Over the years, many foods that we have considered common have been removed from our diet after scientists have shown the possible harmful effects on our health.
The decision whether to eat or not certain food additives, such as artificial dyes and preservatives, generates a great controversy among scientists. And, every time a new study appears, some substances are linked with the appearance of cancer and other diseases. Confusing, is it now?
Food legislation is always in the middle of government authorities, scientists, the food industry and environmental groups. This, in turn, generates a hotchpotch of information, from which it’s difficult to draw out conclusions.
In an attempt to shed some light on the matter, some US nutritionists have published manuals on the ingredients that appear in commercial products, and which we should avoid.
According to these manuals, there’s a series of food additives that it’s better for us not to consume, even though they are legal. The main health authorities, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) continue to debate on this topic.
Here we show you a list of 8 food additives that are in the spotlight.
8 Food Additives That Are Legal In The US, But Banned In Other Countries
1. Artificial Dyes
Artificial dyes, like Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, are very common in the food industry. They are present in all kinds of foods, such as drinks, confectionery, candy, ice cream, purées, instant soups, chips, chewing gum, gelatins, jams, yogurt…
This is one of the most questioned substances, as the consumption of artificial dyes is associated with hyperactivity of children, allergies, and cancer.
The olestra is a food additive that was developed in the 70s of the last century, to replace natural fats. As a matter of fact, olestra has been advertised as a cholesterol-free, fat-free, and calorie-free chemical ingredient, which you can use instead of cooking oil and still get the same traditional food taste of fries and chips.
Today, olestra is used in the production of many varieties of chips, cookies and other snacks that are labeled as fat-free and low in calories. The good thing is that manufacturers need to label their products appropriately, to inform the consumers. On the American market, you can find olestra under the brand name Olean, while in Canada and the EU, it’s banned.
This food additive is linked to diarrhea, gastrointestinal disease, and increased appetite. Some studies show that long-term consumption of fried potatoes with olestra can cause a greater weight gain that the intake of conventional chips, fried with cooking oil.
3. Synthetic Growth Hormones
The recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and bovine somatotropin (rBST) are growth hormones that increase milk production in cows. The livestock suffers from numerous health problems due to the injection of these hormones. Also, it may come to birth defects. The rBGH and rBST are potentially dangerous for the human health, and therefore, the products that contain them should be appropriately labeled. The European Union does not allow the use of these hormones in the food industry.
This food additive is given to chickens and turkeys, to stimulate growth and boost pigmentation. The arsenic has an effect on the blood vessels of the poultry, making them appear fresher and pinker. We can also find this poison in drinking water and crops that have been irrigated with polluted water.
Side effects of long-term exposure to arsenic include heart disease and cancer. While this food additive is banned in Japan and the EU, the FDA does not restrict its presence of small quantities in poultry, meat, shellfish, dairy products, and other foods.
5. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)
BVO is an additive that prevents the citrus flavor of sports and soft drinks from separating and floating to the surface. Long-term exposure to bromine is linked to nerve disorders and memory loss, thyroid problems, autoimmune disease, and even cancer. The use of this food additive is prohibited in more than 100 countries.
Azodicarbonamide is an additive that accelerates the whitening process of the flour from one week to ASAP, and makes it rise faster. It’s usually found in cereal flour, commercial bread, packaged baked goods, boxed pasta, frozen meals, as well as in yoga mats. Some studies link this chemical cancer and asthma, but additional research is still needed.
Azodicarbonamide is banned in Singapore.
7. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) And Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
BHA and BHT are preservatives used to prevent foods from becoming rancid, and to maintain their color and smell. Simply said, these petroleum-based ingredients prevent oxidative decay and prolong the shelf life of meat, butter, cereals, and other products. Studies show that they are a possible carcinogen, causing the development of cancer in humans.
8. Diphenylamine (DPA)
This is a chemical used to preserve the color of apples, pears, baby food, and the like. According to some studies, diphenylamine can break down to nitrosamines, which are considered human carcinogens. In the United States, DPA has been used since the 60s of the last century.