Shocking Ingredient in Bread That’s Problematic for Jews and Muslims

hair food synthetic L-cysteine
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, 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.

:: photo credit

Read More Food News:

 Israel’s Frozen Fish Processed In China Pumped with Water and Chemicals

Aphrodisiacs of the Middle East

Bake Bread Like an Egyptian

Tinamarie is a regular contributor to Follow her @ModernLoveMuse. She blogs at

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4 thoughts on “Shocking Ingredient in Bread That’s Problematic for Jews and Muslims”

  1. Tinamarie says:

    Jackie – please don’t swear off bread. Just read the label on the back. If l-cystein is used as a dough conditioner, it will be listed on the ingredients. Hope that helps.

  2. Jackie Green says:

    I was horrified to find out about L.cystein. I immediately stopped eating any bread of any
    kind. Actually I stopped eating anything that might remotely contain L-cystein. I would appreciate a response as to what bread would be safe to eat otherwise I am willing to never have bread again. I don’t know how to bake my own bread. Is organic bread or food safe? Please advise. My whole life has changed since I found out about disgusting L-cystein. Thank you, Jackie

  3. Tinamarie says:

    Totally agree on the ick-factor. I wonder how many ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ commercial baked goods have this in it…ick again.

  4. Zaufishan says:

    Ew. According to a ‘credible’ wikipedia article, most L-cysteine in food is made from duck feathers these days. The more I know what could potentially be in shop bought foods, the more I’m thankful I eat organic!

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