Poisons You Didn’t Know You Were Eating

Sawdust in Everything

Extra fiber. You see it in large friendly letters on cereal boxes, orange juice cartons, everything, but you probably wouldn’t touch the box if you saw the word “sawdust.” From crackers to cocoa mix, cellulose (a.k.a. wood pulp) is used as filler in everyday foods. While the FDA deems wood pulp safe for consumption, the USDA limits cellulose to 3.5% of the total food mass. Maybe it’s time to go on that paleo diet.

Apple Seeds

An apple a day keeps the doctor away — unless you eat the seeds. Apple seeds (along with cherry, peach, and apricot pits) contain amygdalin, a compound of cyanide and sugar. Luckily, the human body is able to handle small doses of cyanide, so you won’t be keel over after crunching on a Granny Smith. Still, it’s probably best not to snack on a bowlful of seeds.

Cancer-Causing Artificial Colorings

Rainbow cake, neon popsicles, fruit punches and macaroni and cheese — they’re fun to eat because partly because they have such fun colors. But does that fun outweigh the risk of thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney, or brain cancer? Artificial dyes such as blue 1, red 3 and yellow 6 have been linked with all five of those cancers. Correlation doesn’t equal causality, but you might want to think again before slurping down that next blue raspberry slushie. (It’s better than the olden days: originally food was colored with natural compounds that included dangerous toxins like mercury, copper, or arsenic.)

Contaminated Bottled Water

Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your health — but not all water is safe. While municipal tap water is tested and inspected on a regular basis, bottled water is only examined at the source on a monthly basis, Business Insider reports. After being checked once en masse, bottled water tampered with or partially opened may leave you exposed to a host of terrible substances like mold, kerosene, bacteria, glass particles, and even fecal matter.

Beetles in Frappuccinos

Last year, Starbucks came under fire from angry, caffeinated vegans who found out that the mega coffee chain colors their pink-hued Strawberry Frappuccinos with crushed up cochineal beetles, according to CBS News. At least they’re all natural. The company is not alone in their coloring practices. The beetles are used to dye many food products from yogurt to toaster pastries and have been used throughout history to dye fabrics in Central America.

Poison Potatoes

If you have a green potato in your kitchen, sadly you haven’t won a prize. (Unless the prize you’ve been wanting is poison.) Green on a potato is an indication of a concentration of solanine, a toxin that causes nausea, headaches, neurological issues and, in rare cases, death. Rule of thumb for potatoes: if it’s green, it’s mean.

Toxic Metals in Lipstick

Researchers have found that along with that vibrant hue, lipstick may contain dangerously high toxic levels of metals like lead, chromium (a carcinogen), and aluminum in some lip products. These results were found in all levels of lipsticks and glosses from $6-24. Researchers say that these substances can damage the brain, nerves and kidneys, and are linked to multiple cancers. “Just finding these metals isn’t the issue; it’s the levels that matter,” said the study’s principal researcher. “Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term.”

Mercury in Fish

It’s not just tuna anymore: mercury is on the rise in all varieties of fish around the globe. Some scientists believe that just a small amount of the toxic metal, which is deemed safe by the government, can pose a threat to brain development or cause other health problems. The danger is especially high for pregnant women and children. The safest bets are cod, salmon, shrimp, and sardines.

Kidney Beans

Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more… likely you are to get sick from high levels of phytohemagglutinin (PHA), a toxin that causes vomiting and diarrhea. Just five raw or undercooked kidney or cannellini beans can be bad news.

In the 1970s, there was an outbreak of kidney bean poisoning when hundreds of Brits used their new slow cookers to make beans and toast, a popular breakfast. Simmering kidney beans on low actually increases their toxicity. Luckily, after being boiled for just 10 minutes, the chance of poisoning is almost zero.

Chemicals in Packaging

Keeping food and drinks fresh used to be a bit of a gamble — goatskin sacks were quite popular back in the day but apparently left a musty aftertaste. Then science developed tin cans and plastic and the world changed — for the better, it seemed. Now, BPA (Bisphenol A), which is used in clear plastic bottles and as food can liners, has been linked with reproductive abnormalities, prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.

Though the use of the chemical has been restricted by Canada and some U.S. states, Consumer Reports found evidence of the chemical even in cans that were labeled BPA-free.

Rat Fur and Insects

According to many scientists, one of the best things we can do for our ecosystem is to eat bugs instead of meat. Even if you think you could never stomach a creepy crawler, chances are, you’re already eating a lot of them and don’t know it. As dictated by the FDA, food and drink manufacturers are allowed a certain amount of bugs and rodent hair in their products.

Peanut butter is allowed to contain one rodent hair per 100 grams. Pasta can have 225 bug parts per 225 grams of pasta. Canned mushrooms should probably be avoided at all costs. Only if there are more than 20 maggots per 100 grams of mushrooms will the FDA take notice.

Fungus Free — At a Price

In many ways, modern farming has been a boon to humanity. Production is up and incidences of famine are down. But the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides come at a price. In order to keep the fruit growing healthily, farmers spray apples with fungicides such as diphenylamine and thiabendazole. The former can cause long-term damage to your kidney, liver, and bladder, while the latter has been linked to nervous system damage. A recent study found that nearly 80% of all conventionally grown apples had traces of these pesticides on them, even after washing. Unless you’re buying organic, chances are you’re eating these poisons.

Sodium Fluoride in Toothpaste

Fluoride is good for your teeth, there’s no denying that. But a study found that just 5mg of fluoride ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in children. If Junior gets a hold of the whole tube, it could be very bad news. Ingesting large amounts of sodium fluoride can cause muscular weakness and paralysis which is why it’s also a main ingredient in rat and cockroach poison. Wash that mouth.