4 gross secret ingredients in your food

BySophia Noor WPVI logo
Tuesday, July 1, 2014

After learning that there is unfortunately wood pulp in your burger, you may be wondering what other gross foods you've been unknowingly digesting. We rounded up the grossest four for your viewing pleasure - maybe you'll think twice before chowing down.

1. Arsenic

The carcinogen arsenic (that's poison, y'all) has been found in everything from rice to cereal to juice, and most recently German researchers found traces of it in beer, noting some levels found were more than twice than what is allowed in drinking water. Traces of arsenic can also be found in beers and wine that are clearer in color. Want to minimize your risk? Drink unfiltered beverages.

2. Human hair

Gag and double gag. L-Cysteine - an amino acid used as a preservative in products such as commercial bread - can be found in duck and chicken feathers and cow horns, but most that's used in food comes from human hair. HUMAN HAIR. And you thought it was gross when you just found one in your food. It has been reported that most of the hair used to make L-Cysteine comes from China, where it's gathered from barbershops and hair salons. Avoid L-Cysteine by buying fresh bread from a baker you know. Don't eat at McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts and Burger King, who each use L-Cysteine as an additive.

3. Beaver anal glands

Fancy a vanilla, strawberry or raspberry ice-cream? Of course you do, but you may just be eating anal and bladder secretions of a beaver. Castoreum, which comes from the castor sacs of male and female beavers, is an FDA-approved food additive popular in ice-creams. The worst part? It's allowed to be called "natural flavoring", meaning you probably don't know that you are eating it.

4. Coal tar

Processed foods usually contain dyes, and many of those dyes are derived from coal tar. Yellow #5, also known as tartrazine, was linked to childhood hyperactivity in 2007. Since then, any product in Europe that contains it must have a warning label. No such regulation exists in the US... it's not just the sugar in your Skittles that makes you feel awake.

Whether you're consuming wood pulp in your hamburger or arsenic in your milkshake, there are tons of harmful ingredients in processed and fast food. The best way to stay safe? Make your own meals and eat at restaurants you trust to keep you healthy.