We’ve all read the horror stories about people finding fingertips in fast food, bloody bandages in pizza, and a condom in a bag of French fries. But the grossest things in our food rarely make headlines—and chances are good that consumers of meat and dairy products have ingested at least one of them:
- Arsenic. Farms feed chickens and pigs arsenic to help ward off infections in the filthy living conditions and to turn their flesh the pink shade that is considered appetizing. Because nothing says “appetizing” like poison.
- Poop. When animals’ intestines are torn open during slaughter, feces spill out onto their flesh. So when people buy the meat, they’re getting, well, sorry, crappy food.
- Industrial runoff. Who would head down to the local river, whip out a glass, and gulp down some river water? No one? Well, then people might want to avoid eating fish, who are contaminated with the pollutants that run into waterways from our tanneries, factories, and industrial plants, as well as manure runoff from pastures.
- Calf stomach lining. Many cheeses are made with rennet, an enzyme taken from calves’ stomach lining. Does eating baby stomachs make you sick to yours?
- DDT. Even though the U.S. banned DDT, it remains in the environment and particularly accumulates in animal fats. Think, “Double-Decker of Toxins.”
- Pus. Cows on dairy farms often suffer from mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udders caused by bacteria. Their bodies try to fight off the infection by producing pus, and guess where the pus goes. Into the milk and into the milk-drinker’s mouth.
- Pink slime. The now famous picture of what looks like the result of a kid smashing all his Play-Doh together is actually mechanically separated meat, a main ingredient in many processed meats such as chicken nuggets and hot dogs. It’s made by sending animals’ bones through a machine that scrapes off the last bits of flesh and blood, forming the bits into a paste, and then treating the mass with ammonia, dyeing it, and adding flavor to it.
Makes me crave … broccoli.