Guess What? Finding Hair In Food Isn't That Bad For You

Guess What? Finding Hair In Food Isn't That Bad For You

Finding hair in food is easily one of the most unappetizing sights to behold during a meal. However, while finding a strange strand of hair in the spaghetti seems icky, it is incredibly unlikely to cause any health problems whatsoever.

Maria Colavincenzo, a dermatologist at Northwestern who specializes in the study of hair explains that hair is made of a protein called keratin, which doesn't cause problems to the body if ingested. Hair can possibly contain a trace amount of staph bacteria, which can cause stomach problems, but a hair or two with a miniscule amount of staph bacteria still wouldn't be enough to induce gastrointestinal trouble.

In fact, a protein found in human hair called L-cysteine is sometimes used as an additive to certain foods. L-cysteine is an amino acid found in keratin, which some food manufacturers use to stabilize dough and create a savory flavor. Duck feathers can provide L-cysteine, but so can human hair! Not to worry though, the human hair is boiled in hydrochloric acid to derive the desired amino acid.

As it turns out the Food and Drug Administration doesn't even have a limit of strands of hair per dish and has never received a report of people getting sick from consuming hair found in food.

Colavincenzo does warn that if one swallowed a head's worth of hair it could cause the digestive system to react similarly to a shower drain clogged with hair. Hopefully most people would know not to purposefully swallow a full head of hair!

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Originally published