You’ll Never Eat This Again Knowing How It’s Made
Hope you're not hungry, because you'll never eat these products again knowing how they're made!Food
As the old adage goes, ‘You are what you eat’. But it turns out, a lot of us barely know the first thing about what’s actually in the stuff we consume daily, let alone some of the hidden horrors of how the stuff gets made! With that in mind, this article will enlighten you about the disturbing processes and ingredients that lurk in your favorite foods.
From puking bees to glued meats, and even a peek into the unnerving life-cycles of the humble hotdog, here are some foods you’ll never eat again once you know just how they’re made.
Widely used in candies, gelatin is an ingredient obtained from boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones of typically pigs, but also cows too. But why are boiled animal carcasses in our candies? The answer is collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, found in bone, skin, muscles, and more, its primary job being to strengthen connective tissues.
This happens to be a useful property when it comes to stabilizing things such as jelly and candy. Collagen, however, isn’t water-soluble in its natural form, so it must be modified to make gelatin. Manufacturers grind the animal parts and treat them with a strong acid for around 24 hours.
This is then boiled in water, which unravels the protein bonds in the collagen, resulting in a usable form of gelatin. Eventually, these unrecognizable bits of animal remains make their way into some of your favorite candies, such as Gummy Bears, Candy Corn, and Sour Patch Kids, to name a few.
Is there anything better than the smell of bacon in the morning? But as delightful as its deliciously salty promises may seem, bacon can come with a morbid reality: bacon can kill you! And not just from all that artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol, either.
In order to make some of our favorite meats, such as bacon, sausage, salami, and beef jerky, to name a few, they have to go through preservation processes, like curing, salting, smoking, or drying. During these processes, sodium nitrite is added, as it preserves the redness of meat, improves flavor by suppressing fat oxidation, and prevents the growth of bacteria.
However, N-nitroso compounds can form in nitrite, which numerous studies have indicated can increase the risk of various types of cancers due to how they interact with the body’s cells and DNA, especially after being exposed to high temperatures in cooking. All of this means that death by sausage is “technically” possible!
On a less deadly note, let’s take a closer look at hotdogs, or more specifically, what exactly the so-called ‘meat’ is that’s inside your hotdogs. The meat is actually ‘trimmings’, A.K.A. a vague term manufacturers use for the skin, blood, liver, head meat, feet, and just about any waste part of a slaughtered animal.
While sausage is traditionally made from pig, hotdogs are typically a blend of turkey, chicken, beef, and pork. The scraps of these animals are tossed together, ground down, and blended with water, seasonings, and corn syrup, until a gloopy batter is formed.
And how does this ‘meat batter’ become the classic weenie shape we all know? Sub-mucosa, A.K.A. the collagen lining of the small intestine of animals. Naturally-cased hotdogs are cased in the intestines of pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, and even horses, while other hot dogs are skinless, prepared in cellulose casings which are removed once the meat is cooked and firm.
Bees are living proof that the small truly are mighty! But besides pollinating three-quarters of our essential crops, they make something delicious that humans and Pooh Bears alike go nuts for: honey!
But how much do you actually know about how honey is made? It all begins with nectar. Bees will collect this sugary substance from flowers and store it in something referred to as their ‘honey stomach’, which is located between their esophagus and digestive system.
After a hard day’s work collecting nectar, the bee will return to the hive and "vomit" the nectar into another bee’s mouth. The bees will continue to exchange the nectar from one bee to the next, each bee adding more digestive enzymes until the now-sweetened partially-digested nectar gets deposited into a honeycomb.
At this point, the nectar is still very watery, so in order to rid the excess fluid, the bees will fan the honeycomb with their wings, speeding up the evaporation process. Afterward, the bee will seal the honeycomb with a lovely secretion from its abdomen, which eventually hardens into beeswax, providing perfect storage for the energy-rich snack, which the bees consume.
In the simplest terms, honey is the vomit of not just one bee, but several, in a row. Isn’t nature beautiful?
When it’s not Kentucky-fried and served with a side of fries, chicken can be one of the most nutritionally valuable meats. Rich with vitamins B6 and B3, chicken has benefits on brain development and the immune and nervous systems. Even so, chicken could be sending you to an early grave. And it’s all down to some shady practices in the poultry industry.
During the 1970s, poultry producers came up with a cunning way they could get more bang for their cluck. They called it ‘plumping’, essentially the process of injecting cuts of chicken with saltwater, something that still happens today.
And it’s perfectly legal as long as it’s declared in some vague form on the packaging, with manufacturers claiming it boosts juiciness and flavor. But since meat’s price is typically determined by weight, suppliers using this method can charge people more for less actual chicken, with some sources suggesting as much as $1.70 extra per package!
But this thickened chicken is scamming you out of something much more important than your money: your health. While a non-plumped chicken breast generally contains 45 to 70 mg of sodium per serving, a plumped chicken breast can contain around 200 to 500 milligrams.
That’s a sizeable chunk of your recommended 2,300-milligram maximum daily intake of salt, spent on a seemingly innocuous chicken breast. This unexpected salt can easily lead unknowing eaters to a high-salt diet, leading to high blood pressure, and potentially to America’s biggest killer: heart disease.
So, how can we avoid this? The problem is, plumped chickens are almost unidentifiable, it’s not as if they’re visibly swollen and raging with veins like a hardcore bodybuilder. However, if you ever notice the label saying ‘enhanced’, ‘brined’, or even that it contains ‘natural chicken broth’, chances are it's been ballooned with a dose of saltwater.
It’s a little-known fact that many ice creams, along with other products, such as frosting, beer, and medications, contain an ingredient called propylene glycol. This ingredient is also found in paints, detergents, fertilizers, and most notoriously, antifreeze! So, should we be worried about antifreeze being in our ice cream?
The facts are, propylene glycol is a colorless, odorless, somewhat syrupy liquid with a mildly sweet taste. Its purpose in antifreeze and ice cream is actually very similar. It lowers the freezing point of water by disrupting the formation of ice crystals, which is great for antifreeze and keeps ice cream smooth. So what’s the problem?
In toxic doses, it’s been reported to lead to heart attacks, kidney and liver failure. However, given that the toxic dose requires around 100 times the amount of propylene-glycol folks typically consume through their diets, it’s generally considered safe for consumption.
For it to be deadly, you’d need to consume a lot, and if your preferred method was via ice cream, at that point, you’d probably be at greater risk of diabetes and extreme brain freeze!
Another very peculiar ingredient used in ice creams is beaver "anal secretion". This secretion, called castoreum, is produced by beavers’ castor glands and is used in conjunction with their urine to mark their territory. Castoreum apparently smells sublime, akin to an aromatic mixture of raspberry and vanilla.
We can only imagine, in perplexed disgust, the circumstances of humans discovering these aromatic traits, but castoreum began to be used as a substitute for vanilla in the early 1900s. Avoiding the butt juice may be harder than you think, with manufacturers often labeling it as just ‘natural flavoring’, which somehow manages to make it sound even more off-putting.
Though many manufacturers claim the unusual product is no longer used, the lack of legal obligation to declare it even if they did means there’s always a slight chance your next cone may be sprinkled in "Eau de beaver-butt".
When you’re chewing gum, you probably assume it’s a fairly innocent way to keep your jaw busy. However, behind that long-lasting chewable innocence lurks the unsettling truth: sheep!
In order to make chewing gum, there needs to be a gum base. This is typically made up of a mixture of polymers, plasticizers, resins, and a slightly more peculiar ingredient: lanolin. It’s an oily secretion produced by the sebaceous glands of sheep. Composed of 170 fatty acids, lanolin helps keep the sheep’s wool and skin waterproof.
So why’s it used in gum? Well, it reportedly contributes to the soft, chewable texture. It’s pretty odd, and not even all that necessary. So, what can we do to avoid sheep gunk in our gum? The best bet is to opt for vegan gum. For regular gum, there are no laws for manufacturers to disclose specific ingredients within the gum base.
So, the only way to be sure you’re not chewing on sheep gland juice is to opt for a product legally guaranteed to contain no animal products.
Today, 2 in 5 Americans regularly consume protein drinks and shakes. With research showing an extra pump of protein can aid muscle growth, weight loss, and even boost your immune system, it seems a no-brainer. However, concealed beneath all these miracles, lurks a bloodcurdling or rather, milk-curdling truth: cheese.
These days, there’s a protein supplement to suit all dietary needs. However, the star of the show is undoubtedly whey, an animal-based protein. Which, if you didn’t know, is to some degree, cheese juice.
In simple terms, dairy cheese is made by heating and curdling milk, with the help of added bacteria and an enzyme concoction called rennet, the latter of which, rather unpleasantly, comes from the stomachs of calves. When curdled, the fatty parts of milk coagulate and form curds, which will become the cheese. The watery by-product is whey.
For protein powder production, the liquid whey is filtered to separate the protein from the fats and carbs, after which the protein is spray-dried with hot and cold air, removing moisture. After this, the result is a white powder, though understandably, this dried-out cheese juice doesn’t taste great. So, additives and flavors, such as chocolate, are incorporated.
But if powdered cheese water doesn’t seem all that gross on its own, its little-known effects on the body might put you off. A good handful of studies have suggested the hormones present in dairy products might increase the risks of prostate and breast cancer, alongside hair loss, acne, and cholesterol problems.
That being said, these studies are inconclusive, and contradictory evidence has been found by other studies over the years. The real health concerns with whey protein powder specifically, though, come from part of the manufacturing process.
In many whey protein powders, often the cheaper varieties, the process for filtering the protein from the rest of the molecules in the whey has some scary side effects. The protein products that use ion-exchange filtration, which is the cheapest and most profitable manufacturing method, result in lower-quality, less-nutritious protein overall due to the harsh chemicals used.
What’s more, despite attempts to remove them, small quantities of these harsh chemicals can remain in the protein mix at the end of the process. This leaves your protein shake with traces of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, which are not the kind of seasoning you want to be consuming on the reg.
To lower your risks, look out for ‘no ion-exchange whey’ written on the label. Or just do what I do; skip the protein shake and never work out at all!
Some like their steak rare, others well-done. But no matter your preference, did you know that the steak you’re eating could be pieces of scrap meat, glued together and made to look like a genuine prime cut?
Let me introduce you to transglutaminase. Nicknamed ‘nature’s biological glue’, this enzyme’s naturally found in humans, animals, and plants, and can be extracted, or produced by bacteria in bioreactors, and processed into a powdered substance.
It helps link proteins together through a reaction at a chemical level, and so can bind pieces of meat together almost seamlessly over the course of between 4 and 24 hours. Due to it being a "biological glue", it’s generally safe to use and is suspected to be sometimes used by butchers and chefs to create the appearance of a prime cut from several lesser-quality scraps.
Be that as it may, meat glue still raises some safety concerns, though not from the glue itself, given that once cooked it’s largely considered harmless. Instead, the danger comes because separate pieces of meat may harbor separate bacteria, meaning that gluing them together is effectively doubling the risk of dangerous contamination.
Revered by many aristocrats, caviar is essentially salted eggs pillaged from a fish's womb, mostly harvested from a specific fish: the Sturgeon. Since Sturgeons are rare and difficult to farm, their eggs are considered more precious; thus the hefty price tag.
In order to obtain the eggs, the Sturgeon, most of the time, is slaughtered as egg-gatherers sedate her and slice into her womb. After gathering, the eggs are quality checked and cleared of any impurities, ready to meet their fate down a duke or duchess’ gullet.
I’m not here to give you a lesson on the ethics of killing an animal to eat its unborn children. But the fact is, the slaughter of Mother Sturgeons and their subsequent lack of reproduction almost resulted in the extinction of several sub-species before legal measures were introduced in the early 2000s. So, maybe sturgeons could use a break.
However, caviar isn’t the only fancy seafood that has a slightly savage path to your dinner table. Many don’t know this, but when slurping back an oyster, it’s likely either still alive or very recently killed.
The reason is, oysters that have been dead for too long begin to harbor harmful bacteria, which can lead to fever, vomiting, chills, and diarrhea. So, oysters are mostly consumed alive by those with expensive tastes.
It’s probably no surprise that energy drinks aren’t exactly healthy, but just how harmful guzzling a can of Monster Energy can be is likely much more than you realize. With your standard 500-milliliter can packing 55 grams of sugar, that’s way more than the recommended 36 grams of daily sugar intake for an adult man.
Not only can excessive amounts of sugar lead to tooth decay, but weight gain too, which will put you at a higher risk of health complications, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and even some cancers. But if you still need proof of just how nasty the stuff inside this beverage is, watch this clip below:
When boiled to evaporate the water content, Monster Energy reduces down to a sticky, tar-like substance, proving just how sugary it really is. But aside from astronomic levels of sugar, this monstrous energy drink is made with a ton of acids, such as taurine, guarana, ginseng, and L-Carnitine.
On their own in small quantities, these individual ingredients can be beneficial, but if consumed daily via energy drinks, they can result in an excessively acidic diet, leading to bone and muscle deterioration.
This is because the blood’s pH level becomes too acidic, which causes the body to convert muscle fibers and redirect calcium from the bones into the blood, as an attempt to neutralize excess acidity. So, you might get energized, but at a high cost on your body.
First off, let’s take a look at the beginnings of SPAM. In the town of Austin, Minnesota, in 1891, George A. Hormel founded his namesake slaughterhouse and meatpacking facility. By 1929, George’s war-hero son, Jay, took over as the company’s president.
He set out to design a distinct product that could be trademarked by the Hormel company. The result would be SPAM. And while it has often been dubbed the ‘mystery meat’, it’s simply a combination of pork shoulder and ham, from the pig’s leg.
These meaty chunks get thrown in a grinder, then mixed with additives in a sealed vacuum to prevent moisture from escaping the meat. Then, the mixture is funneled into cans by an automated machine, after which the cans are sealed, sterilized, and heated, cooking the meat inside the cans themselves, ready for eating!
Aside from the idea of mushed and recombined meat being pretty unsettling overall, it's the small handful of additives in SPAM that you might want to steer clear of. Besides a dash of sugar and potato starch, each can is loaded with a ton of salt. While the label might tell you a measly 770 milligrams, that’s just for a 2-ounce serving.
The standard can contain 12 ounces, meaning it packs a blood-pressurizing 4,620 milligrams of salt! Not just that, but the meat also contains sodium nitrite, which, when exposed to high heat, can be converted into nitrosamine; a dangerous, potentially cancer-causing compound.
However, due to its ability to prevent bacteria, nitrite keeps unopened cans of SPAM good for a long time. In fact, even though it’s suggested that SPAM might lose quality after 3 years, there’s no specific expiration date, only a ‘best by’ date, meaning it could in theory be good indefinitely!
While it’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, the type of breakfast you’re eating every morning may be doing more harm than good. From Frosted Flakes to Froot Loops, cereals are typically made from processed grains, fortified with vitamins and minerals.
However, they’re not as nutritious as many of them imply, as they’re also packed with sugar and refined carbs. Shockingly, the recommended serving of 1.3 ounces of Frosted Flakes contains 12 grams of sugar, that’s more sugar than 100 milliliters of non-diet Coke, and you can bet most people vastly exceed that suggested portion size.
But there’s more. Most processed breakfast cereals are produced by a process known as "extrusion". This involves the grains being combined with water and processed into a slurry. Afterward, the mix is sent through an extruder machine, which shapes the mix into the tiny hoops and flakes we all know.
However, according to biochemist Paul Stitt, the extrusion process of forcing the grains through tiny holes at high temperatures and pressures, simultaneously destroys most of the grains’ natural nutrients, as well as destroying the synthetic vitamins added to the mix.
As a result, the cereals are essentially rendered little more than sugary carbs, which will deliver little nutritious benefit beyond temporarily spiking your blood sugar levels, sending you crashing just hours later. For a useful breakfast, your best bet is to have something nutritious and unprocessed, such as eggs, fruit, yogurt, or oats, to name a few.
Another thing you might want to steer clear of at breakfast is orange juice. Sure, it’s packed with vitamin C, but those of you less concerned about scurvy and more about diabetes might be surprised to know that a 300-milliliter bottle of Tropicana has near enough the same amount of sugar as a can of Coke.
But that’s not all. Brands that claim to be ‘100% orange juice, it turns out, aren’t to be trusted. Freshly squeezed OJ has a short lifespan, so manufacturers remove the oxygen to work around this. Only, doing this removes the orange’s natural flavor.
So, manufacturers will then re-flavor the juice with so-called ‘flavor packs’. And since these are made from the chemical constituents of orange essence and oil, companies can get away with labeling ‘100% Orange Juice’ as the only ingredient. But, technically, even that’s not quite true, as a lot of mass-produced orange juice contains another ingredient: pesticides.
In common manufacturing methods, when oranges are pressed, the whole orange is usually placed into the machine. This includes the skins, which farmers spray in pesticides to keep insects at bay, and trace amounts of these pesticides can be pulled into the juice mix.
Certain pesticides used for this purpose, cholinesterase inhibitors, are toxic to the nervous system, and some early studies are beginning to indicate there may be a link between these pesticides in juices and an increased risk of dementia. So, with all the joyous parts of breakfast thoroughly ruined, I guess we’d better just tuck into our plain, unsweetened oats.
If you were amazed at the shocking ingredients behind our food, you might want to read our article about what happens to your food when you're not looking. Thanks for reading!