The disgusting additives in your food

Research reveals bizarre ingredients

Close-up shot of a wild beaver eating a grass by the lake in Yellowstone

We frequently report on disgusting items found in food - everything from six-inch nails in a takeaway chicken meal to a dead worm in a can of sweetcorn.

Discovering something like this is, thankfully, pretty rare. But did you know that ingredients such as antifreeze are regularly included in your food - all perfectly legally?

In a study carried out for Privilege Insurance, the secrets behind food manufacturers' recipes are revealed.

They include the anti-freeze ingredient propylene glycol, which is used to stop fat clumping together in ready-made cake mix.

Meanwhile, L-Cysteine - extracted from barbershop clippings from China - is used to prolong the shelf-life of bread. And some chicken nuggets contain dimethylpolysiloxane, also used to make silicone breast implants.

And 'vanilla' flavouring in ice cream is still occasionally derived from the castor sacs of beavers - found near the animals' anus.

"Some of the findings are shocking, and more should be done to encourage labelling that doesn't insincerely disguise something as 'natural'," the head of Privilege Insurance, Dan Simson, tells the Daily Mail.

"It is paramount that the consumer has all the facts so they can make a logical and sensible choice about the products they are buying."

It's fairly widely known that many sweets, including fruit pastilles and marshmallows, aren't vegetarian as they contain gelatin. This is produced by boiling up animal bones.

But most people will be surprised to discover that bananas often aren't vegetarian either, as they are sprayed with a pesticide made from shrimp and crab shells.

Meanwhile, the clothes and bedlinen you buy might also not be quite what you think. Sheets labelled 'Egyptian cotton' can legally contain as little as 5% of the high-quality product; only 50% of so-called 'British wool' has to come from UK sheep.

Last year, food writer Joanna Blythman revealed some of the nastier ingredients lurking in supermarket ready meals.

In her book, Swallow This: Serving Up The Food Industry's Darkest Secrets, she says that the 'butter' in your croissant, for example, might actually be the yellow powder left behind when the water is removed from a mixture of butter, milk proteins and starch.

The answer - at least, until it comes to the bananas - is simply to cook all your meals from scratch.

Earlier this year, we reported on one family who switched from ready meals to healthier home-cooked foods - and even halved their food bill as a result.

Gross discoveries in food

Gross discoveries in food