The food industry is witnessing an unprecedented growth as manufacturers and brands continuously introduce novel products to the market. This growth is evident from the staggering surge in grocery store sales, which have more than doubled in the past 30 years in the US alone. However, while consumers crave for delicious and budget-friendly food, it is vital to pause and reflect on the ingredients present in our diets. It is shocking to learn that there are several hidden ingredients in our foods, such as beaver anal gland secretions and sheep sebum in chewing gum, that retailers like Walmart do not advertise. Therefore, it is time we take a deeper look at the foods we consume and gain a better understanding of what we are putting into our bodies.

1. Cheese In A Can

Company: Kraft and others
Market Share: $64.68 billion total cheese snacks market*
Ingredient: Curdled milk 

It’s no surprise that cheese in a can isn’t a popular choice outside the US, and there’s likely a good reason for that. For most people, the thought of consuming such a product is unappetizing, regardless of their knowledge of the ingredients. Needless to say, this type of cheese isn’t going to provide much in terms of nutrition. The cans are filled with a range of peculiar substances, including whey, which is essentially curdled milk. Cheaper than actual cheese, it’s a common ingredient used to bulk up the product. As if that wasn’t enough, the product often includes sodium phosphate, a substance typically used to treat constipation, as an added bonus ingredient.

2. Sausages

Company: Various
Market Share: $7 billion* 
Ingredient: Pigskin

If you’re someone who regularly consumes sausages, it’s likely that the thought of eating pig meat doesn’t bother you much. However, there’s another aspect to consider aside from the filling: the casing itself. Unfortunately, sausage casings aren’t all that appetizing. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a brand that uses pig skin as the casing. However, on a bad day, you may discover that the casing is made of cellulose or even thin plastic. It’s a gamble, and trust me, this isn’t a game you want to lose. When it comes to meat products, choosing the cheapest option may not be the wisest decision. The quality of the food you consume is crucial, so it’s worth investing a bit more in something that’s made with proper ingredients and methods.

3. Caviar

Company: Various overseas shipments 
Market Share: $496.3 million by 2025*
Ingredient: Borax

Consuming Borax is a big no-no, and the FDA has banned it from many foods in America. Despite this, it still manages to find its way onto shelves, including in caviar. Many brands around the world use Borax, listed as E285, to preserve the fish eggs. Before indulging in a fancy dinner party delicacy, it’s important to check where it comes from and whether any unsavory ingredients are lurking inside.

4. Canned Pineapple

Company: Bel Monte and others
Market Share: $9.95 billion total canned fruits market* 
Ingredient: More sugar, more calories, mold 

Canned pineapple is great for when you’re in a pinch, but if you always thought it was the same as the fresh variety, you’re in for a shock. Raw pineapple is great, but canned pineapple is higher in calories, higher in sugar, and generally not that good for you. Even if you get it canned in its own juices, you can’t beat the raw kind when it comes to nutrition. If you’re not particularly bothered by sugar or calorie content, then it might not put you off, but be under no illusions – canned isn’t king when it comes to this fruit. What’s more, cans can contain up to 20% mold. 

5. Citrus Flavored Sodas

Company: Mountain Dew and others
Market Share: 7% of total soda market* (Mountain Dew)
Ingredient: Yellow 5

Soda companies often use food dyes and colorants to enhance the visual appeal of their products, particularly for citrus-flavored drinks. One such ingredient, Yellow 5, is known for its bright yellow color, but is there more to it? There were once rumors that Yellow 5 could reduce testicle size and sperm count, but these claims were debunked. Despite this, the controversy surrounding its use in beverages lingers, and the negative association remains.

6. Margarine

Company: Various
Market Share: $38.41 billion by 2027*
Ingredient: One molecule away from being plastic 

Margarine was originally intended for turkey consumption, but when it didn’t catch on, scientists found another use for it. Despite being a popular butter substitute, some people claim that margarine is just one molecule away from being plastic, although the truth of this claim is uncertain. Regardless, the thought of spreading something so closely related to plastic on your muffin isn’t exactly appetizing, is it?

7. Instant Powder Soup

Company: Campbell’s and others
Market Share: $21 billion by 2027* (Total Soup Market)
Ingredient: Sand

When you’re in a hurry and need a quick meal, grabbing an instant soup packet might seem like the perfect solution. However, you may be surprised to learn that the gritty texture you experience while slurping it down isn’t just un-dissolved seasoning, but actually sand. Manufacturers often include sand to prevent clumping, and while it’s not a significant amount, it’s still unsettling to think about consuming it regularly. This raises questions about the FDA’s approval of sand as a safe food additive. Perhaps this is yet another reason to consider cooking fresh meals daily, although it may not always be practical for busy individuals.

8. Salad Dressing

Company: Various
Market Share: $23.5 billion by 2026* 
Ingredient: Paint chemicals 

Are you a fan of salad dressings? Well, before you douse your greens in your favorite dressing, you might want to know what’s actually in it. Surprisingly, some salad dressings contain titanium dioxide, a chemical commonly used in paints and sunscreens to give them a bright, white appearance. And that’s not all. Propylene glycol, an ingredient found in antifreeze, is also used as a thickening agent in some dressings. It’s hard to believe that these chemicals are approved for human consumption, but there they are. So, next time you’re shopping for salad dressings, you might want to check the label more carefully.

9. Microwave Popcorn

Company: Various 
Market Share: $5.2 billion total popcorn market*
Ingredient: Non-stick chemicals 

Microwavable popcorn may seem like a convenient and tasty snack, but did you know that the bag it comes in is coated with nonstick material to prevent kernels from sticking? Unfortunately, these coatings have been linked to health issues for years. It’s time to switch to stove-top popcorn instead of using the microwave. Don’t wait until it’s too late to realize that your favorite snack could be harmful to your health. It’s also a good idea to avoid nonstick cookware while you’re at it.

10. Donuts

Company: Various
Market Share: $8.9 billion by 2023*
Ingredient: Carnauba wax

Indulging in a sweet, round donut is a true pleasure that many of us can’t resist. But have you ever stopped to wonder about the secret to their alluring shine? While not all donut manufacturers do this, some use a substance known as carnauba wax to achieve that glossy finish. However, don’t be fooled by its name – carnauba wax is also used in products like shoe polish, cosmetics, and floor cleaners. While it’s said to be safe to consume, it’s still concerning to think about ingesting something that’s found in so many non-food items. So, perhaps it’s best to opt for a plain donut next time you’re in the mood for a sweet treat.

11. Packaged Meat

Company: Walmart and others
Market Share: $320 billion*
Ingredient: Carbon monoxide

Packaged meat is a go-to choice for busy families looking for a cost-effective and quick meal solution. However, it turns out that there’s more to that pound of ground beef than just protein. Meat processing plants use carbon monoxide to help meat maintain its red color, which would otherwise fade when exposed to air. Although the amount of carbon monoxide used is small and does not affect the taste, it creates a double-edged sword. Even if the meat has gone bad, it will maintain its color, making it difficult to tell if it’s spoiled. So, the next time you’re shopping for meat at places like Costco, be extra cautious and vigilant.

12. Cake

Company: Various
Market Share: $44.05 billion* 
Ingredient: Human hair 

Cake should be made up of flour, flavoring, and tons of icing if you ask us, but mass production means that a few other ingredients end up thrown in the mix. Sadly for all the cake lovers out there, a lot of cakes have a compound called L-cysteine in them. This is something derived from human hair or duck feathers. It sounds disgusting and really, it is, but it’s supposed to add flavor to the bake. We don’t fully understand why either, but we can all agree that when we go for a slice, we certainly don’t want human hair on our plates. Little did we know it’s already in a whole bunch of common foods as well. 

13. Chicken Nuggets

Company: McDonalds and others
Market Share: $1.1 billion of frozen nuggets sold yearly*
Ingredient: TBHQ

Most people know that fast food is not the healthiest option, but we generally assume that it’s at least safe to eat. However, this is not always the case. For example, McDonald’s chicken nuggets contain a chemical called TBHQ, which is derived from the cooking oil used to fry them. TBHQ acts as an antioxidant, preventing the oil from going rancid. However, it’s not a particularly good antioxidant, and the FDA has warned that it can be unsafe in large amounts. So, while a small amount of TBHQ may not be harmful, it’s still worth being aware of the potential risks associated with consuming it.

14. Cereal

Company: Various 
Market Share: $95.9 billion by 2030*
Ingredient: BHT

Preservatives are common in food, we all know that. That’s how companies are able to make such huge quantities of food and ship them across the world. That doesn’t mean we expect the food to have weird ingredients that are questionable, though. In 2015, General Mills opted to remove an antioxidant ingredient, BHT, from its products when there were claims about the safety of the synthetic substance. Just like TBHQ, BHT is a substance typically used to stop frying oil from going bad. Who wants to wake up to a bowl of that? 

15. Oregano

Company: Various
Market Share: $17.6 billion by 2029*
Ingredient: Aphids and spider mites 

While oregano is a great addition to any dish, it’s important to be aware of the tiny creatures that also find it appealing. Aphids and spider mites are known to love oregano, so it’s essential to thoroughly wash the leaves before using them in cooking. No one wants to accidentally serve up a dish that includes a side of insects, even if it’s for someone they don’t particularly like. So be sure to check your oregano for any lingering critters before adding it to your next meal.

16. Shrimps

Company: Imported brands 
Market Share: $28.45 billion* 
Ingredient: Cockroaches, pesticides, chemicals, poop

Enjoying a shrimp cocktail on a warm summer day is a treat, but have you ever stopped to think about where those shrimp come from? Unfortunately, imported shrimp can harbor some unpleasant surprises. In the past, these crustaceans have been found to be contaminated with banned chemicals and harsh pesticides, and even infested with cockroaches. Clearly, these are not things you want to be consuming. Therefore, it’s important to read the label carefully and purchase shrimp from a trusted source to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

17. Peanut Butter

Company: Jif and others
Market Share: $7.89 billion by 2030*
Ingredient: Rodent hair 

Peanut butter is a staple in many households, but it might not be as pure as you think. In fact, it’s possible that rodent hair could be lurking in your favorite spread. Shockingly, the FDA permits up to one rodent hair per 100 grams of peanut butter. While some may find this allowance appalling, others seem to accept it as a necessary compromise. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it’s important to be aware of the potential for rodent hair in your peanut butter and take precautions to avoid it.

18. Cinnamon

Company: Various
Market Share: $1.28 billion by 2028*
Ingredient: Animal feces 

It’s important to clarify that while the FDA does have guidelines for the maximum amount of foreign matter, including animal excreta, that can be present in cinnamon and other spices, it’s not accurate to say that the FDA “doesn’t care” about it. In fact, the FDA sets these guidelines to protect public health and ensure that food products are safe for consumption. It’s also worth noting that cinnamon is processed and ground before it is sold, so any potential contamination is likely to be removed during this process. While it’s always important to be aware of the quality of the food we consume, it’s also important to not spread misinformation or exaggerate risks.

19. Dates

Company: Various
Market Share: $21.5 billion by 2029*
Ingredient: Fruit flies 

Many people really love dates and eat them in place of candy, but would they be so keen to do so if they knew that ten insects and 35 fruit fly eggs per ounce are totally okay to be sold to you with the dates? It’s not something many people know. Raisins and other fruit of that ilk are held to the same standard, so if this is something you’re into, just know you’re probably getting a little added protein in with your fruity snack. Bear Grylls would be proud.

20. Lemon

Company: Various
Market Share: $3.7 billion by 2026*
Ingredient: Feces

Did you know that restaurant lemons are not as innocent as they appear? Shockingly, these yellow fruits have been found to contain the highest levels of fecal matter out of all the food in restaurant kitchens. While kitchen staff may be aware of this issue, the average diner is likely oblivious to the potential health risks associated with using lemons in their beverages or meals. So next time you’re out to eat, you might want to think twice before squeezing that lemon wedge into your drink. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all.

21. Frozen Broccoli

Company: Various 
Market Share: $38.85 billion by 2027* (Total Frozen Vegetables Market)
Ingredient: Aphids, thrips, mites 

Did you think that frozen broccoli is a safe and healthy option for your family? Well, think again. While it may seem innocent enough, the truth is that frozen broccoli can contain some unwanted guests. Like other frozen vegetables, the FDA allows up to 60 aphids, thrips, or mites per 100 grams. Although it may seem gross to some, there’s probably no way to completely prevent these bugs from getting into the crops. So, the FDA has given in and allowed a small amount of these bugs to be present in our frozen veggies. So, next time you serve up some broccoli, just remember that you might be getting more than just a healthy dose of greens.

22. Chocolate Bars

Company: Mars and others
Market Share: $114 billion total chocolate market*
Ingredient: Insect legs 

Prepare to have your chocolate-loving world rocked, because even your favorite treat isn’t immune to some unsavory additions. Guidelines reveal that chocolate bars can contain an average of eight insect legs and still pass inspection. That’s right, those crunchy bits in your chocolate may not be nuts or caramel, but rather the remnants of a beetle who hitched a ride on the cocoa beans. It’s not the most appetizing thought, but it’s important to be aware of what’s really inside our food.

23. Jelly Beans

Company: Jelly Belly and others
Market Share: $2.47 billion* 
Ingredient: Shellac

Shellac is a widely recognized product that has various uses, such as nail polish and furniture varnish. But did you know that it’s also a common ingredient in jelly beans? And if you thought that was bad enough, here’s the kicker: shellac is made from female lac bugs that feed on tree sap. These tiny bugs are harvested, processed, and used to give a shiny finish to a plethora of confectionery products, including popular brands like Jelly Belly and many others that you can easily find at stores like Costco.

24. Packaged Bread

Company: Grupo Bimbo and others
Market Share: $42.4 billion* 
Ingredient: L-cysteine

Sliced bread may be a common household item now, but it wasn’t always that way. People used to bake their own or buy directly from the baker. However, there is a key difference between freshly-baked bread and packaged bread that allows the latter to last weeks: L-cysteine. This natural compound acts as a preservative, but it’s derived from human hair. Hair salons in China are a popular source of L-cysteine, where the hair is dissolved in acid to extract the compound before being sent to bakeries for use in bread production.

25. Cheese

Company: Schuman’s Fairfield and others 
Market Share: $123.87 billion* 
Ingredient: Goat stomach lining (aka rennet)

Cheese is a beloved food enjoyed by many worldwide, but have you ever stopped to consider what exactly goes into it? While it may be a staple item on your grocery list, the truth is that cheese is made using the stomach lining of a young goat, calf, or lamb. What’s more, the animal used must still be nursing from its mother to ensure the presence of the necessary enzyme. This fact may be surprising and even unsettling for some cheese enthusiasts.

26. Rice

Company: Various
Market Share: $287.45 billion* 
Ingredient: Arsenic

Rice is a staple food consumed by people all over the world. However, there is a disturbing fact about rice that many people are not aware of. Rice has a tendency to absorb arsenic from its surroundings, which could potentially harm your health. Although it is not enough to cause significant harm, it’s still something to be concerned about. Brown rice has more of this toxin than other types of rice, but it also has more nutrients and health benefits. Knowing this information, you might want to reconsider your choice of dishes with rice, especially if you consume it regularly.

27. Beer

Company: Various
Market Share: $100 billion in U.S.*
Ingredient: Isinglass

Beer is a beloved beverage enjoyed by many, but did you know that vegetarians may need to watch out? In the brewing process, a substance called isinglass is used to clarify the color of the beer. But where does this substance come from? It’s actually derived from the bladder of fish. So if you’re a vegetarian who wants to avoid consuming animal products, you may want to check the ingredients list before grabbing a cold one. However, it’s worth noting that some beer brands, such as Budweiser, don’t use isinglass in their products.

28. Chewing Gum

Company: Wrigleys and others 
Market Share: $32.63 billion* 
Ingredient: Lanolin or sebum 

Chewing gum is a popular habit that has been around for ages. However, many people consider it unclean and unsavory. If they only knew what was actually in the gum, they might be even more repulsed. To create that chewy texture that we all know and love, manufacturers often use lanolin. Now, you might think lanolin sounds harmless, but it’s actually a substance that comes from sheep wool. That’s right, it’s the same oil that oozes from our own pores. So, the next time you reach for a pack of gum to satisfy your craving, think twice about what you’re putting into your mouth.

29. Marshmallows

Company: Rocky Mountain and others
Market Share: $342 million* 
Ingredient: Hides and bones of pigs and cows (aka gelatin)

Many of us are aware that gelatin is widely used in various foods including candies, but did you know that marshmallows are also made using a rather unpleasant ingredient? That’s right, pulverized bones from cows and pigs are often used to make those fluffy balls of sweetness. So, the next time you’re stocking up on marshmallows at your local Walmart, it’s worth remembering that you’re indulging in boiled animal remains, even if the sugar masks the taste.

30. Worcestershire Sauce

Company: Lea & Perrins
Market Share: $1.102 billion* 
Ingredient: Anchovies fermented in vinegar 

Love them or hate them, anchovies are a polarizing food. However, even if you are not a fan, you may be surprised to learn that their rich flavor makes them a popular ingredient in some foods. For example, Worcestershire sauce, a popular condiment in Britain and the US, is made by fermenting anchovies in vinegar for over a year and a half. This gives the sauce its distinctive salty kick and pronounced flavor. So, if you’re enjoying Worcestershire sauce on your steak or in your Bloody Mary, just remember that anchovies are responsible for its delicious taste.

31. Canned Mushrooms

Company: Various
Market Share: $8 billion* 
Ingredient: Maggots and mites 

While mushrooms are known to grow from the ground, they’re still a widely loved food. However, the issue with canned mushrooms isn’t necessarily the mushrooms themselves, but rather the FDA guidelines that allow for a certain number of insects in the cans. Shockingly, the FDA allows for around 30 maggots and 75 mites per can, which is quite concerning. Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll find any in your can of mushrooms from Target, but the fact that it’s legally allowed might make you think twice before making your next meal.

32. Coffee Creamer

Company: Coffee-Mate
Market Share: $2.884 billion* 
Ingredient: Oil

Coffee lovers, beware: the creamer you’re using might not be as innocent as it seems. While black coffee is the ultimate no-frills option, many of us prefer a creamy touch to our cup of joe. But if you’re using non-dairy creamer, you might want to think twice about what’s actually in it. Take Liquid Coffee-Mate, for example. This popular brand uses water, syrup solids, and soybean oil to mimic the consistency of milk. So, instead of adding creaminess to your coffee, you’re actually pouring in a hefty dose of oil, which gives it that silky texture. It’s definitely not the same as a splash of milk, and it’s certainly not what you’d expect to find at a coffeehouse like Starbucks.

33. Jell-O

Company: Jell-O
Market Share: $688 million annual sales in 2021* 
Ingredient: Cow and pig hides (aka gelatin) 

Jell-O is a beloved treat that has been around for generations and is commonly used for making desserts and snacks. However, if we stop and think about what it’s made of, it might not be as appetizing as we thought. The main ingredient in Jell-O is gelatin, which is derived from boiling animal bones, skin, and other connective tissues. So, the next time you indulge in this wibbly wobbly treat, it’s worth remembering that it’s essentially made from boiled animal carcasses.

34. Caesar Salad

Company: Various
Market Share: 23.15% market adoption in restaurants*
Ingredient: Anchovies

For vegetarians, ordering a salad while eating out may seem like a safe option. However, just because a Caesar salad is without chicken, it does not mean it is completely vegetarian. The salad dressing is often the star of the show, but it’s not suitable for vegetarians. Many pre-made Caesar salads contain dressings made from anchovies, and companies like Kraft have acknowledged that their dressings contain fish allergens. So, while lettuce is a veggie, you might want to think twice before ordering a Caesar salad next time you’re at a restaurant.

35. Parmesan

Company: Kraft and others
Market Share: $160 billion* 
Ingredient: Cellulose/wood pulp 

When it comes to grated cheese, many people assume that it’s pure dairy goodness. However, you might be surprised to learn that a lot of grated parmesan brands actually contain wood pulp. Don’t worry, it’s not some sort of sneaky food fraud – this is an open secret that the FDA approves of. Cellulose, or wood pulp, is often used as an anti-clumping agent in grated cheese. This natural ingredient helps to prevent lumps from forming, making it easier to sprinkle cheese onto your favorite dishes. And it’s not just parmesan – many different types of grated cheese contain cellulose. So next time you reach for that container of grated cheese at the grocery store, take a closer look at the ingredients list.

36. Orange Juice

Company: Del Monte and others
Market Share: $143.08 billion total fruit juice market*
Ingredient: Ethyl butyrate

Attention orange juice lovers! If you thought that store-bought orange juice in cartons labeled “freshly squeezed” is just as natural and healthy as freshly squeezed juice, think again. Many different brands of orange juice actually rely heavily on chemicals to enhance their flavor. One such chemical, ethyl butyrate, is commonly used to add a strong artificial flavor to orange juice. While preserving fresh juice is necessary, this process can negatively impact the flavor. Adding an artificial compound like ethyl butyrate allows companies to manipulate the taste of the juice to their liking. So, next time you reach for a carton of orange juice, make sure to read the label and be aware of what you are consuming.

37. Enhanced Chicken

Company: Various
Market Share: $196 billion total chicken market*
Ingredient: Sodium

The heavier the meat, the more money farmers get. The juicier it looks, the better it sells in stores. With that being said, pumping cuts of beef full of saltwater isn’t a new practice by any means. You may have noticed that beef often shrinks when it’s being cooked. That’s thanks in part to the water seeping out. Water is one thing, but saltwater actually ends up giving the beef a much higher sodium content that isn’t healthy. Too much salt in the diet can cause all sorts of problems for humans, so be extra picky when shopping for dinner in the future! 

38. Enhanced Beef

Company: Various
Market Share: $468 billion total beef market*
Ingredient: Sodium 

We all love a little bit of honey, whether it’s spread on toast, spooned into tea, or drizzled over granola. But, have you ever stopped to think about just how honey is really made? We all know it comes from bees, but how do bees make it? Bees actually have a whole separate stomach that produces honey where they hoard nectar. When the time comes, the bees essentially vomit it back up, and eventually, it becomes honey. This one is gross in terms of biology, but in reality, honey is still an amazing product that we should all eat more of. 

39. Honey

Company: Clover and other brands
Market Share: $8.58 billion* 
Ingredient: Bee vomit

Have you ever stopped to ponder how honey is created, or do you simply enjoy it in your tea or on toast without giving it much thought? Bees are responsible for producing honey, but the process is not as straightforward as you might think. In fact, bees have a separate stomach specifically for producing honey, where they store nectar. When the time is right, the bees regurgitate the nectar, and through a process of enzymatic activity and evaporation, it eventually becomes the delicious golden syrup we all know and love. While the process may seem unpleasant, there’s no denying the numerous health benefits of honey, making it a wonderful addition to any diet.

40. Whey

Company: Variou
Market Share: $10.3 billion* 
Ingredient: Curdled milk

For years, whey protein has been riding a wave of popularity, especially among bodybuilders who use it to bulk up. It’s no secret that this supplement is one of the best-selling fitness products on the market today. While there are a variety of brands that offer it, have you ever stopped to think about what exactly whey protein is? Brace yourself, because it’s nothing more than curdled milk in a fancy container. That’s right – whey is the byproduct of milk that remains after the water is drained, and it’s then dried and sold to the masses. Sure, it’s not suitable for those who are lactose intolerant, but is it truly disgusting enough to warrant being removed from the market? Apparently not.

41. Diet Soda

Company: Coca-Cola and others 
Market Share: $5 billion* 
Ingredient: Aspartame 

Whoever invented soda deserves a pat on the back because they spawned one of the biggest industries of all time, paving the way for titans of industry like Coca-Cola. However, soda companies soon realized that there was a market for diet drinks that were low-calorie and didn’t contain sugar. The only downside is that these products didn’t taste as good, which is where artificial sweeteners come in. Aspartame is one of the most commonly used sweeteners, but it has a bad rep as links were once drawn between the consumption of it and cancer. It’s also thought to block a major protein that helps you lose weight – which ultimately defies the point. 

42. Strawberry Ice Cream

Company: Various
Market Share: $79 billion global ice cream market* 
Ingredient: Beaver butt (aka castoreum) 

The food industry is all about innovation, and chefs are often tasked with creating new and exciting dishes. But did you know that you may have unknowingly consumed a substance called castoreum, aka beaver butt, in your lifetime? This secreted substance from a beaver’s behind is said to add flavor to foods like ice cream. Shockingly, many manufacturers often list it simply as “natural ingredients” on their packaging, even though it’s essentially just butt juice. The fact is, if consumers knew what was really in their food, they might be less inclined to purchase it.

43. Raspberry Flavored Lollipop

Company: Various
Market Share: $240 billion total candy market*
Ingredient: Beaver butt (aka castoreum)

Lollipops are a classic treat with a wide variety of flavors to choose from, including raspberry. However, what you may not realize is that some raspberry-flavored lollipops could contain an unusual and unappetizing ingredient: castoreum, aka beaver butt juice. This “natural ingredient” is actually used in many other products as well, despite its less than desirable origin. As it is considered safe for consumption, manufacturers are not required to specify its inclusion on the packaging. This should serve as a reminder that you can never be completely certain of what you’re consuming.

44. Pringles

Company: Pringles
Market Share: $2.35 billion company valuation in 2012*
Ingredient: Sodium Bisulfate

It may seem unlikely to draw a connection between Pringles and toilet cleaner, given their vastly different purposes. However, there is actually a surprising link between the two that often goes unrecognized. Pringles contain an ingredient called sodium bisulfate, which is also used in household cleaning products such as toilet cleaner and dishwasher tablets. While these cleaning products have other ingredients in them, it’s still a bit strange to think that you’re ingesting a substance used to scrub away limescale.

45. White Flour

Company: Various
Market Share: $161 billion* 
Ingredient: Chlorine Dioxide 

Although white flour may seem like a harmless ingredient used in baking cakes, it’s not exactly what it appears to be. In fact, some brands use chlorine dioxide gas to make the flour appear whiter in color. Breathing in this substance has been linked to various health issues, including lung problems and pulmonary edema. The severity of these problems often depends on the amount of exposure. It’s important to be aware of this potential risk and carefully review the ingredients list before purchasing white flour. It’s worth noting that chlorine dioxide gas is also used in laboratory settings for equipment sterilization.

46. Vanilla Ice Cream

Company: Various
Market Share: $79 billion global ice cream market* 
Ingredient: Castoreum

Believe it or not, beavers are known to have a flavor in their behinds that some people find reminiscent of vanilla. While it’s unclear who first discovered this unusual taste, it’s safe to say that this individual likely prefers to remain anonymous. Despite the oddity of it all, beaver butt juice is actually used as a flavoring agent in some food products, including vanilla ice cream. The companies that use this ingredient tend to remain anonymous, likely due to concerns about public perception.

47. Red Colored Candy

Company: Various
Market Share: $240 billion total candy market*
Ingredient: Carmine 

When it comes to candy, there’s something undeniably alluring about the color red. It’s bold, bright, and has a certain juiciness that draws people in. That’s why so many candy companies opt for red coloring in their products, whether it’s Twizzlers or Skittles. But have you ever stopped to think about where that color comes from? In some cases, the source of the red dye is carmine, which is derived from the bellies of female African beetles. Essentially, these beetles are crushed and squeezed to extract their color, which is sometimes listed on ingredients lists as Natural Red #4. While some might argue that using a natural source is preferable to synthetic dyes, it’s still a bit unsettling to think about snacking on beetle bellies.

48. Shredded Cheese

Company: Various 
Market Share: $40 billion* 
Ingredient: Cellulose

Actually, cellulose is a natural carbohydrate found in the cell walls of plants and is used as a food additive in many products, including shredded cheese. While it may sound strange to consume something that is also found in wood, it is safe and commonly used in many processed foods. The cellulose used in shredded cheese is often derived from sources such as wood pulp or cotton. However, it is important to note that the amount of cellulose in shredded cheese is very small and is considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies.

49. Wine

Company: Various
Market Share: $435 billion* 
Ingredient: Egg whites 

It’s important to note that egg whites are often used in the production of wine, particularly during the clarification process, but they are not usually present in the final product. The egg whites are added to the wine and then removed along with other solids and impurities, leaving behind a clearer wine. Other ingredients that may be present in wine include sulfites, which are added to preserve the wine and prevent spoilage, and natural yeast and bacteria, which are responsible for the fermentation process.

50. Fat Free Milk

Company: Various 
Market Share: $5.5 billion by 2029*
Ingredient: Powdered milk

It’s important to note that while some companies may use powdered milk as an ingredient in fat-free milk, this is not the case for all brands. It’s always a good idea to check the ingredients list and nutritional information on products before purchasing, especially if you have specific dietary needs or preferences. Additionally, the use of powdered milk in fat-free milk is not necessarily harmful or indicative of a lower quality product, as it can help to maintain a consistent texture and taste.

51. Tomatoes In A Can

Company: Hunt’s and others 
Market Share: $19.5 billion by 2030*
Ingredient: BPA

Yes, BPA can be a concern when it comes to canned food. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that low levels of BPA exposure are not a significant health risk, some studies have suggested that BPA may have negative health effects, particularly for pregnant women and young children. To reduce exposure to BPA, it may be advisable to choose fresh or frozen foods over canned ones, or to look for BPA-free canned goods.

52. Artificial Sweetener

Company: Splenda, Sweet ‘n Low 
Market Share: $12 billion by 2032*
Ingredient: Aspartame

It is important to note that while some studies have suggested a link between aspartame consumption and certain health concerns, such as cancer and neurological disorders, the scientific evidence remains inconclusive and controversial. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies have deemed aspartame safe for human consumption in recommended amounts. However, it is always a good idea to be mindful of one’s diet and to consult with a healthcare provider if there are any concerns about consuming artificial sweeteners.

53. French Fries

Company: McDonald’s 
Market Share: $15.87 billion* 
Ingredient: Additives, preservatives

It’s true that McDonald’s French fries contain more than just potatoes, oil, and salt. Some of the additional ingredients include dextrose, a natural sugar that helps the fries achieve their signature golden color; sodium acid pyrophosphate, which prevents the fries from turning gray during storage; and hydrogenated soybean oil, which extends the shelf life of the oil used for frying. Additionally, as you mentioned, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) and dimethylpolysiloxane are also used in the process. While the inclusion of these ingredients may be a turn-off for some, it’s worth noting that many fast food chains and processed food manufacturers use similar additives and preservatives in their products.

54. Yoghurt

Company: Dannon, Yoplait, and others 
Market Share: $171.83 billion by 2031*
Ingredient: Aspartame  

It’s true that many yogurts contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners, which can have negative effects on health. However, there are also many yogurts on the market that are low in sugar or sweetened with natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit. Greek yogurt can be a good choice because it’s high in protein and low in sugar, but it’s important to check the label to make sure there are no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Additionally, adding fresh fruit or a small amount of honey can provide natural sweetness without adding too much sugar or artificial sweeteners.

55. Toaster Pastries

Company: Pop Tarts 
Market Share: $1 billion in Pop Tart sales per year*
Ingredient: Trans fats, sugar 

In 2017, Healthline threw some serious shade at Pop Tarts by placing them on their list of the fifteen unhealthiest junk foods in America. Sure, they may seem convenient and delicious, but let’s face it, these toaster pastries are loaded with sugar and carbs. A measly two Frosted Strawberry Pop Tarts contain a whopping seventy-six carbs, the majority of which comes from sugar. If you’re looking for a healthy start to your day, sorry to break it to you, but Pop Tarts should not be making the cut. It’s time to rethink your breakfast choices!

56. Pork Rinds

Company: Rudolph Foods and others
Market Share: $630 million* 
Ingredient: Sodium nitrates, preservatives  

Let’s face it, pork rinds are not exactly known for being a health food. After all, they’re made from rendered pig skin that has been fried, roasted, or rendered in fat. That alone should give anyone pause. But what many people don’t realize is just how unhealthy these crunchy treats really are. Not only are they high in cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fat, which can increase your LDL cholesterol, but they’re also loaded with preservatives and flavor enhancers like MSG. Sure, pork rinds are high in protein and low in carbs, but that doesn’t mean they should be a regular part of your diet.

57. Sugary Coffee Drinks

Company: Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, etc.
Market Share: $26.58 billion annual revenue for Starbucks*
Ingredient: Sugar, dairy fat, artificial flavoring

Before you indulge in that decadent white chocolate mocha with whole milk and whipped cream from Starbucks, think twice. Eat This Not That recently dubbed that very drink as one of the eight “worst coffee drinks in America”. While we all crave a sweet caffeine fix now and then, sugary coffee drinks are packed with…well, sugar. From Au Bon Pain’s Mocha Latte to Tim Horton’s Mocha Iced Capp to Dunkin’s Butter Caramel Swirl Frozen Coffee with Whole Milk (which admittedly sounds like a sugar overload), these drinks can cause major spikes in blood sugar levels. In fact, a scientific study of over 118,000 people found that the more sugar they consume, the more likely they are to succumb to illnesses like heart disease, according to Business Insider.

58. White Rice

Company: Nikishi and others 
Market Share: $287.45 billion* 
Ingredient: Sugar  

Harvard Medical School dropped a bombshell when they revealed that white rice is a health hazard. While white bread has already been condemned as unhealthy, the high glycemic index of white rice may come as a surprise. According to Harvard, eating white rice is equivalent to consuming pure table sugar due to the blood sugar spike it causes. In contrast, brown rice is a healthier alternative as it is rich in magnesium and fiber, and does not cause a sudden surge in blood sugar levels. So, if you’re looking for a more wholesome grain option, brown rice should definitely make the cut on your grocery list.

59. Swordfish

Company: N/A (It’s the fish itself)
Market Share: $275 billion seawater fish market*
Ingredient: Mercury  

Beware of swordfish! This ocean predator may look intimidating, but it can be harmful to your health due to its high mercury content. In fact, in 2004, the F.D.A. warned against consuming swordfish, as well as shark, tilefish, and King Mackerel, due to their mercury levels. Mercury poisoning can lead to serious health issues, and swordfish, being a predator fish, can accumulate even higher levels of mercury by consuming smaller fish that are also contaminated. If you’re looking for a safer seafood option with less mercury, consider light tuna, shrimp, pollock, catfish, or the ever-popular health food choice, salmon.

60. Canned Soup

Company: Campbell’s and others 
Market Share: $2.8 billion* 
Ingredient: MSG, BPA

If you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, canned soup might seem like a good option. However, you might want to think twice before opening that can. Canned soup is often packed with harmful ingredients like monosodium glutamate (MSG), a neurotoxin that is used to enhance the flavor. In addition to MSG, canned soup can also contain high levels of sodium, with some brands packing in as much as 1,200 milligrams per can. Consuming too much sodium can lead to weight gain and even heart disease, so it’s important to be mindful of how much you’re consuming. Plus, let’s not forget about the dangers of BPA, which can also be found in canned soup. To keep your health in check, consider making your own soup or opting for low-sodium and MSG-free options.

61. Flavored Instant Oatmeal

Company: Quaker Oats and others 
Market Share: $3.53 billion by 2027*
Ingredient: Added sugar, sodium

While instant flavored oatmeal might seem like a healthy breakfast option, it’s important to be aware of its downsides. Although it’s high in fiber and contains whole grains, it can also be high in sugar and sodium. The American Heart Association advises checking the nutrition label before purchasing and aiming for packets with less than twelve grams of sugar and less than 250 milligrams of sodium per serving. If you can’t find a low-sugar and low-sodium option, consider plain oatmeal with a small amount of honey or brown sugar for flavor.

62. Boxed Vegetable Pasta

Company: Barilla, Good & Gather, etc.
Market Share: $78 billion by 2029* (Total Pasta Market)
Ingredient: Same bad stuff as regular pasta 

It’s worth noting that veggie boxed pasta may still be a healthier option in some cases, depending on the brand and ingredients used. Some veggie pastas are made with a blend of vegetables and whole grains, which can provide more nutrients and fiber than traditional white pasta. However, it’s always important to check the nutrition label and ingredients list to make an informed decision. Using a spiralizer to make your own vegetable noodles is also a great way to increase your vegetable intake and reduce your carb and calorie intake.

63. Pretzels

Company: Auntie Ann’s, Rold Gold, Utz, and more
Market Share: $7.4 billion* 
Ingredient: Salt 

Think you’re making a healthy choice by reaching for a bag of pretzels instead of chips or candy? Think again. While pretzels have long been touted as the “safer” snack option, they’re not as nutritious as you might think. Despite having fewer calories than fried chips, regular snack pretzels are high in salt, which can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. And don’t even get us started on those giant soft pretzels from Auntie Anne’s – we all know those are far from healthy. So next time you’re in the snack aisle, consider grabbing the unsalted kind of pretzels if you want to make a smarter choice for your health. Sure, they may be a bit bland, but at least they won’t send your sodium levels through the roof.

64. Beef Jerky

Company: Jack Links, Old Trapper, Tillamook, and more 
Market Share: $1 billion* 
Ingredient: Sodium 

While beef jerky has gained popularity in recent years, thanks in part to the rise of the keto diet, it’s important to remember that consuming too much of it can be harmful to your health. Despite being low in carbs, beef jerky is often high in sodium, which can lead to a host of health problems. While some may consider beef jerky to be a healthy snack option, it’s important to recognize that it still falls under the category of processed meats, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health issues. While beef jerky may offer some benefits, such as being high in protein and digesting slower than carbs, it’s important to be mindful of your sodium intake and not exceed the daily limit of 2,300 milligrams per day. So, while beef jerky can be a tasty snack, make sure to consume it in moderation and keep an eye on the sodium content.

65. Fat-Free Salad Dressing

Company: Newman’s Own and others 
Market Share: $25.34 billion total salad dressing market*
Ingredient: No fat (which is the problem)

If you’re still using fat-free salad dressing, it’s time to re-think your choices. Not only does it have a lackluster taste, but it also undermines the main reason people eat salad – to obtain essential nutrients and keep calories low. The fat-free versions can do more harm than good by undoing all the progress you made eating the salad. The human body needs a certain amount of fat to absorb the nutrients in vegetables effectively. Using fat-free dressing could leave you feeling bloated and not getting the essential nutrients that you need to stay healthy. It’s essential to consume a reasonable amount of healthy fats to ensure that your body can absorb all the vitamins and minerals present in your food.

66. Mayonnaise

Company: Hellmans, Heinz, and more 
Market Share: $8.285 billion*
Ingredient: Fat

Mayonnaise, despite being a tasty addition to many meals, has been deemed as one of the most unhealthy foods you can consume by the Times of India. Loaded with fat and calories, it’s no wonder that a diet high in this condiment can lead to health issues. However, don’t despair mayo lovers – Food Network assures us that it doesn’t need to be banned from your diet forever. Mayo can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle, and you can even find light and reduced-fat options on supermarket shelves.

67. Whipped Cream

Company: Reddi-Whip and others
Market Share: $820 million* 
Ingredient: High fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils  

Whipped cream may be a delightful addition to your hot beverages, but consuming it on a daily basis is not recommended. This is because whipped cream contains high fructose corn syrup, which is considered unhealthy. Additionally, the hydrogenated oils in whipped cream are a cause of concern. Studies have revealed that these oils contain trans fats, which can lead to heart problems by raising LDL levels and decreasing HDL. Therefore, it’s advisable to limit the consumption of whipped cream.

68. Kombucha

Company: KeVita, Yogi, and more 
Market Share: $2.59 billion* 
Ingredient: Sugar

Kombucha, the popular fermented tea that has taken the health world by storm, may not be as good for you as you think, according to dentists. While the simple ingredients of sugar, tea, and yeast may seem harmless, the high sugar content in kombucha can have negative effects on your weight and overall health. Not only that, but the tea can be just as harmful to your teeth as sugary soda. Regular consumption of kombucha can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and discoloration. The CDC recommends limiting your daily intake to no more than four ounces, one to three times a day.

69. Bacon

Company: Applegate, Market Pantry, and more 
Market Share: $65.27 billion* 
Ingredient: Cholesterol

If you’re a fan of bacon, you know how delicious it can be. But let’s be real: bacon is not a healthy food. While it may be the perfect addition to your breakfast sandwich or eggs, it is high in cholesterol and saturated fat. According to experts at WebMD, every ounce of bacon contains 30 milligrams of cholesterol, and if you’re eating it with eggs, you’re getting a double dose. The high levels of saturated fat in bacon can also raise your cholesterol levels. Although the serving size for bacon is small, it’s not recommended to eat it every day if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet. So, while it’s okay to indulge in bacon every now and then, it’s best to enjoy it in moderation.

70. Granola Bar

Company: Quaker, Nature Valley, Kind, etc.
Market Share: $5.75 billion by 2029*
Ingredient: Sugar  

It’s worth noting that not all granola bars are created equal. While some can be high in sugar and not as healthy as they seem, there are also many granola bars on the market that are made with whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and are low in sugar. As with any packaged food, it’s important to read the nutrition label and ingredient list to make an informed decision.

71. Instant Ramen

Company: Top Ramen, Maruchan, and more 
Market Share: $34.22 billion* 
Ingredient: MSG, TBHQ, sodium 

It’s important to note that some studies have shown that consuming instant ramen noodles in moderation may not have significant negative health effects. However, it is true that they are high in sodium and preservatives, which can be harmful if consumed in excess. As with any processed food, it’s important to enjoy instant ramen noodles in moderation and make sure to balance them out with a healthy and balanced diet.

72. Ketchup

Company: Heinz and others 
Market Share: 60% market share in U.S. for Heinz* 
Ingredient: High fructose corn syrup 

While it’s true that ketchup often contains high fructose corn syrup, it’s important to note that not all ketchups are created equal. There are brands of ketchup that use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup instead of high fructose corn syrup. Additionally, some studies have suggested that the negative effects of high fructose corn syrup may not be any worse than those of regular table sugar. As with any food, moderation is key, and it’s always a good idea to check the ingredient list before consuming.

73. Flavored Nuts

Company: Planters and more 
Market Share: $54.11 billion global nut market size*
Ingredient: Acrylamide

It’s important to note that while acrylamide is a potential human carcinogen, the levels found in roasted nuts are generally not considered to be harmful. The World Health Organization has stated that dietary exposure to acrylamide does not represent a concern for human health, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not advised consumers to avoid foods that contain acrylamide. However, it’s still a good idea to vary your nut consumption and choose a mix of raw and roasted options to get a variety of nutrients.

74. Dried Fruit

Company: Good and Gather, Bare, Sunsweet, and more 
Market Share: $10.22 billion* 
Ingredient: Sugar 

While it is true that dried fruit can be higher in sugar and calories than fresh fruit, it can still be a healthy snack option when consumed in moderation. The drying process concentrates the nutrients and natural sugars in the fruit, making it a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, it’s important to choose brands that don’t add extra sugar or preservatives. It’s also a good idea to watch portion sizes and pair dried fruit with a source of protein or healthy fat to help balance blood sugar levels

75. Frozen Meals

Company: Swanson’s and more 
Market Share: $55.8 billion*
Ingredient: Sodium, fat, and calories

While frozen dinners can be a convenient option, it’s important to pay attention to their nutritional content. As you mentioned, many frozen dinners are high in fat, calories, and sodium. Additionally, they can be low in important nutrients like fiber and protein.

If you do choose to eat frozen dinners, there are some healthier options available from brands like Smart Ones, Lean Cuisine, and Healthy Choice. These brands often offer meals that are lower in calories and sodium and higher in protein and fiber. It’s always a good idea to read the nutrition label and ingredient list carefully to make sure you’re choosing a healthy option. Additionally, consider adding some extra vegetables or a side salad to increase the nutrient content of your meal.

76. Wheat Bread 

Company: Swanson’s and more 
Market Share: $55.8 billion*
Ingredient: Sodium, fat, and calories 

While wheat bread may have a higher glycemic index than other types of bread, it is not necessarily unhealthy. It still provides important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, it is true that sprouted whole grain bread may be a healthier option as it is made from whole grains that have been allowed to sprout, which can increase the bread’s nutrient content and digestibility. It is important to read the ingredient list and choose breads made from whole grains and without added sugars or preservatives.

77. Trail Mix

Company:  Archer Farms, Nature’s Garden, Market Pantry, Planters, Kirkland, and more 
Market Share: $11.18 billion growth by 2026*
Ingredient: Hidden sugar 

That’s a great point! Homemade trail mix is a good way to ensure that you are consuming a healthy snack. It also allows you to personalize your trail mix with your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, without the added sugars and unhealthy ingredients found in store-bought options. You can also experiment with different combinations to find the perfect mix for you. Just be sure to watch the portion sizes, as nuts and dried fruits can be high in calories.

78. Trix Yogurt

Company:  General Mills 
Market Share: $7.24 billion total yogurt sales in the U.S.*
Ingredient: Sugar 

It’s true that Trix yogurt contains a high amount of sugar, which is a concern for those trying to maintain a healthy diet. While it’s good that General Mills has removed artificial flavors and high fructose corn syrup from their yogurt, it’s important to be mindful of the sugar content in processed foods. A healthier option would be to choose plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit for natural sweetness and added nutrition.

79. Fruit Cocktails 

Company:  Dole, Todays, Del Monte, Seasons, etc. 
Market Share: $2.9 billion canned fruits market*
Ingredient: High fructose corn syrup 

It’s important to note that not all fruit cocktails contain high fructose corn syrup. Some brands offer fruit cocktails in their natural juices, which are a healthier option. When shopping for canned fruits, it is always best to check the label and ingredients list. Opting for canned fruit in its own juices or water, rather than syrup or added sugar, is a better choice. Additionally, fresh or frozen fruit is always a healthier option than canned fruit, as it contains fewer additives and preservatives.

80. Protein Bars

Company:  Atkins, Kashi, Quest, and more 
Market Share: $3.4 billion*
Ingredient: Sugar alcohols, soy, HFCS, or sugar

That’s great advice from Vita Cost! It’s also important to check the protein content of the bar to make sure it meets your nutritional needs. Some bars may have a high sugar content and low protein content, which can be counterproductive if you’re looking to maintain a healthy diet. It’s also a good idea to look for bars that are high in fiber and healthy fats, which can help you feel full and satisfied for longer periods of time.

81. Frozen Yogurt

Company:  Yasso, Stonyfield, Friendly’s, Ben & Jerry’s, etc. 
Market Share: $2.14 billion by 2028*
Ingredient: Sugar

That’s correct! While frozen yogurt can be a healthier alternative to ice cream, it is important to be mindful of the serving size and added sugars. Many frozen yogurts on the market have high sugar content, so it’s important to read the nutrition label and choose brands with lower sugar content or choose toppings that are low in added sugars. It’s also important to remember that while frozen yogurt does contain beneficial bacteria, it may not have as many probiotics as advertised, so it’s still important to prioritize other sources of probiotics in your diet.

82. Anything Artificially Bright Orange 

Company: Various   
Market Share: $74.7 million market size for yellow dye*
Ingredient: Yellow Dye #5 and #6 

It is important to note, however, that the research on the link between food dyes and cancer is mixed, and the FDA currently maintains that food dyes are safe when used in small amounts. However, some studies have linked food dyes to hyperactivity in children and other negative health effects. It is always a good idea to limit your intake of highly processed and artificially colored foods and choose whole, natural foods whenever possible.

83. Green Potatoes

Company: N/A 
Market Share: N/A
Ingredient: Solanine 

Did you know that if you see green potatoes in your pantry, you should avoid cooking with them altogether? The New York Times warns that green potatoes contain a toxin called solanine, which can lead to neurological problems, headaches, and nausea. Even boiling them won’t remove the toxic substance. While awareness of the dangers of green potatoes has grown, there may still be some people who think they can ignore the warnings. Let’s be clear: don’t take the risk. It’s better to throw out green potatoes than to risk the unpleasant side effects of solanine poisoning.


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