When it comes to maintaining good health, you know that what you put into your body plays the biggest role in how healthy you are as a whole. Yet, when it comes to the food we eat, there are many unknown ingredients found in some of our favorites that range from bug feces to rodent hair. Once you read these 5 freaky facts about food, chances are you’ll pass over these “delights” next time you hit the grocery store.
The many uses of bug feces
If you've ever thought about how shiny jelly beans are, and wondered how they maintained their shine over so many years, you’ll be shocked to learn the truth behind their reflective coating. Shellac is the coating used to create the shiny appearance on jellybeans, and it’s made from nothing other than bug poop. The feces is excreted by a female bug known as the lac beetle, indigenous to India and Thailand, where it is then processed into flakes and melted down to create “confectioner’s glaze”.
An added bonus? Shellac is also sprayed on grocery store apples to give them extra shine and keep them fresh while on the shelves.
Extraneous matter on the side?
If you have ever come across a hair in your food, chances are you’ve expected it to come from the preparation area, not from the manufactured. Yet, according to health laws, a certain amount of extraneous matter is can be present in the food before it’s considered a safety issue. Two of the most common matters found in food? Rodent hair and insect parts. In fact, it’s considered acceptable to find up to 10 insects, in their whole equivalent form, in a 225g serving. This means that in just 4 cups of raisins or currants, you can safely find upwards of 40 insects. Chances are, you will not run into any bugs because most manufacturers take steps to limit it from occurring, but you may want to look a little closer before you chow down next time.
The true flubber behind Jell-O
Both kids and adults alike enjoy a tasty Jell-O dessert here and there, but do they know what it’s actually made it? Chances are they don't, and may turn their head once they learn one of the many freaky food facts related to Jell-o. Jell-O is used to create a wide variety of desserts, from frozen cakes to the traditional marshmallow, and is made from the collagen found in animal skin and bones. In fact, you may have witnessed some gelatin form if you use animal bones to make soup and allow the broth to cool. The thick consistency of the broth is similar to Jell-O because it is, in fact, the same stuff you’ll find in jelly powders found in your local supermarket.
Not so “naturally decaffeinated”
Did you ever wonder how they got all the caffeine out of that decaffeinated coffee or green tea? It may be freakier than you realize. There are three food additives used to strip caffeine from coffee beans and tea leaves, including carbon dioxide, ethyl acetate, and methylene chloride. Ethyl acetate and methylene chloride are both chemical solvents. These chemical solvents are recognized as being possibly carcinogenic, and while the chemicals are removed before packaging and selling the products, but the fact that they were processed with carcinogenic solvent is rather disturbing, and chances are very minuscule amounts are still present in your favorite beverages.
What is natural color, anyway?
If you read over the ingredients for your favorite red-colored yogurt, you’ll find “natural color” listed among them. Yet, this natural coloring may not come from the natural source you were thinking of. In fact, red food dye comes from the dried bodies of female cochineal insects. These insects are found primarily in South America and Mexico, and has been used for thousands of years to dye fabrics, however, it’s now used primarily in both food and cosmetics. The reason you don’t find “dried insects” listen under the ingredient list is because the FDA allows food manufacturers to either declare the added color by its actual name or simply refer to it as “color”, which most do.