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4 Surprisingly Gross Things in Your Food

We are pumped to share one of our favorite stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!

Why your cheese isn't vegetarian — and 6 other shockers

By Mandy Oaklander, Prevention

When pink slime oozed into public consciousness, we all scrunched our noses. What was this mystery substance — a food additive made of beef trimmings that are heated, compressed into blocks, and then exposed to bacteria-killing ammonia — hiding in processed meat? It also got us thinking about what other shocking ingredients go undercover in our grub. Our research revealed some surprising secrets that rival — and possibly even beat — pink slime. Steel yourself for our list. And just a suggestion: Don't read this during your lunch break.

Try Instead: Free List of 25 Healthiest Packaged Foods

1. Shellac In Your Candy
Lovers of movie-theater concessions, beware. Nearly everything behind that glass case is steeped in, well, beetlejuice. The hard, shiny shells on candies are often made from shellac, a resin secreted by the lac bug. You may know shellac from its more famous work in varnishes and sealants, but it's also a mainstay in pill coatings, candy, coffee beans, and even the waxy sheen on apples and other fruits and vegetables.

How to avoid it: Leave that candy in the case and grab a veggie brush for your produce — even if it's organic. (That's right: shellac can even be used on organic foods.) These waxes can be difficult to remove, so you'll need to scrub.


Find out what other gross things are lurking in your food after the break!

Find Out Your Food's True Colors

2. Prozac In Your Poultry
Bad news for those of you who swear by the curative powers of chicken-noodle soup: the chicken may be sicker than you are. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University tested bird feathers and found a laundry list of feed additives, including banned antibiotics, antidepressants, allergy medications, arsenic, the active ingredient in Benadryl, caffeine, and other prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

How to avoid it: If you're looking to plate a less-medicated piece of poultry, go organic instead. Organic regulations forbid the routine use of antibiotics (and all of those other drugs mentioned above) in chicken feed.

Best Ways to Avoid Food Additives

3. Wood Pulp In Your Cereal
Wood pulp brings "plant-based diet" to a whole new level. Cellulose is usually made from nontoxic wood pulp or cotton, and the cheap filler is stuffed into shredded cheese, salad dressing, and ice cream to thicken it without adding calories or fat. Cellulose is fibrous, which is why it appears in so many high fiber "healthy" snacks and breakfast cereals — and it's even in organic products, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.

How to avoid it: Checking your food labels is crucial and steer clear of terms like microcrystalline cellulose (MCC), cellulose gel, and cellulose gum, and carboxymethyl cellulose.

7 Most Fraudulent Foods

4. Fish Bladders In Your Beer
Here's some news that will drain the "happy" out of your happy hour: Widely used in the beer-brewing process is a form of collagen called isinglass, which is made from the swim bladders of fish. Isinglass clumps with the beer's yeast and sinks to the bottom, allowing for a much clearer brew.

How to avoid it: Because isinglass combines with the dregs of the barrel, it usually can't be detected in the final product. But if you're still queasy at the thought, grab a case of vegan beer instead.

Read on For 3 More Nasty Things in Your Food

Image Source: Thinkstock
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