Do you know what was in the meal you ate last night? Do you really? We’ve all been in situations where we’ve picked up a ‘McSomething’ or a bowl of ‘Kentucky Fried Mystery Meat’ and have gobbled it down without looking too closely – maybe we’ve been in a rush, or tired after a long day.
But the vast production lines behind some of the world’s biggest food manufacturers are not foolproof. Some people have found things in their meals which would seriously disgust you – from unidentifiable animals to medical needles, and even stray bits of human. Others have even encountered living creatures hiding in food bought from a store. The lucky ones have found these things before they’ve started eating…
We’ve gathered together fifteen of the most shocking stomach-churning stories of weird and grotesque discoveries in foods we all like to eat. Be warned: this won’t be an easy read, and after hearing about some of these stories, you’ll think twice about what you were planning to tuck into tonight.
15. This ‘Tongue-Eating’ Sea Creature
When Zoe Butler, of Nottingham, England, opened a tin of tuna to find this little purple creature staring out at her, she had no idea what it was – some sort of gut sack with eyes, it seemed.
Butler posted images of it to Twitter, which took off as only unusual distractions on Twitter can, and even spawned the hashtag #tunagate. Users speculated that it could be a juvenile crab, the foetus of a blowfish, a tadpole, a copepod or the head of a soft-shelled turtle. Or maybe an alien – in which case, worst invasion ever.
It took experts from the Natural History Museum to finally identify the tiny intruder as a cymothoa exigua – also known as a tongue-eating parasite. Which really, really doesn’t sound like something you want to accidentally put in your mouth.
14. The Fried Chicken McHead
Fast food giant McDonald’s have come under a lot of suspicion in their time, often being suspected of not using real chicken in their McNuggets. That’s not true, as one woman from Newport News, Virginia discovered in the most disgusting way possible.
Katherine Ortega bought a box of the nuggets and took them home to feed her kids, but when she poured them out onto the plate, she found this deep-fried chicken head – comb, eyes and beak included – among them. Obviously, something had gone very wrong on the factory line on which millions of nuggets are speedily produced every day.
Ortega called McDonald’s and they offered her either a refund or another box. Unsurprisingly, she declined, and instead fixed up some sandwiches of her own, later telling the press that her kids would be raised on home-cooked food from then on; she also sued McDonalds for $100,000.
13. A Condom In Your Takeout
When one customer found this condom in a rice dish bought from a takeaway, they must have been hoping that the sticky liquid inside was some kind of Chinese cooking sauce.
A similar incident happened in Fribourg, Switzerland, when a seven-year-old girl found something in her Happy Meal from McDonald’s (yes, them again – should we be surprised that they’ve already shown up in this list twice?), which her mother identified as a condom. After the awkward conversation that must have followed, the mom called the police, and an investigation into the potential health risk began.
In both of these cases, what’s particularly worrying was that the condom was unpackaged. Could some of the kitchen staff have been getting up to no good on the job, resulting in the evidence making its way into food which was later served? If so, it adds a whole new meaning to the term Happy Meal.
12. A Mouse In A Loaf Of Bread
British driving instructor Stephen Forse was making sandwiches for his children when he noticed a strange grey mass in the corner of his grocery store-bought loaf of bread. At first he thought this was where the dough hadn’t mixed properly, but as he looked closer, he noticed it had fur on it.
Somehow, a dead mouse was baked into the corner of the bread. Putting the critter-filled bread aside, Forse made his children’s lunch from another loaf, but couldn’t stomach eating anything himself.
He later sent the loaf to environmental health officers, and the company behind the bread was fined almost £17,000 for failing to prevent contamination on the food production line. The worst part of this story, however, is that the mouse was missing its tail – could someone have already eaten it?
11. The Frog In A Pepsi Can
Fred DeNigri was happily grilling in his backyard Tiki Bar in Ormond Beach, Florida. He grabbed himself a can of Pepsi, popped it open, took a slurp, and began to gag. It didn’t taste at all right. When he emptied the can down the sink, something heavy remained inside. Shaking the can, what he described as like “pink linguini” fell out, followed by “dark stuff”. Ugh…
Wanting to know what this could possibly be, DeNigri and his wife called the Food and Drug Administration Office, who did some tests on the can and concluded that the object inside was a frog or a toad, lacking its internal organs. This is a very disgusting find, especially because the amphibian was in a metal can, meaning DeNigri had no way of knowing anything was amiss before he’d had a taste of frog soda.
10. The Live Scorpion Among Bananas
In a first for this list, we have a happy ending for a live animal that found its way into groceries. This valiant scorpion was packaged up with a bunch of bananas in Costa Rica, but somehow survived the long-haul flight to England and transit to a store in Cornwall.
Thankfully, it was found before it made it all the way to a customer’s home, as store assistant Angela Parren spotted the creature while stocking the shelves. She was terrified, and rightfully so, as the black-edged scorpion packed a venomous sting. But Parren and her colleagues managed to get the packet to a storeroom before calling authorities.
The scorpion was later transported to a tropical enclosure at nearby Newquay Zoo. It’s not the only animal that’s taken a round-the-world trip in a bag of bananas – a deadly spider, having flown from Colombia, was once found in a packet of bananas sold to a nursery in Rochdale, also in England.
9. Salad With A Special Ingredient – Lizard Head!
Manhattan theatrical agent Robin Sandusky ordered the same salad from a Hell’s Kitchen deli every day for two weeks, without anything odd cropping up. And then one day, she’d started biting into her lunch when she found that one of the greens was not exactly vegetarian-friendly – a lizard head, with an arm attached.
Describing this surely horrifying moment, Sandusky said: “It was the craziest thing. After a few bites, I look down at my fork, and think, ‘Oh, is that a piece of asparagus?’ And then I saw that it had eyes, and an arm.”
She put the head back in the box and sent it back to the deli, who promptly offered up a refund. Sandusky wasn’t put off ordering salad for lunch again, but we probably would have been – after all, you can’t help but wonder what happened to the rest of the lizard!
8. Is This Rice Or Maggots? Answer: Both!
Twelve-year-old Maisy Dean, from Stockport, England, was about to tuck into a pack of boil-in-the-bag rice she had just boiled-in-the-bag when she spotted some strange lumps with brown heads among the grains. Showing this to her mom, the lumps were soon identified as maggots – eight of them!
The Deans eventually got an apology from the store, Morrisons, but it was maybe too late, as by the time Maisy found the maggots, the family had already eaten three bags of rice from the same box! The young girl has been very cautious about everything she’s eaten since.
What’s particularly disgusting about this one is how well camouflaged the maggots are among the grains of rice, and we can imagine it being easy to not notice them and accidentally spoon a couple into your mouth. Try and see how many maggots you can spot in the above photo, if you fancy a particularly vomit-inducing version of Where’s Waldo.
7. Burger King’s Sausage, Egg, and Needle Sandwich
A breakfast croissant from Burger King may seem like a great idea when you’re in a hurry, but one Bronx woman wished she took the time to look inside it before biting. Angelina Cruz felt something sharp poking into her mouth and soon was able to taste blood. She spat out her mouthful into a napkin to find that the sandwich had contained sausage, egg, cheese… and a needle tip.
The mother of two was understandably terrified, as the needle was from a syringe and so could have come from medical waste. Though the hospital she went to medicated her in an attempt to fight off any infections, being pricked by the needle could possibly have passed on a serious disease.
6. Kentucky Fried Brain
We’ve had the fried chicken head, but this one somehow tops that on the disgusting scale. Nineteen-year-old Ibrahim Lango from Colchester, England started munching on the meat in his KFC meal when he found that one chicken piece had this horrifyingly textured thing inside.
Lango assumed the abomination, which clearly hadn’t stuck quite to Colonel Sanders’ original recipe, was a chicken’s brain, and so he complained to KFC. However, a KFC spokesperson tried to reassure him that it was in fact a kidney. A chicken’s, hopefully.
This can’t have been the most reassuring of statements – the kidney is still not the bit of the chicken which Lango had been hoping to eat! It does open up all sorts of questions about exactly how the production lines for these fast food corporations are run. Finger lickin’ gross.
5. Pizza Sealed With A Bloody Band-Aid
It seems like someone who works at Pizza Hut got themselves pizza cut, and the blood-stained Band-Aid they used ended up on Ken Wieczerza’s supreme-sized pizza.
The distribution company manager from Ballston Lake, New York couldn’t finish his pizza (supreme does mean really big, after all) so put it in the fridge. When he snacked on a leftover slice the next day, he found himself chewing something that he described as “like biting into a folded-up piece of plastic”. Inspecting the slice, Wieczerza found a blue Band-Aid baked into its crust – with some spots of blood to complete the disturbing scene.
Keeping the offending slice in the freezer as evidence, Wieczerza complained to Pizza Hut, only to find them unresponsive. You think they’d at least have to pay for some tests to be done on the Band-Aid, in case he’d caught something that would require significantly more medical reparation.
4. Cigarette Butt In Chinese Takeout
When mother of four Tracy Antoine, from Kent, England, reheated her Chinese takeaway, she noticed an acrid smell spreading through the house. This was no faulty microwave, however, as when Antoine took the meal out, she found a cigarette butt sticking out of it – which her reheating efforts had re-lit.
Antoine was particularly disgusted given that she and her husband had eaten most of the meal the previous night. Her plans to feed some of the rice to her one-year-old daughter were certainly put on hold!
As neither her nor her husband were smokers, the cigarette must have come from the restaurant. Antoine complained, and the manager later claimed that the chef responsible had been disciplined, though she also reported the incident to her local council’s environmental health team. Of all the reasons not to smoke, this is one of the most gross.
Oh look, it’s McDonald’s again. Who’d have guessed it? Ron Morais, from Fredericton, Canada, had got all the way through his McD’s coffee when he took the lid off to get the last sip – only to find himself staring at a dead mouse.
Suddenly, the hot drink he’d just finished didn’t seem quite so refreshing. Morais complained to McDonald’s, who began an investigation and apologized for what they referred to as an “isolated incident”. Well, we suppose it did happen in a different country to the isolated chicken head incident and the isolated condom incident.
Still, Morais managed to look on the bright side. Reflecting on his surprising find, he told the press: “I mean, hey, you know. I’m here. And I’m in better shape than the mouse.” We’re not sure we’d be able to match his optimism.
2. Human Blood
In a busy kitchen environment, it may not be too surprising that chefs accidentally cut themselves once in a while. What is surprising – and totally repulsive – is when the food that their blood gets onto is still served up to customers.
And yet, this has happened more than once. Briana Ralston bought a meal from a Taco Bell in Louisville, Kentucky for her and her one-year-old daughter. When she opened up the bag, however, she found the taco wrappers covered in red smears. It turned out that an employee had gashed their finger open and bled all over the meal.
Elsewhere, Susan Mosher, from Kingwood, Texas, wasn’t lucky enough to notice before she started eating. She was half way through her BLT meal from a Cracker Barrel when she noticed bloody fingerprints on the fries, stemming from an injured chef. This left the woman, who’d recently recovered from cancer, again seriously worried about her health.
1. Arby’s With Extra Human Skin
Despite their best efforts, the top spot on this list goes not to McDonald’s, but to Arby’s. In 2005, Tipp City, Ohio resident David Scheiding bought himself a chicken sandwich from a local branch of Arby’s. After taking a couple of bites, Scheiding noticed something unusual about the meat.
He opened up the sandwich and pulled out a scrap of flesh about three-quarters of an inch long. This was no chicken flesh – it had a distinctly human fingerprint on the end. Now don’t jump to conclusions, here – Arby’s is no Soylent Green-esque company killing people for meat and passing it off as some other animal. Well, if it is, they managed to cover it up.
On being confronted, the manager admitted that he’d cut himself while shredding lettuce and, though he’d cleaned some of the mess, hadn’t noticed a bit of his finger going into Scheiding’s sandwich. Which is still very bad. Scheiding thought so too, and sued Arby’s for $50,000.