So, How Grossed Out Should You Actually Be When You Find Hair In Your Food?

by Julia Guerra

Maybe it's because I live with a cat and I'm beyond used to discovering tufts of her fur literally everywhere by now, but finding hair in my food at, say, a restaurant doesn't gross me out like it does for most people. Would I rather my penne vodka be served sans strands? Of course, but the truth is, one strand of hair doesn't actually massacre an entire meal.

Personally, if I catch a hair in my spaghetti before shoveling the first forkful in my mouth, I'll normally just pluck that sucker off my plate and dig in -- but that's just me.

But should you actually send back food if you happen to find hair in it?

To preface, it's worth noting that the placement of hair in your food is rarely, if ever, done so on purpose. Restaurant employees normally have to abide by a dress code which will request long hair be pulled back in a ponytail or bun. So if you catch a strand (or two), it's probably accidental, and you shouldn't rage war against your server.

That being said, whether or not you decide to finish the meal or send it back is really up to you.

Dr. Partha Nandi, gastroenterologist and author of the upcoming book ASK DR. NANDI: 5 Steps to Becoming Your Own #HealthHero for Longevity tells Elite Daily, if you find a single hair in your food, there's "no harm in eating around it and/or removing it."

In reality, the idea of hair intertwined in your food sounds worse than it actually is.

Dr. Nandi goes on to explain hair is actually indigestible, so if you swallow a piece by accident, it's not the end of the world.

In fact, you've most likely eaten human hair on a daily basis without ever realizing it.

L-cysteine is an amino acid found in human hair, poultry feathers, or synthesized in a lab, and it's often used as an additive in food (surprise!).

And, according to Mother Jones, processors tend to favor L-cysteine that comes from human hair, as it's twice as potent as that of alternative sources.

This may or may not make your food sound less appetizing, but at least you know it's more common than not to snack on a strand or two every now and then.

Plus, accidentally eating food that's come into contact with a piece of human hair won't have any medical side effects.

Maria Colavincenzo, a dermatologist at Northwestern University who specializes in hair, explained to Popular Science,

Hair is made of a densely packed protein called keratin, which is chemically inactive in hair and won't cause any problems if digested. It's possible that staph bacteria, which can upset the stomach and bring on a case of diarrhea, could hitch a ride on a strand. But it's very unlikely.

Colavincenzo went on to say the only time you should ever be even remotely concerned about hair in your food is if you somehow ingested a whole head's worth of strands.

So, unless you're ordering a literal plate of hair for dinner, you don't have to worry about keeling over and dying of strand-induced symptoms. Even the FDA hasn't deemed hair in your food a health hazard.

The next time you catch an unsolicited lock of hair hiding in your French fries, feel free to chillax and enjoy your food as your normally would, my friend.

Bon appétit!