Products That Most People Don't Realize Have Animal Byproducts In Them

Unless you pay super close attention to every ingredient included in everything you use or consume, it's likely that you're regularly indulging in some pretty gnarly things with animal byproducts included in them. These products aren't always listed as plain as day, so unless you know every cruelty-free product on the planet, it's hard to tell which items are actually concocted from strange animal products. From meat-packing industry waste to actual human hair, these animal parts slip under the radar and into your hands, mouths, and even clothing in the most gut-wrenchingly devious ways. 

While products like gelatin might be commonly known to be derived from animal parts, the surprising things that contain animal products go way beyond the jiggly collagen mass that gelatin creates. Surprise animal products such as sugars, laundry detergent, crayons, and even foods like bread and orange juice have ground up and liquidated human and animal matter regularly used to create them or added to them as a primary ingredient.

Photo: Eric Kilby / Flickr / CC-BY-SA 2.0

  • Bread Has Duck, Goose, And Chicken By-Products
    Photo: bugbbq / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Stretchy and firm doughs like pizza crust get their elasticity from L-cysteine, a dough conditioner and strengthener. Processed foods also include L-cysteine to extend their shelf life. The most commonly derived sources of L-cysteine come from duck, goose, and chicken feathers. Rumors about human hair being used as a source of these breads have been debunked as a hoax.

  • Downy Laundry Detergent Uses Animal-Rendered Fat To Keep Clothes Soft

    Downy Laundry Detergent Uses Animal-Rendered Fat To Keep Clothes Soft
    Photo: Walter A. Aue / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Downy detergent makes your clothing feel soft and snuggly, and does so by washing your clothes in the ingredient Dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride. It's a mouthful to say, let alone comprehend if you don't know the scientific meanings behind the words. It's a chemical combination of horse, sheep, and cow thrown together with a mixture of ammonium. This creates a quat, or a quaternary ammonium compound, that coat your clothes in fatty lipids and make them soft and static resistant. 

  • Perfume Is Made From What Beavers Use To Mark Territory

    The wonderful smell of vanilla is an easily identifiable scent not only to humans, but to beavers as well. The ingredient castoreum comes from the castor sac of mature North American beavers and the gland is "milked" for its musky, vanilla smelling secretions. These secretions that beavers typically use to mark their territories are then used in perfumes and foods to give it a pleasant aroma.

  • While some might enjoy drinking alcohol like a fish, they might not be expecting to actually be drinking fish. Isinglass is an ingredient in Guinness used to filter the beer by soaking up stray yeast while it's fermenting, but it lingers in the product long after the extra yeast has been removed. Where does it come from? Fish bladders. Guinness reportedly phased out the use of Isinglass and went completely vegan early 2017.

  • Nail Polish And Lipstick Contain Fish Scales

    To create the shiny mother-of-pearl appearance in nail polishes and lipsticks, some products use ingredients derived from ocean life itself. Guanine, which is sometimes labeled as "pearl essence" on the products that contain it, is a base component of DNA and RNA. Makeup companies derive the guanine from the scales of easily gathered fishing-industry fish such as herring and sardine.

  • Orange juices such as Tropicana Healthy Heart with Omega-3 contain vitamins derived from fish oil and gelatin. The Omega-3 included in the juice is sourced from tilapia, sardines, and anchovies. Processed box orange juices and vitamin-enhanced juices will also add Omega-3 in order to enhance the nutritional value.