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15 Food ingredients still allowed in the U.S. that have been banned in other countries

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1. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Many chips, sausages and cereals contain butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene. It acts as preservatives, keeping foods from becoming rancid. While BHA and BHT have been “generally recognized as safe” by the U.S. FDA, they remain controversial. They’ve been shown to raise cancer risks in animal tests, according to the U.S. National Toxicology Program. Both BHA and BHT are banned from foods in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and throughout Europe.
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2. Azodicarbonamide
It’s used to enhance texture of soft white breads, including hamburger buns at McDonald’s and Burger King. Azodicarbonamide is banned in Australia, the U.K. and European countries. It can interfere with respiratory health, causing allergic reactions and asthma in some people. Be sure to choose baked goods that do not list azodicarbonamide as an ingredient.

 

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3. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone and Recombinant Bovine Somatropin
To increase milk production in cows, many U.S. dairy farmers have turned to recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and recombinant bovine somatropin (rBST). The use of these synthetic hormones is not permitted in the European Union, Canada, and some other countries, due to human and animal health risks. According to the American Cancer Society, cows treated with rBGH tend to develop more udder infections (mastitis). These cows are given more antibiotics than cows not given rBGH, and this increased use of antibiotics might lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria which could pose a health concern for people. To avoid these chemicals try buying milk labeled rBGH/rBST-free or organic milk.

4. Potassium Bromate
This bread additive strengthens dough, reducing its baking time and saving manufacturers money by lowering production costs. Also called bromated flour, it is believed to disappear from foods during baking and therefore trace amounts are considered safe in U.S. foods. Potassium bromate has been banned in the EU, Canada, Peru, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea and China. Researchers in Japan published a study showing that potassium bromate causes cancer in the thyroids, kidneys and other body parts of rats and mice. The U.S. FDA hasn’t banned potassium bromate, but it does advise moderate use only and proper labeling. Many small and large bakeries in the U.S. voluntarily avoid using potassium bromate, however, it’s still found in many fast food buns and other products.

5. Olestra
Used in some fat-free foods, including chips, crackers and fries. It was found to cause side effects, namely gas, cramps and anal leakage—another term for uncontrollable diarrhea and Olestra was also found to reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. Illegal in Canada and the United Kingdom, the faux-fat remains legal in the U.S.

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6. Genetically Modified (GM) Canola Oil
In Europe, farmers cannot legally grow genetically modified canola crops. According to NPR, as of 2010, roughly 90% of canola plants in the U.S. are genetically modified varieties (GMO) that can resist two types of herbicides, glufosinate and glyphosate. This means canola oil producers use a lot of pesticides on their crops. Residues find their way into the finished product. You should choose organic or non-GMO, expeller-pressed brands of canola oil. The lower-cost products sold in supermarkets have often been extracted with chemical solvents or high-speed presses that generate heat. Both methods alter the oil’s fatty acid chemistry in undesirable ways.

 

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7. Genetically Modified (GM) Corn
Ninety percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified (GM). Countries including France, Greece and Algeria don’t allow genetically modified corn to be sold. “The tricky part about avoiding GMOs is that, even though the vast majority of Americans are in favor of labeling GMOs, manufacturers are currently not required to do so,” said Jon McGoran, magazine editor and urban agriculture advocate in Pennsylvania. A June 2013 study published in the Organic Systems Journal found that pigs fed a combination of GM soy and corn suffer more frequent severe stomach inflammation and enlargement of the uterus than those who eat a non-GM diet. To avoid these risks, try purchasing corn from your local farmers’ market, and when buying processed foods opt for certified organic.

8. Genetically Modified (GM) Soybeans
While genetically modified soybeans are banned in Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, and Luxembourg, more than 90% of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. Even if you never eat edamame or tofu, soybeans and soy derivatives are found in countless common (and surprising) foods, including energy bars, butter substitutes, breads, crackers, deli meats, meat substitutes, vegetable oils and salad dressings. Dr. Joseph Mercola writes, “Animal studies have shown devastating effects from genetically engineered soy including allergies, sterility, birth defects…” To avoid genetically modified soy, choose organic edamame and avoid all non-organic foods that list soy, and soy flour as ingredients.

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9. Blue Dye No. 1
Though it’s been banned in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, this food colorant is often found in U.S. ice cream, cereals, canned processed peas, packet soups, bottled food colorings, icings, and in the liquor blue curacao. Research has connected Blue No. 1, which is also called Brilliant Blue with allergies, hyperactivity, learning problems, aggressiveness and irritability in children. To ban it from your kitchen, keep an eye on ingredient lists. If you see Blue No. 1, move on.

10. Yellow Dye No. 5 (also known as tartrazine)
Yellow Dye No. 5 is a food colorant that is banned in Finland and Norway and available widely in the U.S.. “Six of the 11 studies on Yellow Number 5 showed that it caused genotoxicity, a deterioration of the cell’s genetic material with the potential to mutate healthy DNA,” say Jayson and Mira Calton. These effects can have serious complications, such as causing growth abnormalities. In research published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2010, tartrazine was administered to organ tissue in male rats. The researchers found that the artificial dye negatively affects markers of disease in vital organs, such as kidneys and livers — at low and high doses. Common sources include cheese-flavored crackers and chips, colorful cereals, butterscotch pudding, yellow sports drinks macaroni and cheese mixes.

11. Yellow No. 6 (also known as sunset yellow)
Yellow No. 6 is the third most widely used food coloring in the U.S. found in Fruity Cheerios, Trix, some Eggo waffle products, and some Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners. While it enhances the color of many American cheeses, cheese-flavored pasta mixes, candy, cereals and carbonated drinks, it may also contribute to some serious health problems. Finland and Norway banned Yellow No. 6 after lab studies showed a link between the additive and tumors in the adrenal glands and kidneys of animals. To avoid these risks, look for foods free of artificial additives. Foods and drinks colored with tumeric, a natural spice with anti-inflammatory properties, are a safer bet.

12. Blue Dye No. 2

Blue Dye No.2 is a petroleum product, with the chemical formula C16H10N2O2. It is used in baked goods, cereals, ice cream, snacks, candies and cherries. It is also called indigo blue or indigotine. Tests have shown that this dye is linked to brain cancer, hyperactivity, and other cancers.

13. Red Dye No. 40

It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in candy, cereal, baked goods, gelatin powder, drugs and cosmetics. Synthetically derived from petroleum, the additive is also known as FD&C Red No. 40, Allura Red and Red 40. Red 40 has potential for serious side effects, states the CSPI. Red 40 may cause symptoms of hypersensitivity in some people, including swelling around the mouth, and it may also cause hives. The colorant might contain contaminants that may contribute to cancer in humans and could trigger hyperactivity in children. In a handful of studies, Red 40 damaged the DNA of mice, according to the CSPI.

14. Brominated Vegetable Oil   (BVO)

Health concerns about BVO stem from the fact that it contains bromine, the element found in brominated flame retardants. Studies show that bromine builds up in the body. It has caused memory loss, skin and nerve problems in some people. This additive is banned in the Europe and Japan.

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15. Arsenic

It is found in some chicken, rice, and water. It can cause: abdominal pains, destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis ), shock, death, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine (termed black water urine), dehydration, cardiac problems, hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells), vertigo, delirium, skin changes (darkening or discoloration, redness, swelling and hyperkeratosis), whitish lines (Mees’ lines) may appear in the fingernails, both sensory and motor nerve defects can develop. Additionally, liver and kidney function may be affected. Arsenic exposure over the long-term has  been associated with the development of certain cancers(bladder, kidney, lung, & skin). Arsenic has been classified as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 

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