Americans still consume ingredients banned in other countries

Maybe we’re just late to the ingredient ban party. Maybe we’re never going to get there. We’re really not sure. What we do know, however, is that Americans are still eating food products that contain a variety of ingredients that many other countries have deemed unsafe for consumption. FoodFacts.com is already aware that the designation of a food additive as Generally Recognized as Safe is a pretty questionable process. And it’s obvious that there are countries where the safety designation of certain ingredients was much more stringent than our own. Let’s review a few of the ingredients that the U.S. FDA still includes on the GRAS list – even though they are banned in other countries.

Food Coloring:
Blue #1 and Blue #2 are both banned in Norway, Finland and France
Studies in the 1980s linked these food dyes to cancer in animal studies. They are also linked to the exacerbation of ADHD symptoms in children.

Yellow #5 is banned in Norway and Austria. Yellow #6 is banned in Norway and Finland. Six of the studies on yellow #5 showed that it caused genotoxicity, a deterioration of the cell’s genetic material with potential to mutate healthy DNA. Both colors have been linked to cancer in animal studies and are implicated in the exacerbation of ADHD symptoms in children.

Brominated Vegetable Oil:
Banned in over 100 different countries, including the European Union, Japan and India, Brominated Vegetable Oil is still approved as additive in the United States with specific restrictions that limit its concentrations in products. Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, acts as an emulsifier in various products, and contains bromine, a chemical whose fumes can be corrosive and toxic.

Azodicarbonamide:
The governments of the UK and many countries in the EU have determined that they do not think it’s safe for their populations to consume an ingredient that’s also popular in the manufacture of foamed plastics – things like yoga mats and sneaker soles. So Azodicarbonamide is not permitted in the baked products sold in these countries.

Azodicarbonamide is proven to exacerbate (and even cause) asthma symptoms. It is referred to as an “asthma-causing allergen”. While the use of this dough conditioner has certainly declined in the production of U.S. baked products – it’s still out there.

rBGH and rBST:
Recombinant bovine growth hormone and recombinant bovine somatotropin, a synthetic version of bovine growth hormone, can be found in nonorganic dairy products unless noted on the packaging. These hormones are banned in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and the EU because of dangers to both human and bovine health. While there are American producers who don’t use these hormones, neither are outlawed here in the U.S.

There are other ingredients in addition to these, of course, which have been designated unacceptable in other countries. FoodFacts.com tends to think that we’ve got a problem when we’re recognizing more additives as safe all the time that other countries have discovered problems with. It does appear possible that we aren’t being selective enough when it comes to the ingredients in our food supply and that the FDA could be doing a better job of keeping our foods safe for consumption. And while we’re all thinking that no doctor has ever deemed a person’s cause of death to be consumption of azodicarbonamide or the reason for a person’s cancer to be consumption of artificial food coloring, there’s absolutely mounting evidence that specific ingredient do carry specific health concerns and we’re better off leaving them out of our diets.