Fear Factor: 22 Gross Ingredients Found In Common Foods That'll Make Foodies Question Everything

Many years ago, going to the grocery store was a much more simple task than it is today. However, that is probably because our knowledge on what is in the food we love to eat was not quite as advanced a long time ago as it is today. Furthermore, we are still figuring out the details about what is in the snacks and meals we love so much, and how it affects us.

Knowing what is in the foods we eat every day is extremely important. Additionally, this is an important thing for multiples reasons. Some people have to watch what they eat because of their weight, while others may have certain allergies to different things that can be found in common food. Also, some men, women, and children might just be intolerant to something that is found in the food they enjoy. For those that do not know, there is a big difference between being intolerant of something and being allergic to it. For example, some people are intolerant to the lactose found in milk, while others might be allergic to the proteins that are in it. The symptoms are somewhat similar to one another, but it is important to know the difference between the two conditions.

There are many times when we do not know what is in the meals we eat all the time. There are a lot of things we consume on a daily basis without knowing it, and here are some of the grossest ingredients that can be found in common foods.

22 Mechanically Separated Meat

via Eater

There are a lot of very tasty and inexpensive meat-based foods out there. Some of them are extremely popular, so knowing what is in them is kind of a big deal. Some foods that belong in this category are things like hot dogs and slim jims.

For those who don’t know, mechanically separated meat is pretty gross. However, since it is in a lot of popular foods, there is a big chance that we have all eaten it at some point without even knowing about it. Basically, mechanically separated meat is separating edible tissue from bones. That often includes things such as blood vessels, skin, and nerves.

21 Gelatin AKA Pig/Cow Skin And Bones

via Serious Eats

Just because a meal or a snack looks and tastes good does not necessarily mean that there are not any gross ingredients in it. For example, gelatin can be found in things such as yogurt, certain kinds of sour cream, and some candy, as well as frosted cereals.

Gelatin is a thickening agent. It usually comes from collagen, which is a protein that is often taken from the skin of an animal. However, it is not always the same kind of animal. For example, the gelatin that can be found in many desserts often comes from the skin of a pig.

20 Isinglass AKA Dried Fish Bladder

via The Healthy Fish

There are some things that have been used in both foods and beverages. Isinglass is one of them, as it is something that can be used for many different things. In fact, this substance can also repair parchment.

This substance is one that is derived from fish. Historically, it came from a very specific kind of fish, which was a sturgeon. However, things have changed a bit since then. Typically isinglass is used to make beverages. But, it can also be used as a gelatin. In the past, it was also an egg preservative.

19 Shellac AKA Insect Secretions


There are many times during which people are often very surprised to find out that there is something very odd and gross in some of the tasty treats they love to snack on. For example, there is a very interesting ingredient that makes certain candies and vitamins shiny.

That ingredient is called shellac, and it is something that comes from the secretions of Kerria lacca, which is an insect that is from Thailand. Furthermore, it is not just something that is found in candy. Some medicines have it, and so do vitamins and fruits. Some people may know this by other names. Sometimes this substance appears on labels as “confectioner’s resin,” or “natural glaze.”

18 Ammonium Sulfate

via Medical News Today

There are a lot of things that are obviously not safe to eat, such as fertilizers and vaccines. So it might seem a bit surprising, as well as disgusting, to find out that we often consumes foods that have an ingredient that many vaccines and fertilizers also have.

That ingredient would be ammonium sulfate, which is basically something that has the same appearance and texture as salt. However, it does not have the same smell or the same taste that salt is known to have. One food that ammonium sulfate is commonly found in is bread. It conditions and strengthens the dough.

17 Lanolin AKA Sheep Oil


A lot of men, women, and children love to have something sweet sometimes, hence why candy and other sugary treats are so popular among people of all ages. Furthermore, there are a lot of them who also love to have chewing gum.

But, just like other candy products, chewing gum also has a pretty gross ingredient in it. One of the most questionable ingredients that is in chewing gum is lanolin, which is something that comes from the secretion glands of sheep. Lanolin has is a wax-like substance. It is also a substance that is used in skincare products, which only makes it sound more gross.

16 Ammonia AKA Cleaning Spray

via Refinery 29

Typically, one might not smell a household cleaning product and think that there is an ingredient in it that is also in many foods we eat every day. However, some cleaning products do share at least one ingredient with a few foods that a lot of people enjoy rather often.

That substance is called ammonia. Basically, ammonia is something that has a very strong smell, and it kills germs in some meats. There are a lot of different foods that have ammonia in them. Some of them are cheese, salami, peanut butter, ketchup, mayonnaise, gelatin, onions, potato chips, and margarine.

15 Castoreum AKA Beaver Secretion


A lot of the things that can be found in foods and beverages today come from animals. But one fun fact is that some perfumes actually share at least one ingredient with certain foods, and yes, it is something that comes from an animal.

Castoreum is a substance that has a yellowish color, and it also has quite a strong odor to it - it comes from the secretion glands of a beaver's behind. This substance is used in some perfumes due to the scent properties. However, it is also in some foods. Castoreum is usually in things that contain artificial strawberry, vanilla, or raspberry flavoring. Usually, this is listed as “natural flavoring” on labels.

14 Propylene Glycol AKA Anti-Freeze


There are a lot of things that appear in non-food items, as well as products that are edible. One of them is propylene glycol, which is a liquid that does not have any color, nor does it have an odor.

Usually, this is used in beauty products. For example, propylene glycol has been found in products such as conditioner, shampoo, makeup, and toothpaste.

However, this is also something that is found in a lot of foods. Some of the food related products that contain propylene glycol are soft drinks, artificial sweeteners, some icings, and ice cream. In fact, when it is in ice cream, it prevents ice crystals from forming.

13 L-Cysteine AKA Hair Molecules

via HollyWood Reporter

These days, it seems to be pretty common knowledge that many of the foods we enjoy contain some questionable products. However, some things that are in certain food products can still manage to surprise us, and that is where l-cysteine comes in.

This substance is an amino acid, and it is often used to make bread stay fresh for a longer period of time. However, this is where it gets a little bit gross. This is a substance that is often synthesized from our very own hair. Furthermore, it can also be synthesized from cow horns, pig bristles, and duck feathers.

12 Dimethylpolysiloxane AKA Plastic


Some ingredients in different beverages and foods are pretty easy to pronounce, and they are easy to spell as well. However, this is not one of them.

Dimethylpolysiloxane may also be referred to as polydimethylsiloxane. It is a type of silicon, and it can be used for a lot of things. There are a lot of non-food items that contain this substance, some of which are shampoos, contact lenses, and conditioners. However, it is also used as in ingredient in a lot of items that are served in fast food establishments. Some of the places that use this in their food are McDonald’s, Subway, and Wendy’s.

11 Cochineal Extract AKA Bugs

via Wikipedia

There are a lot of thrill seekers out there who are perfectly cool with eating bugs. However, most of us do not usually want to consume insects. But, it turns out that many of us have actually eaten quite a few of them. This is especially true for those of us who have enjoyed eating something with red food dye.

On nutrition labels, cochineal extract has a few different names. It might simply be referred to as cochineal extract, or it could be called natural red 4 or carmine. No matter what it is called, there are some bugs in it. This substance comes from certain female insects.

10 Sodium Bisulfate AKA Dry Acid


There are a lot of interesting things listed on food nutrition labels. One of them is a substance that is called sodium bisulfate.

This substance is a combination of sulfur, oxygen, sodium, and hydrogen. This stuff is actually quite useful in food products, as it helps certain foods keep their natural color. Furthermore, it also prevents bacteria from growing on vegetables, as well as some fruits. This stuff also helps bacteria stay away from wine as well. It is also used in flour, as well as grains. Additionally, it can also be used as a dough conditioner that helps bread rise.

9 Phthalates AKA (More) Plastic

via medicaldaily.com

There are a lot of things that have multiple uses. However, one of the things that seems to have way more uses than some other substances are phthalates. Phthalates are used as lubricants in cosmetic products, and they are also used to make plastic products more flexible.

Phthalates can be found just about everywhere. Perfume, hairspray, shampoo, air freshener, and laundry detergent are just a few of the things that have phthalates in them. However, phthalates can also be found in many of the food products we consume, as well as water. These things have been found in many dairy products, and they have also been found in certain meats as well.

8 Liquid Smoke AKA Carbon


Everyone loves food, and that is true for a lot of reasons. In fact, one reason why a lot of people love certain foods so much is because of the flavor it has.

Furthermore, there are a lot of different things that are used in different foods in order to create a certain flavor. One of the things that is added to a lot of foods to create a unique, smoky flavor is liquid smoke. This can come from various sources. Some brands of liquid smoke only use smoke concentrate and water, but others use different kinds of wood, along with water, though many contain Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, which is a chemical compound of carbon, and a carcinogen.

7 Sodium Benzoate AKA Chemical Preservative


The number of foods and drinks that create a tingling sensation in the back of our throats when we consume them is fairly large. That means that there are a lot of drinks and foods that contain sodium benzoate, which is a pretty common kind of food preservative.

However, the fizziness of some beverages is not the only thing sodium benzoate is the cause of. It also makes the flavors in many different kinds of soft drinks much more noticeable. Men and women may want to speak with their doctors about this. That is because there can be some harmful side effects when it is mixed with vitamin C.

6 Carrageenan


When we try to figure out what all is in our food, we tend to find some very interesting and unexpected answers. Furthermore, we also tend to find that much of what we eat has some gross ingredients.

Carrageenan is something that is added to many common foods. However, before it become a part of any food, it comes from red seaweed, which is also known as Irish moss. This stuff does not have any nutritional value. However, it has been used as a thickener, and some of the foods that contain it are yogurt, soy milk, cottage cheese, and ice cream.

5 Carbon Monoxide

via newsok.com

There are a lot of really interesting and strange rumors that are consistently being spread when it comes to food. This is especially true when it comes to meat.

However, there is a bit of truth to some of those rumors. A great example is a rumor that claims supermarkets are selling meat in packaging that has carbon monoxide in order to sell it after it is not fresh anymore. The truth in this scenario is that meat is sold in those packages in order to keep its bright red color for a few weeks. However, the rest is not true.

4 Antibiotics


Antibiotics are pretty good things. That is because they are known for fighting off terrible illnesses, and therefore they have saved many lives.

However, it can be a bit surprising to find out that some of the food we love to consume has antibiotics in it. People are given antibiotics because it can help all of us fight off some pretty bad things. However, they are also given to some animals. That is because antibiotics help animals grow to be very big. Furthermore, animals also grow at a faster rate with the help of antibiotics. But, this has resulted in antibiotic resistance.

3 Viruses


Whenever we talk about a virus, we are usually discussing how bad it can be, and what needs to be done to combat or prevent it. So a lot of people are usually surprised to find out that we often eat foods that actually contain viruses.

However, one surprising fact is that this is actually beneficial to our health, despite how disgusting they sound. This kind of virus, which is referred to as a bacteriophage, fights off the bad viruses. Bacteriophages are usually sprayed on deli meats, as well as similar products, in order to combat Listeria and E. Coli.

2 Saltwater


Usually when we are talking about something that has saltwater in it, we are talking about an ocean. However, another thing that might have saltwater in it is the stuff we put on our plates when it is dinner time, which is rather surprising.

There are many times during which saltwater has been injected into packaged meats. This is usually done in order to plump up the meat, as well as to make the flavor stronger, and more bold. However, those who have to keep an eye on their salt intake should avoid this kind of meat. That is because these kind of meats usually contain way more salt than they should.

1 Silicon Dioxide AKA Sand Particles

via Banzai Surf School

There are many times during which consumers look at nutrition labels on foods and question whether or not something that is listed on them is safe. That is usually the case when it comes to silicon dioxide simply because this name sounds unfamiliar to most of us. However, it seems to be pretty safe.

This is a substance that is found pretty much everywhere. It can be found in the earth, water, plants, and animals. When it is used as an additive in food, the purpose of silicon dioxide is primarily to prevent the product from creating clumps. It is also used in supplements as well.

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