10 Foods That Might Not Be What You Think


Every day, people seem to get more and more interested – and concerned – about what, exactly, we’re putting in our bodies. And for its part, science seems to have ever-changing opinions on the topic.

Milk does a body good! Wait, no, it doesn’t; drinking another animal’s milk is unnatural!

Eggs will kill you and eat your heart! No, eggs are the best and it’s healthy eat them every day!

It can be hard to keep up, but one of the nice things about the internet is that open access to knowledge makes it hard for companies to hide what exactly goes into their food.

And while the ingredients of a hot dog, while disgusting, probably won’t surprise you, what’s in some other supposedly healthy, wholesome dishes just might.

Below are 10 foods that have been mislabeled, misnamed, or just aren’t what you probably think they are.

10. Caviar


Traditional caviar is salted fish eggs, sometimes called roe, from sturgeon (most often beluga sturgeon) that live in the Caspian and Black Seas. Overfishing and pollution have caused these sturgeon to become seriously endangered, so harvesting their eggs these days is a big no-no except in sturgeon farming operations.

You can get “American” caviar if you want to eat the eggs of paddlefish, bowfin, salmon, lumpfish, or the hackleback or white sturgeons – though the paddlefish, which has been around since the dinosaurs, is in trouble now, too.

9. “Parmesan Cheese”

Bloomberg News recently found that up to 9% of your “100% Grated Parmesan Cheese” is actually cellulose – wood pulp that’s used as an anti-clumping agent.

Acceptable levels of wood pulp in your food range from 2%-4%.

Also, it’s usually mixed with cheaper cheese like Swiss, mozzarella, and cheddar.

8. “Sriracha”


Sriracha isn’t a trademarked term, which means that if you’re not buying rooster labelled sauce, even though you might think you’re getting something sanctioned by the classic Huy Fong Foods in CA, you’re probably not.

Frito-Lay, Heinz, Frank’s RedHot, Kikkoman, and Subway (among others) have come up with their own versions of the sauce, none of which are the “authentic” stuff.

7. “Maple” Syrup

You’ll notice that popular brands like Mrs. Butterworth’s, Aunt Jemima’s, and Log Cabin all avoid using the word “maple” on their labels. That because they’re not – only maple syrup made from sugar maple trees is supposed to be labelled that way. In fact, a Canadian loses his snowshoes every time you refer to what’s on your pancakes as “maple” syrup.

Maple industry people recently sent a protest letter to the FDA asking that other foods, like Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal, also have their packaging revised.

6. “Bacon” Bits


McCormick’s Bac’n Pieces and Betty Crocker’s Bac-Os are actually vegan – they’re made from bits of flavored soy flour.


5. Extra-Virgin “Olive” Oil

There are literal books about how shady the olive oil industry is, and up to 50% of the “extra-virgin” oil sold in the United States is nothing of the sort. A majority are vegetable oils and artificial coloring, and even if products that say “made in Italy” are usually just packaged in or shipped from Italy and contain no Italian olives.

Basically, unless you know and trust the brand, there’s a good chance you’re cooking with extremely overpriced sunflower, canola, or soybean oil.

4. “Pomegranate” Juice


Pomegranates are one of those foods that just aren’t worth the effort, if you ask me, but if you’re looking to save yourself the hassle and just get all of those antioxidants from juice…well, think again.

Most pomegranate juices are diluted with other fruit juices. POM Wonderful actually won a false advertising lawsuit against Coca-Cola that went all the way to the Supreme Court a few years ago; the court determined that Coca-Cola selling Pomegranate Blueberry juice that was mostly made from apple juice, grape juice, and water was indeed misleading.

Go figure.

3. Honey

I always buy local honey. I just love that it tastes slightly different depending on where the bees live and what they use to make it, and it turns out that’s a smart thing to do. A research journal found that honey makes up around 7% of food fraud cases.

Back in 2013 a “honey laundering” scheme was uncovered – it seems that Chinese honey was being mixed with sweeteners, antibiotics, and pesticides before being shipped through other countries to disguise the origins, then sold in the U.S.


2. Pringles


You’re not expecting your Pringles to be healthy, but I imagine you’re expecting them to be made of potatoes, right?

A 2008 ruling in Britain says Pringles aren’t actually potato chips (or crisps, in Britain) because they’re less than 50% potatoes.

The rest is rice, wheat and corn, all mixed together, rolled out and cut into their signature shape.

1. “Wasabi”

Real wasabi is made from the root of the wasabi plant, which is harvested from riverbeds in Japan. It must be freshly grated, as it loses its flavor in under 15 minutes. It also stores very poorly.

Understandable, then, that your sushi restaurant is actually serving you a mixture of horseradish, mustard, and food coloring – only 5% of the wasabi in the U.S. actually contains any Wasabia japonica at all, and that is shipped in at huge expense.

This is pretty stunning stuff. I mean, as someone who eats McDonalds regularly, I’m not like, grossed out or planning to change my behavior, but still.

What was the biggest shock for you on this list? Tell us in the comments!