Common Food Ingredients That Will Gross You Out

Do you know what goes in to your favorite processed foods? The truth is, food companies use a lot of FDA-approved ingredients that come from some pretty unusual, and sometimes gross, sources. Check out these common ingredients that will make you rethink that next snack.


Via you-are-another-me.tumblr.com

Listed on labels as natural flavoring, castoreum is used for raspberry and vanilla flavoring. This ingredient is from the castor sac gland of beavers. These glands are near the animal's anal glands. Fortunately, this ingredient is more commonly used in perfumes than food.


Carmine is used as a red food coloring in many foods, such as ice cream and Skittles. This ingredient is from boiled cochineal bugs, a type of beetle. Due to possible allergy risks, the FDA has required food companies to list carmine on the ingredients label.



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L-Cysteine is a common bread softening agent. Used in almost every commercial bread product, L-Cysteine is synthetically created by dissolving human hair and duck feathers in acid. Most of this ingredient comes from China and has received criticism from some religious groups because of the source. For example, Muslims are forbidden to eat anything derived from the human body.

Titanium Dioxide

Via naturesbouquet.com

Titanium Dioxide is used to make certain foods, such as ranch dressing, appear whiter. It is also used for the same purpose in sunscreen and paint. There has been some debate on the ingredient, but the FDA has deemed it safe for consumption.



Via villagegreennetwork.com

Shellac is responsible for giving  jelly beans their shiny appearance. Shellac is a common food additive and is also used in wood finishing. Shellac is excreted from the Kerrie Iacca insect. The bug uses this secretion to stick to the leaves of trees. Harvesting the shellac means getting it straight off the trees, which means inevitably parts of the insects make it into your sweet treats.


Via foodnavigator-use.com

This chemical, which is approved by the FDA, is used as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner in bread products. It is also used in the production of yoga mats to create the rubbery cushion texture. More than 500 companies are known to use this product, such as Little Debbie, McDonalds and Burger King. Subway recently stopped using azodicarbonamide after receiving criticism.


Silicon Dioxide

Via sco.wikipedia.org

Silicon dioxide is added to powdered foods to keep it from sticking and clumping together. This chemical is also known more commonly as sand. It is added to food because of its absorption capabilities. Food companies point out that it is used in very small amounts.

Bone Char

Via jameelbr.blogspot.com

Bone char is made from, well, bones. Cattle bones to be exact. Bone char is used in the processing of refined sugar, because it makes the sugar appear whiter. Due to a large amount of criticism from vegans, there are now a large amount of sugar companies that are ditching this ingredient.

Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A is more commonly referred to as BPA and is found in plastics. The FDA has recently reported BPA could be behind various health hazards, especially in infants. The majority of plastic manufacturers have stopped using BPA, but there are still present in certain canned food packaging.

Pink Slime

Via thecultureist.com

If the picture didn't gross you out enough, pink slime is a product made up of left-over beef that is still clinging to bones and cartilage. The meat, bones and all, is put through a sort of blender centrifuge and pink slime is the result. This ingredient is used in beef products as filler.


Via bigoven.com

Many people love gelatin, but don't know what it contains. Try skin, bones and connective animal tissue, usually from cows, pigs and chickens. Gelatin is an animal protein with a high viscosity rate. It is used for a variety of culinary uses around the world.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

Via healthcastle.com

Brominated Vegetable Oil, BVO, was originally meant to be used as a flame-retardant for plastic. BVO is now added to many popular drinks, such as Mountain Dew, to keep the artificial flavoring chemicals from separating from the other liquid. Gatorade has recently stopped using BVO in their drinks and Powerade says they plan to follow the lead.

Cloned Cow's Stomach

Cloned cow's stomach is used in the making of the majority of cheese produced in America. In the past, cheese makers used rennet from real veal stomachs, but prices have gotten too high. This genetically-modified ingredient is listed only as enzymes, which makes it difficult for consumers to know what they are getting.


Via sodeliciousdairyfree.com

Derived from seaweed, carrageenan is used in foods for its gelling and thickening properties. It is used mainly in dairy and meat products. During the addition process, it is usually processed with high unhealthy levels of salt.

Proplyene Glycol

Proplyene glycol is used as a preservative in many foods. For example, it is used in ice cream to help prevent freezer burn. This food additive is also a main ingredient in antifreeze. Fortunately, it is not the toxic ingredient in this very toxic product.

Tertiary Butylhydroquinone

Via naturistaalfonso.com

More commonly known as TBHQ, this compound is a chemical preservative and is used to extend processed food's shelf life. Shockingly, this is also a form of the highly explosive butane. TBHQ is used in a variety of store-bought foods, fast foods, pet foods and healthcare products.


Via foodrenegade.com

Cellulose is used as a filler, most commonly in calorie-free foods. It is basically made up of a wood pulp that the human body cannot digest. Since our body's cannot digest cellulose, it has no caloric value. It is also used in shredded cheese to keep the pieces from sticking together.

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