More astounding, the FDA (Food and Drug Agency), charged with protecting the health of the American people from harmful foods and drugs, allows these killer chemicals to be added to our foods.
It gives most Americans pause when many watchdog groups accuse the FDA of not looking out for American families. Instead, they proclaim that the FDA turns a blind eye to often deadly or health-altering chemicals added to American processed foods and meats.
Why would this agency ignore the health risks to the very people they are supposed to be placing first and green light food company additives? Politics is the most likely answer given, as cliché as it may sound.
The EU (European Union) is said to err on the side of caution when it comes to such food additives. What type of measuring stick does the FDA use? Some believe that measuring rod is how well an additive will stand up in court. Can it pass judgment in a lawsuit?
According to watchdog groups, there are many chemicals added to American foods that are used to extend self-life, reduce clumping and enhance taste, but these chemicals are harmful to humans and simply don’t belong in foods.
One of the most commonly used examples of the double-standard of foods in the US vs other countries is the McDonald’s American French fries version compared to McDonald’s UK fries.
US McDonald Fries vs UK McDonald Fries
Renowned blogger Food Babe displays a graphic on her website listing the US ingredients on one side of a table and the UK ingredients on the opposite site. The chart is decidedly lopsided, with the American side listing many known harmful ingredients.
–> Natural beef flavor (in French fries?)
–> Wheat and milk derivatives (beware wheat allergy sufferers and vegetarians)
–> Citric Acid (preservative)
–> Dextrose (simple sugar)
–> Sodium Acid Pyrophosate (maintain color)
American: Oil used for frying:
–> Soybean oil (Soy is a known endocrine disruptor that can lead to thyroid problems, obesity, reproductive problems and breast enlargement in men.)
–> Canola oil (a known carcinogen touted as healthy) (2)
–> Hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ (Some researchers state both hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils contain harmful Trans fats. TBHQ is a protein preservative used in fats as well as skin care products, paints and varnishes. Some studies have demonstrated TBHQ can “cause liver enlargement, neurotoxic effects, convulsions, and paralysis” as well as affect behavior (3).
–> Dimethylpolysiloxane (Antifoaming agent that is made up of caulks and sealants to form a type of silicone – the main ingredient for silly putty (4).
UK French Fries:
–> Non-hydrogenated vegetable oil (Sunflower, Rapeseed Oil (Rapeseed is advertised as healthy, although there are many studies that contend it is harmful. Canola oil is made from rapeseed).
–> Dextrose (Added on at the beginning of season)
This is just one example shared by Food Babe in what is an outrageous exploitation of the American public as food companies and restaurant chains expose their US customers to health risks (4).
Concerned Consumers Effect Change at Panera Bread
You may recall that 2012 marked one of the first battles that the now famous blogger Food Babe undertook with her #FoodBabeArmy to demand that the cellulose (wood pulp) fillers be removed from Panera Bread.
In response to the grass roots campaign and pressure for cleaner food, in May 4, 2015, Panera Bread “agreed to remove 150 additives from their food” (5).
That is a lot of additives for an entire menu. Some of those additives that Panera Bread is removing from their foods included:
–> Greek salad dressing: Hydrogenated soy protein, maltodextrin, propylene glycol alginate and the generic spice blend.
–> Mozzarella on tomato mozzarella flatbread: Titanium dioxide.
–> Chicken noodle soup: Hydrolyzed soy and corn protein, autolyzed yeast extract, and modified corn starch
–> Poppy seed dressing: Cellulose gel and artificial flavors.
Alternet revealed five chemicals used as additives in American foods and one that is no longer used but all are banned from the foods in other countries (6).
–> Olestra (Olean): Procter & Gamble’s $200 million creation of “a zero-calorie, fat-like polymer that tastes like fat but isn’t digested.” Alternet states it produces anal leakage, abdominal cramping and loose stools. It also prevents some vitamins and nutrients from being absorbed by the body. As recently as 2011, a Purdue study revealed that fat substitutes disrupt the food intake signals and result in weight gain. Still legal, Olestra isn’t currently used in foods. (Illegal in Canada, EU and other countries.)
–> Artificial Dyes: Many food dyes are harmless, but some are carcinogenic, such as Yellow #6 and Red #40. Alternet states that 25% of bladder cancers are linked to occupational exposure to these chemicals. (US version of Starburst candy contains these dyes, while the UK version contains natural dyes.)
–> Ractopamine: aka Pork roids, is a chemical used to force livestock to add lean muscle mass the last weeks prior to being slaughtered. This chemical is found in many US meats but is banned and illegal in 160 countries.
–> Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO): This oil is used to bind citrus flavors so they stay together is found in Mountain Dew. BVO is a flame retardant. It’s banned from foods in EU, Japan and other countries. BVO can accumulate in the body.
–> rBST/rGBH: Bovine somatotropin (BST) is a cow pituitary gland hormone. Many dairy cows are given this hormone to increase milk production 10% – 15%. This hormone shows up in the cow’s milk and poses a health threat to the cow and possibly humans. Alternet reports it is “banned in Canada, Japan, Israel, the E.U. and many other places…”
–> Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) Are cosmetic additives but also are used in foods as a preservative that prevents the fats from becoming rancid. Identified as antioxidants, but both impair blood clotting and the breakdown is “suspected of being carcinogenic. Alternet reports both are banned in Japan and until recently the EU.
Protecting Your Family from Harmful Additives
The most obvious way to protect yourself and your family from these harmful chemicals is to read labels and research ingredients you don’t recognize.
Even when buying fresh foods it can be a challenge to find clean produce absent of pesticides and herbicides.
One alternative for food shopping is to buy from local growers so you know exactly what is in your food and/or grow your own.