Know Your Food – 10 Yucky Things in Processed Food


We can’t hear enough about the fact, that fresh food is way better as opposed to Processed Food. Still we prefer Processed Food for taste, texture, color, flavor etc, without having the slightest knowledge of where and how they get it from. As I became more aware of health issues, and I learnt to read the ingredients.

Amazingly I could hardly even pronounce 50% of the names listed. And as they say – Ignorance is bliss. If I can’t read it, why bother about it. And it was easy to ignore and just enjoy the ‘junk’. So now, lets lift the veil and understand what we put in our mouths in the name of  ‘irresistible’ taste.Go ahead, try and pronounce  Azodicarbonamide,  Butylated Hydroxytoluene, Propylene Glycol Alginate, from among many others. If you can slowly but surely read them, try telling the meaning of each.  No Luck ?? These are few of the very common ingredients in packaged foods. These provide texture (softer, crunchier, crumbly, jelly-like, melts in mouth etc.), flavor, color, longer shelf life. Some of these are also used to make fireworks, anti-freeze, fuel cells etc.

After such an elaborate discussion, how about sharing some bizarre sources of few.

 Yucky -Castoreum or Beaver Butts

Processed Food - Beaver.
The food  additive Castoreum, is used to boost flavor in raspberry candies, vanilla cupcakes, strawberry ice cream and other flavored confections. It is a secretion released from the beaver’s anal glans. Weirdly enough, it has the approval of FDA as a source of ‘natural flavoring’.

 Yucky – Gelatin

Processed Food - Gelatin

Gelatin is extracted from the collagen in animal skin and bones. It is often used in cosmetics and food products like marshmallows, gummy bears, yogurts and Jell-O.


Yucky – Carmine

Processed Food - Carmine.

This ‘Natural Red #4′ is a code for boiled beetles. Due to the fantastic red hue, this ingredient is used to artificially dye foods red, purple and pink. Starbucks used it in their Frappucinos, but had to discontinue due to customer uproar. It is widely added to yogurts, candies and juices. 


Yucky – Sodium Nitrate

Processed Food - Sodium Nitrate

Sodium nitrate is commonly used as an oxidizer to make fireworks. It’s also in products like bacon, hot dogs and deli meats to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause lethal botulism in humans. This meat preservative has also been linked to cancer.

Yucky – Phosphoric Acid

Processed Food - Phosphoric Acid

This cheap acidifier gives Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, Mellow Yellow (and most other sodas) that sour tangy taste. It’s also used to make fuel cells, and works wonders to remove rust from metal.  It  can erode the calcium density in bones and damage kidney function.     


Yucky – Cysteine

Processed Food - L-Cysteine

The amino acid L-Cysteine extends shelf-life in processed foods, mostly bread products, and is commonly used at fast food chains. It can be extracted from duck and chicken feathers and human hair. Study says that “most of the hair used to make L-Cysteine comes from China, where it’s gathered from barbershops and hair salons.” 


Yucky – Propylene Glycol Alginate

Processed Food - Propylene Glycol

It is used as a food additive, as a “humectant and stabilizer in prepared fruits, vegetables and bakery goods”. Other uses are as a ‘plasticizer… for cork seals’, ‘solvent for printing inks’ and  ‘equipment cleaner’.  Its is also a key ingredient in anti-freeze.

Yucky – Azodicarbonamide

Processed Food - Azodicarbonamide.

This unpronounceable ingredient is commonly used to bleach flour for white breads and fast-food hamburger buns. It’s also used to manufacture Styrofoam, and other foamed plastics.
Yucky – Polydimethylsiloxane

Processed Food - Polydimethylsiloxane

It is used as part of the filler in some processed ‘meat’ products like Chiken McNuggets (which are only partially made of actual chicken). Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is also a chemical used in Silly Putty.


Yucky – Ammonium sulfate

Processed Food - Ammonium sulfate

A bread additive, ammonium sulfate provides nitrogen to activate the yeast.  Not only is it cheap and fast, it also makes the bread texture more uniform. It’s also a common ingredient in agricultural fertilizer and flame retardants.


The above list is not to gross you out or to scare you. But only to make you aware, so that you can make conscious choices as per you liking. Hopefully now you will look at the same ‘irresistible’ food in a different light. And maybe appreciate more, those healthy and tasty home cooked meals, where you can pronounce ALL the ingredients.




Blog Suggestion – This is a great article on Processed Food  by  Lisa Leake

Another interesting article on this subject  by  Kari Pierce


Related Posts - FDA moves to ban trans fat consumption



Share Button

Comments (5)


  1. John says:

    My ‘yummy’ foods suddenly don’t look so ‘yummy’ now.

  2. Kim says:

    Very good read.

  3. WhoKnew says:

    Who knew we were eating such crap. Nice article!!

  4. Sandy says:

    Whats the big deal……..we’ve been eating it and liking it FOREVER, now suddenly its eewww.

Leave a Reply