Additives That Are Legal In The US and Banned In Other Countries
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Additives for food are an essential part of the food supply. They prevent spoilage, enhance taste, appearance, texture, and palatability, and serve as a food packaging component. While most food additives are safe, some of today’s commonly used food additives are identified as having severe toxicity to human health. It may be shocking to some people to learn that numerous food additives banned in other countries are still used in the U.S.
Toxicological analyses of these substances usually depend on their direct toxicity on target organs like the liver and kidney. Much less attention is given to the impact of these compounds on the cells of the immune system, which is relevant given that obesity and metabolic dysregulation have an immune-mediated solid component. Although highly processed foods loaded with sugars, fats, and salt are associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome, mounting evidence suggests that banned food additives may also significantly contribute to immune system dysfunction resulting in poor health.
What are some of these banned additives and their health risks?
The FDA approves nine certified color additives for use in the United States, among them Blue No. 1, Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5, and Yellow No. 6. These colors are used to enhance the appearance of cereals, snack foods, beverages, dessert powders, crackers, sauces, beverages, and many other products. The consuming public is mostly unaware that artificial food dyes are made from petroleum and have been banned in many countries.
Manufacturers like dyes because they are more stable, cheaper, and brighter than naturally colored foods. Unfortunately, the United States regulatory agencies continue to allow this practice.
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)
The European Union, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand have all banned rBGH. A quote from the United States Food and Drug Administration says:
“On November 5, 1993, following an extensive review of the data to support the safety and effectiveness of the product, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Monsanto Company New Animal Drug Application for Posilac containing a recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) (also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin, rbST, Sometribove).”
The “extensive review” of data to support the safety and effectiveness of rBGH mentioned above was only done in rodents. The analysis was based on a 90-day rat oral toxicity study, and many argue that the possible adverse health effects of Posilac were not addressed. The FDA claimed that long-term studies were unnecessary for assessing rBGH's safety because BGH is biologically inactive in humans, even if injected. While this may be true, rBGH milk is supercharged with high levels of a natural growth factor (IGF-1) readily absorbed through the gut. Several studies have found that IGF-1 levels, even at the high end of the normal range, may influence the development of prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers and tumors, prompting many other countries to institute the ban.
Ractopamine is fed to pigs, cattle, and turkeys to cause rapid weight gain. It is banned in the European Union and Mainland China. On November 6th, 2014, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approving several controversial animal drugs based on ractopamine.
Today, ractopamine is used in food production without thoroughly examining how these products affect people, animals, or the environment.
The effects of ractopamine in humans have not been well studied. The drug’s primary human health study, conducted on just six healthy men, caused heart palpitations in 3 of the participants, and side effects were severe enough that one of them had to be withdrawn from the study. Apart from affecting the cardiovascular system, ractopamine is also known to cause chromosomal abnormalities and behavioral changes.
The use of arsenic as an additive has been banned in the European Union. This element is found in the environment as a naturally occurring substance but can contaminate water, air, soil, and food. Published scientific reports have indicated that organic arsenic, a less toxic form of arsenic, and the form present in 3-Nitro (Roxarsone), an approved animal drug, could transform into inorganic arsenic. Roxarsone has enabled poultry producers to increase production and lower costs. The arsenic-based additive is used to promote growth, kill parasites, and improve the pigmentation of the meat. The chicken excretes most of the arsenic, but some end up in humans' meat.
Evidence indicates that long-term exposure to arsenic results in lower IQ scores and higher skin, bladder, lung cancer, and heart disease rates.
Potassium bromate is banned in Canada, China, and the European Union. It is used in the United States to strengthen the baking dough and to allow higher rising. When potassium bromate is used correctly in bread making, it is completely used up, converting it to a harmless bromide ion during baking. However, when too much is used, or the bread is not baked thoroughly, residual amounts will remain, which may be harmful when consumed.
Potassium bromate is classified as a category 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It has been linked to cancer, gastrointestinal discomfort, thyroid complications, and kidney disease.
Olestra is a fat substitute that adds no calories, fat, or cholesterol to products. It is used to prepare potato chips and other high-fat foods, lowering the fat content. Olestra was banned in the U.K. and Canada because it reduces the body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K usually bind to fats in the intestines. When the body absorbs the fats, vitamins are absorbed too. The same vitamins stick to olestra; instead of being taken up by the body, they are excreted. Olestra can cause digestive problems and is also not healthy for the heart.
Azodicarbamide is banned in the U.K., Australia, and the European Union. In the United States, it is used as a whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner in baking, but it is also used in making flooring and yoga mats. Azodicarbamide causes breathing difficulties, asthma, and allergic reactions in some people.
America’s Health is Falling Behind
The United States has witnessed an alarming increase in cases of neurological disorders, obesity, allergies, cancers, GI disorders, cardiovascular disease, and asthma. This country’s life expectancy and infant mortality rates fall far short of what should be expected in a nation that spends more than double what other developed nations do on health care.
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