You might think you know exactly what you eat every day by looking at food packaging and ingredient lists, but it turns out that we’re not always aware of everything that passes through our lips. Check out five shocking things we eat every day without realising.

1. Arsenic

Rice is a staple of many people’s diet and most of us eat the grain without too much thought into safety concerns, but research has found that traces of the chemical element arsenic can be found in rice. Arsenic is an element of the earth’s crust and it’s also present in air, soil and water. Rice absorbs arsenic more readily than any other food crop.

According to tests by Consumer Reports, people who ate rice had 44 per cent higher levels of arsenic in their bodies than those who had not. Surprisingly, their investigation also found that the total average levels of arsenic were always higher in brown rice than in white. Although there is a relatively low risk of the occasional bowl of rice causing long-term health problems, it might be best to consume the grain in moderation if the reports are anything to go by.

2. Insects

How would you feel if we told you that you have been eating parts of insects (and a few rodent hairs) your whole life? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accept that there is no way that manufacturers can avoid some ‘foreign substances’ such as insects, sand and soil from finding their way into the production of food items, so they allow for a small amount of ‘natural defects’ to be present in food products. As a result, the average chocolate product could contain up to 60 insect fragments per 100g and an 18oz jar of peanut butter can contain up to five rodent hairs.

Some insects are also used to give foods certain textures and colourings, for example, the ingredient shellac comes from the female lac beetle, which is used to give a shine to sweets and some fruit. Shellac is also used in wood finishings.

3. Lead

A study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that over 50 per cent of lipstick brands contained lead, which sounds like it could be bad news for your health. But, based on calculations by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you would have to eat 15 tubes of lipstick per day to raise the amount of lead in your blood to a dangerous level where you would need to seek medical help. Therefore, since most people don’t eat lipstick by the tube, any small amount that you do swallow by accident should cause little harm to your health .

Not all lipsticks contain lead, so if you are conscious of your lead intake, then swap to an organic, natural brand of lipstick.  

4. 46 teaspoons of sugar

Many of us think that by cutting chocolate, cake and other sweet treats out of our diet we are limiting our sugar intake , but did you know we could still be consuming well over the recommended daily amount of sugar through the food we eat?

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that many food companies have that they have been increasing the amount of sugar in processed foods to make them taste better. The research also revealed that some people eat up to 46 teaspoons of sugar a day without realising it, increasing their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

5. Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is an ingredient that is present in ice cream, salad dressings, beer, medication, e-cigarette liquid and also antifreeze. Consumed at appropriate levels, it has been granted ‘Safe To Eat’ status by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration.)

Propylene glycol is used by food manufacturers to improve the texture and consistency of the food, the flavour and it’s also what is used to stop ice cream from forming crystals. Again, this is another instance where you would have to consume a lot of the ingredient for it to cause serious harm to your body, but propylene glycol can be toxic in large doses.