Dangerous Ingredients Lurking in Your Food

By Sara Butler

When you go to the grocery store and check out food labels, what are you looking for? Most people look for calories, fat or sugar – and those things are important. But there are also a few other things you should be looking for in the ingredients list; ingredients that have been marked as dangerous in other countries that the Food and Drug Administration still allows in the United States. Here are a few of the ingredients you should be on the lookout for, and if a food contains it, put it back and keep moving down the aisle.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

These ingredients are often found in chips, cereal, and sausage. They are both preservatives and though they have been deemed by the FDA to be “generally recognized as safe” they aren’t without controversy. In animal testing, both of these ingredients have been demonstrated to increase the risk of cancer, and these substances are banned in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Europe, and Canada.

Potassium Bromate

This ingredient is added to bread in order to reduce baking time. It saves bread makers money by lowering cost of production, but it is also has been linked in Japanese studies to cancer in the kidneys, thyroid, and other parts of mice and rats. While this substance hasn’t been banned in the United States, it has in Canada, the European Union, Brazil, Nigeria, China and South Korea; the FDA does advise only moderate use and proper labeling of its use by manufacturers. Many bakeries, both large and small, do not use this product, but you can still find it in buns used in fast food chains.

Olestra

Remember this one? It was used in many different kinds of fat-free foods including crackers, chips, and fries in the 1990s but it was soon found to have some rather unpleasant side-effects such as gas, diarrhea and stomach cramps. If that doesn’t sound unpleasant enough, it was also found to reduce your body’s ability to absorb nutrients essential to your health. It is now illegal to use in the United Kingdom and Canada, but it remains legal in the United States, but it has been clearly marked on food packaging.

These are just a few of the things you should be on the lookout for in your food. Of course, the safest course of action is to reduce the number of prepacked foods you purchase and consume, since most are highly processed and unhealthy for you anyway!

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