So many of us scan food labels religiously, looking for the fat, calorie and sodium content of our favorite foods. This is a good habit to have, but we need to look further. There are a number of dangerous ingredients in foods on supermarket shelves that are banned in countries outside of the US. If you read on, you’ll be prepared to zoom in on some of the potentially dangerous ingredients you’d be wise to avoid.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
These are waxy substances used to keep foods such as chips, cereals and sausages from becoming rancid. Their safety in the US is controversial–according to the US National Toxicology Program, they have been used in animal tests and have been shown to raise cancer risks.
This ingredient is used in the US for texture in soft white breads, including fast food restaurant hamburger buns. Azodicarbonamide is banned in European countries, Australia and the UK. It can interrupt respiratory health and is not only banned in Singapore, but one might end up in prison for up to 15 years with a $500,000 fine if it’s added to food there.
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone and Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin
A large number of US dairy farmers have used recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) to increase milk production in cows. Due to human and animal health risks, these synthetic hormones are banned in Europe, Canada and additional countries.
Manufacturers save money and time by using this bread additive. Another name for this is “bromated flour”. Since it’s said to disappear during baking it has been labeled safe for US foods. It’s banned in several countries and Japan published a study showing that it causes cancer of the kidneys, thyroid and other body parts in mice and rats.
This was a popular ingredient, briefly, in the late 90’s. It could be found in fat-free chips, fries and crackers, but was soon found to cause severe G.I. symptoms. Olestra was also found to keep the body from absorbing nutrients. Yet, it’s still legal in the US, as long as there’s a warning on the package.
GM canola oil
Farmers in Europe are not legally allowed to grow genetically modified canola crops. But, in the US, about 90 percent of canola plants are genetically modified (GMO), resistant to two different herbicides–glyphosate and glufosinate. This indicates that a significant amount of pesticides are being used in the US.
Almost all corn grown in the US is genetically modified (GM) — that’s 90 percent! Countries such as France, Algeria and Greece won’t allow GM corn to be sold.
More than 90 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified. Soy is in many foods. Be on the lookout and try to avoid non-organic foods that list soy as an ingredient. Devastating effects have been shown from animal studies involving GM soy, including allergies, birth defects and sterility.