Beyond Bugs: The Disgusting Ingredients Lurking Inside Processed Foods

A major yogurt company is currently taking a hit for using carmine to give its food a bright colored hue. Carmine (also referred to as ‘cochineal, natural Red 4 and Crimson Lake) is produced by boiling insect bodies in ammonia or sodium carbonate and used to give foods like yogurt and ice cream, as well as some makeups, a rich, red color.

Carmine has come under fire for years because it poses a risk of severe allergic reaction and anaphylactic shock for some consumers. However, food industries have aggressively opposed FDA interference and many foods (including many faux-seafood items) continue to use the additive.

Will the current backlash against this buggy additive do anything to change policies in the food industry? Not if Dannon’s senior director of public relations, Michael J. Neuwirth, has anything to say about it. His response to the kerfuffle is a curt, “Any of our products that contain carmine clearly list it as an ingredient. Anyone who wishes to avoid it can.”

I’ve been actively avoiding cochineal for many years now, not because of an allergy, but because it’s my policy to avoid eating insects whenever possible. Many consumers have no problem with this additive, stating they prefer a natural ingredient to one that’s created in a laboratory. However, when given a choice between allergy-causing bugs or laboratory-created chemicals, I tend to opt in favor of voting out processed foods entirely.

Odd Additives

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Although they’re technically “natural,” the following additives are definitely unusual.

  1. L-Cysteine- An amino acid that’s made from duck feathers and human hair. It can be found in some bread products.
  2. Azodicarbonamide- What does a yoga mat have in common with a hamburger bun? They’re both made out of this additive commonly found in both plastics and foods.
  3. Shellac- Also referred to as “confectioner’s glaze,” this bug secretion is used to coat shiny treats like candy.
  4. Cellulose- Also known in less fancy circles as “wood pulp,” this additive is found in a variety of foods, including cheese, chocolate milk and salad dressing.
  5. Brominated vegetable oil- BVO is banned in Europe and Japan, but many American companies add this flame retardant to soft drinks and sports beverages.
  6. Castoreum- Your perfumes smell sweeter and raspberry candies taste yummier because of this natural extract from the anal glands of beavers.

Some people don’t mind unusual additives like these, but if you dislike the idea of feeding additive-laden foods to your family, it may be time to consider eating more raw foods. Even if the idea of wood pulp in your cheese leaves you unphased, you have to admit that it’s an ingredient that you definitely don’t need in your life. Talk to your chiropractic team if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of a raw diet and how you can incorporate one simply into your life. Eating raw isn’t as difficult as you may imagine and it’s certainly tastier than eating processed foods made of dubious ingredients.


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Story creditVideo credit, Photo credit: Supreme White Bread by Simon. Used under a Creative Commons license.

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.