for the ugly organic apples.  Shellac comes from the kerria lacca insect.  This insect has a sticky excretion that it uses to stick to the trees it lives on in Thailand.  Food makers use this to provide shine to all kinds of foods like apples, tomatoes and jellybeans.

L-cysteine –  This one made me choke on my breakfast.  I had no idea.  Evidently, food scientists are using duck feathers to soften dough that is used in processed foods. It is most commonly seen in commercial breads, cookies and bagels.  This could be a real problem for vegans who are unaware. 

If this isn’t a reason to limit processed foods, I don’t know what is.  Seems like most processed foods these days are more like science experiments.  My rule on ingredients is this:  If you can’t use it in your own kitchen, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.




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59 thoughts to “7 Gross Ingredients You Have Probably Eaten”

  1. WOW. I can't even tell you how sad this makes me. Those of us that try to lead a healthy life and make the right (natural) choices are on the loosing end of a long battle. Hopefully one day we can go to the grocery store and not have to scrutinize every single item we pick up. Maybe.... Thanks so much for sharing this!
  2. I'm a recently retired home health care nurse. In the last approximately 10 years, I noticed that the number of colon and rectal cancers has risen dramatically, especially in 20-30 year old's. Usually, we don't even start screening for this type of cancer until age 50. I'm sure this increase is due to all the preservatives and chemicals that are added to our food. We have to keep educating the public.
  3. Most coated candies with a shiny surface have shellac. It's disgusting. I watched a video from Jamie Oliver that showed several of the basic sources of ingredients used in ice cream sundaes (toppings). It included shellac, down feathers, the beetle shells and more. It was quite eye opening.
  4. So we've been victims for like what, for as long as we lived? Are there still foods that we can call safe and clean nowadays, not to mention not as gruesome as these, I don't know, abominations? If we could only stop eating.
  5. I promise I am not trying to sound like a smug vegan, but I went vegan 20 years ago and knew about most of these then. But you have put up some ones I never knew about. I am sitting here really hungry, belly grumbling, waiting to have lunch and when I read read the first one I nearly heaved. I no longer want lunch, lmao. I am SO glad I went vegan. Poor beavers, I never knew about that one. I swear I am not trying to sound smug, I promise, lol.
  6. I could and probably stay on your site reading EVERYTHING ALL NIGHT LONG!!!! I have just begun my journey with clean eating and I don't want to look back...now, to get my kids in shape! Thank you :)
    1. Glad you found me Kim! If you are new to clean eating, you might want to check out my Facebook group. Very supportive and can help you on your journey. Here is the link to join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/529836363792473/
  7. The first was the most disgusting I have ever heard of, YUCK!!!! Pesticides and herbicides on my produce are bad enough, let alone this devil seven! Thank you for sharing. I will continue to share.
  8. Oh my goodness, you mean the "natural flavor" in my vanilla almond creamer could be made from the anal sacs of beavers!? I had asked the company what it is made from and they said that it is proprietary and that they cannot disclose that. I am going to pour it down the sink right now!

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