These Chemicals Are Still in American Foods, Despite Being Banned Elsewhere

February 18th 2017

Not all processed foods are created equal.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates food safety, but some of the chemicals the agency allows in food has a bad reputation in other parts of the world.

Other countries ban some of the chemicals companies can put in American food, often because of studies linking them to health problems.

Here are 3 processed foods with ingredients that are banned in other countries:

1. Hot Dog Buns

Potassium bromate is illegal in Europe, Canada, China, Brazil, India, and other countries because it causes cancer in rats and mice, but it's in hot dog buns and other types of processed bread in the U.S. A 1990 report from researchers at Tokyo's National Institute of Hygienic Sciences found that potassium bromate — which is used in the bread-making process as an oxidizing agent to strengthen the dough — caused multiple kinds of tumors in rats.

2. Boxed Macaroni and Cheese

Many brands of boxed macaroni and cheese contain dyes which have been linked to cancer in animals, and are not legal in European countries.

In addition to being in mac n' cheese, the coloring agents blue 1 and 2, yellow 5 and 6, and red 40 are also found in cereal, crackers, and drinks.

A study from the University of California Los Angeles published in 2012 found that nine dyes used in the U.S. "raise health concerns of varying degrees" because they were linked to cancer, damaged genetic material, and problems with immune system reactions in animals.

3. Soda

Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, sounds like something you might cook with but it's actually used to keep citrus flavoring in certain drinks from floating to the top of the bottle, and it's banned in European countries and Japan.

Studies in the 1970s linked BVO to heart disease in rats, according to In 2014 Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. said in response to requests from customers they would gradually remove BVO from all of its drinks, and they've already already removed it from their sports drinks Powerade and Gatorade.

In response to an 2013 ABC News story about banned ingredients in Europe, the FDA said it uses an "extensive, science-based process" when making decisions about food safety.

"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," the agency said in a statement to ABC News. "When determining that a food or ingredient is 'generally recognized as safe' for its intended use in food, the same quantity and quality of evidence is required as is needed to approve a food additive."

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