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When you look on the ingredients list of some foods, there's a high probability that there will be some stuff that makes no sense to you. It looks and sounds scientific so hopefully it's not going to be damaging to your health.
But if you look up some of the these additives or ingredients, you might be shocked to find out exactly what it is and where it comes from.
Take castoreum for example, it sounds like a preservative that just makes the product last longer, right? RIGHT?!
Well, in this instance, it most certainly is not.
Castoreum is a yellowish secretion that beavers use in combination with their urine to mark their territory. Yes, you read that right, something that an animal ejects from their body is used to add flavour to foods.
It's often listed as 'natural flavouring', which makes sense because beavers are a part of nature, but it's not the thing that most people would associate with something that goes into food. Castoreum is used for a whole host of food and drinks as a substitute to vanilla flavour and less commonly for raspberry or strawberry flavouring.
According to befoodsmart.com, Castoreum is found in "alcoholic beverages, baked goods, frozen dairy, chewing gum, candy, beverages, meat products, pudding, gelatine and ice cream."
But if this was news to you, you must have missed famous chef Jamie Oliver warning us on the Late Show with David Letterman.
This might be a surprise to some of you, but insects are also used in some of your other favourite products to get a nice colouring agent. The Cochineal is a scale insect found on cacti, which manufacturers crush to produce a red dye for food colouring.
But you probably won't find the word Cochineal on the ingredient list, as it's usually called carmine, E120 and natural red 4.
This is the reason why vegans and some vegetarians shy away from products which contain this little additive, and it's used in yogurt, sweets, applesauce, baked goods and red-colored beverages.
Credit: Zyance/Creative Cp
There have been cases of people suffering some pretty intense health side effects as a result of the ingredient, including diarrhoea, anaphylaxis, asthma and hives.
Following several studies on the additive, the European Union required all products which have carmine added to have the following message: "May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children."
So maybe it might be worth having a look into all the different additives in your food to work out just exactly what you're eating.
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