The bizarre ingredients lurking in your favourite foods

Even if it looks healthy!

Sodium Nitrate

That salami on your pizza and bacon on your burger might contain sodium nitrate. A preservative used in deli meats, sodium nitrate has been linked to pancreatic cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Before you order, ask if nitrate-free options are available or, better still, ditch processed meats completely.

Artificial Colours

They make lollies, soft drinks and other processed foods appealing, but many artificial colours are actually made from petroleum. Check the ingredients list – if you see a colour followed by a number, for example, ‘Yellow 102’ it might be time to switch to a product with natural colours.

(Credit: Getty)

Silicone Dioxide

Used as an anti-caking agent in things like canned casseroles and soups, silicon dioxide is a form of sand! It’s deemed safe by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, but if you’d like to avoid it, stick to whipping up your own soups and stews.


Those shiny sweets with a hard coating are tempting, but they may be coated in a confectioner’s glaze known as shellac. Made from the secretions of a beetle, you’ll never look at the lolly jar the same way again.

(Credit: Getty)


Cellulose, or wood pulp, is a form of fibre commonly added to foods to help stabilise and bulk them up. It’s considered safe for consumption and may be found in sauces and syrups, take-away burgers and fried chicken, cakes and biscuits. Cooking at home with fresh ingredients is the easiest way to eat filler-free foods.

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