By Laura Stampler, Business Insider
Starbucks’ use of crushed beetles in food coloring for its frappuccino products—which it had labeled vegan—is merely the tip of the iceberg.
The cochineal beetle, often used in red food dyes, is one of many disgusting ingredients found in everyday foods.
Food companies might advertise natural flavors, low calories and vitamins A through Z, but they’re much less likely to promote their use of fish bladders, sand or human hair.
And you won’t believe what beaver anal glands—that’s correct—are used for.
Red Dye: Ground Up Beetles
Between yogurt, maraschino cherries, jams, cakes, and tomato products, you’ve probably consumed at least one pound of red dye in your life. That means that you’ve also ingested at least 70,000 cochineal beetles, according to a petition on Change.org.
The bug is crushed up to make red dye.
Ice Cream: Beaver Anal Glands
Vanilla and raspberry flavors might be enhanced by “castoreum,” a mixture of the anal secretions and urine of beavers. It’s also found in perfume.
The FDA-approved product is categorized under “natural flavoring,” so you won’t know if you’re eating it.
After celebrity chef Jamie Oliver went on David Letterman’s show and mentioned castoreum’s presence in vanilla ice cream—”If you like that stuff, next time you put it in your mouth think of anal gland”—manufacturers adamantly denied the claims.
Beer: Fish Bladders
Isinglass, or dried fish bladder, gives beer its golden glow. The BBC did a whole segment on the substance, which is primarily used in British beers.
Wendy’s Chili: Sand
One key ingredient to Wendy’s chili is an anti-caking agent called silicon dioxide. Street name: sand or glass powder.
Jello: Animal Connective Tissue
Gelatin is made from collagen, which is boiled down animal connective tissue. Today, gelatin most likely is made from pigskin.
Gum: Sheep Secretions
Lanolin—a goopy, oily secretion found in sheep’s wool—is an FDA-approved additive used to soften chewing gum. It can also be found in cosmetics, sunscreen, and baby products.
Cellulose, or virgin wood pulp that is more commonly identified as sawdust, is an ingredient found in shredded cheese. It keeps the shreds from clumping up. Cellulose also appears in Kraft Parmesan Cheese.
The Street found 15 other companies that use “wood” in their products.
The USDA, which regulates meat, has decided that meat products that consist of more than 3.5 percent cellulose cannot be recognized as nutritionally sound.
Bread: Duck Feathers and Human Hair
L-Cysteine is an amino acid often used in dough conditioners, which softens mass-produced breads. It is made from human hair or duck feathers. Although 80 percent of L-cysteine is made of human hair, McDonald’s uses the duck feather variety in its Baked Hot Apple Pie and Warm Cinnamon Roll.
The FDA says its legally OK to have up to 19 maggots and 74 mites in a 3.5-ounce can of mushrooms.
Potato Chips: Cleaning Agents
Sodium bisulfite is used in most toilet boil cleaning agents. It’s also used to extend the shelf-life and bleach out the discoloration of potato chips.
Chocolate: Rat Hairs
We aren’t saying that rat hairs are the secret ingredient of your favorite chocolate bars … but they might make accidental guest appearances. The FDA allows one rat hair per 100 grams in six 100-gram subsamples of chocolate and 60 insect fragments per 100 grams in six 100-gram subsamples.