You Are What You Eat, Bugs And All

There may be something scarier than vampires and ghosts lurking in your home this Halloween. While eating hoards of calorie packed candy may frighten you, these scary food facts will make you think twice before indulging in your favorite meals.

Fly in soup

From bug parts to whopping amounts of calories, the facts about what is really in our food might leave you reaching for fresh fruit and veggies this Halloween. Some of these food facts might make you nauseous but luckily, information is power and you can now avoid any foods that make you turn green. Which fact is the scariest? You be the judge.


Scary salads

If your dieting efforts have hit a plateau, it could be because the options dressed up as healthy are really calorie monsters. Salads are some of the worst offenders at restaurants and fast food chains alike. Steer clear of Caesar salads, creamy dressings, and dishes topped with mayonnaise-saturated dressings like tuna. Salads could easily win this year's costume contest as there is nothing healthy about 1,600 calories disguised as spinach salad. According to Eat This, Not That, IHop's Chicken and Spinach salad will set you back 1,600 calories. You're better off dining on six Snicker's bars.


Shiny deception

Next time you see a shiny apple or a pile of jelly beans, you may think twice before gobbling them up. Both are likely covered with a layer of shellac to make them look appealing. You may be familiar with the substance which is used to give a shiny effect to wood floors and furniture, but that's not even the worst part. Shellac is made from the feces of the female lac beetle... sound appetizing? This scary fact is an obvious choice for #2. Don't worry; jelly beans are more of an Easter candy anyway.


Bug out

'Tis the season for food adorned with creepy crawlers and chocolate shaped beetles. Faux bugs are about as much as I can handle, but it turns out actual bugs make an appearance in our food all year long. What was once disguised on the ingredient label as an artificial color now must be properly listed as Cochineal extract or carmine. What is cochineal extract you ask? Oh, just the dried body of a bug. Beware of red, orange, pink or purple food unless you like the extra crunch. At least they weren't lying when they said it was all natural.


Hairy food

How many rodent hairs do you prefer in your peanut butter? The FDA gives the thumbs up if there is no more than one in every 100 grams of your food. Disguised as "natural contaminants," rodent hair and bug parts are not only in your food, but they are approved to be there. Apparently eating bug legs and mouse hair is safer than using chemicals to control the pests in food making facilities.


Strawberries in disguise

Apparently using a plain old strawberry to flavor milk shakes is no fun. Instead, fast food chains use strawberry flavor, which is made up of some 50 chemicals to get the fruity flavor you crave. Much like Halloween costumes, you're much better off going with a homemade version of strawberry shakes.


Multi-purpose preservatives

Many of the food preservatives we consume daily do double duty in some products you would likely never eat. Chemicals such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used to prevent food from going rancid, but you'll also find it in jet fuel and embalming fluid. Sodium nitrite prevents bacteria growth in meats and is also used in metal coatings and textile dyes. Preservatives are frighteningly versatile and consuming them has been linked to some forms of cancer.


Poisoned apples

A recent report from Dr. Oz revealed that some apple juices have higher than permitted levels of arsenic in them. While his studies are the subject of scrutiny by the FDA and other medical professionals, the overall topic is still valid. What is in our food that we aren't aware of and how much is too much? This issue is much like the homemade candy we received from homes as children that our parents made us toss out. No, our neighbors probably weren't trying to poison us, but our parents weren't willing to take the chance.


Bacteria infestation

Forget contaminated lettuce and eggs, there may be something a bit scarier that you are putting in your mouth every single day. After you gobble down a bag of candy, you'll want to reach for your toothbrush, right? The average toothbrush is home to millions if not trillions of germs including bacteria like E. coli and staphylococci. Your toothbrush is likely sitting on your bathroom counter and gets a nice mist each time you or someone else flushes the toilet. Add that with the fact that we rarely if ever sanitize them after each use, think to cover them before we sneeze or simply keep them in a dry, clean environment. If you're worried about a dirty mouth, simply put your toothbrush in the dishwasher each time you run it.


Sugar high

Each American consumes 156 pounds, on average, of sugar each year. While that fact alone is a bit scary, what is more concerning is that only 29 pounds of that is from actual sugar. A large majority of what people are consuming is in foods that people might not even expect to be sugary such as canned vegetables or peanut butter. The use of high fructose corn syrup has gone up 3.5 percent in the last decade, meaning extra sugar is now added to products from ketchup to dried fruit. Check your food labels to prevent an unintentional sugar overload.


Not so happy meals

There has been a shift in recent years to offer healthier options for kids at the drive-thru and for good reason. It should be no surprise that a meal filled with fried foods isn't healthy, but if you really look at the calories involved, it is downright horrifying. The average kid's meal contains over 600 calories with some restaurant options topping the charts at over 1,000 calories. The only prize here is a belly and a bigger pant size.

Watch: Scary vintage food

A collection of truly disturbing food creations featured in vintage advertisements. Anyone care for "Crispy French Fried Wieners" stuck in a head of cabbage? Yummy!

More scary Halloween fun

The worst Halloween treats ever
4 Scariest food recalls of 2011
Bloody severed finger cookies


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Comments on "The top 10 scariest food facts"

Cambria August 28, 2012 | 11:01 PM

Yuck!! Might I add that raspberry flavoring is usually made from beaver anal glands... and listing it as a natural flavor is a truth. Orange Fanta has some other gross ingredient too.. Makes you think twice! Maybe we should all go back to farming..

carol August 02, 2012 | 1:23 PM

Since I no longer eat the bodies of animals, my salad greens, beans,rice, have to be washed carefully ,but will probably always contain microscopic "bugs". Humans have always been hunters and gatherers so our system is ok with it as long as it isn't pathogenic like salmonella, E.coli, etc.

Sally July 18, 2012 | 1:37 PM

We eat animals all day and not think a thing about it. Why should we be so worried about bugs? #8 Is a bit concerning, however.

:) July 17, 2012 | 11:13 AM

This list sounds silly, it's just trying to scare you. Why is eating insect by-products necessarily a horrible terrifying thing? We already eat other animals and their by products. So cow mucus/pus doesn't sound gross? Oh right! it's just called milk and cheese at the grocery store.

Queen Fields July 14, 2012 | 4:26 PM

Oh well...38+ yrs of eating these things....No since in quitting now! Think of what could be in your fastfood! Now thats one area to cut back on.

Katie July 10, 2012 | 11:17 AM

Oh my gosh, Shellac made out of female lac beetles, food coloring made out of dried bug bodies, Rodent hairs in peanut butter. What is going on in the world?

Thomas Greenman June 13, 2012 | 10:13 AM

Eat food that is certified Kosher. It cannot have any contamination at all to be marked certified (bug parts are not acceptable). Most plants have a full time Rabbi on staff that inspects production on a very regular basis. The USDA is a high standard but Kosher certification is held to a "higher standard" indeed.

DevilsAdvocate March 14, 2012 | 2:04 PM

Sean is right. A little side note: there`s a sweets producer in my hometown (in Germany) which is making sugar-glaced almonds and peanuts and they`re using shellac to keep them crunchy as well and it`s not uncommon to use it. And while it might sound disgusting at first, it`s actually a totally harmless substance. Most probably better than any synthetic solution some food engineer could come up with.

P-man March 08, 2012 | 1:33 PM

#8 was proved false by the popular Discovery Channel program Mythbusters.

:D March 04, 2012 | 1:09 PM

Cool storys bro, shoulda let chuck norris tell them

kellosaurus March 03, 2012 | 6:18 AM

there's no way you'd be better off eating 6 snickers bars instead of a spinach salad. Maybe from an overall caloric intake point of view, but what about nutritional value? what about understanding how many calories come from fat, protein and carbs? the focus on the numbers alone is ridiculous. Focusing on NUTRITION would make more sense. Eat FOOD, people.

Verse February 22, 2012 | 9:37 PM

There's an awful bit of fearmongering in this article, but I guess that's to be expected from the title.

Sean February 17, 2012 | 2:00 PM

Shellac is not made from beetle feces; it is made from the resin secreted by the female lac beetle as it sucks the sap from the trees it lives on; this resin forms tubes that the beetle moves in to protect it from predators. The resin is scraped from the trees (and contains bark and lac beetle parts), put in canvas bags, and heated to melt the resin, which leaks out of the bags, leaving the contaminants behind. Still not a particularly enticing coating for food.

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