Ever since the horsemeat scandal rocked more than 25 countries, many consumers have started to pay closer attention to what they're eating.
However, no matter how many labels you read or ingredients you know, can you really be sure you're eating foods that are actually as they appear? Unless you're going with an all-natural, organic, raw diet, the answer is probably not.
From fish bladder in your beer to anti-freeze in your salad dressing, there are tons of additives and techniques in food processing that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but you probably wouldn't exactly classify them as a mouthwatering.
1. Cochineal beetles
Between food like cakes, yogurt, maraschino cherries, and tomato products, you most likely have consumed at least one pound of dye in your life thus far. According to a petition on Change.org that means you've have also devoured at least 70,000 cochineal beetles.
Antifreeze will never be listed as an ingredient on your favorite bottle of salad dressing, but propylene glycol might. The chemical is frequently used in processed foods like ice creams and baked goods. It's less toxic than ethylene glycol, which is used for actual antifreeze, but that doesn't make us feel any safer.
3. Flame retardant
Some beverage manufacturers have taken brominated vegetable oil, aka BVO, out of their products, but if you drink citrus sodas like Mountain Dew, you’re going to want to double check the ingredients. Bromine is commonly used as a flame retardant in furniture and can be toxic. If high levels are consumed, it can lead to decreased neurological abilities, and for young children, it causes puberty to start earlier than it should.
4. Jet fuel
We are told that antioxidants are good for us, but there are definitely some that are better than others. According to some, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) falls into the bad-for-you category. BHT helps keep food fresh longer (your cereal stays crunchy for weeks). While it is safe for human consumption, it's the same chemical compound that’s found in petroleum products like jet fuel. It also causes cancer in rats. So, there's that.
5. Sheep wax
Warning: You may not chew gum after reading this. Lanolin, a waxy ooze secreted by animals with wool (like sheep), is an FDA-approved additive that is used in chewing gum to give it its soft texture. It can also be found in other products like cosmetics and sunscreen.
Silicon dioxide, more commonly referred to as silica, which is a main component of sand, is sometimes used in food as an anti-clumping agent. In other words, if you buy a can of soup and it tastes slightly sandy, now you know why.
7. Dried fish bladder
Dried fish bladder is often used in beer to give it its golden glow, according to BBC. Many breweries have looked for vegetarian alternatives to the gelatin, which is made using fish bladder, but countless still use the ingredient.
Really makes you think about what you're drinking when you toss a cold one back.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Andrew 鐘