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Next time you buy food, think about this

When most people sit down to enjoy a meal they rarely think about where the ingredients in their food came from. Many food products we would normally consider “animal-free” actually contain hidden ingredients derived from animal parts.

Having to eat things like red insects ground into pasta and pig skin in marshmallows sounds like events from a reality game show.

In actuality, these ingredients and many like them can be found in every grocery store in America.



The most prevalent animal product hidden in our food is rennet, also called rennin.

Rennet is a coagulating enzyme obtained from a young animal’s (usually a calf’s) stomach. It is used in milk foods such as cheese and cream to curdle the milk.



Commonly used to bind food together, gelatin is a protein from the bones, cartilage, tendons and skin of animals. Gelatin is found in marshmallows, Jell-O, yogurt, birdseed, gel cap pills and is used as a “glue” to bind wheat and sugar-coated cereals.

Such hidden animal products in ingredients as lanolin and suet can be dangerous to a consumer’s health because they contain poly-saturated fats.

Lanolin is a waxy fat from sheep’s wool that is used in chewing gum, ointments, cosmetics, and waterproof coatings.

Suet is a hard, white fat removed from the kidneys and loins of animals and is found in Margarine, mincemeat, pastries and birdfeed.

Other animals fats appear in our foods as acid. Stearic and capric acids are derived from the lard of farm animals and can be found in vanilla flavoring, ice cream, candy, baked goods, chewing gum and liquor.

Perhaps the hardest hidden ingredient to believe is carmine, red coloring made up from ground-up red insects.

It can be found in everything from bottled juices, colored pasta, and frozen sodas to natural cosmetics.

Because many times these ingredients are not listed on food packages or are disguised by scientific names, a problem arises from people trying to exclude meat from their diets or even those who are simply watching what they eat.

It is proven that a diet low in poly-saturated fats predominately found in meat is most effective in lowering cholesterol and maintaining health.

Tahoe Truckee High School sophomore Arthur Stabolito wasn’t to pleased at the prospect of hidden ingredients in his food.

“I am appalled that animals skin and tenants could be in my favorite cereals,” he said.

Anyone seeking animal-free alternatives can find them at health food stores that carry plant-based products.

Brynn Kennedy is a student at Tahoe Truckee High School and a reporter for the school’s newspaper, The Wolverine.


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