11 Disgusting “Natural” Ingredients in Your Food

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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:

Cheese.

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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debbiey
debbiey

SO MUCH FOR THE MYTHS CONSIDER THE FACTS ON CARRAGEENAN FOR A CHANGE Q. What is Carrageenan?? A. Carrageenan is a naturally-occurring seaweed extract. It is widely used in foods and non-foods to improve texture and stability. Common uses include meat and poultry, dairy products, canned pet food, cosmetics and toothpaste. Q. Why the controversy? A. Self-appointed consumer watchdogs have produced numerous web pages filled with words condemning carrageenan as an unsafe food additive for human consumption. However, in 70+ years of carrageenan being used in processed foods, not a single substantiated claim of an acute or chronic disease has… Read more »

chris
chris

I appreciate your lengthy response, HOWEVER, I have been suffering from stomach issues over the last 3 years. The symptoms have ranged from severe constipation, upset stomach, extreme pain resulting in hospitalization multiple times, vomiting, etc… Sorry to sound graphic, but my stool was very infrequent and often coming out very, very thin. It would seem as though my stomach or digestive tract was getting smaller and not allowing food to pass. After seeing multiple doctors and having x-rays, enemas and more, doctors could not find a single cause of the problem. They believed that my diet was stellar, and… Read more »

Tom
Tom

Dear Chris sorry to hear about your gastrointestinal troubles but I assure you its not because your hippy diet wasnt hardcore enough. Without having access to your test results I would suggest these could be symptoms of Crohns disease which (oddly enough) my dog and my father are afflicted by. Unfortunately for you, Crohns is not caused by chemical additives in food. It is an autoimmune disease that people are genetically predisposed to and can only manage slightly with diet (and not in the way you think). The best way to cut down symptoms is to avoid lots of carbs,… Read more »

NatesMama1128
NatesMama1128

There’s nothing wrong with GMO’s. Quit perpetuating that myth that has been debunked several times over.

Timothy Fitzgerald Young
Timothy Fitzgerald Young

Seriously? Perhaps from a very narrow lens, but clearly not if you look at the impact from lab to plate and all points in between? Since the first transgenic approved foods in the early 90’s the use of glyphosate has increased 16-fold. And while that application was originally used before or during planting, farmers are now starting to use it to kill weeds days before harvest to remove obstruction weeds to aid harvesting. That’s has resulted in significant increases in glyphosate residue on some fruit/vegetables in distribution. And this is also a very narrow lens on the entire chain. I… Read more »

TerryLicia
TerryLicia

But aren’t there a few other theories about that? Change in timing re: application of herbicides? Cause ‘transgenic’ isn’t about weed or bug killer, it’s about changing DNA of the plant … ?? I’ve now confused myself. Great article .. this is an older article, in web time! lol a year.

Sue367
Sue367

Thats why the European nations have banned all GMO productions, becasue they are harmless?

Ed
Ed

European Union banned them out of caution, not because there was actually any tangible evidence of GMOs causing real harm. They wanted to play it safe, that’s all there is to it. Not some giant conspiracy by the NWO or some stupid thing like that that people come up with to deny cold hard facts.

leslie landberg
leslie landberg

Follow the money. The EU is corrupt. Environmental agencies tasked with investigating the ecological and medical impacts of growing and consuming GMO products as well as the pesticides which they are designed to withstand, have demonstrated again and again the many dangers to fertility and biological health. Those studies have been ignored in favor of industry led rubber stamps.

Timsoonourside
Timsoonourside

Nothing wrong with Indian farmers drinking glyphosate?! Things are pretty hellish in South America too, from what I hear.

Ed
Ed

Finally, someone with their head screwed on tight. People don’t realise we’ve been genetically modifying food ever since we’ve learnt the art of agriculture. Modern methods are akin to taking an F1 car down the highway versus plodding along on your two feet.

leslie landberg
leslie landberg

You display ignorance on the topic when you confuse age old horticultural methods with genetic splicing. Yes, they both ostensibly have the same purpose, namely to improve some aspect of the plant. But the comparison stops there.

bereal
bereal

While most of the ingredients listed are indeed disgusting, rennet isn’t. That’s how cheese is made and has been made for thousands of years. There is a gland in the calf’s stomach that enables the calf to digest milk. It separates the milk solids from the water. People (for thousands of years) have harvested that gland(when they kill a calf) dried it, pulverized it and then added it into milk at a precise dose. Within 30 minutes the milk is thick and then ready for the next step. It’s not disgusting. It’s good. Every real cheese maker in this world(99.9%)… Read more »

Ramapriya
Ramapriya

Hi Bereal, Vegetarians never want to kill calf and use the part for consumption. They even does not really want to kill anything for consumption. They will try their best to avoid killing anything as much as possible for consumption. I hope you understand why it is not Ok for vegetarians to use rennet in making cheese.

Mannie
Mannie

So.. that isnt gross?? Killing an innocent baby animal just for cheese. Human beings can be pure evil

Sue367
Sue367

Agreed, I don’t believe any animal should be harmed for human greed. There are so many cheese making companies that make organic and or rennet free cheese. Its all about the good choice’s we make that improve humanity as a hole.

anonymous
anonymous

*whole

Sue367
Sue367

Oh My Goodness, thank you so much for your grammar correction, damn me for missing the “W”. I am not sure where I would be without it. Unless I am submitting a paper for a university degree, I do-not care If one letter was not typed. You obviously do not have much to fulfill your days with. Regards nameless person.

TerryLicia
TerryLicia

The correction symbolized more than a misspelling, but … think of this: humans have used rennet for 1000’s of years, and they have eaten meat protein for about two million years. It’s not about greed – it’s about food, eating something that’s been in the Euro diet for forever practically. It’s both a huge cultural desire and it was once an absolute need, and still is in significant parts of the planet. The additional protein and calories from meat gave us the very large human brain size. 🙂 We are who we are today, because of we ate meat we’ve… Read more »

Tre Toco
Tre Toco

It was wrong then and it’s wrong now. Watch earthlings documentary free on youtube. Cows pigs chickens are sentient beings, and they don’t want their throats slit for your taste buds .

Corinne
Corinne

I’ve never done this before but I have been looking for someone to help me get a message out. I have been a hairdresser for 38 years and in the last year and a half I have noticed a rapid decrease in mostly females hair. I do believe it is from the food we are consuming. Something in our bodies are now showing the effects. I need someone to help me do research. I have pictures to document the decrease of hair. All anyone has to do is look in the mirror..it to is most noticeable at the temple areas.… Read more »

leslie landberg
leslie landberg

Yes, I can handle this one! Our follicular health, and by extension (no pun intended) our hair shaft’s health, is determined by the nutrional profiles found in our blood, organs and skin. The skin, by the way, is an organ and this includes, especially in this case, the scalp, in which the follicles are imbedded and derive their nutrients. Biotin is a very important nutrient and, along with vitamins E and C, is essential for healthy hair growth. Most individuals eating ordinary, conventional diets are sorely lacking in essential nutrients of all kinds, including vitamins and many minerals. In fact,… Read more »

loveorganics
loveorganics

Hey Leslie, you make some great points. How would you like to contribute an article on Organics on the topic? Reach out to us at love@organics.org.

Nathan Isaac
Nathan Isaac

Hi Corinne, A few questions for you about this. Do the ladies themselves notice it, or do you notice it first. What are some of the things they say? Are they embarrassed by it, currently looking to try to improve it or do they think it’s “normal”?

Loboe Rex
Loboe Rex

Seriously? You think they kill a calf just to get rennet? The calf is already dead because it is being processed into meat, leather and other products from it’s bones and organs. Rennet is only one of those materials. And they are not killing cute little baby calves “Veal”.. or cute little baby lambs when “Lamb” goes to the store. You have the internet at your disposal. Put the games and Facebook away and start doing some research and educate yourself.

Teacher Needs a Raise
Teacher Needs a Raise

They forgot to add “cochineal’ to the list. I’m highly allergic to it. I googled it, and its really gross. if you have a cockroach allergy, be sure to steer away from products containing red #40 or cochineal. It’s in almost anything with red dye.

Joshua Martin
Joshua Martin

and cheese is delicious.

loveorganics
loveorganics

agree

Tre Toco
Tre Toco

Is it yummy when all mothers cows are milked to death then Sent to slaughter

Bmathena
Bmathena

Why the hate on castoreum? I thought you were for all natural organic? Can’t eat anything more organic than wild beaver.

leslie landberg
leslie landberg

Just want to put on a good word for arsenic. Seriously. Not joking. Look up Arsenic Essers. This may be controversial, but the science on this one is valid. It appears that throughout the region we know as the Tyrols and extending into Croatia and the Transylvainian region there were ancient groups of people who were extremely long lived and agile well into advanced old age. They attributed much of their uncommon vigor to the traditional consumption of really huge quantities or arsenic! typically the arsenic eaters (essers in German) would start their children with just one grain, increasing the… Read more »

debbiey
debbiey

SO MUCH FOR THE MYTHS CONSIDER THE FACTS ON CARRAGEENAN FOR A CHANGE Q. What is Carrageenan?? A. Carrageenan is a naturally-occurring seaweed extract. It is widely used in foods and non-foods to improve texture and stability. Common uses include meat and poultry, dairy products, canned pet food, cosmetics and toothpaste. Q. Why the controversy? A. Self-appointed consumer watchdogs have produced numerous web pages filled with words condemning carrageenan as an unsafe food additive for human consumption. However, in 70+ years of carrageenan being used in processed foods, not a single substantiated claim of an acute or chronic disease has… Read more »

chris
chris

I appreciate your lengthy response, HOWEVER, I have been suffering from stomach issues over the last 3 years. The symptoms have ranged from severe constipation, upset stomach, extreme pain resulting in hospitalization multiple times, vomiting, etc… Sorry to sound graphic, but my stool was very infrequent and often coming out very, very thin. It would seem as though my stomach or digestive tract was getting smaller and not allowing food to pass. After seeing multiple doctors and having x-rays, enemas and more, doctors could not find a single cause of the problem. They believed that my diet was stellar, and… Read more »

Tom
Tom

Dear Chris sorry to hear about your gastrointestinal troubles but I assure you its not because your hippy diet wasnt hardcore enough. Without having access to your test results I would suggest these could be symptoms of Crohns disease which (oddly enough) my dog and my father are afflicted by. Unfortunately for you, Crohns is not caused by chemical additives in food. It is an autoimmune disease that people are genetically predisposed to and can only manage slightly with diet (and not in the way you think). The best way to cut down symptoms is to avoid lots of carbs,… Read more »

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