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You may not be aware that the foods you purchase at your local grocery store are likely to contain hidden ingredients that could be damaging to your overall health.

While you may take a moment to review the food labels on your groceries before buying them, the manufacturers often hide the true ingredients behind generic, less worrisome names.

The worst part is, the Government has even passed laws stating that the practise of essentially deceiving consumers is legal! Manufacturers can, by law, include toxic chemicals, animal bones, wood, insects, sand, human hair and even E. coli in their ingredients, all of which are deemed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) under US law. In fact, a McDonald’s Hot Apple Pie contains additives derived from duck feathers.

Similarly, those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, have allergies or who follow religious dietary restrictions, may even be consuming ingredients against their knowledge that go against their rules or beliefs, due to the manufacturer not honestly stating the content of the product.

While this scenario is happening all over the US market, there are a variety of foods in particular that contain questionable ingredients you need to be aware of.

Beer and Wine

Wine doesn’t strike most people as a drink that would contain animal products. As a result, many vegans or vegetarians will simply select any wine they pick out at the store. While wine does mostly consist of grapes, the ‘fining’ process, which filters the wine, uses agents such as milk protein, egg whites, gelatine and fish bladder protein. While only very small amounts of these will pass through into the final product, it is still rendered unsuitable for those with allergies or who wish to keep their diet strictly animal-free.

Sugar

Sugar comes from two main sources – sugar cane and beet. However, to reach the white colour we all recognize, the sugar is filtered and bleached with bone char made from ground cattle bones. This is often listed by manufacturers as ‘natural charcoal’.

Red Food Coloring

You’ll find that most red food items, from candy hearts to strawberry milkshake, will include cochineal – red dye created from ground up bugs. Starbucks received a fair amount of criticism back in 2012 after it came to light that they were using the ingredient in their strawberry Frappuccinos. They have since removed cochineal in favour of alternative coloring agents.

To avoid consuming bugs in your favourite red foods, check for cochineal, carmine or carmine acid on the label. If it’s listed, avoid it!