You’ll Never Believe What American Foods Are Actually Banned in Other Countries

There are quite a few foods available in other countries that are banned here in the U.S. — horse meat and shark fins, for example. But while most of America’s banned foods make sense, you might be surprised by the foods we eat here that are deemed unsafe elsewhere in the world.

Other countries’ guidelines versus our own

Food and Drug administration FDA

Who’s regulations are stricter? | YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

In America, it’s the job of the FDA to determine food safety standards. But of course, what we determine to be safe will sometimes be different than other countries. In Europe, for example, the European Food Safety Authority helps regulate the food industry. So although the goal is always the same, to keep consumers safe and healthy, results of different studies or lack of information leads to different conclusions.

Next: You always have a choice.

Take this information as you will

Not all popcorn is bad for you. | Kitzcorner/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

When we eat processed food or dine out in other countries, we’re always taking a bit of a risk–but that doesn’t mean the food we’re eating is unsafe. If one of your favorite foods is something that isn’t recommended by health experts, like microwave popcorn or white bread, you may choose to cut them out of your diet or at least eat them in moderation. But unless a food is outright illegal, you’re allowed to choose what you eat.

The following foods, however, are banned in other countries even though they’re considered safe in the U.S. Eat them at your own risk.

Next: Did you know this is being done to your chicken?

 Chlorine-washed chicken

Raw whole chicken with knife

Yes, this wash exists.| vicuschka/iStock/Getty Images

In the U.S., chickens are washed in a strong chlorine solution as a quick, cost-effective way to remove potentially harmful microorganisms. This practice is banned in Europe, so chlorine-washed chickens are not welcome there.

Next: This ban rules out a lot of fun foods.

Artificial food dyes

Coloful Fruit Cereal Loops

Say goodbye to Fruit Loops! | iStock.com/bhofack2

Dyes are used to make food look better, but they’re also made from chemicals derived from petroleum. Artificial food dyes are banned in many countries but found in cereals, baked goods, candy, soda, and sports drinks in the U.S.

Next: Here’s another reason to give up soda.

Brominated vegetable oil

Fit brunette drinking energy drink at the gym

What is it that makes your energy so sweet and colorful? | iStock.com

Found in sports drinks and citrus-flavored soda in the U.S., brominated vegetable oil has an ingredient that is toxic and corrosive to the body. It has been linked to organ system damage, birth defects, schizophrenia, and other scary side effects.

Next: Where’s the beef?

American beef

Pile of beef jerky shot

Yes, even your favorite meat could be dangerous. | Rez-Art/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Beef cattle raised in the U.S. are definitely given more hormones than cows in other countries, and for that reason, Europe has all-out banned American beef for human safety reasons. If you’re concerned by this, hormone-free beef is available in the U.S.

Next: In this case, natural is always best.

Farmed salmon

Fresh salmon

Stick to the wild caught variety. | iStock.com/g215

Farmed salmon, on average, contains higher levels of disease-causing chemicals and pollutants that wild-caught salmon. Despite being banned in many countries, it’s still sold regularly here.

Next: Got milk? Watch out for these hormones.

Milk with RBST and RBGH

Pouring milk in the glass

Maybe you should just drink almond milk. | naturalbox/iStock/Getty Images

Considering cows treated with these synthetic hormones can become infertile and develop inflamed others, and they’re linked to cancer in humans as well, it’s strange that they’re still legal in the U.S. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of milk from cows that weren’t given them. Just read the labels.

Next: More tainted meat.

Ractopamine-tainted meat

dried pork meat

What makes American pigs different? | iStock.com/haveseen

Over 160 countries have banned or restricted meat tainted by ractopamine, which American pigs are fed to boost their growth rates. The FDA hasn’t banned the drug, but it does require the use of a warning label.

Next: Read the labels on your bread products.

Bread made with Potassium Bromate

Toast bread

This chemical is not very good for you.| iStock.com/SasaJo

Often found in wraps, rolls, and flatbread, brominated flour helps decrease the baking time and cost of the products. But potassium bromate has been linked to kidney damage, nervous system damage, and cancer, so it’s banned outside of the U.S.

Next: If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

Azodicarbonamide

Cooking pasta on the stove

Check your labels! | Vladimir Kokorin/iStock/Getty Images

This chemical helps to bleach flour quickly, but it has been linked to asthma and is also used in foam plastics. You’ll find it in many American boxed pasta, breads, and packaged baked goods.

Next: Sometimes the low-calorie option isn’t the best one.

Olestra

Foods fried in this modified cooking oil are dangerous. | iStock.com

You know something is bad when Time Magazine dubs it one of the 50 Worst Inventions. But the FDA did approve Olestra, a calorie-free, fat-free and cholesterol-free chemical created to replace fattening cooking oil without affecting flavor. Aside from its reported severe gastrointestinal effects, it inhibits your body’s ability to absorb vitamins. Olestra is banned in Canada and Europe.

Next: Papaya fans, take note.

Genetically engineered papaya

Even your favorite fruits may be bad for you. | Bennyartist/iStock/Getty Images

Most Hawaiian papaya is currently genetically engineered to be resistant to the ringspot virus. But since growing research now shows that animals fed genetically engineered foods suffer a wide range of illnesses, genetically engineered papaya is banned in The European Union.

Next: What this means.

How common are these additives?

mac and cheese

They’re in several of your favorite foods. | NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

You might not realize how much of your food is effected by these bans. But once you travel to another country and realize there are no Rice Krispies, M&Ms, Kraft Mac & Cheese, or Skittles on the store shelves, you’ll realize what a difference it makes.

Next: How to find a balance.

Safe eating practices

Senior woman holding box with vegetables

It pays to eat fresh. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

No matter how much you trust the FDA, we’re all well aware that it isn’t perfect — besides, some of these chemicals and hormones haven’t been used in our food long enough to know about long-term effects. You can find a healthy balance by limiting your exposure to these foods, eating organic food whenever possible, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and reading labels clearly.

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