Food Ingredients Banned Outside the US that We Eat

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Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A recently published list of foods banned in countries outside the U.S. has riled the plates of many in the food industry.

Last week, Buzzfeed published a list of eight ingredients banned outside the U.S. that are found in foods in America.  The list was derived from the book, Rich Food, Poor Food: The Ultimate Grocery Purchasing System, written by husband and wife team Jayson Calton, who has a Ph.D. in nutrition, and Mira Calton, a licensed certified nutritionist.

“We call it our GPS of grocery purchasing system: how to identify dangerous ingredients — so people can shop safe and smart in the grocery store,” said Mira Calton.

The book includes a list of banned foods and dangerous foods, which they call “poor food.”

Mira said manufacturers are not putting these ingredients in their food to be “bad people.”

“It might have been part of their original formula and sometimes they don’t know,” she said.

The Food and Drug Administration assures the public that despite the frenzy over the list of ingredients banned in some countries outside the U.S., it is doing its job of monitoring food safety.

“As part of FDA’s overall commitment to ensure the safety of the food supply, the agency uses an extensive, science-based process to evaluate the safety of food additives,” the agency said in a statement to ABC News. “The law requires that the FDA determine there is reasonable certainty that an additive does not cause harm when it is used as intended. The agency continues to monitor the science on food additives and is prepared to take appropriate action if there are safety concerns.  When determining that a food or ingredient is ‘generally recognized as safe’ or GRAS for its intended use in food, the same quantity and quality of evidence is required as is needed to approve a food additive.”

Derek Lowe, a chemist who has a Ph.D. from Duke University, said the list is an example of “chemophobia.” He told ABC News his reaction to the viral online list was “incredulity and revulsion.”

“The thing is, I’m not reflexively saying people should eat all the food additives they can find.  I don’t myself.  But the amount of understanding in the article was so minimal, it really pushed my buttons as a scientist,” Lowe said.

The Caltons said they are not calling on the FDA to ban these ingredients, they said “all of the ingredients on the list pose a potential danger to consumers and we feel the consumer should be made aware so that they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to buy a product with these ingredients.”

Julie Jones, a professor emeritus with St. Catherine University in Minnesota and author of the textbook, Food Safety, said what drives one country to ban a food and not another often has to do with as much politics as it does science.

If one believes Paracelsus’ principle, “the dose makes the poison,” Jones said she believes these products have gone through the correct due diligence in the U.S.

“We have science and politics and they are different in each country,” Jones said.

Here are some ingredients that are banned in other countries:

  • Blue #1 food coloring
  • Blue #2 food coloring
  • Yellow #5 (Tartazine)
  • Yellow #6 food coloring
  • Red #40
  • Brominated vegetable oil
  • Azodicarbonamide
  • Potassium Bromate (Bromated flour)
  • Olestra (Olean)
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • rBGH and rBST
  • Arsenic

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