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What Foods are Banned in Europe but Not Banned in the U.S.?

Have you ever been to Europe? Such a beautiful place, so much history and the food... well, amazing! The last time I was in Europe was for my honeymoon. We went to Holland and Belgium, it was an such an amazing trip. One of the biggest things that I noticed when I was there is the food. I woke up had a fresh croissant with butter, goat cheese salads, and I had a slice of apple pie whenever we stopped for a tea/coffee.

I could eat anything there, even things that normally don't agree with me (gluten and dairy) in Canada... the foods that would make me bloat, etc. would have no affect on me there... It was awesome. At that moment, I realized that their food supply chain is much different than ours.

Do you have experience with eating in Europe? Did you find the same thing?

I was looking on Facebook and an article came up from the New York Times titled, "What foods are banned in Europe but not banned in the U.S." This intrigued me, as I know from personal experience that Europe has higher food standards than the United States and Canada (which has different regulations than the United States but we get a lot of our food from the U.S., so this directly affects us) and several items that are banned there are not here as they are possible carcinogens or create adverse affects in the body.

I am a very big advocate of whole foods, and non-processed foods. They taste better than processed food, and our bodies were made for natural foods and not chemicals. There is a reason why we have more sickness and disease on this planet than we ever have, and it has a lot to do with our food supply chain.

The things listed in the article below are some of the reasons why I am an advocate of whole foods. I do think more things should be banned in our food supply chain, but it is a start and we have to start somewhere.

I had to share this article as I thought that it was a good read. The link to the website is here. It is written by Roni Caryn Rabin of the New York Times.


What Foods Are Banned in Europe but Not Banned in the U.S.?

The European Union prohibits many food additives and various drugs that are widely used in American foods.

Dec. 28, 20181061

Q. What foods are banned in Europe that are not banned in the United States, and what are the implications of eating those foods?

A. The European Union prohibits or severely restricts many food additives that have been linked to cancer that are still used in American-made bread, cookies, soft drinks and other processed foods. Europe also bars the use of several drugs that are used in farm animals in the United States, and many European countries limit the cultivation and import of genetically modified foods.

“In some cases, food-processing companies will reformulate a food product for sale in Europe” but continue to sell the product with the additives in the United States, said Lisa Y. Lefferts, senior scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a food safety advocacy organization.

A 1958 amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the Food and Drug Administration from approving food additives that are linked to cancer, but an agency spokeswoman said that many substances that were in use before passage of the amendment, known as the Delaney amendment, are considered to have had prior approval and “therefore are not regulated as food additives.”

In October, the F.D.A. agreed to ban six artificial flavoring substancesshown to cause cancer in animals, following petitions and a lawsuit filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other organizations. The F.D.A. insists the six artificial flavors “do not pose a risk to public health,” but concedes that the law requires it not approve the food additives. Food companies will have at least two years to remove them from their products.

Here’s a short list of some of the food additives restricted by the European Union but allowed in American foods. Most must be listed as ingredients on the labels, though information about drugs used to increase the yield in farm animals is generally not provided.

Potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide (ADA)

These additives are commonly added to baked goods, but neither is required, and both are banned in Europe because they may cause cancer. In recent years, some American restaurant chains have responded to consumer pressure and removed them from their food.

Potassium bromate is often added to flour used in bread, rolls, cookies, buns, pastry dough, pizza dough and other items to make the dough rise higher and give it a white glow. The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers it a possible human carcinogen, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the F.D.A. to ban it nearly 20 years ago. The F.D.A. says potassium bromate has been in use since before the Delaney amendment on carcinogenic food additives was passed.

Azodicarbonamide, or ADA, which is used as a whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner, breaks down during baking into chemicals that cause cancer in lab animals. It is used by many chain restaurants that serve sandwiches and buns. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has urged the F.D.A. to bar its use. The F.D.A. says it is safe in limited amounts.


The flavor enhancers and preservatives BHA and BHT are subject to severe restrictions in Europe but are widely used in American food products. While evidence on BHT is mixed, BHA is listed in a United States government report on carcinogens as “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen.

Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

BVO is used in some citrus-flavored soft drinks like Mountain Dew and in some sports drinks to prevent separation of ingredients, but it is banned in Europe. It contains bromine, the element found in brominated flame retardants, and studies suggest it can build up in the body and can potentially lead to memory loss and skin and nerve problems. An F.D.A. spokeswoman said it is safe in limited amounts, and that the agency would take action “should new safety studies become available that raise questions about the safety of BVO.”

Yellow food dyes No. 5 and No. 6, and Red Dye No. 40

These dyes can be used in foods sold in Europe, but the products must carry a warning saying the coloring agents “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” No such warning is required in the United States, though the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the F.D.A. in 2008 to ban the dyes. Consumers can try to avoid the dyes by reading lists of ingredients on labels, but they’re used in so many things you wouldn’t even think of, not just candy and icing and cereal, but things like mustard and ketchup,” marshmallows, chocolate, and breakfast bars that appear to contain fruit, Ms. Lefferts, the food safety scientist, said.

The F.D.A.’s website says reactions to food coloring are rare, but acknowledges that yellow dye No. 5, used widely in drinks, desserts, processed vegetables and drugs, may cause itching and hives.

Farm Animal Drugs

The European Union also bans some drugs that are used on farm animals in the United States, citing health concerns. These drugs include bovine growth hormone, which the United States dairy industry uses to increase milk production. The European Union also does not allow the drug ractopamine, used in the United States to increase weight gain in pigs, cattle and turkeys before slaughter, saying that “risks to human health cannot be ruled out.” An F.D.A. spokeswoman said the drugs are safe.

SIGN UPCorrection: Dec. 28, 2018

An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to potassium bromide as an additive to flour. It is potassium bromate.

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