You may be eating a dead person’s hair in your commercially-baked bread. Watch out for L-cysteine if you’re queasy.
It’s name is inconspicuous enough, not something that would make the average consumer squirm as they read the ingredients label on a loaf of bread. The problem isn’t what L-cysteine does – it’s a non-essential amino acid used by many commercial bakers to condition the dough – but where it comes from: human hair. According to NaturalNews.com, much of it is from China, a country with a less than glowing track record for food contaminants.
According to the author, synthetic L-cysteine is sometimes used, while natural sources include human hair, chicken and duck feathers, cow horns and petroleum byproducts. “The hair is dissolved in acid and L-cysteine is isolated through a chemical process, then packaged and shipped off to commercial bread producers.”
Gag factor aside from the thought of eating dissolved hair, there are religious concerns for Jews and Muslims.
“Muslims are forbidden from eating anything derived from a human body, and many rabbis forbid hair consumption for similar reasons. Even rabbis who permit the consumption of hair would forbid it if it came from corpses — and since much L-cysteine comes from China, where sourcing and manufacturing practices are notoriously questionable, this is a real concern.”
“In one case, a rabbi forbade the consumption of L-cysteine because the hair had been harvested during a ritual at a temple in India.”
From the perspective of the burgeoning eco-sexual community, there are many delightful uses for hair, from the pleasure of caressing your lover’s scalp to reap the benefits of all that tingling sensation to donating locks to make a wig for someone who has lost their own. Despite our vivid imaginations, however, consuming hair that’s been harvested from the floor of remote corners around the globe is not our idea of recycling.
Tinamarie Bernard is a regular contributor to Greenprophet.com from where this article is adapted. Follow her @ModernLoveMuse. She blogs at www.tinamariebernard.com.