Not Just Pink Slime: 6 Gross Food Ingredients You Didn't Know You Were Eating

Pink slime is just the beginning: Here are six more gross ingredients that the FDA deems "safe" and that might be in your next bite of food.

1. Ammonia
You've heard about "pink slime," the nutritionally questionable, ground beef filler treated with ammonia that has graced school cafeteria and burger joint menus for decades. Regardless of the supposed safety of ammonia in beef, did you know: Ammonia may also show up in small amounts in peanut butter, chips and other foods.

2. Beaver glands
You'll find "castoreum," the dried perineal glands of beavers, used as a strawberry, raspberry or vanilla flavoring in some candy, gum, gelatin, and pudding.

3. Human or hog hair, or duck feathers
When you see "L-Cysteine" on the ingredient label for bread or bagels, know that it's an amino acid derived from hair or feathers.

4. Sprayed-on viruses
To combat the threat of listeria, the FDA allows food producers to spray deli meats with the same bacteriophages that hospitals use to kill germs.

5. Insect parts
The female Lac beetle gives us the ingredient shellac-sometimes called "confectioner's glaze"-used to make candy and fruit (and furniture) shiny. Carmine, commonly used as a red food coloring for fruit juices and candy, is made from the shells of desert beetles.

6. Wood pulp
Tiny pieces of plant fibers and wood called "powdered cellulose" are used to make some types of low-fat ice cream seem more creamy. It's also used to prevent some shredded cheese from clumping.

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© 2012 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. By Beth Dreher