Hidden Pork: Red Flag Ingredients That Mean Food Could Contain Pork

When you see eggs and bacon on a plate, a rack of sizzling ribs, or a pork chop dinner, it’s easy to tell which pork product is being used. Some candies, baked goods, and even chewing gum have pork products hidden inside of them. Keep an eye on the list of ingredients when you’re shopping if you’re trying not to eat pork. We put together a list of some of the most obvious signs that pork is hiding in the mix.


Gelatin is an ingredient that thickens liquids. It has no taste, no smell, and no colour. It is often made from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of pigs and cows. Gelatin is found in many common foods, like Jell-O, certain ice creams, puddings, gummy candies, and marshmallows. Gelatin is often used to coat peanuts so that salt or other seasonings will stick to them. It might also be in some vitamins, medicines for seasickness, toaster pastries, and some beers and wines. If you want to avoid pork, look for vegan options or things that are thickened with pectin or agar-agar.

Stearic Acid

The fat of pigs, sheep, or cows is used to make stearic acid. It is a solid fatty acid at room temperature. It will melt at a temperature of about 158 degrees Fahrenheit. It is often used to make soaps, cosmetics, and candles. The Los Angeles Times says that you can also find it in some chewing gums. It makes the gum easier to chew by making it soft.


L-cysteine is often found in commercial bread, bagels, tortillas, pie shells, pizza dough, and pastries. This amino acid is used to improve the texture of dough. It cuts down on the time it takes to mix by breaking up the proteins in the dough. Often, hog hair is used to make it. It can also be made from feathers or hair. Read the ingredients list carefully to find baked goods without L-cysteine or made with vegan L-cysteine so you don’t end up eating something made with pork.


Many bakers don’t talk about how they use lard to make their pie crusts extra flaky and crisp. It is also often found in refried beans and other baked goods. Some chefs might prefer to cook with lard instead of butter or oil. What’s that? Lard is rendered pig fat. The Salt Cured Pig says that it can come from any part of the pig. Visceral fat, which is found inside the loin and around the kidneys, is used to make high-quality lard. It could also be caused by the fatback. Lard rarely makes food taste like pork. For example, it often makes baked goods taste like butter.


Some hard, aged cheeses, like gorgonzola, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, and Grana Padano, have rennet on the list of ingredients. Rennet is an enzyme that makes these cheeses by separating the curds from the liquid milk. People who don’t eat meat are often surprised to learn that cheese with rennet isn’t vegetarian at all. This enzyme is usually made from the lining of the stomachs of goats or young cows. It can come from pigs as well. Science Direct says that Pecorino de Farindola cheese in Italy is an aged cheese made with pig rennet.


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