MYSTERY TOXIC FOODS

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7 Grossest Foods You’re Eating Without Knowing It

Unfortunately, gross food has become the norm in most supermarkets, with packaged food ingredient lists reading more like chemistry homework than something you’d want your family to eat. But in many cases, marketers have figured out a way to keep toxic additives and disease-promoting food packaging off of the label, making your job as a consumer harder than ever. We’re here to clear up the confusion and help you avoid 7 of the grossest foods on the market. (Attention tomato enthusiasts: Check out Rodale’s Epic Tomatoes, the ultimate guide to growing more than 200 varieties!)

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Flame retardant-laced soda

The toxic flame retardant chemical brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, was initially used to keep plastics from catching on fire. For decades, the food industry has been adding it to certain sodas, juices, and sports drinks, including Mountain Dew, Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, and some Gatorade and Powerade flavors. BVO’s purpose is to keep the artificial flavoring chemicals from separating from the rest of the liquids—but scientists have linked too much BVO to bromide poisoning symptoms like skin lesions, memory loss, and nerve disorders.

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Paint chemical in salad dressing

Titanium dioxide is a component of the metallic element titanium, a mined substance that is sometimes contaminated with toxic lead. Commonly used in paints and sunscreens, big food corporations add it to lots of things we eat, too, including processed salad dressing, coffee creamers, and icing. The food industry adds it to hundreds of products to make dingy, overly processed items appear whiter. “White has long been the symbolic color of clean,” explains food industry insider Bruce Bradley, who shares the tricks, traps, and ploys of big food manufacturers on his blog, BruceBradley.com. “Funny, when you use real food, you don’t need any of these crazy additives—I think I prefer the real deal.”

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Maggoty mushrooms

Maggots are fly larvae—tiny rice-shaped creatures that feast on rotting foods. The Food and Drug Administration legally allows 19 maggots and 74 mites in a 3.5-ounce can of mushrooms. While maggots do have their place in the medical world—they can help heal ulcers and other wounds—most people think it’s pretty gross to eat them. If you need another reason to ditch canned goods, consider this: Most are lined with bisphenol A, or BPA—a plastic chemical that causes unnatural hormonal changes linked to heart attacks, obesity, and certain cancers.

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