Antifreeze & Seaweed in Your Ice Cream? Oh, It's in There

seaweedDoes your ice cream contain seaweed? Sounds like an ice cream flavor for Oscar the Grouch, but if your ice cream contains carrageen, it's got seaweed. Carrageen is a food additive derived from seaweed to keep ice crystals from forming and to give ice cream that thick, silken texture we all know and love. It replaces more expensive -- and fattening -- ingredients.

But seaweed isn't the only weird ingredient lurking in your ice cream. It also contains beans ...


Guar gum, derived from guar beans, is another common thickener found in ice cream, chocolate milk, buttermilk, and other thick 'n' rich dairy treats.

And while I'm at it, I might as well mention that there could be antifreeze in your ice cream as well. Propylene glycol is actually the less-toxic cousin to ethylene glycol (antifreeze), but it's often used to keep ice cream a little soft.

There's ammonia in your hamburger! It's common practice to treat mass-produced ground beef with ammonia in order to kill off harmful pathogens. Industry folks assure me it's perfectly safe and non-toxic, definitely safer than the E. coli it kills. So why does the idea of ammonia in beef still gross me out?

Take note, vegetarians: there may be bugs in your juice. Carminic acid, or carmine, is a red dye that comes from an insect called the cochineal. Juice manufacturers will sometimes add it for extra red coloring. It also shows up in imitation crab, strawberry milk, candy, and loads of other red foods.

You may also find bug excretion in your jelly beans. Shiny candies often get their polish from shellac, which comes from the insect kerria lacca.

Is there fertilizer in your bread? Ammonium sulfate, commonly used as a chemical fertilizer, helps feed yeast for mass-produced bread. Mmm, who doesn't love the aroma of ammonium sulfate filling a bakery?

Your diet soda may have vaginal secretions from a dog. This one has to be the grossest: methylparaben, an ingredient found in female dog pheromones, is an anti-fungal ingredient used in some soft drinks, juices, and even wine. I'm just wondering, does ingesting methylparaben make you bitchy?

No wait, this one is the grossest: if you love raspberry candy, you may be eating beaver anal secretions. That would be castoreum, a flavor enhancer.

Kind of makes you want to read more ingredients lists, right? Or skip mass-produced foods altogether?

Image via Stephendepolo/Flickr


Read More >