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7 Pantry Staples That Are Banned in Other Countries

That are a lot of disturbing headlines out there. Kids are the least fit they’ve been in thirty years. birth control could make you blind, and few kids are getting the cancer vaccine. And then there are the headlines about our food. More specifically, like this Fox News headline about the foods we’re eating but shouldn’t be, like farmed salmon and artificial food dyes. Not because they’re high in sugar or salt or because they don’t have enough vitamins, but because they’re literally banned in other countries.

I’m pretty good most of the time about providing my family with a variety of nutritious foods (even though I admittedly fall off the cooking wagon sometimes). But what about the quality of the foods or the hidden ingredients I don’t always think of looking for because I’m so used to just grabbing certain things off the shelves? It’s nearly impossible to scrutinize every label with a toddler screaming for more pineapple samples or that he’s “stuck stuck stuck” in the cart. I took a look around my kitchen and dug out some shockers I’m ashamed to admit I found.

 

  • Banned Foods 1 of 8
    banned foods

    While I'm embarrassed to admit as a dietitian that these foods are in my kitchen, I'm sure I'm not alone. I do know that these aren't things I want to be feeding my family; especially my young son. I know research can go a lot of different ways depending on the study, but if a country's government has decided it's bad enough to ban, I don't want it in my mouth - even if my country hasn't banned it too. It means I'll be scrutinizing labels when I buy a new product. If I don't have time to read the label because of an antsy toddler, I won't be buying it. Most of all it means I'll probably fork over the extra dollars to buy meat, poultry, and seafood that comes from reputable sources that don't use these scary products.

  • Carrageenan 2 of 8
    babble-0980

    I groaned out loud when I found this doozy hiding in my fridge. I unfailingly scrutinize labels when I buy almond milk for my son to make sure it doesn't contain carrageenan. I got so excited to find this coconut yogurt on sale that I forgot to look at the ingredient list. A seemingly natural ingredient which is derived from seaweed, carrageenan hides in processed foods like almond milk, coconut yogurt, broth, and condensed milk acting as a fat replacer. While seaweed sounds unappetizing yet safe enough, that may not be the case when it comes to carrageenan, which may cause colon cancer. At the very least, it seems to cause inflammation to the digestive tract, causing problems with IBS and ulcerative colitis. The European Union has banned carrageenan from infant formulas, but the US has not. It can also be used in pet food, shampoo, and personal lubricants. 

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Artificial Food Dyes 3 of 8
    babble-0981

    What aren't artificial food dyes in these days? Well luckily most of the things in my kitchen! While bad for the writing of this post, but good for the health of my family, we have very few products with artificial ingredients in our house. A few slipped by me though —namely the jars of orange marmalade and blackberry jam I have tucked away in the door of my fridge. Oops. Like the Fox News article mentioned, the problem with food dyes is that they've been shown to be associated with behavioral problems in children like ADHD as well as some cancers. Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, and Blue 2 have been particularly implicated in these negative effects. No thanks! Some artficial food dyes are banned in Austria and Norway. Europe requires notices on package labels.

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Farmed Salmon 4 of 8
    babble-0983

    Salmon is good for you, right? It's packed with omega-3 fatty acids (the good guys), it's low in mercury, and is a great natural anti-inflammatory. The problem here is the difference between wild salmon and farmed salmon. The salmon in my freezer was the latter; the kind that contains chemicals that have been banned in Australia and New Zealand. Due to farmed salmon's man-altered diet, they lose that beautiful pink hue we've come to associated with a good piece of salmon. Farmer's know this is what we look for, so they artificially add that color back in using man-made astaxanthin. Synthetic astaxanthin is made using petrochemicals, which are also used to make plastics. 

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • GMOs 5 of 8
    gmos

    I can't honestly tell you whether anything in my pantry contains GMOs, although I suspect they do, because we don't have any labeling laws in the US. Genetically modified organisms, or more recognizably GMOS, have been a hot debate for the past few years. GMOs are "plants and animals that have had their genes altered using DNA from bacteria, viruses, or other plants and animals. The genes are combined in experimental combinations that wouldn't otherwise happen in nature. They're used in food in order to make crops resistant to herbicides and pests, to create new colors and crop variations, to increase shelf-life, and to increase tolerance to harsh environments." Although the official stand from the FDA is that GMOs are safe for consumption, for the most part they're banned from use in food in Europe. When they are allowed, it must be on the label. 

     

    Photo credit: nongmoproject

  • Ketchup 6 of 8
    ketchup

    A staple in most American households, mine included, ketchup was recently banned in French primary schools. While it sounds innocuous, ketchup does contain sugar and salt, which many people don't think about. The justification for the ketchup ban in schools is that it masks the flavor of true French food. Okay, so this one isn't really a biggie, but I figured I'd include it nonetheless. 

     

    Photo credit: Pixabay

  • Sodium Nitrite 7 of 8
    nitrite

    Ah the beloved pepperoni, an American pizza staple. It's not typically in my fridge but this week it is. Unfortunately it's full of nitrites. Sodium nitrite is a chemical used to give cured meats their red color back, because who would want to chow down on a grey processed meat? Sodium nitrite also helps give certain meats that smoky flavor that makes them so good. It can also make it hard for blood to deliver oxygen, which could potentially lead to brain damage or death in a worst case scenario. Some evidence points towards sodium nitrite causing colorectal cancer as well. It's banned in Europe but not here in the good ol' US of A.

     

    Photo credit: Pixabay

  • Arsenic 8 of 8
    chicken

    I can't honestly say whether I have arsenic-laced food in my fridge or not; they don't exactly plaster that on the label. Although it sounds crazy that something known more familiarly as a poison could actually be found in our food supply, it's true. It's been found in chicken, rice, and apple juice. The FDA recently opted to ban three animal feeds that contribute to the arsenic found in poultry, but hopefully buying chicken from a good source will help reduce my chances of eating arsenic in the meantime.

     

    Photo credit: Pixabay

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