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10 Most Disgusting Ingredients in Fast Food You Didn’t Know About

Disgusting ingredients in fast food? Check out this huge list! 

Do you remember that time when the entire world thought that McDonald’s hamburgers contained cow eyeballs? Yuck! Even though nobody could confirm the rumor, a lot of people backed out of eating at their restaurants. And honestly, we can’t blame them!

However, despite everything we hear about fast food, it’s still a part of our diet. It takes a couple of minutes to be ready, it’s super affordable, and, let’s be honest: tasty! But are we aware of what we put in our mouths? We humbly disagree.

That’s why in this article we will show you a huge list of disgusting ingredients in fast food. Let’s start with the most unappetizing one:

disgusting ingredients in fast food
Photo by The Image Party from Shutterstock

1. Silicon Dioxide (also known as “Silica”)

You’re probably familiar with those tiny bags filled with small beans called silica. But what if we told you that this disgusting ingredient is in your fast food? This item is used to make ceramics, cement, glass, optical fibers, and… chili. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true.

Moreover, silicon dioxide is used as an anti-cake agent for processed meat to avoid clumping, and if you pay attention to the ingredient lists at Taco Bell and Wendy’s, you can see it on the list. Of course, many fast food chains say that this isn’t harmful for human consumption, but if I were you, I would think twice before eating something that contains silica.

Besides being found in many fast foods, it’s also used as a potent insecticide.

2. Caramel coloring

When you hear the word “caramel,” you’re thinking about an appetizing beverage from Starbucks or a tasty sauce for BBQ pork meat. However, you’re far from the truth because caramel is one of the most disgusting ingredients in fast food. It’s mostly used as an additive, and it’s nothing but a synthetic ingredient that contains a ton of sugar.

According to various studies, excessive consumption of this particular ingredient might lead to leukemia, liver issues, and lung cancer. If you see this ingredient on the label of your fast food, avoid buying it as much as possible!

3. Carminic acid (or Confectioner’s Glaze)

Those tasty, crispy, and golden chicken nuggets from McDonald’s…mmm! Sounds appealing, right? Well, you may want to think twice about them next time you’re thinking about ordering some food. Processed poultry meat, chicken nuggets, bakery products, juices, and a lot of other foods contain this ingredient. Bettle juice, or carminic acid, is one of the most disgusting ingredients in fast food, mostly because of how it’s made.

The dried, crushed carcasses of female scale insects known as beetles are the source of this extremely popular alimentary product. Female insects secrete a resin that is later gathered and carefully processed into a glittering coating that can be applied to a variety of dishes.

The tricky part is that you won’t find this ingredient on the label. You must pay attention to its derivatives: shellac, natural glaze, or pure food glaze.

4. Cellulose

Another disgusting ingredient in fast food that is mostly used to thicken sauces is cellulose (known as wood pulp). This is mostly used by big fast-food chains like KFC, McD’s, Taco Bell, and even Wendy’s. Instead of using natural ingredients like flour and oil, which are way more expensive, they rely on wood pulp.

Before making another order at one of these fast food restaurants, think about it twice. They are feeding you woodchips to make a few pennies. Not cool at all!


When it comes to disgusting ingredients in fast food, TBHQ is probably the most common one. TBHQ is the abbreviation for “tertiary butylhydroquinone,” a very dangerous chemical that’s used to avoid oxidizing. Another shocking utilization of this item is in cosmetics and a lot of skincare products, but also for varnishes and lacquers.

However, this particular chemical was approved to be used in fast foods, but with the mention that it must not exceed 0.02% otherwise, it will become poisonous. One gram of TBHQ can cause vomiting and nausea, which may lead to collapse. Anyway, to reach that level of danger, you must eat around 11 pounds of McNuggets…would you?

Be aware of what you choose to eat!

6. Titanium dioxide

Will you still eat powdered donuts if you know they are covered in the same ingredient you find in paint? The white sugar with which most of the donuts are covered contains a substance called titanium dioxide. This chemical helps boost the white color and makes it look brighter. So now you know why all the bakery products have such a nice appearance!

But that’s not everything you should know about titanium dioxide. Back in the day, it was used for white coloring, and it was a common ingredient found in textiles, paint, ceramics, and skin care products. Today, most fast food chains also use it for ranch dressings. Mmm..”delicious” indeed.

Although it was initially considered a safe item to add to dishes, in 2020 the European Food Safety Authority decided it was one of the most toxic food additives.

If you’re trying to eat healthier and you’re trying to avoid these disgusting ingredients in fast food, try seasoning your homemade dishes with this amazing organic spice set. It has a tremendous price on Amazon.

disgusting ingredients in fast food
Photo by Lost_in_the_Midwest from Shutterstock

7. Silly Putty Silicone

What if fast food workers were brutally honest and asked you, “Would you like Silly Putty with those fries?” You’re probably confused. Silly Putty, or dimethylpolysiloxane, is also used in a lot of fast food chains and is the main ingredient for frying. How do you think they keep that oil fresh for that long? By using this silicon.

Even if it’s among the most disgusting ingredients in fast food, the World Health Organization doesn’t consider it a threat to health as long as it’s used in small quantities. However, here at Mind Bending, we know that fries can be healthier if you just make them at home, even if they are fried in oil or in an air fryer with just a pinch of salt on them.

8. Duck Feathers and Human Hair

In a normal and civilized world, you’d send back your dish to the chef if it contained hair. But what if we told you that in most fast food, there is a compound called L-cysteine made from human hair and duck feathers? This amino acid is mainly added to the dough to increase its malleability before putting it in the machine for processing.

L-cysteine is mostly used for bakery products but also in the buns on McDonald’s hamburgers. Mmm…tasty!

9. Soil Fertilizer

Ammonium sulfate, or soil fertilizer, is another disgusting ingredient in fast food that’s been used by many restaurants as yeast for bread and other bakery products. The disturbing part of this additive is that it’s also used as soil fertilizer and sometimes to dilute insecticides for agricultural insects.

10. Azodicarbonamide

We saved the best for the last paragraph of the article because we’re about to reveal one of the most disgusting ingredients in fast food: azodicarbonamide. This chemical is also utilized in the production of yoga mats made of rubber in the United States, in addition to 500 culinary items. Although there is no evidence to suggest that this element is bad for human health, are you certain you want to consume something that contains yoga mat scraps?

However, we have some good news. If you’re a fan of the Subway fast food chain, then you’ll be happy to know that they were among the first to give up using this chemical in their products. Neat!

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