Gross Grub: What Are You Really Eating?


Sadly, “gross food” isn’t hard to spot in today’s local supermarkets. With packaged food ingredient lists that look more like collegiate chemistry homework than something you want to willingly chew on, many food manufacturers have discovered creative and complex ways to keep toxic ingredients off of the nutrition fact labels– which only makes your trip to the grocery store even harder.

Check out some of the grossest foods in grocery store aisles today.

Flame Retardants

A toxic flame retardant chemical called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, was first used to keep plastics from lighting on fire. Now, the food industry adds the ingredient to certain sodas, sports drinks, and juices, ranging from Mountain Dew, Sunkist Pineapple, Fanta Orange, and certain Powerade flavors, though Gatorade quelled fears by saying in early 2013 it would remove the harmful compound from its products. BVO is actually floating around to keep the artificial flavoring chemicals from dividing from the other liquids found in the drink.

The problem with BVO is that it has been associated with bromide poisoning symptoms such as skin lesions, memory loss, and nerve disorders, scientists have indicated. For your own sake: DON’T Do the Dew, folks!

Paint Chemicals

While frequently used in paints and sunscreens, titanium dioxide, a component of a mined substance (called titanium) that is oftentimes contaminated with toxic lead, is added by large food companies to many of the things we eat, too. You can find this harmful compound in things like salad dressing, coffee creamers, and even cake icing! Happy birthday, you just ate paint.

Beaver Gland Juice

This bitter, pungent, orange-brown colored substance is called castoreum, and is mixed with a beaver’s urine to mark its territory.

The case could be made that products with vanilla or raspberry flavoring use it to mark their territory, too, as it can be found in many processed beverages and artifical flavorings.

But food companies won’t let you know they’re using beaver excretions in their stuff– they list it as “natural flavoring,” posing a problem for many healthy eaters who would rather avoid such ingredients altogether.

Bugging Your Food?

Still, it gets worse: did you know that you’re probably eating bugs in your everyday food items, too?

While bugs and insects from around the world are consumed as a good source of protein, that’s definitely not the case here in the United States– where the idea of eating insects is only acceptable if millions of dollars are involved and you’ll have airtime on a popular TV show (cue Fear Factor intro tune). But could America’s favorite bug-eating TV show not be that far from reality?

Apparently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes that allowing insects such as mites and aphids in our food will do just fine, so long as they don’t lower the “aesthetic” quality of foods. In fact, here in the United States, it’s believed that the average person unintentionally eats one pound of insects each year.

Below are four of the more disgusting bugs creeping and crawling into your foods.


These miniscule winged parasites range from 1/25 to 1/8 of an inch long, and are legally allowed in apple butter, frozen broccoli, canned or frozen asparagus, and even frozen Brussels sprouts. Ughh!


Those little green or black buggers that are known to devour an entire bouquet of beautiful flowers can also lay waste to your frozen veggies. Aphids favorite veggies include spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Worse yet, if youhome-brew beer, The FDA legally allows a whopping 2,500 aphids for every 10 grams of hops.


These nasty little creeps can often be spotted in wheat and other grains that have been stored for too long. They can also lay attack on your frozen vegetables. Worse yet, those of us who have indoor allergies could be in for a big problem, as storage and grain mites can elicit an identical allergic response as the dust mites hang out in many homes.


Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration legally permits 19 maggots and 74 mites in a 3.5-ounce container of mushrooms? Bon apetit!

Though maggots have a real role in the medical world, as they can help heal ulcers and similar wounds, most people would rather stick with ulcers than eat maggots on their mushroom pizza.

Making matters all the more maggoty, most canned foods are filled with bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic chemical that can bring about unnatural hormone alterations associated with obesity, heart attacks, and even certain cancers.


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Emma Forsberg

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.