7 Weird Ingredients in Everyday Foods ...

Have you ever really thought about the weird ingredients in everyday food? I’m not talking about the huge number of crazy colorings, which seem to be written in a complicated form of binary code, or the strange animal parts, like shark skin in moisturizer, either. Spend some time checking out the package on your favorite foods today – did you spot any of these shocking, weird ingredients in everyday food?!

1. Wood…

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Okay, so I love wood. Pine furniture, wooden kitchen utensils, mahogany desks…wood is great. But I don’t really want it in my stomach! Cellulose, as it’s listed on most packaging, is really just wood pulp. It’s used as a thickener in a large number of processed foods, to add texture, and even to replace ingredients such as flour and oil that are more expensive – and while studies are inconclusive on whether cellulose is safe to consume long term, most people won’t be happy to know that it’s part of their everyday diet. Avoid it by limiting the amount of processed food you eat, and making basics such as bread, cakes and scones yourself whenever possible. This has to be one of the oddest weird ingredients in everyday food!

2. Sugar, by the Bag Full…

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So everyone knows that sugar is in some foods – sweets and fizzy drinks are often singled out as being terrible for their sweet, addictive taste. But it’s not just deserts, snacks and chocolate that are full of this sweet additive. The Journal of the American Medical Association found that companies are increasing the amount of sugar in processed food in order to make them taste better, and increase sales. Studies suggest that people consume 48 teaspoons of sugar more than they’d estimate that they’d eaten, and it’s mostly in sauces, ready meals and frozen products. Get checking that packaging!

3. Lead…

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Okay, so this one might not be being actually put in food, but it still ends up on our food! Lead may be widely considered unsafe for use in items for children, but it’s still being added to a huge number of lipsticks, and the average lady eats between four and nine pounds of lipstick during her life. In 2004, 28% of lipsticks contained chemicals that had been linked to cancer, and in 2008, over 50% of lipstick brands still contained lead. Lipstick transfers onto food and quickly gets into the bloodstream, so this is bad news for our health – switching to a natural, lead-free brand is the way forward.

4. Insects…

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Yuck. The US Food and Drug Administration makes an allowance for ‘natural defects’ in food – that’s particles of skin, rodent hair and insects. One test shows that citrus fruit juice may contain one maggot per 250ml, and 100g of chocolate can contain one rodent hair and 60 bits of insect. Ew. Better quality food tends to be made in cleaner, more efficient factories – so swapping might be a great idea, and not just for taste reasons.

It’s worth mentioning Carmine here, too – Carmine or cochineal is commonly used to dye foods red, purple or pink. The problem? It’s made from crushed beetles. The dried insects are boiled in water to extract acids that have a red hue, and included in fruit juices, berry products, ice-creams, yoghurt and sweets, along with make-up, paint and ink. Ew.

5. Arsenic…

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Yep, arsenic is present in some foods – and I bet you can’t guess which ones! According to recent consumer reports, rice, rice milk and baby rice all contain arsenic. People who had eaten a portion of rice had 44% more of the toxic substance in their bodies than those who hadn’t, and one in five packs of American long grain rice had a potentially harmful level of arsenic. Ew. Rice can accompany a whole variety of meals and tends to be a cheap filler for stews and curries – but it might be worth swapping it for sweet potatoes or pasta instead.

6. Polydimethylsiloxane…

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This catchy named chemical is also known as PDMS, and is added to everything from ready meals to fast food. The problem? PDMS is also used for a variety of other things, including creating silly putty, breast implants, dry cleaning products, carpet cleaners, silicone, head lice treatments and anti-foam agents. All things which shouldn’t be consumed.

7. Phosphoric Acid…

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Ever wondered how fizzy drinks get that acidity? Well, here’s your answer. Phosphoric acid is present in a whole variety of sodas and drinks, including some sparkling waters. When it’s not adding bubbles to our favorite beverages, it’s used for acid baths, removing rust, making fuel cells, removing hard-water stains and balancing pH levels in cosmetics and bath products. It’s pretty hard hitting stuff – so it’s probably not the gentlest thing to be drinking.

It can be very eye opening seeing exactly what makes up your favorite dishes and snacks – I think I’ll definitely be making more food at home, so I can be completely sure what goes in! Have you noticed any weird ingredients in everyday foods? I’d love to know!

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