Thursday, June 20, 2013

10 Most Disgusting Food Ingredients That You Probably Eat On Daily Basis

One phrase that we frequently read on the “contents list” of various food items is “natural flavors”, which is quite intriguing. They say it is a way of protecting the secret formula or recipe of the food item under question and a way of protecting the product’s uniqueness. Can you imagine that FDA could approve regurgitated secretions produced in an animal’s digestive system to be used as food additives? Another couple of examples of disgusting food additives include secretions produced by the beaver’s sacs and civet absolute which is derived from the unctuous secretions from the receptacles between the anus and genitalia of both the male and female civet cat hence watch out for those “natural flavorings & flavors”! Lanolin, which  is  used to soften chewing gum, is actually secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals. Animal ingredients are not contained in sugar itself, but most companies decolorize sugar with the help of bone char (animal charcoal) in filters. Regulatory bodies’ requirement is that the bones must come from cattle, which have died of natural causes. Main suppliers of these bones include countries like Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, India and Morocco. Hence what you actually are consuming and paying for, may not only be surprising but disgusting (if you know what actually the ingredients are).
Here is the list of 10 most disgusting food ingredients:

10. Borax:
Borax was discovered over 4,000 years ago and is also known as birax, sodium borate, or sodium tetra-borate, which is usually found deep underground. It is the sodium salt of boric acid and  is crystalline in nature. This mineral is used to prevent mice, bugs, ants and mold from coming to domestic places. It is also used as a multipurpose cleaner, fire retardant, fungicide, herbicide and…food preservative. Borax is allowed in imported caviar but it is banned otherwise as a food additive (E285) in the United States, although it is being used frequently as food preservative in other countries especially developing countries because  E285 is legal in the European Union and Asia. Borax has its frequent use in the textiles, glass and leather industry for tanning and dyeing. Is there anything borax can’t do?

9. Silicon Dioxide:
The main chemical compound of sand is silicon dioxide (SiO2, one atom of silicon and two of oxygen). One of the most important anti-caking agents is amorphous silicon dioxide (E551 in Europe). The use of Silicon dioxide has been allowed by FDA and considers it safe, as long as it does not exceed 2% of the weight of the food in which it is being used. It can be found in everything from processed meat, spice powders, instant soups & sauces, snack bars, supplements, pharmaceutical drug tablets and more. Silicon dioxide is a requirement of  our body but only a trace of it is required by the body to stay healthy.  Is it harmful to add silicon dioxide to food? Probably not, but it is disgusting and unusual.

8. Shellac:
The secretions of the Kerria lacca insects are refined to obtain shellac. These insects are native to South-East Asia and reside in colonies of thousands on trees such as Kusum, Ficus, Palas, and Ber. To obtain one-kilogram sack of shellac, approximately 300,000 lac bugs are required. When it comes to furniture polishing and wood finishing, shellac is unrivaled.  Its use is in almost every industry, from furniture polishing to food and pharmaceutical processing (food additive # E904). The same product that is utilized for coating furniture is also used (instead of natural wax, which only has temporary effect) for coating fruits, vegetables, candies, snacks, and pastries, to make them look fresher and more appealing.

7. Gelatin:
Gelatin is a flavorless and translucent substance, which is be used as a stabilizer, texture enhancer, or thickening agent in foods. Collagen is the active element of gelatin, which is obtained from various animal parts. According to Professor M.C. Gomez-Guillén, “the most abundant sources of gelatin are pig skin (46%), bovine hide (29.4%) and pork and cattle bones (23.1%).”

6. Carmine:
This insect-derived substance is used as colorant in various food items such as Strawberry Banana Smoothie, Strawberries & Cream, Frappuccino or Red Velvet Whoopie Pie! etc. Female cochineal insects are the source of carmine. After these bugs are killed by exposure to heat or immersion in hot water, and then dried, their abdomen, which contains the most carmine, is extracted and cooked at high temperatures. If one of the following terms – carmine, cochineal extract, natural red 4, E120, C.I. 75470, E120 or hydrated aluminium chelate of carminic acid – appears in the ingredients list of the product you consume, the red bug dye is in your food. The cochineal extract is mixed in many things including meat, marinades, juices, jams, gelatins and candies, baked goods, toppings, icings, and dairy products.

5. Cellulose:
The sources of odorless and tasteless powdered cellulose are either bamboo or cotton-based plant material.  It comes in a variety of forms including powdered cellulose (E460ii), microcrystalline cellulose (MCC or E460i) or cellulose gum, every variety has a specific use. The food products containing cellulose are usually labeled as high-fiber or reduced fat diet. The foods in which it is used include: cheese, yogurt, ice cream, processed fruits, vegetables, cereals, pre-cooked pasta, and bakery wares. It was disclosed by Dan Inman, director of R&D at J. Rettenmaier USA, that manufacturers add cellulose to their products because it acts as an extender, reducing breakage and providing structure. By going for cellulose as a filler or thickener food producers from all over the world save almost 30% in ingredient costs. As much as 50% of the fat can be replaced with powdered cellulose in some biscuits, cakes and cookies. No wonder food doesn’t taste anymore as it used to because Sara Lee,Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Dole, KFC, Nestle and Kraft Foods are some of the many brands that put wood in our food. Whether it is safe or not, it’s disturbingly unnatural to have cellulose in your intestines.

4. Duck Feathers And Human Hair:
We often wonder why the big food chains are able to prepare a perfect pizza, especially the dough while I can’t at home despite strictly following the recipe, well the answer is L-cysteine. L-cysteine is a non-essential amino acid and  is used as a flavor enhancer and dough conditioner mostly in bakery products including pizza, crackers, bagels, bread, croissants and donuts, to name a few. Most of L-cysteine is derived from human hair and duck feathers while a small fraction is chemically synthesized in labs. Most human-derived L-cysteine comes from Chinese women, who sell it to chemical plants to support their families. Many L-cysteine manufacturers seem to have moved away from the disgusting hair-derived substance, and on to the far-more-appetizing duck feathers.

3. Viruses Have Been Approved As Food Additives:
Six years ago the Food and Drug Administration approved special viruses, which eat bacteria (bacteriophages) to be sprayed on poultry products and ready-to-eat meat just before they are packaged. These are a cocktail of bacteria-killing viruses aimed at  preventing listeriosis, which affects about 1600 Americans, leading to 410 deaths per year in the United States. What if listeria develops resistance to these viruse over time?  These viral additives are used to fight potential infections from poor quality meat. Why poor quality meat alongwith viruses be supplied to millions of people? And why not to raise the standards and improve the quality of our food supply. What’s your opinion on the latest food additive?

2. Rodent Filth, Mold, Insect Filth, Maggots:
A certain percentage of natural contaminants in the food supply chain have been condoned by the US Food and Drug Administration . Here’s how much of these yummy-mummies  you should expect in your food:
All spice, ground: average of 30 or less insect fragments / 10g; 1 or none rodent hair / 10g
Berries: average mold count is 60% or less; average of 4 or less larvae per 500 g; 10 or less whole insects or equivalent per 500 g.
Frozen broccoli: 60 or less aphids and/or thrips and/or mites per 100 g.
Chocolate: 60 or less insect fragments per 100 grams; 1 or none rodent hairs per 100 grams; (when six 100-gram sub-samples are examined)
Macaroni and noodle products: 225 insect fragments or less / 225 g
Canned and dried mushrooms: 20 or less maggots of any size / 100 g; 75 mites / 100 g
Peanut butter: 30 or less insect fragments / 100 g; 1 or none rodent hairs / 100 g
Tomato juice: 10 or less fly eggs / 100 g; 5 or less fly eggs and 1 maggot / 100 g; average mold count in 6 sub-samples is 24%.
Tomato paste: 30 or less fly eggs / 100 g; 15 or more fly eggs and 1 maggot / 100 g; 2 or less maggots /100 g in a minimum of 12 sub-samples.
Some of the above mentioned products may have natural contaminants, others not. Unfortunately, the European Union does not regulate the amount of filth or mold in food; it has explicitly exempted the above listed “ingredients” from regulation. Entomophagy (eating the insects) is not as disgusting as you may think because the benefits of eating insects are overwhelming. However there is a very big difference between eating processed remnants of bugs and rats, and consuming healthy & edible insects that are rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins.

1. Civet, Castoreum:
Beavers naturally secrete a substance to mark their territories, which is also used to give flavor to certain foods. This substance is known as castoreum and is a bitter, strongly odoriferous secretion, produced by the animal’s sacs. These sacs are located near the anal glands. Castoreum has been used extensively in cosmetics, especially in perfumes, and has been added to food and beverages as a natural flavoring agent for at least 70 years as has been mentioned in an article published in the International Journal of Toxicology. FDA, FEMA and other regulatory bodies generally recognize the castoreum as safe, and is particularly useful as an ingredient in raspberry & vanilla flavored foods.  it can be found in ice creams, candies, syrups, pastries, and cigarettes. The disgusting part is that castoreum doesn’t have to be listed on the label by its name because it is considered a natural flavor.  Apparently, beaver-butt tastes like vanilla and raspberry.  Eat up!

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