February 27, 2013 | 226,579 views | + Add to Favorites

By Dr. Mercola

no preservativesMore than 3,000 food additives — preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients — are added to foods in the United States.

While each of these substances are legal to use in the US, whether or not they are safe for long-term consumption — by themselves or in combination — is a different story altogether. Many have been deemed too harmful to use in other countries.

When you consider that about 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward processed foods loaded with these additives, it’s no wonder most people are carrying a hefty toxic load that can wreak havoc on their health.

A list of ingredients that are banned across the globe but still allowed for use in America recently made the news. The list is featured in the new book, Rich Food, Poor Food, authored by nutritionist Mira Calton and her husband Jayson.

The banned ingredients include various food dyes, the fat substitute Olestra, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate (aka brominanted flour), Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST, and arsenic.

Seeing that the overall health of Americans is so much lower than other industrialized countries, you can’t help but wonder whether toxic ingredients such as these might play a role in our unhealthy conditions.

Meanwhile, Russia has announced that it plans to extend a ban on U.S. beef, pork and turkey imports coming into effect this month, due to the feed additive ractopamine in the meats. Ractopamine is a growth stimulant banned in several countries, including Russia.

Processed Foods Depend on Additives

When foods are processed, not only are valuable nutrients lost and fibers removed, but the textures and natural variation and flavors are also lost. After processing, what’s left behind is a bland, uninteresting “pseudo-food” that most people wouldn’t want to eat.

So at this point, food manufacturers must add back in the nutrients, flavor, color and texture to processed foods in order to make them palatable, and this is why they become loaded with food additives.

Most commonly, additives are included to slow spoilage, prevent fats and oils from going rancid, prevent fruits from turning brown, fortify or enrich the food with synthetic vitamins and minerals to replace the natural ones that were lost during processing, and improve taste, texture and appearance. When reading product packages, here are some of the most common food additives1 to watch out for:

  • Preservatives: sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, TBHQ
  • Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners: fructose, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K)
  • Artificial colors: FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2
  • Artificial flavors
  • Flavor enhancers: monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract

Top Offenders to Avoid

According to the Caltons, the following 13 additives are the worst of the more than 150 individual ingredients they investigated during their six-year long journey, which took them through 100 different countries.2

Ingredient Found in Health Hazards
Coloring agents: blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6 Cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda, pet food, and cheese Most artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is a carcinogen
Olestra (aka Olean) Fat-free potato chips Depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids. Side effects include oily anal leakage
Brominated vegetable oil (aka BVO) Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas Competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, which can lead to hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer. The main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous, corrosive chemical, linked to  major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss
Potassium bromate (aka brominated flour) Rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips See bromine above. Associated with kidney and nervous system disorders,  gastrointestinal discomfort
Azodicarbonamide Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods Linked to asthma
BHA and BHT Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer BHA may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent. BHT can cause organ system toxicity
Synthetic hormones: rBGH and rBST Milk and dairy products Linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers
Arsenic Poultry EPA classifies inorganic arsenic as a “human carcinogen”

What’s With the Double-Standards?

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