7 Foods Banned Abroad That Are Still Consumed in the US

While the United States boasts a rich and diverse food industry, certain American food items contain ingredients banned or heavily regulated in other countries for health, environmental, or ethical reasons.

Let’s look at several American foods that have found themselves on the banned list abroad, shedding light on why they are deemed unacceptable outside the US borders.

1. Artificially Colored Foods

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  • Candies such as Skittles and M&M’s use a rainbow of artificial colors to attract consumers, especially children.
  • Breakfast cereals like Froot Loops and Lucky Charms are marketed towards children with their bright, appealing colors.
  • Sodas and sports drinks, including Mountain Dew and certain Gatorade flavors, utilize colors like Yellow 5 to create their vibrant appearance.

Artificial colors have been linked to behavioral issues in children, including hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies suggest that certain children may be more sensitive to these chemicals, leading to behavioral changes.

Countries like Norway and Austria have banned these additives, while the European Union requires products containing them to bear warning labels.

2. Chicken Washed with Chlorine

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  • Chlorine-washed chicken encompasses a wide range of poultry products, including fresh cuts and frozen items like nuggets and tenders.

This practice is intended to reduce microbial contamination but has led to concerns about the potential for harmful chemical residues and by-products.

The European Union bans the sale of chlorine-washed chicken, arguing that it might lead to lax hygiene standards in poultry production by relying too heavily on chemical rinses instead of preventing contamination throughout the supply chain.

3. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

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  • Corn and soy products, which include a vast array of items from corn chips and tortillas to soy milk and tofu, are predominantly made from GMO crops in the US.
  • Processed foods containing canola oil or corn syrup often use GMO-derived ingredients.

The widespread cultivation and consumption of GMOs have sparked debates regarding their safety, environmental impact, and effects on biodiversity. Critics argue that GMOs may lead to unforeseen health issues, contribute to ecological imbalance, and promote pesticide-resistant superweeds.

As a result, many countries, including those in the European Union, Australia, and Japan, have instituted bans or strict regulations on GMO products.

4. Growth Hormones in Beef & Dairy

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  • Beef products, including steaks and ground beef, from cattle treated with hormones to promote faster growth.
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt derived from cows given rBST to increase milk production.

Consuming products from hormone-treated animals raises health concerns, including potential cancer risks and early puberty in children. Furthermore, there are ethical concerns regarding animal welfare.

Over 160 countries, including the European Union, Canada, and New Zealand, have banned or restricted the use of growth hormones in livestock.

5. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

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  • Soft drinks and sports beverages that use BVO to keep flavoring ingredients from separating.

BVO has been associated with serious health issues such as organ damage, neurological disorders, and reproductive problems. Due to these potential risks, it is banned as a food additive in the European Union and Japan.

6. Olestra (Olean)

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  • Low-fat and calorie-free snack foods, particularly potato chips, utilize Olestra as a fat substitute.

Olestra can cause digestive distress, including diarrhea and nutrient malabsorption, as it inhibits the body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins. Due to these adverse effects, Olestra is banned in the United Kingdom and Canada.

7. Azodicarbonamide (ADA)

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  • Bread and other baked goods rely on ADA as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner to improve texture and extend shelf life.

ADA has been linked to respiratory issues and is considered a possible carcinogen. Its potential health risks have led to its ban in Australia, the UK, and most countries in the European Union.

The disparities in food safety regulations between the United States and other countries highlight significant concerns regarding the impact of certain food additives and practices on health and the environment.

The bans and restrictions imposed by other nations serve as a call to reevaluate and potentially reconsider the use and regulation of these ingredients and methods within the US food industry.

How to Avoid Controversial Ingredients in Your Diet

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  1. Decode Labels: Pay close attention to food labels; ingredients are listed in order of quantity. Avoid products with undesired ingredients at the top.
  2. Whole Foods First: Focus on minimally processed whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and dairy.
  3. Go Organic: Organic foods typically have fewer GMOs and additives. While not all are 100% free from these, they generally meet stricter standards.
  4. Cook at Home: Take charge of your diet by cooking with fresh, quality ingredients, steering clear of processed foods.
  5. Natural Substitutes: Replace artificial additives with natural options, such as using turmeric for color and lemon juice as a preservative.
  6. Stay Updated: Follow credible health and food safety news to keep abreast of the latest scientific research and recommendations.
  7. Support Local: Purchase from local farms and markets for fresher, sustainable options.
  8. Demand Better: Advocate for clearer food labeling, improved safety standards, and comprehensive testing for a healthier food system.

Embrace these strategies to reduce controversial ingredients in your diet, paving the way for healthier living and a better environment.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.