The Strange Ingredient You'd Be Surprised Is In Chewing Gum

Chewing gum is a fairly common practice, from kids who enjoy blowing bubbles with bold watermelon and grape flavored bubble-gum, to adults who carry a spearmint pack to freshen their breath in a pinch. People have been chewing gum since ancient times, and according to WebMD, it offers some health benefits including helping your mouth produce more saliva. With an adequate amount of saliva, your teeth are better protected, and saliva also can help ease symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by balancing acids in the esophagus. 

Unfortunately, some people may be unpleasantly surprised to find out about a certain ingredient found in gum that is derived from an animal. According to the Deccan Chronicle, some gums contain the ingredient lanolin, an oily, sticky secretion from the sebaceous glands of sheep. Lanolin is produced by the sheep to help keep their wool waterproof. In gum, lanolin is part of what provides that soft, chewable texture. This is particularly bad news for vegans, who may have not known of the lanolin in gum, as manufacturers tend to hide the ingredient with the term "gum base" (via ABC News).

You might want to switch to a vegan gum

Lanolin is also a common ingredient in skin care products, as it helps soften the skin (via Forbes). While you may be grossed out or even highly outraged to find that your gum may contain an animal product, there is another piece to this puzzle that may push you over the edge. There is a good chance that the sheep on the farm have been doused with insecticides, which can accrue in their fat tissues where the lanolin comes from.  

The Food and Drug Administration has approved lanolin as an softener in chewing gum and for uses as an "indirect food additive," meaning the packaging the food comes in may contain lanolin (via The ingredient is also approved for over-the-counter cosmetics, ointments, beauty products, and more. The chances of health hazards occurring from lanolin are minimal, but if you avoid using or consuming animal products, you may want to switch to vegan gum, because as Forbes eloquently stated, "you're chewing sheep sweat."