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L-Cysteine is Disgusting, and Here’s Why

Written by andy

Bread: one of the most delicious foods on the planet. There’s something about a fluffy loaf of bread that you just can’t stay away from, such as this delicious Nutella-filled pumpkin loaf or this exotic cheese egg bread dish that makes a wonderful addition to your brunch!

But have you ever read what’s on the label in your average package of bread? You’ll find that many ingredients will make you question what’s in the bread, and L-cysteine is one of these ingredients.

What is L-Cysteine?

L-cysteine is an amino acid that is added to many baked goods. It isn’t a necessary part of the baking process, but it’s added in order to enrich the bread and provide extra nutritional value. It helps the dough to turn out the proper consistency.

It’s a useful ingredient when it comes to producing large quantities of bread—such as on an assembly line or processing plant.

You’ll only find the L-cysteine in commercial baked goods, such as bread rolls, store-bought pizza dough, and your favorite pastries. It’s an amino acid, but do you know where it comes from? Here’s a hint: something growing out of the top of your head.

L-Cysteine is Hair!

There are two ways to obtain L-cysteine:

  1. Synthesize it in a natural laboratory. This is one of the best ways to do so, but synthetic L-cysteine isn’t natural. With so many people looking for “all-natural” products, adding synthetic L-cysteine will eliminate that “all-natural” label.
  2. Get it from hair.

That’s right, L-cysteine comes from hair. And we’re not just talking human hair either!

Here are some of the more common sources of L-cysteine:

  • Human hair
  • Chicken and duck feathers
  • Petroleum byproducts
  • Cow horns
  • Pig hair

Most of the L-cysteine you find in your bread comes from human hair, a larger percentage of which is gathered from hair salons and barbershops in China. The hair is packaged, shipped off to the processing plant, and soaked in acid. The acid dissolves the hair, passing through a special chemical process to isolate the L-cysteine.

Once the L-cysteine has been isolated, it is processed, packaged, and sent off to the massive factories where commercial bread products are made. It goes straight into your bread dough, and you consume it when you eat that doughy bread product.

What’s the Problem?

Well, for starters, there’s the “ew” factor. Not only are you eating human hair, but you’re also consuming other types of hair and feathers. Some suspect that L-cysteine is made from rat hair, though that is a bit of a stretch.

It’s estimated that up to 90% of the L-cysteine that comes from China is derived from hog hair instead of human hair.

For the average American consumer, eating hair may not be as bad as you think. When they read that L-cysteine is made from human hair, they think, “That’s disgusting.” However, after they’re done reading the article, they’ll go eat commercial bread products anyway.

For some, however, this is a serious problem. Muslims are forbidden to eat anything that comes from the human body, as are Jews. A lot of the “kosher” bread products currently sold today may contain human hair, which could make them unfit for consumption.

All this to say, next time you bite into that delicious bagel or Cinnabon, perhaps it’s time to consider just what you’re putting in your body. It may just be some human hair, or, even worse, the hair of some unclean, unknown animal…

About the author


Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise--he does so six days a week--and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

1 Comment

  • This is gross!!! How can our government be so stupid as to allow this?! I don’t get it! I make our bread thank goodness. I started about a year ago because honestly the cost of a loaf of bread was ridiculous. Thank you for sharing this. I will be passing it on!

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