I’m Eating WHAT?!

Fun article by Sally Wadyka from MSN… You’re Eating…What?

I can think of countless food “myths”….most are entertainment over information…but if you have food allergies, being aware of what’s in your grub is actually VERY important. Wadyka pulled out some of the elusive contents from ingredient lists and gives a good explanation of their make-up.

I stopped eating McDonald’s hamburgers for months when an elementary school friend told me they were made out kangaroo meat. Now that I have a better idea what’s actually IN those burgers…(thank you “Fast Food Nation”)…I WISH it was kangaroo meat! Here are some more interesting tid bits from inside your refrigerator and pantry:

1. Carmine

  • A red food coloring made from dried bugs (yum!), specifically, the Dactylopius coccus costa from Peru. The critter eats red berries…grind him up with his exoskeleton and you have ooh-laa-laa red…au natural.
  • One of the most widely used coloring agents.
  • Found in: strawberry yogurt and cranberry drinks.
  • Label reads: “artifical color” or “color added”
  • Who it irritates: Vegetarian Legal Action Network
  • FDA will now fully disclose its presence in 2010



  • AKA “seaweed”
  • Thickens ice cream, pudding and dairy products
  • Slimy…but vegetarian!



  • Shellac = shiny candy coating on jelly beans and the glossy sheen on your fruits and veggies in the produce isle
  • Make your own: collect excretions from the Kerria lacca insect from Thailand and apply!
  • Whose angry: Veggies who say the FDA should label it (slang for “vegetarians”)
  • Labeling will be on the bin placard..not on the food itself. Officials say the labeling is not enforced.



  • A thickening agent in cany, Jell-O, ice cream and yogurt
  • Who doesn’t like it: probably the animals whose parts were ground up to make the gelatin…ligaments, skin, tendons, bones, oh my!
  • If you’re a Veggie…look for non-animal forms of gelatin (good luck finding those in Wilmington…try: Lovey’s Market and Tidal Creek)


  • Found in cold cuts and cheeses
  • A spray of viruses (bacteriophages) that counteract a lethal microorganism called listeria


Xanathan Gum

  • A microbial polysaccharide (saccharides are carbohydrates…) (microbial..think “bacteria)
  • Thickens liquids
  • Used in smal quantities
  • Found in: salad dressing


“Natural Flavoring”

  • I love this one…it seems that EVERYTHING is now “naturally flavored”…right
  • Found in: “smoked” meat, canned fruit, nut flavored foods…among many others
  • Why you need to be aware: canned peaches may have “natural flavoring” but that may not be peach flavoring….it could be another fruit like apricots…if you are allergic to apricots…you have your self a big problem that will be hard to figure out


If you DO  have food allergies…or just have a thing for not eating bugs…find that little side comment on the packaging that says “Questions and Comments”…and USE it.

You dont have to feel like a nagging hypochondriac to use these consumer hotlines. They are there for a reason. Better you call and confirm…ask specific questions…then get sick (or grossed out). If the person on the other end can’t answer your questions ask for a supervisor or look it up in an online encyclopedia.


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