We all know there are some pretty unhealthy offerings on grocery store shelves these days. But have you ever stopped to think about how some of the foods we’re tossing in our carts are actually banned in other countries? It’s true. There are at least ten foodstuffs that Americans are stuffing in their faces that people in other countries would never be allowed to touch.
1. Foods with artificial colors
Many packaged foods contain unnatural colors that get their bright hues from derivatives of things like petroleum and coal tar. Look for ingredients like “yellow 5? or “red 40? on any food label and you’ll know that the edibles contain artificial dyes, which have been associated with hyperactivity in kids and cancer in animal studies. Unfortunately, these colors are commonly used in children’s foods including cereals, boxed macaroni and cheese, and crackers. But such substances are never allowed on shelves in the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Norway, and Finland.
2. Farm-raised salmon
The issue of farmed fish has become more widely known outside of health circles, but many of us still do not know where our seafood comes from. Unless you live in Australia or New Zealand, where farmed salmon is banned, you can’t be sure that the fish on your plate hasn’t been fed a diet of genetically engineered grains, antibiotics, and hazardous chemicals. Look for bright red flesh instead of light pink. The red indicates natural astaxanthin in any wild-caught varieties.
3. Drinks with flame retardant
Banned in more than 100 different countries, brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is found in Mountain Dew, a popular carbonated beverage, and some sports drinks. The problem is, it’s a corrosive and toxic chemical that is primarily used to keep carpets from going up in flames. But it’s a role in some soft and sports drinks is to keep the flavoring from separating and floating to the surface. The drawback is that the synthetic chemical can alter the central nervous and endocrine systems and cause iodine deficiency. It’s likely for these reasons that BVO is banned in Europe and Japan.
4. Chicken with arsenic
Non-farming consumers are becoming more and more aware of the origins of their chicken and how the animals are raised. That being said, poultry manufactured in the U.S. are sometimes fed arsenic-laced food to prevent parasites and make the birds grow faster. Of course, the arsenic is passed onto the human food source and we end up consuming it to detrimental effect; it has been linked to lung, bladders, and skin cancer. The European Union has thus banned chicken feed with arsenic.
5. Bread with potassium bromate
Bromated flour—found in rolls, hamburger and hotdog buns, and other such products—helps breads rise. But the harmful ingredient has also been linked to the rising incidence of thyroid and kidney cancer in animal studies. These foods are found throughout the U.S. but banned in Canada, the European Union, and China.
6. Milk with growth hormones
As is the case with chicken, milk is another category of food that has been gaining widespread attention for its widening range of farming and manufacturing practices. People are increasingly aware of how some cows are being given synthetic hormones to boost production, but the milk is still on supermarket shelves throughout the United States. Where won’t you find this kind of milk, which is thought to cause infertility? Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
7. Chips with olestra
Fat-free foods are not the silver bullets they were once thought to be. A calorie- and cholesterol-free fat substitute, Olean is found in popular snacks like chips and French fries. But it causes some pretty nasty reactions including cramps, diarrhea, and leaky bowels. The U.K. and Canada have both banned olestra.
8. Frozen foods with azodicarbonamide
A popular fast-food sandwich chain experienced public backlash when it was discovered to be using azodicarbonamide in its bread products. The substance is found in flour but also used in foamy plastic products like sneakers and yoga mats. Also commonly lurking in frozen dinners, azodicarbonamide is not allowed in Australia and many European countries.
9. Food with BHA and BHT preservatives
While preservatives serve a noble purpose, how safe they are to consume is highly questionable. BHA and BHT are two such substances in many bowls of cereal, butter, meat, chewing gum, and dehydrated potatoes, and they’re “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program. You won’t find these preservatives anywhere in the European Union and Japan.
10. Meat with ractopamine
The name alone is enough to make a health-conscious person wince. Ractopamine is used to promote growth in livestock, but it’s believed to cause hyperactivity and cardiovascular issues in humans and animals alike. While it’s commonly used in pig farming in the U.S., it’s banned in the European Union, China, and Taiwan.
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