Doesn’t sound like very tasty eating, right? Well, according to Bruce Bradley, a former food executive, these questionable ingredients have been given more pleasant-sounding names and added to processed foods labeled “all natural”. So all those “natural” foods you’ve been eating lately under the assumption they’re purer and healthier can easily contain any of these three additives without you knowing they’re there.

  • Ever noticed any yogurts or beverages SO vibrantly red, they looked as though a scarlet neon wand had colored them. Their labels usually list Carmine, Crimson Lake or Natural Red #4 coloring. Which happen to be industry synonyms for a red food dye made of crushed cochineal beetles.
  • Speaking of beetles, the critters also make an appearance in sweets on ultra shiny candies and sprinkles. Produced from secretions of the female Lac bug, they can be spotted on food labels under the far homier-sounding “Confectioner’s Glaze”.
  • How could anyone, you wonder, intentionally add human hair and/or duck feathers (called Cystine in Process Food-land) to the food we eat. Especially considering how one little hair in food can freak us out. I give you the bread and baked foods industry that uses the ground up stuff to “improve” the texture of their products and because Cystine is considered a natural ingredient by the FDA, no one who buys baked foods will suspect it’s full of hair and feathers.  (This unsettling info is added to the equally unsettling recent news about wood pulp being added to bread, the long  respected staff of life that’s looking less respectable by the minute)
  • Last and certainly not least we get to those beaver anal glands, an odiferous combo of glands and urine that beavers use to mark their territory. The process food people instead use this charmer called Castoreum to spike up vanilla and raspberry flavoring in food and beverages. Surprise –you’ll never find those glands listed on any food label in any store. You will however find it legally buried under that familiar disguise called “Natural Flavoring”.

If you attempt to contact any food companies to inquire if Castoreum is present in a specific food, you will be informed — as Bradley was — that food processors don’t explicitly use Castoreum.  Because All their flavors are vendor supplied and proprietary information, the companies oh so conveniently can’t speak for their vendors.

If you sense food manufacturers in their quest for richer profits are putting up ever-higher barriers between the public and the truth about the foods they produce, Bradley would agree with you. And as a former food-marketing insider at multinational corporations, he should know.

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