13 Chemicals Used In U.S. Food Products That Are Banned In Other Countries

by Alanna Ketler

There are countless chemicals in use all over the world today, many of which have been linked to cancer and other serious illnesses. Once the chemical is linked to these illnesses the excuse is often that they just didn’t know that the long-term effects of these chemicals would cause such disorders. Kind of like smoking, they just didn’t know that smoking would lead to cancer back then, but now they do because they are seeing it first hand. Even after it was proven that smoking caused cancer, however, it took a long time to fully let the public know. When there is money to be lost the truth often becomes very shady.

Below are the top 13 worst chemicals used in food products in the US today, that are banned in other countries. The difference between the US and the rest of the world is that once something is proven to be harmful, the Food and Drug Administration disagrees mostly, and the chemicals are still allowed to be widely used in food production, while many other countries ban these additives and find safer alternatives. Why does this happen? Mostly because many American citizens are just uninformed and uneducated on this matter, they choose to not speak out against it, and instead they keep buying the products that contain these harmful chemicals. Here are the top 13:


This is a chemical that is used primarily in foam plastics, such as sneaker soles and yoga mats, but it is also used to bleach flour. Up until early this year it was an ingredient in the famous “Subway” sandwich rolls, but thanks to “Food Babe” and her #FoodArmy, it has been removed. It can still be found in other breads, frozen dinners and packaged baked goods.

Banned in Australia and Europe.

Safety? This chemical has been linked to asthma.

Blue 1 & 2

Amazingly, colors can actually be flavors as well. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us probably know what blue tastes like. Blue No. 1 and 2 can both be found in ice cream, marshmallows, canned peas, sports drinks, icing, popsicles, blue raspberry flavoured products, and even dairy products. It can also be found in soaps, shampoos and mouthwash.

Safety? A study reported in 2007 by D. McCann and colleagues in the journal The Lancet showed that artificial colorings such as blue no. 1 & 2 were linked to hyperactivity. Almost 300 children who participated in the study were given a beverage containing artificial colors. Drinking the beverage resulted in increased hyperactivity in the children. It is noteworthy to mention that hyperactivity is often linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or (ADHD).

Yellow 5

Yellow # 5 is also commonly known as Tartrazine. It is widely used in the making of potato chips, jams, candy, drinks and pet food; as well as shampoo and various other cosmetic products.

Banned in Austria and Norway, other European countries have issued warnings about its potential health concerns.

Safety? Yellow 5 has seemed to show behavioral changes in some children including hyperactivity. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) which is the UK’s equivalent to the FDA issued a warning in 2008 that stated that certain colorings, including tartrazine, can cause behavioral changes in children that included a loss of concentration and impulsive, hard-to-control activity.


Butylated hydroxvanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are chemicals that are often found in: cereals, trail mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes and beer. These substances prevent oils in foods from oxidizing and going rancid.

Banned in Japan, the U.K. and other European countries.

Safety? The National Toxicology Program has concluded that BHA “is reasonable anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” and places BHT in its “caution” column.


That name even sounds toxic! I think a lot of people know that arsenic is a straight-up poison, so why is the U.S. allowing it in their food supply? Arsenic can be found in poultry because it is used in chicken feed to make the meat appear more pink and fresh, how appealing.

Banned in the entire European Union and Canada.

Safety? Arsenic is a poison. Eat enough of it and it will kill you. Arsenic is also a known carcinogen.

rBGH and rBST

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) are synthetic hormones used to increase milk production in cows.

Banned in the European Union, Canada and many other countries.

Safety? Milk from cows treated with rBGH has higher levels of IGF-1, a hormone that encourages certain cells to grow. Several studies have found that high IGF-1 levels may influence the development of certain tumors. Studies have found a relationship between blood levels of IGF-1 and prostate, breast, colorectal and other cancers.

Potassium Bromate

Potassium Bromate, aka brominated flour is found in bread products such as: rolls, wraps, loaves, flatbreads, buns and even bagel chips. This is a powerful oxidizing agent that chemically ages flour faster than open air and cuts down baking time, which in turn lowers costs.

Banned in the European Union, Canada, Brazil and elsewhere.

Safety? This additive has been associated with kidney and nervous system disorders and gastrointestinal discomfort. Interestingly enough the FDA has not banned the use of bromated flour, they do however urge bakers to voluntarily leave it out. I think that’s enough of a reason for me to avoid it.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

Aka BVO, is a synthetic chemical created when vegetable oil is bonded to the element bromine. Bromine keeps oils from floating to the top of water-based solutions such as soft drinks and fruit drinks. I remember when I was about 12 or 13 drinking a bottle of Sunny D lemonade and looking at the label and seeing “vegetable oil” listed as the second or third ingredient. I couldn’t finish the drink and never drank it again. That thoroughly disgusted me. BVO is commonly added to citrus flavored drinks such as orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit as these flavors are oily, BVO acts as an emulsifier to help the flavors mix better.

Banned in Japan and the European Union.

Safety? “There have been toxilogical concerns around brominated vegetable oils, mainly to do with the accumulation of bromine in fatty tissues of experimental animals and isolated human case reports, although the data are quite old and the levels experimentally fed were quite high.” – Michael Walker, Independent Food Consultant.


Olestra, also known as “Olean,” is found in “fat free” potato chips and was actually named on Time Magazine’s “The 50 Worst Inventions” list.

Banned in the U.K. and Canada

Safety? This fat substitute appears to cause a dramatic depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids, robbing us of vital micro-nutrients. It is also known to cause anal leakage.


Aka DPA is found in apples, apple juice, pears and baby food. It is used to give apples their shiny coat and protect them from blackening and browning during long months in storage.

Banned in the European Union.

Safety? The European Food and Safety Authority just deemed this chemical as a poison. The chemicals in DPA can break down and form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.

Bottom Line?

Avoid these chemicals and additives. Read the ingredient labels before you purchase anything. Know what you’re putting into your body! If you stick to a primarily organic, whole foods diet you will drastically limit your exposure to these sorts of chemicals. Spread the word. Tell your friends and family to look out for these chemicals. If everyone became aware of the potential harmful effects of these additives and stopped eating them, the companies that manufacture toxic foods would have no choice but to change their ways and update their recipes to use safer ingredients, like the countries that have banned them – or risk going out of business.

The choice is yours.

Hi, I’m Alanna! I have been a contributor with CE, where this first appeared, for about 4 years now, but have been “awakening” and doing research for 7. Wow, has it been an incredible journey so far! I am passionate about learning new information! I aim to have a voice for animals and animal rights, I also enjoy writing about health, consciousness and I am very interested in psychedelics for healing purposes! Any questions? Feel free to email me: [email protected] “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Jack Kornfield 

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