10 shocking food facts

Do you really know what you’re eating?



1: ‘Pre-washed’ salads may be full of bacteria

A study by Consumer Reports tested more than 200 samples of different ‘pre-washed’ salads and found that 39% of them contained coliform bacteria, which indicates contamination. Their advice? Carefully wash all of your salads at home, even if they are advertised as pre-washed.


2: Fruit and veg are less nutritious than 50 years ago

Research published in the journal HortScience shows that our fruit and vegetables are now less nutritious than they were 50 years ago. New agricultural methods are being blamed for the change, which strip nutrients from the soil.


3. Bakery loaves often contain more salt that pre-sliced bread

According to a study by Consensus Action on Salt and Health freshly baked bread from supermarket bakeries often contains much more salt than the 0.4g found in most 40g pre-packaged slices. Bakery loaves often don’t carry nutritional labels either, so it’s harder to work out how much salt they contain.


4. Flavoured waters can have more sugar than fizzy drinks

A 500ml bottle of Volvic’s Touch of Lemon and Lime contains 98 calories and 24.8g of sugar. Compare than to a can of Sprite, which has 92 calories and 22g of sugar.


5. Dried fruits keep their colour with sulphur dioxide

Sulfites, such as sulphur dioxide, are used to help dried fruits keep their colour. If you’re sensitive to sulphites, you’ll experience low blood pressure, flushed skin, stomach pain and diarrhoea after eating these foods.


6. Paint whitening agents are used in salad dressings

Ranch dressing contains titanium dioxide to help it appear whiter. The same chemical is used in sunscreen and paint for the same effect.


7. That bread might not be as fresh as you think

L-cysteine is a softening agent used in bread. It’s made from human hair and duck feathers.


8. Nutmeg can get you high

When taken in large doses, nutmeg acts as a hallucinogen. However, the side effects are particularly nasty: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, heart and nerve problems.


9. Happy hens equal healthy eggs

Free range, cage-free eggs have a third less cholesterol, a quarter less saturated fat, twice as much omega-3, three times as many vitamins and seven times as much beta-carotene than eggs from battery hens.


10. And finally… you’ll never look at bugs and beavers in the same way again

Red food colouring Carmine, which is used in M&M’s and other sweets, is made from boiled cochineal bugs. Castoreum is used as a vanilla flavouring in sweets and baked goods. It’s created from secretions from the anal glands of beavers. Enjoy.

If you’d like to read more about the obesity crisis and hear expert insight into the food world, subscribe to our free magazine here.