When was the last time you read the label, and how closely?
The ingredients list may reveal unexpected, and often unwanted, extra ingredients lurking in your favourite supermarket foods.
From pork fat in roast chicken bites to sugar containing traces of bones, these are the most alarming examples of when innocuous-soundings products contain very surprising additions.
BEEF OR PORK IN YOGHURT
Many yoghurts, especially low-fat yoghurts such as Muller Light, contain gelatine.
Gelatine is of course made from skin, tendons, ligaments and bones of pigs and cows which are boiled in water, according to PETA.
It is rich in collagen and commonly used as a gelling agent in desserts, dips, yogurts, sweets and marshmallows.
If you’re Jewish, Muslim or vegetarian, you may want to read the label much more closely next time you go to pick up a yoghurt.
On its website, Muller says: ‘We indicate if our products are suitable for vegetarians on the packaging. The following ranges include a good selection of vegetarian products: Müller Fruit Corner, Müller Crunch Corner, Müller Breakfast Corner, Müller Greek Style Yogurt Corner, Müller Rice, Little Stars fromage frais, Müllerlight Chocolate Fix desserts and Amoré.’
BONES IN SUGAR
As sugar isn’t naturally white, some manufacturers use bone char to make it that colour – often referred to as ‘natural carbon’. It is quite literally the charred bones of an animal.
According to PETA, supermarket brands obtain their sugar from several different refineries, making it impossible to know whether it has been filtered with bone char.
SEAFOOD IN BANANAS
Non-organic bananas are sprayed with a pesticide which may contain animal parts.
According to Science Daily, the pesticide Chitosan, which fights bacteria and prevents bananas from over-ripening, is made from shrimp and crab shells.
PORK FAT IN CHICKEN BITES
You would not expect to find pork fat in a packet of Asda roast chicken bites but it’s there on the label – and if you’re Jewish or Muslim, this could present a big problem.
The pork flat is clearly listed on the ingredients list, however – which was not the case for a beef lasgane served up at restaurants owned by Whitbread.
Just last week, the company was forced to apologise for using pork in its beef lasagne recipe without telling its customers.
BEETLES IN RED SWEETS
Red sweets or any other foods which are coloured with a natural red dye will more often than not contain animal products.
Carmine, which is made from dead crushed up beetles, comes about when the insects are boiled with sodium carbonate or ammonia, which then produces the attractive, bright red dye.
ANCHOVIES IN WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
It’s often added to stews and a Bloody Mary to enliven them, but some Worcestershire sauces such as Lea & Perrins actually contain anchovies.
The fish in the sauce gives it an umami flavour, which is what gives food a moreish savoury taste.
BEAVER IN ICE CREAM
Some ice creams contain the ingredient ‘castoreum’ – which comes from a beaver’s anal glands.
It’s most often found in natural vanilla ice creams and the ingredient is allowed to be called a ‘natural flavouring’.
It’s enough to put you off your raspberry ripple.
BEEF IN SAUSAGE CASSEROLE
Some supermarket sausages, including cocktail sausages, are contained within beef casing and this is also the case with Tesco’s sausage casserole.
The pork-based dish contains beef as well, so steer clear if that puts you off.
A spokesperson for Tesco said: ‘We take great care to clearly label all our products to provide honest and helpful information so that customers can make an informed decision on what they wish to buy.’
HUMAN HAIR IN BREAD
Some breads and pastries contain L-cysteine, an amino acid used in the baking industry as a dough conditioner and it’s used to prolong the shelf life of many bread-based products.
L-cysteine can be derived from human hair because it is the cheapest source of the acid.
WASPS IN FIGS
There’s a good chance that when you buy a fig, the fruit contains a dead wasp.
This happens when a wasp pollinates a fig and gets stuck inside the fruit and dies there.
However, when you do bite into the fig, you won’t be able to see the dead wasp contained within as an enzyme in the fruit converts the wasp into protein.
CHICKEN IN BEEF PASTE
If you’re buying beef paste, you’d probably expect the only meat to be found in the jar to be beef.
But actually, the ingredients list of the Asda spread reveals that it is made up of 33 per cent minced chicken.
An Asda spokesman said: ‘The ingredients in our products are carefully chosen to maximise quality, appearance and flavour, but everything is clearly labelled for our customers to make an informed choice.’