At Eat This, Not That!, we’re used to being shocked and horrified by the food served in America’s restaurants. Stuff like P.F. Chang’s Hot & Sour Soup Bowl, with more salt than 44 individual bags of Doritos. Or Uno Chicago Grill’s Mega Size Deep Dish Sundae, with as many calories as 14 Krispy Kreme donuts. Or Sonic’s Nerds Ice Cream Slush, with more than 70 sugar packets’ worth of sweet stuff in a single serving.
But no matter how horrible those foods are, at least in theory, they’re actual foods. It’s when our meal comes with a side order of the completely unexpected—rotting reptile heads, used prophylactics, hypodermic needles—that things really start to get gross. So if you get queasy easy, you’d best turn away, as we reveal the most disturbing things found in food. And sometimes you should worry about the food itself—stay healthier and happier by avoiding these unhealthiest foods on the planet!
1. Black Widow in Bag of Grapes
And you thought the Whole Foods asparagus-water scandal was bad. Boston resident Jorge Fuentes found a live Black Widow spider in a bag of grapes he’d purchased from the supermarket chain. A Black Widow bite is rarely deadly, but its neurotoxic venom is painful and can bring on muscle cramps, vomiting, and dizziness. We’re experiencing the latter two right now.
2. Frog in a Bag of Frozen Veggies
In 2010, the Hoffman Family of Grand Ledge, Michigan, got a surprise when they opened up a bag of frozen vegetables and discovered a stowaway amphibian that was frozen solid. The Hoffmans contacted the FDA, which didn’t respond. They turned to a local newspaper columnist, who called the Meijer supermarket chain. It promptly recalled its frozen mixed veggies.
3. Condom in a Big Mac
Here’s one from my home state. Easton, Pennsylvania, was the place. Nineteen ninety-nine was the year. McDonald’s was the venue. A Big Mac was the food. So far, so normal, but did I mention the condom? Customer William Smith discovered one between the buns, and the manager on duty gave him two coupons. That didn’t stop him from filing a suit in which he claimed to have suffered physical and emotional illness. A former Easton resident noted that a condom shop was in the same mini-mall as McDonald’s. The Morning Callnewspaper later reported that his lawsuit was dismissed.
4. Condom in Fries
The story above is not the only item on this list in which McDonald’s food is mentioned. In fact, it’s not even the only item in which McDonald’s food and a condom are mentioned together. In 2009, 7-year-old Swiss girl allegedly found a condom in amongst her McDonald’s fries. Shockingly, local cops determined the prophylactic to be “a health risk.” Think that’s bad? Wait until you read these shocking secrets from fast food workers!
5. Mouse in a Loaf of Bread
This is already the second time that bread, innocuous as seems, has cropped up in this litany of food nightmares. In 2009, Stephen Forse of Oxfordshire, England, discovered a dead mouse baked into a loaf of bread he’d just bought from the store. That bakery needed a cat.
6. Cockroach in a Hash Brown
There’s not much that’s more alarming than seeing roaches in a restaurant. Except finding one in your food. That’s what happened to Reddit user LinkBoyJT, who posted a picture of a half-eaten McDonald’s hash brown with a roach inside it. Don’t worry, though. He says that he got a breakfast coupon for the same meal. That should totally offset the nightmares. Speaking of McDonald’s breakfast, Eat This, Not That! took their McMuffins and more into our food lab, student the ingredients and the result is this definitive list: Every Fast Food Breakfast—Ranked!!
7. Chicken Head in a Happy Meal
According to ABC News, a woman in Virginia sued McDonald’s for $100,000 after finding a chicken head in a box of wings in 2000. She was bringing the chicken head to her mouth when her 8-year-old son screamed at her not to eat it. The manager offered two weeks of free meals but, understandably, she decided to hold out.
8. Mouse in a Soda
An Illinois man who found a mouse in his Mountain Dew took Pepsi to court for encouraging him to drink carbonated vermin. The beverage giant disputed the claim, saying that if a mouse had, in fact, been in the can, the Dew would have dissolved it into a “jelly-like substance.” Think that’s scary? See where your soda stands on this list of every soda ranked for nutrition!
9. Mouse in a Curry Jar
The British love Indian food. Englishwoman Cate Barrett probably loves it slightly less these days. As she added a store-bought jar of tikka masala sauce to some chicken she was cooking, she thought it seemed a little lumpy. On closer inspection, she noticed whiskers and a tail, which belonged to a complimentary rodent. The outcome? A heartfelt apology from a grocery chain’s manager and a promise that the matter would be investigated.
10. Rat in Baked Beans
In December 2011, the British grocer Sainsbury’s was fined £8,000 (about $12,000) after a customer found a dead mouse in a can of store-brand beans. “No one knows exactly how it got in, but since bean starch was found in its stomach during the investigation, clearly greed was its downfall,” concluded the Independent newspaper.
11. Dead Frog in Can of Pepsi
The flavor of Fred DeNegri’s Pepsi was rank. The texture was slimy and thick. So the Ormond Beach, Florida, resident said he shook out the contents, and something resembling “pink linguini” slid out, followed by “dark stuff.” (Not too dissimilar from the “jellylike substance” that Pepsi said would result from carrion marinating in their drinks.) Poison Control and the FDA were contacted, and the can’s contents were analyzed. The Food and Drug Administration Office of Regulatory Affairs concluded the foreign matter appeared to be a frog or a toad.
12. Serrated Knife in a Subway Sandwich
It’s hard to imagine how a Subway employee could have accidentally baked a 6-inch serrated knife into a loaf of bread. Nevertheless, in 2008 New Yorker John Agnesini started snacking on a Subway sandwich and found a knife between his teeth. Luckily, he bit into the melted handle and not the blade. Gothamist reported that Agnesini accepted a settlement of $20,000. (Normally, we’re fans of Subway’s healthy options. Find out which meats to order on this list of foods that uncover your abs!
13. Razor in Ice Cream
I scream for ice cream. And I’d be screaming for all the wrong reasons if, like Stephanie Granger, I’d found a razor blade in a pint of frozen dessert. The incident took place in Kilgore, Texas in 2011. According to CBS News, a representative from Walmart, where the ice cream had been purchased, told Stephanie: “I’m sorry. I hope your day gets better.”
14. Severed Finger in Frozen Custard
In 2005, North Carolina resident Clarence Stowers was tucking into a container of Kohl’s frozen custard when he encountered a severed finger. Officials said the digit had recently been attached to a worker injured in a food-processing machine accident. USA Today reported that Stowers put the finger in his mouth, thinking it was a piece of candy.
15. Finger in Chili
It seems 2005 was a banner year for fingers finding their way into food items. A San Jose, California, woman claimed that she found a finger in her cup of Wendy’s chili. The case got crazier. Detectives determined that the finger belonged to a Nevada man who had given it to the woman’s husband to plant in her food, hoping to scam the restaurant chain.
16. Tooth in Candy Bar
A woman from Brownsboro, Texas, will never forget that candy bars are bad for teeth. In 2010, she bit into a Milky Way and found a human tooth in her mouth that did not belong to her, KLTV reported. (Protect your own teeth by choosing the best from this essential list of the best and worst candies—ranked!)
17. Flesh-eating Parasite in Fish
In 2014, a British retiree named Paul Poli discovered a small crustacean attached to a bass he’d bought from a supermarket. The bug was found to be cymothoa exigua, a parasite that feeds itself by attaching to a fish’s tongue and devouring it. Poli said he’d never eat fish again. The supermarket apologized and gave him a bottle of wine and a $30 gift certificate.
18. Condom in Clam Chowder
You haven’t read a condom-found-in-food story in over a minute, so here you are. in 2002, a woman in Irvine, California, was enjoying a bowl of restaurant clam chowder when she bit down on something rubbery. For a moment, she thought it was calamari. When she spat out the offending morsel, she discovered something that didn’t elicit her pleasure: a condom. The woman sued and won an undisclosed settlement from the restaurant, which then tried to sue the supplier of the clam chowder, but a judge ruled in favor of the supplier.
19. Band-Aid in McDonald’s Fries
In 2007, a Canadian family alleged that they’d found a used Band-Aid in their McDonald’s fries. The resulting legal filing states that the members of the family “immediately became queasy, lightheaded, nauseous, and grew increasingly mortified” at the thought of eating it. After an internal investigation, McDonald’s Canada issued a statement saying the family’s claims were bogus.
20. Bloody BLT
In 2011, Susan Mosher ordered a BLT and fries at a Cracker Barrel in Houston, Texas, and was served up a horror show. The sandwich was soaked in blood. Mosher was livid about the BBLT, whose special sauce had come from a chef who cut himself while prepping her sandwich.
21. Syringe in a Burger King Breakfast Sandwich
The best part of waking up is not finding medical waste in your breakfast. That’s what happened to Angelica Cruz in 2001, when she ordered as sausage-and-egg breakfast sandwich from a Burger King in Queens, New York. As she chewed, something pierced her cheek. It was a needle tip from a syringe. She sued the restaurant in state Supreme Court for $11 million. (The outcome of the suit was not reported.)
22. Mouse in a Popeye’s Order
There’s a simple reason why Baltimore man Tony Hill bit into a cajun-fried mouse in 2003: the restaurant in which he was eating had a rodent infestation. Hill told WBAL-TV that he was taken aback when he bit into a deep-fried piece of something small and furry.
23. Cockroach in Anchovy Snack
Does eating a bag of crispy anchovies sound disgusting? A Singapore man didn’t think so. Until, that is, he almost ate a cockroach. The bug was initially difficult to spot, as it was bedazzled with sesame seeds and blended into the snack.
24. Glass in Baby Food
In 1986, The New York Times reported that a woman in Brooklyn, New York, fed her infant some Gerber baby food and saw he was spitting it out. On further inspection, she noticed he was bleeding from the mouth because of a shard of glass in the jar. The FDA received complaints from people in 30 states claiming they had found the same. The federal agency declined to recall Gerber products, saying “nothing could be accomplished.”
25. Two Swirls, One Cup
In 2008, Australian government food minister Ian Macdonald confirmed that frozen fecal matter had been found in chocolate gelato offered to patrons of a Sydney pub after they complained about the noise level. As you might expect, customers Steve and Jessica Whyte became “violently ill” after eating it.
26. Band-Aid on Pizza Hut Pizza
In 2011, Ken Wieczerza of Ballston Lake, New York, was enjoying a large Pizza Hut Supreme Pizza when he bit a blood-stained bandage baked into the crust. “I can’t think of anything more disgusting than chewing on a bandage, other than a body part,” he said. Wieczerza complained to the restaurant, which ignored him, so he went to the media. Pizza Hut publicly challenged the veracity of his claims, which was cited by crisis-management firms as an example of the exact worst way to handle such a situation. Instead, eat right every time with this list of every menu at Domino’s—ranked!
27. Slice of Human Skin in a Chicken Sandwich
A Florida man ordered a sandwich from an Arby’s restaurant and found a large slice of bloody skin under the bun. An investigation revealed that the restaurant’s manager had been slicing lettuce when he accidentally sliced off a big chunk of his finger too. After he tended to his injury, he neglected to throw out the lettuce and served it with the piece of skin still inside.
28. Nails in Mac-and-cheese
In 2008 Rebecca Shorten a woman from Gloucester, England, discovered that a bowl of comfort food had been fortified with way too much iron. Specifically, three two-inch nails were swimming around in a store-bought package of mac-and-cheese, and one of them ended up swimming around inside of her after she swallowed it. Doctors were unable to remove the nail, so Shorten had to let nature take its course.
29. Blood in Taco Bell Tacos
In 2006, Briana Ralston picked up some Taco Bell takeout for herself and her 1-year-old daughter. When she tucked into the tacos, Ralston found human blood all over the bag and wrappers. She called the restaurant, and a manager explained that an employee had cut her finger and bled all over the food. Ralston then called the Health Department and a lawyer. It’s not always so bad south of the border; learn what to order (and lose weight) using this list of every menu item at Taco Bell—ranked!
30. Bullets in Costco Hot Dog
Costco super-sizes everything — including food scandals. In 2004, California resident Olivia Chanes had taken a break from shopping to grab a hot dog from the Costco snack bar. As she noshed, she bit down on something hard. It was a live 9mm bullet. That was only the first shot: When she later experienced abdominal pains, she went to the hospital, where doctors found she’d swallowed an additional live bullet from the frank.
31. Tampon in a Steak
In 2009 German tourist Axel Sanz-Claus ordered a $40 dollar filet mignon at the Bull and Bear Restaurant in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He claims that he took a bite of his meat and wound up with a bloody tampon in his mouth. Sanz-Claus rinsed his mouth out with brandy and headed to the nearest hospital, where a doctor confirmed that his discovery was indeed a used tampon and recommended that he be tested for blood-borne diseases. Speaking of steak, if you haven’t lost your appetite yet, check out these best proteins for weight loss!
32. Scorpion in a Bunch of Bananas
On Easter 2014, a British woman named Angela Parren discovered a live scorpion in a sealed bunch of bananas she’d bought from a supermarket chain in St. Stephen, Cornwall. The three-inch poisonous arachnid had apparently hitched a 5,000-mile ride from its native Costa Rica. Parren released it to the custody of a nearby zoo.
33. Snakes on a Plate
What do we typically expect from a TGI Fridays? 1,600-calorie burgers. The after-work crowd blowing off steam. What we don’t generally expect is to find a mother-humpin’ snake on our mother-humpin’ plate. But that’s exactly what Jack Pendleton discovered in a side of broccoli at a Fridays location near Schenectady, New York, in 2009. When Pendleton showed the server the partially decomposed reptile head, the waiter started to gag.
34. Glove in Bread
Enough about rubbers; let’s turn to rubber gloves. A woman in Northern Ireland discovered that part of an oven glove had baked into a loaf of bread in 2009. Worse, she only figured this out once the foreign fibers were tickling the inside of her mouth. Metro UK reported that the company which manufactured the bread was fined £750, or about $1,200.
35. Syringes in a Burger
McDonald’s isn’t the only burger chain that offers occasional surprises in their food. In December 2010, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Clark Bartholomew claimed that he’d injured his tongue on a needle tucked into a Burger King Triple Stackerbought at a Hawaii restaurant, the Huffington Post reported. It gets worse: Bartholomew was hospitalized for six days after another needle was found in his small intestine. He sued the company for “severe physical injury” to his stomach, rectum and tongue.
36. Worm in Cake
In June 2011, Anna Jones, a woman from Birmingham, England, discovered a live worm writhing around in a slice of cake she was eating. Not only was Jones’ discovery disgusting, it was ironically effective. The snack came from Weight Watchers.
37. Mouse in Dole Salad
More evidence that it’s always better to buy your produce fresh: In 2011, a Saginaw, Michigan, couple found a disemboweled mouse inside a bag of Dole Tender Garden Salad, which was labeled as containing a “robust blend of delicate baby greens and lettuces, earthy baby spinach and sweet carrots (that) temper peppery radicchio and the invigorating bite of friseé.” An, the couple contacted authorities and declined a Dole representative’s offer of $25 and coupons, MLive reported.
38. Metal-stuffed Donut
In 2013, 6-year-old Logan Ratai ended up in hospital after ingesting a Walmart donut that contained several sharp little pieces of metal. Walmart spokesperson Kayla Wahling told the Huffington Post that it was “unlikely that this could have happened,” and said the retailer was looking into the incident.
39. Tooth in Block of Cheese
In 2014, a British woman bit off more than she could chew when she found a human tooth in a block of cheese she’d bought from Sainsbury’s, a large UK grocery chain. “This was extremely disturbing, and even more so as I had just been to the dentist myself the day before,” she told a newspaper. The chain promised to investigate.
40. “Rat” in a Box of KFC
Last summer, a California man claimed he found a rodent in his order of fried chicken. The horrifying image went super-viral over Facebook, and the man retained a lawyer, who had the offending lump DNA-tested. Despite its convincing shape, it was determined to be … chicken.