Surprising Secrets From The Food Industry That We Never Knew
The food industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with no signs of slowing down. The question is, how much do we know about the food we consume daily? Unless we live on a farm or grow food ourselves, we probably know very little about what we actually eat or how our food is made, and what ingredients it contains. Here are some facts about the food industry that aren’t so known and might surprise you.
The FDA states that peanut butter can contain one rodent hair per 100 grams.
There is nothing like a classic peanut butter sandwich and for some us, peanut butter tastes the best by the spoonful. According to the FDA list, peanut butter is one of the most controlled foods, and it’s allowed to contain rodent hairs and fragments of insects. Yikes!
Eating a single fast food burger may contain the meat of at least 100 cows.
Little do we know, but a single cut of meat from one cow to make one burger is extremely rare. In fact, one fast food burger contains meat of up to 100 cows. This puts a lot of perspective on how our food is produced and how we can make more mindful decisions of what we consume.
According to Italian Law, Nutella can’t be labeled as a chocolate spread because it does not meet the criteria for minimum cocoa solids.
To all of the Nutella lovers out there, did you know that 1 in 4 hazelnuts end up in a Nutella jar? Fun fact, right? Well, what we thought was an extremely delicious “chocolate spread” is in fact not a chocolate spread at all. The main ingredients in Nutella are sugar and palm oil, not cocoa, which is why Italian Law can’t label it as a chocolate spread.
Many gummy candies are made from pigskin, cattle bones, and cattle hide.
Heading to the candy store and picking out your favorite gummy candies might satisfy your sweet tooth. However, after reading what these candies are made out of, that sweet tooth might not last. Besides sugar, gelatin is a main ingredient in candy that is made from the skin and bones of animals.
McDonald’s reportedly sells 75 hamburgers per second, 4,500 burgers per minute, and 270,000 burgers every hour. That is approximately 45.6 million burgers a week.
Wow, McDonald’s sells a lot of burgers! There’s no surprise that it’s the largest fast-food chain in the world, and the largest purchaser of beef. With these statistics, we definitely understand why. One extra stat to add to the list is that in one year McDonald’s sells 2.36 billion burgers.
Jelly beans are shiny because of shellac which is a sticky substance derived from the secretions of a female insect.
Jelly Belly’s are definitely a classic candy that come in all different colors and flavors. So what makes this candy bean so shiny? Well, it’s insect secretions. They are coated in something called shellac which is a resin that’s secreted from a female bug. After the shellac is dissolved, it can be sprayed on anything from food products to your nails.
Subway’s bread used to contain a chemical found in yoga mats.
Azodicarbonamide. That’s the name of the chemical that was used in Subway’s bread that is also found in yoga mats. It’s a dough conditioner used in bread baking, but has been linked vinyl products such as yoga mats. Although other fast-food chains have admitted to using this chemical in their breads as well, in 2014 Subway agreed to get rid of the ingredient.
Chicken nuggets may not be part of the chicken you expect and consists mostly of bones, tendons, and fat.
What came first, the chicken or the nugget? There’s no doubt that chicken nuggets are a popular food item, but what many people don’t know is what these tasty nuggets are made out of. Well, chicken nuggets actually contain very little meat and are composed of mostly fat, bones, skin, and connective tissue.
The cream in the center of Twinkie’s is mostly vegetable shortening.
The classic Twinkie. It looks so simple, yet is so complex. This delicate cake actually contains 37 ingredients and its cream-filled center is not really cream and mostly made from a fat known as vegetable shortening.
Advertisers use glue instead of milk during cereal commercials so the cereal doesn’t sink or get soggy.
Good advertising is all about how a product is presented. Commercials are no different and have you ever wondered why cereal doesn’t get soggy in ads? It’s because they use glue or other substitutes besides milk so the cereal stays hard and fresh.
Over 100 billion pounds of food is wasted every year.
Food waste is when food gets thrown away instead of eaten and is a huge problem in the United States. Unfortunately, more than 100 billion pounds of food from supermarkets, homes, and restaurants are wasted every year. This means that 40% of food in America goes to the garbage.
Meat-based fast food may contain “pink slime” that is used as a filler.
The infamous pink slime. We’ve all seen this picture and yes it’s real, but what is pink slime? It’s a meat by-product that is used as a filler in fast food burgers to reduce the overall amount of fat in the meat. To avoid pink slime, maybe stick with local ground beef.
American cheese is not considered real cheese and is called a “pasteurized cheese product.”
There’s nothing more American than American cheese. It’s a classic staple on burgers or a grilled cheese sandwich. However, is it really cheese? Well, no. In order for it to be considered real cheese it’s needs to have at least 51% of cheese in the product. Unfortunately for the cheese lovers, American cheese doesn’t make the cut.
Artificial vanilla contains castoreum which is a product that comes from beaver secretions.
Have you ever wondered where vanilla flavoring comes from? We know it comes from vanilla pods, but artificial vanilla comes from other places as well. If you love vanilla, you’ve probably eaten castoreum. Castoreum is a substance that’s produced from the anal sac of a beaver. The good news is, according to research, the use of castoreum these days is pretty rare. Phew!
Ranch dressing contains titanium dioxide that is used in sunscreen to give it its white color.
Ranch dressing is one of the most popular salad dressings and there’s no denying that it’s pretty delicious. It’s so good that people even drizzle it on their pizza! But, it may contain titanium dioxide that helps give it its white color and is surprisingly found in other products such as sunscreen. According to the FDA less than 1% of titanium dioxide can be in food products. Still might want to reconsider your daily ranch intake, however.
Factory farms raise almost 99% of animals sold for food in the U.S.
With statistics like this, that means that only 1% of animals raised for food grow up outside of factory farms. Apparently these animals aren’t as “free range” as we think. According to the Sentience Institute 99.9% of broiler chickens, 99.8% of turkey’s, 98.3% of pigs, and 70.4% if cows live on factory farms.
Most figs contain bodies of dead wasps.
There seems to be a fig-wasp relationship that we were not aware of and the truth is, we’ve most likely been eating dead wasps. A fig is actually an inverted flower and female wasps crawl inside figs to lay eggs. This sounds totally unappetizing, but don’t fret just yet. The crunchy bits you’re eating really are just fig seeds and luckily figs produce an enzyme that digests the wasps.
Most sugar is processed with bone char from animals to achieve its white color.
White sugar is found in nearly everything we eat or drink, and most sugar we consume is made from bone char. Bone char is a product made from the bones of cows and is processed down into a powder that helps sugar sustain its white color. Does that mean white sugar isn’t vegan?
Studies have shown that around 48% of soda fountains in fast-food restaurants contain harmful bacteria such as E. Coli.
Soda is a popular drink of choice when heading to a fast-food restaurant. Unfortunately, not everything is always as sanitary as it seems to be. Turns out, soda fountains can be pretty gross. Studies have shown that 48% of drinks from soda fountains contain bacteria, most likely do to poor cleaning and sanitation.
Most eggs used in breakfast fast-food sandwiches contain ‘premium blend egg.’ The premium egg consists of glycerin, a solvent that is found in shaving cream, moisturizers, and soap.
We know that fast-food isn’t the healthiest option and there are many reasons why. However, it’s convenient, tasty, and cost-friendly. In addition, what we think might be a healthier alternative, like a breakfast egg sandwich, instead of pancakes and bacon, might not be as healthy as we think. These egg sandwiches aren’t just eggs and contain ingredients that are also found in other products such as shaving cream and soap.
The FDA allows up to 30 maggots per 3.5 ounces of canned mushrooms.
If you’re going to make a mushroom dish, you’re better off using fresh mushrooms. However, the next best option is the canned version because maybe fresh mushrooms were out of stock, it’s cheaper, and the shelf-life is longer. But, one thing to consider is that the FDA allows a certain number of maggots and mites for every 3.5 oz can of mushrooms! We’ve definitely eaten a maggot…or two.
Fruit snacks are made with the same wax used on cars.
Yeah you read that correctly. Fruit snacks that we all loved to eat growing up get their glossy shine due to carnauba wax. This is the same type of wax used on cars. We’re not too sure how to feel about that, but fruit snacks are still delicious.
If nutmeg is ingested in large doses it works as a hallucinogen.
Nutmeg is a staple in any house and a spice commonly used in cooking. But, did you know that consuming nutmeg in large amounts can cause hallucinogenic effects? Nutmeg contains myristicin, a compound that causes mind-altering effects. Pretty wild.
The red food dye for Skittles is made from boiled beetles.
Little did we know, but we’ve probably been eating bugs our whole lives. If you’ve eaten any candy with red food coloring then you definitely have. Insects called cochineal produce carmine which is extracted from these bugs to create a red dye. It’s a staple in the food industry and is considered a safe and natural product.
One in four hazelnuts ends up in Nutella.
Nutella has won the hearts of millions. It’s smooth, creamy, nutty, and absolutely heavenly. An interesting fact about Nutella is that one in four hazelnuts end up in this jar of chocolatey goodness. To put this number into more perspective, 25% of all hazelnuts that are harvested annually end up in Nutella jars.
Most wasabi you buy in a store or eat in a restaurant is actually colored horseradish.
If you think you’ve been eating wasabi this whole time after you’ve ordered your favorite deep fried sushi roll.. think again. There is a very high chance that we are eating horseradish that’s been dyed green to resemble wasabi. The demand for authentic wasabi is so high, even in Japan, that horseradish is generally used as its substitute.
Calorie counts don’t need to be 100% accurate.
Reading food labels gives us an indication of the amount of calories and ingredients we are consuming. But, that box of your favorite chocolate chip cookies might have way more calories than you’d expect. That’s because food labels don’t need to be 100% accurate. In reality, they can be up to 20% inaccurate, so we may never really know the correct nutritional information.
Oregano can contain up to 1,250 insect fragments per 10 grams.
It seems like insects are everywhere. Not only do these creepy crawlers show up in unexpected places like our bedroom walls, but also in so much of the food and seasonings we consume. Oregano is legally allowed to contain up to 1,250 insect fragments per 10 grams. This really makes us wonder just how many insects we unknowingly consume per year.
During commercials, food stylists spray deodorant on fruit to make it look shinier and more fresh.
Good presentation of a product is one of the main goals in advertising. When it comes to selling food, there are many creative ways to enhance the look and make food look much more tastier. No special tools required for this fruit ad, just some deodorant spray to make the fruit look as shiny and fresh as possible.
Expiration dates on water bottles have nothing to do with the water.
You might be thinking why water bottles have an expiration date. Does water really go bad? Well, the reason behind the expiration date isn’t because of the water, it’s because consumable products by law must have expiration dates written on them. Also, even though the drinking water might not go bad, the plastic bottle does, and can start producing chemicals in the water.
There is wood pulp in shredded cheese.
To all the shredded cheese lovers out there, would you like a side of wood pulp with that cheese? Wood pulp is commonly known as cellulose and comes from cooking raw plant fiber, usually wood, and and is found in shredded cheese to prevent it from clumping together.
Raw oysters are still alive when you eat them.
Apparently, you don’t want to eat a raw dead oyster because it’s not safe. So yes, oysters are in fact still alive or have just been shucked when you eat them which is why they are generally served on ice to keep them fresh.
Breast milk is the only single food that provides all the nutrients our bodies need.
A healthy diet consists of several things like carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. However, we need to consume different types of food in order to get all the nutrients we need, except for breast milk. Yes, it’s what babies drink in their early year(s) of life, but it’s the only single food that provides humans all the essential nutrients in order to survive.
White chocolate is not actually chocolate.
Not all chocolate is created equally and white chocolate didn’t make the cut. White chocolate isn’t real chocolate for the simple fact that it doesn’t contain cocoa particles. It’s really just sugar mixed with cocoa butter with some vanilla flavoring. Sure does taste good though!
To test the freshness of eggs, bad eggs will float and good eggs will sink.
Life hack: If you’re ever curious to know if your new carton of organic eggs are fresh, just do this simple test. Take out your eggs and put them in a glass or pot of water and see if it sinks or floats. Eggs that sink to the bottom are fresh and eggs that float to the top are bad.
Until 2013, Pizza Hut used to be the biggest purchaser of kale in the U.S.
Remember the kale craze that went around several years ago? Who’d of thought that Pizza Hut was the original kale purchaser in the U.S. They actually used kale to decorate their salad bars to make it look more presentable, and also used kale to cover the ice that was used to keep the salad fresh.
Brown sugar is no different than white sugar.
Sugar is sugar whether it’s brown or white. Brown sugar is just white sugar that’s been mixed with molasses which is why it becomes brown. There are also some taste differences between the two, but nutritionally they are very similar.
Nutritious food is more expensive than junk food.
This fact isn’t anything new and most of us who balance their diets with healthy foods and junk foods know there are major price differences. It’s a sad truth, but unhealthy foods can be mass produced and manufactured more efficiently and fresh produce requires more labor.
The meat used in hot dogs is called “meat trimmings,” which includes parts of the animals head, feet, liver, fatty tissue and muscle.
Hot dogs are the quintessential food in nearly every 4th of July barbeque or snack on that fun trip to Costco. What are hot dogs really made of though? Meat trimmings. Yikes! Meat trimmings are the different parts of an animal from their head, feet, and fat that have been mixed and ground up together to produce a hot dog.
Products that claim to use ‘whole grain’ may contain very little of it.
Nutritional labels provide us with a wealth of information, however, they can be misleading. Food labels don’t need to be 100% accurate and products that say ‘whole grain’ on the cover of the package might only contain a very tiny percentage. The FDA doesn’t regulate how much whole grain needs to be in the product for it to actually be considered whole grain.
Fat-free or sugar-free products are not always the healthier alternative.
Seeing food labels that are sugar-free makes us feel like we can eat some of the bad things “guilt free,” but that’s not really the case. Just because something says sugar-free of fat-free doesn’t equal healthy. Artificial sweeteners are used and we tend to eat more because we aren’t fully satisfied.
To avoid melting ice cream, mashed potatoes are used as a substitute in advertisements.
Don’t believe everything you see… no truer statement has ever been said. To be fair, it’s not surprising that advertisers use dyed potatoes instead of real ice cream because we know how quickly ice cream can melt.
McDonald’s distributes more toys per year than Toys R Us.
Not only is McDonald’s the biggest fast food chain in the world, it is also the largest distributor of toys in the world. McDonald’s distributes a toy with every Happy Meal and a total of 1.5 billion toys world wide.
The stickers on fruits and vegetables are edible.
We’ve all seen stickers on our produce and if for some reason you forget to peel it off, don’t worry, they’re edible. The FDA controls the stickers and the ink that is used on the labels to ensure that no harmful ink is used.
European chocolate tends to be tastier than American chocolate because it’s required by law to have more milk fats than dry milk solids.
Chocolate is one of the greatest inventions out there and there is no doubt that European chocolate takes a win on this one. But, why does it taste differently and more rich than American chocolate? Well, that’s because European chocolates have a higher milk-fat content and requires a higher minimum number of cocoa content.
The bananas we buy at the supermarket are genetically identical clones descended from one banana.
The banana on the left is what all of us are used to buying at the store and it’s known as the Cavendish banana. These bananas are clones of the ones next to it. In the photo the banana on the right is a natural or ‘wild’ banana and few of them still exist.
Peanuts can be used to make dynamite.
Bet you didn’t know this fun little fact about peanuts because we didn’t either. The oil in peanuts produce glycerol which can be used to make nitro-glycerine, a key component in dynamite. Looks like peanuts make quite the bang!
Chickens today contain more fat than protein because of there dietary intake.
Chicken used to be the healthier meat option because of its white meat and lean protein. But, through the years chickens weight has increased more than ever before due to lack of exercise and over-eating in factory farms. Chickens today are more than 4 times the size they used to be over 50 years ago.
Chocolate bars have an average of 8 insect legs in it.
If you know there were particles of insect legs in chocolate bars would you still eat it? My guess is probably! Chocolate is just too good and when we think about it, we’ve probably eaten much worse.
Froot Loops are all the same flavor.
The secret is out! The color on a Froot Loop doesn’t mean anything because they are all the same flavor. Hopefully this news wasn’t too disappointing, but we can confidently say that the one Froot Loop flavor is deliciousness.
If stored properly, honey can stay edible for decades or even longer.
There are definitely those times we feel a bit of guilt when we throw away uneaten or unopened food that’s past its expiration date. However, honey seems to be immortal. In 2015, archeologists found honey from over 3,000 years ago! Honey may change over time, but no need to throw it out.
Potatoes can absorb and reflect radio-wave signals.
Potatoes are more than just a tasty side dish, they can actually absorb radio-wave signals because of their water content and chemistry. During a Boeing flight test, engineers used sacks of potatoes instead of human passengers to improve in-air Wi-Fi. How cool is that!
Advertising photographers put heartburn antacids in soft drinks to make it look more carbonated.
The bubbles in carbonated drinks can disappear quickly and in order to get the perfect shot, photographers will use antacid pills in soda’s to create a strong chemical reaction.
Salami isn’t cooked meat, but isn’t technically raw.
Salami is a popular food item whether it’s on a sandwich or decorated nicely on a charcuterie board. Is it cooked? Is it raw? Salami is actually neither. It’s cured which means it goes through a fermentation process and is then dried, salted, and spiced. The process of making salami edible can take several weeks.
Tomato paste is only considered bad if more than 45% contains mold.
Tomato paste is the most essential ingredient in number of well-known dishes. A good tomato sauce can certainly make the dish a hit or a miss. However, mold is the obvious sign that something has gone bad, and nobody wants to eat mold. Apparently tomato sauce is only considered “bad” if 45% (almost half) contains mold. Pasta for dinner?
Farm-raised salmon is naturally white and is dyed pink.
If you ever want to know if the salmon you buy from the grocery store is farm-raised or wild caught, just look at the color. Farm-raised salmon is originally a white/gray color that has been dyed which makes it pink and is much lighter in color. Wild caught salmon is darker and the more healthier option.
In the U.S., companies can legally sell curry powder that contains less than 100 insect fragments per 25 grams.
There’s always something nice about a little bit of spice. Spices add that extra taste of flavor in our favorite dishes, but again, the insects come crawling in. If your curry powder has less an 100 insect fragments, it’s good to go! Maybe that’s why curry tastes so good.
If you’ve eaten shrimp, you’ve most likely eaten their digestive tract.
Have you ever wondered what the black lining is that runs down the shrimps back? It’s the digestive tract of the shrimp and the black line is grit. Although it’s not harmful to eat, it may look off-putting to some people so many seafood places will devein the shrimp by taking out the black lining. Shrimp cocktail, anyone?
Grocery stores will sometimes add carbon monoxide with meat that is near its expiration date to make it look fresh.
Meat sold in the supermarket that has an unappealing color or is near its expiration date is not the most appetizing. But, looks can be deceiving and to give meat a more red appearance it goes through modified atmosphere packaging. The meat is pumped with small amounts of carbon monoxide to keep it ‘fresh.’
The FDA allows 10 insects and 35 fruit fly eggs per 8oz of raisins.
Raisins have always been a yummy snack to have on hand. They’re sweet and chewy, what’s not to love. However, it seems like these insects can’t get away from us. The FDA allows 10 insects and 35 fruit fly eggs in 8oz of raisins. One small snack box is 1oz which means there’s at least 1 insect in there.