1. Human hair – L-Cysteine is an amino acid used to prolong shelf-life in products such as commercial bread. It can be found in duck and chicken feathers and cow horns but the one used in food comes mostly from human hair. Most of the hair used for L-Cysteine production comes from China where it’s gathered from barbershops and hair salons. L-Cysteine is not an additive in flour so you can avoid its consumption by buying fresh bread from a local baker. Fast food places such as McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King also use L-Cysteine as an additive.
2. Fish bladder – Isinglass is a substance that looks like gelatin and is produced from the swim bladder of a fish. Isinglass is added to cask beers and Guinness to make them clearer and remove yeast or any other residue. This means there might be a trace of fish bladder in your pint glass which could be a problem if you are a vegetarian or a vegan.
3. Coal tar – coal tar is what many dyes used in the processed food are derived from. In 2007 tartrazine, commercially known as yellow #5, was connected to childhood hyperactivity and since then an EU health regulation states that any product containing it must have a warning label. There is no such law in US. Concerned over food colouring, bloggers have recently petitioned Kraft to remove the dyes from their popular macaroni and cheese product.
4. Borax – it is used as a fire-retardant, anti-fungal and enamel compound as well as a food additive. Known in the food world as E285, borax is banned in the US and Canada but allowed in the EU. It is used to control acidity in products as well as assist in preservation. It can be found in some caviars, including some imported to the US and also in many Asian noodle and rice dishes as it adds a firm, rubbery texture to foods.
5. Silicone breast implant filler – Did you know that McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are only about 50% actual chicken? The rest is made from synthetic ingredients, including dimethylpolysiloxane. The chemical is used in silicone and can be found in Silly Putty as well as in breast implant fillers.