July 21, 2018

Five “Natural” Food Ingredients That Will Turn Your Stomach

In one of the most memorable food revelations of the year, industry insider and blogger Bruce Bradley listed a set of ingredients found in processed food that are concealed under the blanket term “natural ingredients” or “natural coloring.”

Bradley wrote in October: “There is no FDA definition of ‘Natural’, and in that vacuum, processed food companies have filled the void with their own, self-serving interpretations… After all, if it’s natural, it’s got to be good, right?”

Here is Mr. Bradley’s list of examples:

Beaver Anal Glands:  This bitter, very smelly, orange-brown substance is also known as castoreum. In nature it’s combined with the beaver’s urine and used to mark its territory. In the processed food world it’s commonly used in both food and beverages, typically as vanilla or raspberry flavoring. Watch out though, you won’t find it on the ingredient list since processed food manufacturers can legally call it “natural flavoring.”

Cow’s Stomach:  Known as rennet and derived from the mucosa of veal calves’ fourth stomach, this ingredient is frequently used in the production of cheese to curdle the milk. Often listed simply as “enzymes” on an ingredient panel, it can be very hard to know exactly what you’re eating when you buy cheese.

Hair and/or Feathers:  Called L-cysteine or cystine by the processed food world, this non-essential amino acid is made from human hair or duck feathers and is used as a dough conditioner to improve the texture of breads and baked goods. Again, since cystine comes from natural sources, you can eat “natural” and still have hair in your food.

Beetle Juice:  Beetle juice is used in our food and is often called shellac, resinous glaze, or confectioner’s glaze on ingredient labels. Made from the secretions of the female lac bug, this substance is scraped from trees and branches then processed to be used on some of your favorite shiny candies and sprinkles.

Crushed Bugs: Known as Carmine, Crimson Lake, Cochineal, or Natural Red #4 on ingredient labels, this red food coloring additive is made from insects like the cochineal beetle. Frequently used in yogurts and beverages to give them a ruby-red color, a cochineal beetle can be a tough to spot on ingredient labels since it can be listed as a natural color.

 

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