Have you ever given thought to the foods in other countries? Are they the same as what we eat here in the United States? You may be surprised to find out that many foods overseas are reformulated. Why would companies make more than one version of the same food? Because the safety of some of the ingredients in our food has been called into question in other countries. Read on for ingredients banned in other countries.
There are a number of food additives and chemicals that are banned in other countries, but are perfectly legal here in the U.S. If corporations want their product available in countries, such as Europe, they reformulate it to be free of the offending ingredients. This begs the question, what ingredients are deemed unsafe for other countries, but safe enough for Americans?
Table of Contents
10 Food Ingredients Banned in Other Parts of the World
Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO):
BVO can be found in sports drinks and other beverages to preserve the flavor. This vegetable oil’s main ingredient, bromine, is used as a fire retardant for sofas and carpets. Not exactly something you want to be drinking. Bromine also displaces necessary iodine in your body. This can lead to an iodine deficiency, which has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer and can cause issues with your thyroid.
The marketing of food has spread beyond packaging and into the ingredients. Artificial colors are being added to make the food look more appealing even though it’s an unnecessary ingredient. These dyes are often derived from coal tar. Artificial dyes and colors are linked to hyperactivity in children, allergic reactions, and cancer. Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are some of the specific colors that are banned abroad.
Have you ever seen an apple that looked perfect and blemish free? Maybe it wasn’t nature, but rather diphenylamine. The chemical is banned in Europe, but here in the U.S. conventional apples are often soaked in DPA to prevent the development of brown spots from forming on the skin during storage. The European Commission banned DPA partly because of the presence of nitrosamines, which caused cancer in lab rats and elevated certain cancers in humans. Ultimately, there was not enough evidence to prove the safety of diphenylamine, so it was banned.
You may be familiar with this “yoga mat” chemical after Subway was met with a campaign to remove the chemical from it’s bread. Azodicarbonamide is both a bleaching agent and dough conditioner, but not a necessary one. It’s banned in Europe, the U.K., and Australia. It’s even punishable by jail time and fine if someone is caught using it in Singapore. Why is this a concern? Azodicarbonamide is linked to asthma when inhaled.
Synthetic hormones (rBGH or rBST):
Cows are often treated with hormones to boost their milk supply. The end result is dairy tainted with synthetic hormones, and a high level of IGF-1 hormones. IGF-1 in linked to breast, prostate, lung, colon, and other cancers. Cows treated with hormones also experience mastitis and other infections which then require antibiotics, which can contribute to antibiotic resistant bacteria.
This poisonous chemical has been found in poultry in the United States and has caused quite a stir. The FDA recently revealed that 70% of chickens contain cancer causing arsenic. The animals are given arsenic in their feed in a prescription form to make their meat appear more pink and appealing. The EPA lists risks exposure to inorganic arsenic as nausea, abdominal pain, and nervous system damage. Oral consumption of the substance can cause those same symptoms, as well as effects on the liver, kidney, cardiovascular system, and even death.
Potassium Brominate (Brominated Flour):
We mentioned the dangers of bromine and how it displaces iodine in the human body. It can also cause nervous system and kidney disorders, as well as gastrointestinal discomfort. It was also found to be carcinogenic in lab rats.
BHA and BHT:
You’ll find these preservatives in nuts, beer, and cereal, to name a just a few foods. They’re derived from petroleum and keep oils in foods from going rancid. This all sounds very appetizing, right? Research has shown that BHA and BHT are harmful to the blood and the circulatory system. Lab rats also developed tumors when given the chemical, leading to concerns that is could cause cancer.
Although Olestra seemed like a breakthrough in low fat food, it turned out to be too good to be true. As if the reports of anal leakage after consuming Olestra weren’t bad enough, it can deplete the body of essential vitamins and nutrients. by inhibiting their absorption. Cramps and gas, and irritable bowel type symptoms are a common side effect of this chemical. Both Canada and the U.K. have banned this ingredient.
Farm Raised Salmon:
Farm raised salmon is currently banned in New Zealand and Australia due to the use of antibiotics. As mentioned above, antibiotics in farming can lead to antibiotic resistance in both the animal and those consuming it. In addition, farm raised salmon is pumped full of chemical to speed up growth and increase size. PCBs are a major concern in salmon, and they are 5 times more prevalent in farmed salmon than wild salmon according to research. This banned chemical is found in things like asbestos, and despite it being banned is still present in the environment.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs):
As of 2013, 26 countries had at least a partial ban on GMOs. The United States is yet to adopt similar guidelines. There are a number of areas of concern regarding GMOs. The first being the lack of independent research of on the long term safety of these altered crops. Second, the use of GMO crops is leading to an increase in the use of persistent pesticides. The World Health Organization has deemed glyphosate, a common herbicide used on GMO crops, to be a probable carcinogen. Concerns over the safety of GMO foods have led many countries to require that genetically modified ingredients are identified on the label, if they are not yet banned.
We’ll Take Your Word for it
A big part of the reason why these ingredients are allowed here, but not in many other nations. is because of how the United States looks at approving chemicals. Natural Resources Defense Council senior scientist Maricel Maffini says in the Generally Recognized as Secret report:
No other developed country that we know of has a similar system in which companies can decide the safety of chemicals put directly into food.
The FDA simply isn’t equipped to verify the safety of all the chemicals and foods it oversees. The companies that manufacture them are responsible for proving their safety. You read that right, the companies that have everything to gain from a product are the ones determining if that product is fit for the consumer. It’s a backwards system, and one the consumer should be wary of. It’s similar to the innocent until proven guilty idea, but it’s our health and safety that is potentially at risk. Alternatively, in the European Union, if there is reasonable evidence to suggest a substance is harmful, preventative measures are taken.
Take the time to read labels and know what’s in the food and drinks you are consuming. Remember, just because it’s available at the store, doesn’t mean it’s harmless.