Top Ten Weirdest Food Ingredients

Coal Tar in Candy and Soda

By  Jordan & Kyla Miller

Contributing Writers for  Wake Up World

I am sure most of you are well aware that processed food / fast food is simply, well, just not that great for you. Loaded with many synthetic chemicals,  additives, and colors, it’s no wonder why the majority of the population in the developed world is sick! Just when you think this is bad, we have discovered a few “uncommon ingredients” that are sure to make you a bit uneasy. In fact, when you look at these “food” items a bit closer, it’s hard to even consider them as food; they look more like science projects to us. Take a gander at some of these weird foods for yourself. We will let you be the judge.

1. Sand in Chili

It is a fact that the restaurant Wendy’s uses a derivative of sand (Silicone Dioxide) in their chili. It is believed that they use this ingredient as an anti-caking agent to ensure that the chili can endure heat for several days without coalescing together.

2. Viruses in Ready-To-Eat Meat Products

In 2006, the United States FDA   approved the use of   bacteriophages in the preparation of food (specifically ready to eat  meat  products). This particular virus is used primarily to kill bacteria that might cause food poisoning – as several hundred Americans fall ill from listeriosis every year. Consequently, millions of people are now ingesting viruses to stop a few thousand from getting sick. Also to note, the FDA believes that any product containing this virus does not need to be labelled. The FDA disturbingly claims that “As long as it [is] used in accordance with the regulations, we have concluded it’s safe.” Does this sound like justifiable science to you?  

3. Sheep Secretions in Bubble Gum

The oily secretions from sheep’s wool are collected to create a substance called lanolin. Sometimes lanolin can be found in your chewing gum under the name as “gum base”. It is often times used to create vitamin D3 supplements.

4. Borax in Imported Caviar

Used primarily in insecticides or fire retardants, this particular substance can also be used in glass and detergents, though it sometimes finds itself in food. Borax has been permitted as a food additive in imported caviar, and in some Asian countries it is also sometimes found in noodles, meatballs, and steamed rice. It is primarily known in ingredient lists as E285. It is thought that borax can have serious toxic effects on humans, especially effecting the testes. It is believed that borax is used as a preservative against molds and yeast.

5. Coal Tar in Candy and Soda

Oddly enough, amaranth was once used as a food coloring, but after several scientific studies, it was determined to be extremely carcinogenic. After this discovery, scientists went back to the drawing table and later synthesized a synthetic chemical called allura red AC (E129). This ingredient is a liquid that is made from coal tar which is a by product of turning coal into coal gas or coke. This substance is primarily used in medicated shampoos to kill head lice or used to make Tylenol. While allura red AC is not considered carcinogenic, it can cause vomiting and other side effects. The FDA has commonly permitted it in candy and soda/pop.

6. Shellac in Candy

A common varnish that was used before the advent of lacquer, shellac is more commonly used now in baking and mass produced candy to give the final product a nice shine. We should also point out that shellac is produced from the secretion of the female lac beetle. A little beetle juice with your candy anyone?

7.  Bugs in Food Coloring

Ever wonder where some of the food colorings in food comes from? Well, most of the red food coloring (Cochineal and carmine) is derived from bugs – the cochineal bug to be exact. “Cochineal is produced by drying and pulverizing the whole body of the bug, while carmine is a derivative of cochineal powder.” These bugs are generally killed by immersing them in boiling water. The length of boiling time determines the vibrancy of their redness ranging from a lighter orange to a more vivid red.   It is believed that 155 000 insects are needed to make 2 pounds of food dye. It is also believed that the cochineal bug has been used for hundreds of years as a food dye and it is also very popular for dying clothes.

8. Beaver Anal Glands in Raspberry Flavored Candies and Sweets

Castoreum or   Beaver anal juice can be commonly found in perfumes and colognes but are also sometimes used in raspberry products to enhance their flavor.   It can also be found in chewing gum and cigarettes. It is hard to imagine beaver anal juice enhancing the flavor of raspberries.

9. Human Hair in Baked Goods

L-Cysteine, an amino acid commonly used in hair perming solutions, can be found in many baked goods because it helps add elasticity and soften dough. It can be found in breads, donuts, cookies, and many other baked goods. There is controversy however in how this substance is created. It is believed that the cheapest way to synthesize this ingredient is to use human hair – most of which is sourced and prepared in China. Furthermore, “When asking the soy manufacturer how the amino acid syrup (or powder) was generated, he replied that the powder was generated from human hair. Because the human hair was gathered from salon, barbershop   and hospitals around the country, it was unhygienic and mixed with condom, used hospital cottons, used menstrual cycle pad, used syringe, etc.”

10. Feces in Strawberries

Skatole, a common ingredient in poop, is derived from mammals digestive tract. This ingredient is used in cigarettes as well as perfumes, but more interestingly, it is also used in strawberry ice cream. Apparently, the strawberry flavor is enhanced through the addition of dung. Who would have thought. Anyone’s mouth watering yet?

These are just of few ingredients which have been added to many of the processed foods we consume today. Another reason (among many) to avoid purchasing these products altogether. Always stick to whole organic foods if you want to avoid any of these science experiments. You will certainly be making a smart choice for your health.

Your question(s): Do you know of any other weird ingredients? (post your comments below)

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About the Authors

Jordan & Kyla  are passionate about health; together, they have overcome many illnesses through dietary and lifestyle changes, and the art of practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Reiki Master, and Jordan is currently learning about traditional North American medicinal herbs, in hopes of becoming a Certified Herbalist.  For more information, please visit the following sites;,  Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+, or  Pinterest


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