We’ve all done it: We’ve got a jar or a package of snacks in our hands and as we’re happily munching away, we turn the package around, maybe out of boredom, to read whatever monolithic corporation put inside the food we’re ingesting. Past the run-on sentences of consonant-laden chemicals, sugars, alcohols, oils, and other ingredients, we also see a bold-faced piece of text that says the product is manufactured in a facility that also processes nuts.
This is a vital bit of information to share with people, especially if they have an extreme nut allergy that could have disastrous effects on their health should they eat that granola bar or chocolate coconut patty, as nutless as they may be.
However, have you ever picked up a sweet treat, read the packaging, and were given a warning that there may be tilapia in it?
That’s what happened to TikToker Paden Ferguson (@padiano) who was stunned to see the ingredients label on a bag of Walmart Great Value mini marshmallows that reads: “MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF TILAPIA, CONTAINS A BIOENGINEERED FOOD INGREDIENT.”
@padiano @walmart you good? #weirdwalmartfinds #minimarshmallows #ricekrispietreats #thehoneyandoakco #tilapiafishing ♬ original sound – Paden Ferguson
Paden says in the clip, “Hey when was the last time we checked in on Great Value brand at Walmart because I have some concerns. I bought some mini marshmallows right.” He flips the bag over in order to show the nutritional facts and ingredients list. He points out text on the back of the marshmallows bag that reads: “May contain traces of tilapia.”
It’s received 1.4 million views since being posted this week.
“Why, what?!” Paden says in disbelief that his pack of un-refrigerated marshmallows may have remnants of fish in them. “Now listen I know we don’t expect a lot from Walmart but like why are fish in my marshmallows? I just. I don’t get it.”
One commenter seemed to share in Paden’s shock, just in a more jocular matter: “Great value tilapia doesn’t even have tilapia.”
Someone else quipped, “That’s why they call it Great Value. You buy one thing and they throw something random in for free,” while another joked, “Fish live in the marsh, it’s a byproduct of the marsh and the mallow.”
Great Value lists gelatin as one of the ingredients in the marshmallows, and one user said that the tilapia could be a byproduct of fish gelatin that’s used in making the treats, effectively making the food a kosher option: “fish gelatin is totally a thing. As mentioned above it is the Kosher option”
There were some folks who were more interested to know, however, what “the lovely bioengineered mystery ingredient” was.
Judging from one commenter’s experience, it seems there’s enough tilapia or fish gelatin in the marshmallows to prompt an allergic reaction: “we bought these a few yrs ago.. and I ate a handful. being allergic to fish, it was a fun evening. contacted walmart and they didn’t care.”
Update April 5, 6:45am CT: Ferguson told the Daily Dot he is “still in disbelief” after reading the ingredients.
“When I first saw the warning that the product ‘may contain traces of tilapia,'”‘ I was stunned. I mean, who expects to find fish in their marshmallows? I decided to share my shock with my TikTok followers, and I’m blown away by the response. It has now garnered 3.8 million views and turned into a sort of mini series,” he said.
He said that he hopes his video “encourages people to be more aware of what they’re consuming and to always check the ingredient labels.” “It’s crazy to think that something as seemingly harmless as a bag of marshmallows could potentially cause an allergic reaction,” he added.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Walmart via email for further comment.