Popular Science: Here's why a hair in your food isn't bad news

Nothing is quite as off-putting as finding a hair in your food, but it may not be as bad as you

No-one enjoys finding a hair in that delicious pasta, or succulent taco they just ordered in their favorite restaurant. but believe it or not, it is not unsanitary, reports Popular Science.

Hair in food is not a health threat, and this is according to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA  Food Code guidelines don't even place a limit on the number of hair strands per plate. In fact, there are no reports of people getting ill from ingesting hair found in food.

Maria Colavincenzo, a dermatologist at Northwestern University who specializes in hair explained that hair is composed of a densely packed protein called keratin.

Keratin is a chemically inactive protein and won't cause any problems if digested, as a matter of fact, Food manufacturers use L-cysteine, an amino acid in keratin, to stabilize dough.

Source: Pixabay

Source: Pixabay

Some of the L-cysteine used in food is synthetic or extracted from duck feathers, but others use human hair which is boiled in hydrochloric acid to extract the L-cysteine protein.

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The only time ingesting human hair could be a threat to someone's health is if the person consumed a whole head's worth.  Ingesting such large quantities of hair forms long clumps of hair, called trichobezoars, in your stomach and cause acute abdominal pain.

These rare cases are often the result of a behavioral disorder called trichotillomania, in which the sufferer pulls out his or her own hair and sometimes consumes it.

So next time you see that long strand of hair on your plate, remember, it may be unsightly but it's perfectly safe. You may be consuming a lot more hair by taking a juicy bite out of your favorite bagel, or that delicious bear-claw.

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