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You are what you eat, they say. If that’s the case, a lot of folks in the United States are less than healthy based solely on the foods they eat.
Sadly, many American foods contain ingredients that have been linked with diseases and health conditions. While these foods are still the norm in the U.S., many countries have decided to take a pass and ban them.
Here are 20 favorite American foods that are banned in other countries.
1. Froot Loops
Banned in: France, Austria, Norway and Finland
Why it’s banned: A glance at Kellogg’s Froot Loops’ ingredients might explain why the colorful cereals of our childhood are banned in many European countries.
The American breakfast staple is packed with food dyes such as yellow 5 and red 40, which are considered harmful. Many scientific studies link these artificial colors with the inhibition of cell development.
The sugary cereal also contains soybean, cottonseed oil, and hydrogenated coconut — all considered dangerous and banned in the above mentioned countries.
2. US chicken
Banned in: European Union
Why it’s banned: Chlorine-washed chicken doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it?
In the U.S, the chicken is routinely washed in a chlorine solution before it is market ready.
This antimicrobial treatment reduces the possibility of salmonella contamination and other bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness. This is also the main reason the European Union has had a ban on American chicken since 1997.
The EU is not concerned about chlorine consumption per se. Rather, it questions why the chicken must go through deep cleaning in the first place. The EU thinks there should be a “high level of safety throughout the food chain, from farm to fork,” not only cleaning the meat heavily at the end of the process to compensate for insufficient hygiene standards earlier.
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3. Mountain Dew
Banned in: The European Union and Japan
Why it’s banned: We all know Mountain Dew is not the healthiest of drinks. But, if you still “do the Dew,” you might want to know the lemon-lime drink contains Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO).
This food additive banned in Japan and the European Union contains bromine, the element found in flame retardants.
According to CDC, the consumption of bromine can lead to a number of health problems such as headaches, memory loss, and impaired balance and coordination. It’s also bad for the skin.
PepsiCo announced in 2014 that the dangerous chemical would be removed from its soft drinks. However, BVO wasn’t removed from Mountain Dew’s list of ingredients until 2020.
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4. US milk
Banned in: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the EU
Why it’s banned: Got rBGH? That’s what Europe, Canada, and many other countries are asking about milk produced in the United States, where dairy cows are fed with a synthetic man-made growth hormone rBGH to increase milk production.
Developed by the agricultural biotech corporation Monsanto, recombinant bovine growth hormone rBGH, also known as rBST, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, allowing companies to produce vast amounts of cheaper milk in awful conditions at factory farms.
As one could imagine, drinking hormone-enriched milk cannot be the healthiest option. Studies have found that cows treated with rBGH produce milk that contains elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IFG-1), which can increase the risk of breast cancer and other cancer types.
Luckily, according to a 2014 report by the USDA, the practice is decreasing as only 9.7 percent of U.S. dairy operations were using rbGH.
Still is highly recommended to stick with organic milk or one that says “does not contain rBGH.
5. Farmed salmon
Banned in: Austria and New Zealand
Why it’s banned: Salmon is a go-to meal for many Americans, who enjoy the meaty flavor and health benefits of the omega-3-packed fish. However, the bad news here is there is a big chance that the salmon you are eating is farmed-raised.
Around two-thirds of salmon eaten by U.S. consumers comes from farms, and the other third is wild-caught. Salmon farming has long been scrutinized by sustainability advocates because of the harsh conditions in which the fish are raised.
Farm-raised salmon are kept in crowded cages and are fed with fed processed fish feed and all kinds of dangerous chemicals like methyl mercury and dioxins. Additionally, the fish are given a lot of antibiotics and other drugs that are not safe for humans to consume.
6. Maraschino cherries
Banned in: Norway, Finland, France, Austria, the U.K
Why it’s banned: It turns out America’s favorite cocktail garnish is actually a forbidden fruit in some countries.
Maraschino cherry, the syrupy sweet fruit, was invented during the Prohibition era to garnish virgin cocktails. Actually, the American maraschino cherry is an imitation of a Croatian delicacy made of Marasca cherries.
What the American version of the sweetened cherry has extra is the artificial food dye Red #40 to give that picture-perfect touch. Red #40 is one of the most widely used food dyes, as well as one of the most controversial. The dye is thought to be linked to allergies, migraine, and mental disorders in children.
7. US apples
Banned in: the European Union
Why it’s banned: While apples are supposed to keep the doctor away, that’s not exactly the case for those produced in the U.S.
American apples are treated with diphenylamine (DPA), a potentially carcinogenic compound used to keep the fruit from turning brown. It’s this chemical that gives the apples you see in the supermarket that glow.
European food safety regulators banned the fruit in 2014 because the chemicals have been linked to various cancers.
Now, how do you like them apples?
8. Little Debbie Swiss Rolls
Banned in: Norway and Austria
Why it’s banned: Little Debbie’s smiling face isn’t welcome in some countries, as the tasty snack contains food dyes that are a big no-no.
Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls contain artificial food color dyes yellow 5 and red 40, which are considered to be carcinogenic.
The European Union requires products with these dyes to include warning labels saying “the coloring agents may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” But come, countries like Norway and Austria just outright banned the snack.
In the United States, no such warning is required.
9. US breakfast cereal brands
Banned in: Japan, the European Union
Why it’s banned: Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but not if you are having cereals like Rice Krispies, Honey Bunches of Oats and Frosted Flakes.
These breakfast cereals brands contain Butylated hydroxytoluene, or BHT, a lab-made flavor enhancer that has carcinogenic properties. It’s banned in Japan and the European Union.
A number of processed foods, such as chewing gum and frozen foods, contain this preservative.
9. Instant mashed potatoes
Banned in: the Europe Union, Japan, Australia
Why it’s banned: This one is easy. It’s mashed potatoes in a box. Of course, there is something off.
Instant Mashed Potatoes like Hungry Jack come with a side of Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA). This preservative is also found in rubber and wax food packaging. So, it’s definitely not something you would want in your body.
Although it’s widely used in the U.S., it’s banned in Japan, Australia, and the European Union, because it has been linked with cancer.
10. US prepackaged ground beef
Banned in: the European Union
Why it’s banned: Pink slime is definitely not something you want in your burger. Yet, there is a good chance that the prepackaged ground beef you bought for your next barbecue contains pink slime.
According to an ABC News exposé from 2012, around 70% of ground beef sold in U.S. supermarkets contained pink slime – a meat by-product used as a filler in ground beef to reduce fat content.
If you are wondering “what’s the beef?” with pink slime, it is prepared with ammonia gas, an anti-microbial agent which is dangerous for consumption.
The FDA approved the pink goo for human consumption in the U.S. back in 2001.
11. Ritz Crackers
Banned in: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Norway and Denmark.
Why it’s banned: Ritz crackers are a must-have for any cheese board, right? Well, in Europe, you’ll have to look for a different brand as the salty snack is nowhere to be found.
Apparently, Ritz crackers contain high levels of sodium—hydrogenated cottonseed oil, a trans fat associated with cardiovascular diseases.
The FDA has actually deemed these types of oils to be “not generally recognized as safe,” but certain loopholes allow them to continue to be used in products.
12. US pork
Banned in: the European Union, Russia, and China
Why it’s banned: If you were wondering why pigs in the U.S. are much bigger than those in the rest of the world, ractopamine is your answer.
American pigs are given ractopamine, an animal feed additive used to speed up weight gain and increase carcass leanness in finishing swine.
The additive is linked to major health issues both in animals and humans, explaining why it is banned in more than 160 countries.
Next time you are craving some pork chops, opt for organic meat.
Banned in: Austria, Hungary, and multiple Scandinavian countries,
Why it’s banned: Shelf-stable coffee creamer that can make your coffee taste like vanilla or caramel maybe sounds perfect, but don’t expect to find it in Europe.
Creamers like Coffee Mate are generally made from sugar, stabilizers and bunch of flavorings. However, what makes the product a big no-no in several European countries are hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils found in this non-dairy product
Hydrogenated oils are packed with trans fats. Many studies have shown that trans fat is the worst type of fat because it raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.
So, take your coffee black next time.
14. Drumstick ice cream
Banned in: the European Union
Why it’s banned: Don’t expect to find Nestle’s drumstick ice cream anywhere in Europe. The product has been banned for containing a sneaky ingredient within its cone, and it’s not extra chocolate filling.
The famous ice cream treat contains carrageenan, a seaweed-derived thickening agent used to extend the shelf life of consumer products.
This food additive has been linked with inflammation and possibly cancer.
Banned in: Norway and the European Union
Why it’s banned: Many of us grew up eating Skittles. But we didn’t know that while tasting the rainbow we were also eating food dyes and other harmful additives.
Artificial colors yellow 5 and yellow 6 are among the listed ingredients of the childhood-favorite snack. These food dyes are often linked with hyperactivity in children and allergic reactions. On top of the food dyes, the colorful candy contains another iffy ingredient that has led to its ban in the European Union in 2022.
Titanium dioxide is an additive used in consumer products to enhance opacity and brightness. The International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC classified titanium dioxide as possibly carcinogenic to humans after studies showed the substance caused more lung tumors in rats.
As a result, Europeans from now on will be tasting the duller-hued rainbow of Smarties.
16. Hawaiian papaya
Banned in: the European union
Why it’s banned: Hawaiian Papaya was genetically engineered to resist the ringspot virus, which destroyed U.S. crops in the 1990s.
Although there are many debates about whether or not genetically engineered produce is safe, the European Union isn’t taking any chances, making genetically engineered papaya a forbidden fruit.
Banned in: Norway, Finland, and Austria.
Why it’s banned: This one is not a shocker as, well. This ultra-processed sponge cake contains yellow 5 coloring to give it its distinctive golden hue.
Yellow 5 coloring has been linked to allergic reactions such as hives, itching, coughing, and vomiting.
Food dyes that contain these dyes are required to carry warning labels in the EU, but countries such as Finland, Norway, and Austria have decided not to take that risk.
18. Arby’s sourdough breakfast bread, croissant, and French toast sticks
Banned in: India, the UK, the European Union
Why it’s banned: A tasty Arby’s roast beef has tempted even those with the strongest willpower. Traveling abroad, however, will not require willpower, as many countries have banned the savory sandwiches.
Arby’s American-style bread is banned in some countries because of a toxic ingredient the fast food chain uses in its baked goods.
Azodicarbonamide, or ACA is a whitening agent that forms bubbles in foam or vinyl, to lighten and leaven the dough.
Despite concerns that it’s a carcinogen, the FDA still permits its use in the U.S.
19. Doritos light
Banned in: Canada, the European Union
Why it’s banned: Fat-free equals guilt-free, right? Well, not exactly. Doritos light contains a fat substitute that is not good for you.
Olestra is a synthetic fat that prevents the absorption of nutrients and has been linked to symptoms like loose stools and abdominal cramping.
For this reason, Europe and Canada banned the light version of the spicy snack.
20. Stove Top stuffing
Banned in: the United Kingdom, Japan, and several European countries.
Why it’s banned: Kraft Stove Top stuffing is a go-to choice for a quick weeknight dinner. But, the problem is the stuffing contains a combination of beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).
Both preservatives are suspected to be carcinogenic and impair blood clotting.
That’s why the product is banned in the United Kingdom, Japan and some European countries.