Cuisine varies from region to region, but there are many foods you’re already familiar with you won’t find outside the U.S., no matter how hard you try. The reasons why might surprise you. Here are the American meat products other countries won’t touch — and how you can enjoy meat safely inside the U.S.
American meat products like farmed salmon aren’t manufactured elsewhere. According to Cleveland Clinic, farmed salmon often contains high levels of disease-causing chemicals and pollutants. Depending on where it comes from, this type of fish might also contain antibiotics, which you don’t want to expose yourself to in large amounts. Whether you’re ordering from a restaurant or browsing the supermarket, choose wild, white salmon instead of farmed, artificially colored salmon.
During processing, U.S. chickens are washed in a strong chlorine solution as a quick, cost-effective way to remove potentially harmful microorganisms. The reason Europe doesn’t allow this process is because there’s no guarantee this process can completely disinfect all chickens. You could end up with a Salmonella-infected chicken, despite manufacturers’ best efforts to prevent this from happening.
Chicken meat laced with arsenic
Bacterial infections aren’t the only concern when it comes to American chicken. To reduce the rate of infections, and to make their skin look more appetizing, chickens are often fed arsenic. It doesn’t hurt them, and there isn’t any scientific evidence proving it will hurt you (that we know of). But this is just one of many farming practices the industry doesn’t want you to know about. What else are they hiding? Choose your chicken wisely.
There are obviously more growth hormones in supplemented cattle than hormone-free cows. However, it’s enough of a difference that Europe has completely banned beef raised in the U.S. for human safety reasons. Women who eat large amounts of hormone-supplemented meats might be at a higher risk of health problems, but it really depends on how much you eat. You can choose hormone-free beef to alleviate most concerns.
Live Science reports 160 countries have either banned or restricted the use of a drug called ractopamine — especially in pork. American pigs are fed ractopamine to boost their growth rates — the food industry’s attempt to increase meat production. The FDA hasn’t banned the drug, which causes adverse effects in pigs, but does require the use of a warning label.
How to buy better meat
Purposefully non-specific food labeling makes buying products like meat extremely confusing. Terms like organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and antibiotic-free don’t always mean what you think they mean, warns the Natural Resource Defense Council. Buying your meat from local farmers is the best way to ensure you’re getting the quality meat you’re promised.
If you’re concerned about eating healthier while still eating meat, the American Heart Association recommends choosing lean cuts, and grilling, broiling, and baking meat instead of frying it.
Other American foods banned overseas
American-made meat products aren’t the only U.S. foods foreigners forbid, says Business Insider. In fact, many of our processed foods raise safety concerns — even though we still eat them anyway. These include:
- M&Ms, Skittles, and other foods containing artificial dyes
- Breakfast cereals
- Fat-free junk foods
- Colored sodas and sports drinks
- Certain breads