Watch CBS News

Crunch! Your Favorite Foods Contain Bugs, Things That Will Turn Your Stomach

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA)   -- If you faithfully read food labels you've probably come across ingredients you can't pronounce, let alone describe.

CBS2's Crystal Cruz reports that many of your favorite snacks contain such bizarre things as bug parts and there are other odd additives lurking in your food.

Instant noodles, soft drinks, frozen entrees  -- they're fast, cheap and easy.

Just know that many of your favorite foods are filled with items you would never suspect. And most likely things you wouldn't knowingly put in your mouth.

John Swartzberg of Berkeley's School of Public Health recently examined a smorgasbord of foods, all containing weird, shocking ingredients.

We asked mom Juliet and her daughter, Rosie, to play along with the "What is it?" game.

First up, shredded cheese.

It contains powdered cellulose.

"Well, cellulose is a plant product and it made from a variety of plants, including, of course, wood," says Swartzberg.

The cellulose keeps your cheese from clumping. (Raise your hand if you don't mind clumpy cheese.)

"The more cellulose you put in," Swartzberg says, "and it's very cheap to make, the more money you make."

In some frozen burritos, snacks and pizza, there is a product called L-Cysteine, an amino acid. But it's not just any amino acid.

"This particular amino acid is made from hair or duck feathers," Swartzberg says.

It's used as a dough conditioner to improve the texture.

Then there is carmine, an ingredient often found in some red juices and yogurts. Carmine is a natural red food dye made by boiling cochineal insects.

"If they ground them up, it makes a beautiful red dye," Swartzberg says.

Then we get to granulated sugar. What makes it so sparkly white?

Sitting down?

Some brands use charred animal bones or bone char.

When it comes to alcohol, you might want a glass about now. Or maybe not. In some white wines and some beers makers use a special filtration process called insinglass.

"It's made from bladders of bony fish," Swartzberg says.

Lost your appetite yet?

How about those shiny little jelly beans. On the label it says "Confectioner's Glaze."

And what is that?

It's shellac, made specifically from insects in Asia. The same shellac as in wood finish.

Swartzberg says all the ingredients are legal. The FDA classifies them all as "generally recognized as safe".

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.