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Jul 25 2013

13 Banned Foods Still Allowed In The U.S.

PHOTO BY Lauren Welter

By Cristina Goyanes, Shape

You think the FDA has your back? Sure, they recently proposed two new regulations to up food safety measures, specifically how food processors and farmers can work better to keep their fresh products free of dangerous bacteria (remember that killer cantaloupe outbreak from 2011?). But while it may seem like the government is out to protect us from bad–even fatal–food-borne illnesses, which cause some 3,000 deaths a year, they don’t completely have our best interest–or health–in mind.

“For numerous suspicious and disturbing reasons, the U.S. has allowed foods that are banned in many other developed countries into our food supply,” says nutritionist Mira Calton who, together with her husband Jayson Calton, Ph.D., wrote the new book Rich Food, Poor Food due out in February.

During a six-year expedition that took them to 100 countries on seven continents, the Caltons studied more than 150 ingredients and put together a comprehensive list of the top 13 problematic products that are forbidden by governments, outside the United States, due to their detrimental effects on human health.

“If you see any of the following ingredients listed on the nutrition label, don’t buy the product,” Calton warns. “Leaving these banned bad boys on the shelves will speak volumes to grocery stores and food manufactures about what informed consumers simply won’t tolerate.”

Ingredients: Coloring Agents (Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6)

Found In: Cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda, pet food, and cheese

Why The U.S. Allows It: We eat with our eyes. “Recent studies have shown that when food manufacturers left foods in their natural, often beige-like color instead of coloring them with these chemical agents, individuals thought they tasted bland and ate less, even when the recipe wasn’t altered,” Calton says. This may explain why the use of artificial dyes–the most popular being red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6–has increased five-fold since 1955.

Health Hazards: Back in the day, food coloring came from natural sources, such as saffron and turmeric. “Today most artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is also used to seal-coat products to preserve and protect the shine of industrial floors,” Carlton says. “It also appears in head lice shampoos to kill off the small bugs.”

Ingredient: Olestra (a.k.a. Olean)

Found In: Fat-free potato chips

Why The U.S. Allows It: Procter & Gamble Co. took a quarter century and spent a half a billion dollars to create “light” chips that are supposedly better for you, Calton says. They may need another half a billion bucks to figure out how to deal with the embarrassing bathroom side effects (including oily anal leakage) that comes with consuming these products.

Health Hazards: “This fat substitute appears to cause a dramatic depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids, robbing us of the vital micro-nutrients,” Calton says, adding that many countries, including the U.K. and Canada, have banned it.

Ingredient: Brominated Vegetable Oil (a.k.a. BVO)

Found In: Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas

Why The U.S. Allows It: BVO acts as an emulsifier, preventing the flavoring from separating and floating to the surface of beverages, Calton says.

Health Hazards: “Because it competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, elevated levels of the stuff may lead to thyroid issues, such as hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer,” Calton says. That’s not all. BVO’s main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous chemical that is considered both corrosive and toxic. It’s been linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss, which explains why it’s been nixed in more than 100 countries.

Ingredient: Potassium Bromate (a.k.a. Brominated Flour)

Found In: Rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips

Why The U.S. Allows It: This flour-bulking agent helps strengthen dough, reducing the amount of time needed for baking, which results in lowered costs, Calton explains.

Health Hazards: Made with the same toxic chemical found in BVO (bromine), this additive has been associated with kidney and nervous system disorders as well as gastrointestinal discomfort. “While the FDA has not banned the use of bromated flour, they do urge bakers to voluntarily leave it out,” Calton says.

Ingredient: Azodicarbonamide

Found In: Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods

Why The U.S. Allows It: While most countries wait a week for flour to naturally whiten, the American food processors prefer to use this chemical to bleach the flour ASAP.

Health Hazards: It’s not enough to just ban this product in Singapore. You can get up to 15 years in prison and be penalized nearly half a million dollars in fines for using this chemical that’s been linked to asthma and is primarily used in foamed plastics, like yoga mats and sneaker soles.

Ingredients: BHA, BHT

Found In: Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer

Why The U.S. Allows It: “Made from petroleum [yummy!], these waxy solids act as preservatives to prevent food from becoming rancid and developing objectionable odors,” Calton says. A better solution may be natural rosemary and sage. In a 2006 study, some organic herbs and spices proved to be efficient at preventing oxidative decay in meat, which ultimately could improve the shelf-life of these products.

Health Hazards: California is the only state that recognizes the U.S. National Institute of Health’s report that BHA may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent.

Ingredients: Synthetic Hormones (rBGH and rBST)

Found In: Milk and dairy products

Why The U.S. Allows It: Gotta keep moo-ving things along. Dairy farmers inject cows with genetically engineered cow growth hormones to boost milk production by about 10 percent, according to Calton.

Health Hazards: “Cows treated with these synthetic hormones often become lame, infertile, and suffer from inflamed and infected udders,” Calton says. Humans who consume these cows byproducts are in no better shape, she adds: “The milk is supercharged with IGF-1 (insulin growth factor -1), which has been linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers.”

Ingredient: Arsenic

Found In: Poultry

Why The U.S. Allows It: Big brother FDA permits arsenic in chicken feed to promote growth, improve efficiency in feeding the birds, and boost pigmentation. “The arsenic affects the blood vessels in chickens and turkeys, causing them to appear pinker and, therefore, fresher,” Calton says.

Health Hazards: The European Union has outlawed the use of arsenic since 1999, Calton says, and the Environmental Protection Agency classifies inorganic arsenic as a “human carcinogen.” Take matters into your own hands by sticking to organic birds only.

This article was written by Cristina Goyanes and published in Shape on January 15, 2013. Photo by Lauren Welter.

This holiday season, consider giving the gift of knowledge, sweetness, and skin protection with our Save The Bees Gift Set! Packed in an Eco Box and Bee Card! (Email info@honeycolony.com with note for card).



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amyi - 434 BeeBucks


Scary, I and agree with some other posters that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I try to eat local, organic, and non-gmo, but sometimes I worry that even that isn't enough.

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Sibby1943 - 440 BeeBucks


This is an excellent article, and it is disturbing that the FDA allows these horrible substances to be in our food. I am so glad that I changed to certified organic, but a lot of people do not because of the extra expense.

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livelovemanja - 7 BeeBucks


As a foodie with a severe food allergy to tree nuts (all nuts except peanuts which are a legume), find it very interesting that GMO and high fructose corn syrup are not allowed in many countries but is used regularly in the USA. We are a nation and country of materials , capital, and productivity (consumers) which is why the nation has become so rich in profit and assortment of merchandise (variety of brands, goods, ingredients to choose from). However, when we over produce and use man made or altered resources to accomplish more quantity , quality along with health and wellness is a sacrifice. Thank you for sharing this article - more of our nation needs to be aware (right to know, right to choose). Manja! @livelovemanja

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simpsontruckdriver - 23 BeeBucks


Most food coloring is transported by truck (what I used to do) dissolved in Ethanol (liquor). So, a 50 gallon drum of food coloring/Ethanol is highly flammable, and is considered Hazardous Material.

Only truck drivers who have a Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement on their Commercial Drivers License (CDL) can transport it, and the trailer needs HazMat placards on the sides and rear door.

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patsking63 - 3 BeeBucks


Realize these are foods but they are prevalent in our foods.

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mommycares - 9 BeeBucks


I love getting information like this, but the 13 items listed aren't really foods, are they? Would love the info without the hype.

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Kathy Swanstrom - 8 BeeBucks


This article is so important, and without this information, no physician can trace the source of the problems developing;they always need "evidence" as do lawyers. Makes me want to eat NOTHING rather than die of sweetened, fake food that tastes (?) delicious. Am first starting to feel "sick" from food and I am 70-yrs old....Thanks for the heads up!

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leisuretime - 266 BeeBucks


Good information. This is my first time on your site. Came here via a trusted friend. Unfortunately my sensationalism radar is in overdrive, particularly on topics that are in vogue and on the internet. Source links (other than the authors of the book/owners of the site) at the end of the article to corroborate some of the information would go a long way to lend credibility to first time visitors who aren't familiar with the authors. Just a thought from someone who used to be in healthcare and is used to research-based articles :-)

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LisiePooh - 5 BeeBucks


Excellent article! Unfortunately, I fear that 13 is just scraping the surface. And yes these aren't "foods" at all. Grocery shopping is an adventure... you really need to read every label very carefully! I find it best to stick to whole foods and produce, but even doing that, there are the issues of GMOs, pesticides, and arsenic, just to name a few concerns. I've joined your page in hopes of learning more from the rest of the "hive" about making the right food choices. It can be truly mind boggling! Thanks for a great start!

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GMCH - 13 BeeBucks


Very helpful list of harmful ingredients to avoid, but why do so few address the SOY issue? Soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, Soy lecithin are other harmful ingredients in most processed foods,even in some teas, broths and chocolate not to mention soy milk and edamame. Unfermented soy is shown to be a thyroid disruptor and has estrogen effects on the body. Historically, Oriental cultures only used it fermented and as accompaniment to meals (fermentation changes it chemically so it doesn't effect the thyroid). Our culture uses soy in huge amounts adding to our obesity problem and record numbers of people with hypothyroidism!

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diapiasnail - 6 BeeBucks


Good article. most of us need to remember that we are the only counry that does not require complete labeling. thanks to the FDA, if the "additives" comprise less than two percent of the food, labeling is NOT required. There is a great piece on bromates, will post link later. thanks for the info.

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Great article. The only issue I have is the title - these are NOT "Foods" but chemicals! Let's all make a stand and leave these products on the shelves!!

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salawala - 3 BeeBucks


Although very good information that makes me interested in learning more - where are the cited sources for this article? I'm told by others that some of what is being said here is still being disputed and or is not being supported by any kind of study. Just makes it so hard to figure out what really is the whole truth about the food or non foods we are eating. Another question is - how does one go about finding out if food that you are buying contains any of the additives mentioned in this article? Will they always be listed in the ingredients?

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Supafly - 3 BeeBucks


More crap to avoid. Just added it to my bookmarks for future reference.

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PamelaHackeman - 4 BeeBucks


Excellent information! Thank you for sharing this info. There are also reasons to eat organic, and use organic cosmetics as well!

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munkybutter - 3 BeeBucks


@ Dale, foods without these chemicals are available everywhere, you just need to read labels.

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NeoLotus - 2 BeeBucks


Need to include the red dyes too, especially FD&C 40. They are implicated in ADD/ADHD.

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alsigirl - 1 BeeBucks


The FDA website gives info on everything that is allowed in our food:
http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/default.htm Also, 60 Minutes did a segment last Sept about the top company that concocts food flavorings:

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littlemommaa79 - 2 BeeBucks


Thanks! some of this I already new but it is always great to be reminded why you are avoiding certain foods, it helps you to remember that quality is much better than convenience even on your busiest day.

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Encompassing Health - 1 BeeBucks


There's a few more really important ones! Especially hydrogenated oils. Those are illegal in many European countries, and I believe Cananda as well.
Great list!

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miss - 233 BeeBucks


Thank you! Made a new "to avoid list" awesome. Sites!

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donnatori - 6 BeeBucks


@hoosey65. I have an old book I still use but I would prefer a newer one, so good idea to start looking for one. Mine is called "The Label Reader's Pocket Dictionary of Food Additives," by J. Michael Lapchick. (1993) The thing about this old book, is even back then it was known these things were hazardous!

I just looked up some of them. Artificial colors are in there, including saying "the FDA is considering banning some of them." 20 years later, still not banned! BHA/BHT is in there, saying "causes cancer in lab animals" and "banned in some countries."

We have to stop buying this stuff because it's pretty clear they won't remove it, if it's been known for over 20 years it's unsafe!

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linda simon - 7 BeeBucks


Great article......more reason than ever for everyone to seriously think about growing their own foods.....we need to slow down ... read labels, stop eating "fast foods", get down to the basics. And for those of you with no garden space, veggies grow great in pots.

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hoosey65 - 233 BeeBucks


I wish there had been information on a responsible website that lists all those ingredients on the labels with the hard to pronounce names. I was once told "if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it!" I wish I still had my book that listed all these, what they were made from, why they were used, and if there were any dangers in eating it. I don't remember the name (it was over 25 yrs. ago) and I lent it out so many times, I lost track of it. If anyone is aware of books like this, please post them.

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Sutoo - 1 BeeBucks


Scary... but helpful. Thanks.

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donnatori - 6 BeeBucks


And there's more than this. GMOs for example. Organic whole plant foods are always best (as much as possible anyway)!

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Paula - 3 BeeBucks


Arsenic is also found in rice...brown more that white.

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freakyplantlady - 7 BeeBucks


Very informative. I will definitely be sharing this one. Unfortunately I have a friend with thyroid problems and she used to drink Mountain Dew daily which contains brominated vegetable oil. I can't say that is what caused her thyroid problems but it is a possibility. The more I learn the scarier our food in this country becomes.

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Penelope73 - 1 BeeBucks


I am spreading the word! Thank you!

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Thanks for this! I will be joining up and spreading the Word.

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Wow!! Thank you for posting this information! Makes me want to go vegetarian!

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Jlandrie - 2 BeeBucks


Thank you for sharing this information. I will down-load an image as soon as I find an appropriate one.

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I totally appreciate the time you took to gather this information and get it out there. Social Media is the way to do it. I will re-post and encourage other friends to join your group.

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Maryam Henein - 43492 BeeBucks


Hey Chubsdog. Thank you for spreading the buzz. It would be great if we could see your image. Let us know if you are having difficulties.

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chubsdog - 4656 BeeBucks


This is fantastic, keep it coming and I will keep posting it on my public Facebook page. Thanks

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