11 Disgusting “Natural” Ingredients in Your Food

Years before today, the word “natural” actually meant something. It referred to food that came from nature, unaltered by humans. But as money became the primary concern for food companies, quantity preceded over quality. Today, “natural” is simply just a word that’s slapped on products to make them sound more appealing to the masses.

Did you know that natural labels are not actually regulated by anyone? “Natural” products can contain:

  • GMOs
  • Toxic pesticides and herbicides
  • Growth Hormones
  • Antibiotics

Now, that doesn’t sound too natural. If that isn’t disturbing enough, here are 11 disgusting ingredients in your food, that are usually labeled as natural.

1. Coal tar

Coal Tar

Processed foods contain many different types of dyes to change their colors to something that is “more appealing” to your eyes. Tartrazine is a dye derived from coal tar. This industrial waste-derived food coloring, also known as yellow #5, has been linked to hyperactivity in children.  Coal tar is often used for pavement sealcoats, medicated shampoos and now as an ingredient in our food. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, mixtures that contain more than 5% crude coal are considered a group 1 carcinogens.

Foods that Contain Yellow #5 / Tartrazine:

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Candy (Butterfinger, Lollipops, M&Ms, Starburst, Smarties, Pez, Sweet Hearts, gummy bears and almost all other colored candies), Colored Marshmallows, Fruit Snacks (Fruit roll-ups, Gushers, Twistables, etc), Skim Milk, Yogurt, Butter, Orange Colored Cheeses, Pickles, Orange Colored Snacks (Doritos, Cheetos, etc), Gelatin/Pudding, Mountain Dew, and MANY more products.

2. Carrageenan

Carrageenan Side Effects

Carrageenan is a strange sounding ingredient that is typically found in dairy products. It is commonly used in “natural” products to hold other ingredients together or to thicken them. Carrageenan is actually derived from red seaweeds. Which may not be gross to some, but carrageenan’s side effects include inflammation, which can lead to rheumatoid arthritis, arteriosclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. Be careful to read the label, as carrageenan is even used in some organic dairy products.

Foods that Contain Carrageenan:

Buttermilk, Chocolate Milk, Cottage Cheese, Cream, Egg Nog, Ice Cream, Kefir, Milk (Shelf-Stable, Almond, Flax, Oat, Rice, Hemp, Hazelnut, Soy), Yogurt, Cheese Alternative,  Pizza, Deli Meat, Juice, and Dips. Here’s a shopping guide that will help you avoid carrageenan.

3. Beaver Anal Glands

beaver anus in vanilla raspberry flavoringDo you enjoy strawberry, raspberry, or vanilla ice cream? Then you may be secretly “enjoying” beaver anal glands. This FDA approved food additive, is labeled as a “natural flavor”.  The real name for the additive is Castoreum, which originates from female and male castor sacs. So apparently, beaver butt has a raspberry taste to it.  It’s one of the most common “natural ingredient” in raspberry flavored goodies. Due to the tricky labeling, you’d never suspect a thing.

Foods that Contain Castoreum:

Raspberry flavored candy, strawberry/vanilla / raspberry ice-cream. It’s also used in alcoholic beverages, baked goods, gelatin, pudding, soft candy, frozen dairy, hard candy and chewing gum.

4. Boiled Beetles

Boiled Beetles inside SkittlesDo you enjoy an occasional meal of beetle bugs? If you eat processed foods, your answer should be yes! Crushed, boiled or dried beetle, eggs or wings of beetles produce beetle juice, which is then used as food coloring. It’s also referred to in food coloring as Carmine. Purple, pink, orange and red food coloring can all be derived from this insect. This insect-based food coloring has known to produce allergic reactions in some people. But hey, look on the bright side, bugs are low in carbs and gluten-free.

Foods that Contain Carmine:

Skittles, ice-cream, yogurt, candy, waffles, Good n’ Plenty, lemonade, and grapefruit juice.

5. Hydrolyzed Protein

Hydrolyzed ProteinsHydrolyzed Protein is something that you’d imagine will make you healthy and strong. However, hydrolyzed is just a fancy word that basically means it’s been pre-digested. The protein is soaked in synthetic stomach-like acid. Which is supposed to make it easier to digest for your body. However, it’s also used as a loophole to load MSG into food without having to label it.

Foods that Contain Hydrolyzed Protein: 

Knorr Noodle Sides, Funyuns, Work Out Proteins.

6. Rodent hair

Rodent Hair in FoodIf you are a fan of boxed macaroni and cheese or peanut butter, you may also enjoy rodent hair. Each mac and cheese may contain one rodent hair per 50 grams, while the FDA says peanut butter may contain an average of one rodent hair per 100 grams. Phew, I’m not sure if we could handle any more mouse hair or insect parts! These rodent and insect parts are often labeled as “natural contaminants”.

Foods that Contain Rodent Hair / Parts:

Boxed Mac and Cheese, Peanut Butter.

7. Borax

Borax in FoodBorax is an additive known for its preservative and acidity control qualities. It’s also known as E285. This ingredient has been banned from the U.S. and Canada but is still present in EU. Borax is used in household cleaning and laundry products, pottery and as a fire-retardant. There have been warnings that high consumption of this additive over 5-10 can cause cancer.

Foods that Contain Borax:

Caviar, Asian Noodles, Rice Dishes, and Bakso (meatballs).

8. Arsenic

ArsenicScientists have been finding traces of arsenic in foods for years. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and is generally hazardous to humans. However, it’s been known to turn up in many foods. For instance, beers and wines that are lighter in color may contain arsenic; as the brewers and makers use diatomaceous earth to filter their products, which contains iron and metals. Opt in for the unfiltered drinks instead.

Foods that Contain Arsenic:

Rice, Cereal, Juice, Beer, and Wine.

9. Sheep Secretions

Sheep Secretions in FoodThe gross, strange smelling and greasy substance that moms (who are breast feeding) smear on their breasts is called Lanolin. Lanolin is basically secretions from a sheep. This oily substance comes from the inside of the sheep’s wool. If you ever chewed some gum, you’ve probably tasted this “delightful” additive. It’s listed as “gum base”.

Foods that Contain Lanolin:

Gum, Vitamin D3 Supplements.

10. Goat Stomach

Goat Stomach in FoodRennet, which is used in making cheese, is extracted from the inside of a goat’s, calf’s, or sheep’s stomach. Many vegetarians consume rennet based cheeses, however, they are obviously misled by tricky labeling. Rennet gives the cheese a better texture, but it’s both disgusting and misleading as a food ingredient.

Foods that Contain Rennet:


11. Human Hair

Human Hair in FoodWhat do McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King all have in common? Besides being extremely unhealthy, they all use L-cysteine as a food additive. This amino acid extends the shelf life of products like bread. It is usually found in cow horns, chicken and duck feathers. Unfortunately, most of the L-cysteine that is used in food does not come from either of those ingredients. It comes from China, where it’s harvested from human hair found in barbershops and hair salons. Buy freshly baked bread from your baker and as if you needed more reasons to steer clear of fast food restaurants, this may do it.

Foods that Contain L-cysteine:

Commercial bread products.

Do yourself a favor and buy fresh, raw and organic products. It is the best way to avoid these harmful ingredients, cleanse your body and feel great.

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