Eating is probably our favorite sport, but reading food labels to understand what we eat might seem like a mission-impossible movie. Saturated fats. Cholesterol. Sodium. We do get what those are. But do you even know what cellulose or lanolin means? We don’t either. So we did a little research to help you identify these sneaky ingredients in your favorite foods. Don’t get us wrong: it’s not that the manufacturer is lying to you about including these ingredients. They’re on the labels. You just have no clue what they mean.
This ingredient is responsible for making your gum chewy. Sheep produce this wax-like discharge that’s also used in lip balm, hand cream and other skin care products.
Believe it or not, cellulose is actually sawdust—yes, you read correctly. Manufacturers usually add this to cheese to stop it from clumping, in bread to add fiber, and in low-fat ice cream to keep it creamy without actually using fat.
This ingredient comes from the inside of a calf’s stomach—ew. You might be unknowingly eating it in cheese because rennet is used to separate the milk into solid curds.
You thought anti-freeze liquids were only used in cars? Propylene glycol is an ingredient found in anti-freeze and it’s used in soda, baked products, ice cream, and alcohol to add an extra touch of flavor.
This ingredient comes from a beaver’s anal glands (yes, that’s right) and is used to add flavor to certain ice creams. You’ll probably think twice before ordering that strawberry ice cream you love so much.
Also known as sand, this ingredient is naturally found on beaches. Wait… Why are they putting sand on our food? Well, it helps powdered foods like soup, salt and coffee creamer stay clump-free.
Used in soy products, bread, meat, and eggs, l-cysteine is used to extend these products’ shelf life. It comes from human hair, which has been banned in the EU and replaced by poultry feathers—which doesn’t really make it less disgusting.
Sound harmless, right? Carmine is a pigment used in everything from sodas to frozen meat and candy. The icky part is where this dye comes from: cochineal bugs are dried in the sun and then ground up.
Used to give products like jelly beans or wood a glossy finish, shellac is excreted by a female lac bug. Sorry to break it to you, but yes, you’re eating insect poop with your favorite candy.
This ingredient is used to add a white-color tint in products like toothpaste, salad dressings, and even coffee creamer. This has been proven to be a sort of dangerous chemical because it alters how the intestine and immune system respond; so watch out for it!