Food additives banned abroad but eaten in US

Americans consume many chemicals that are illegal elsewhere. Given the money involved, that's unlikely to change anytime soon.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 24, 2013 7:15AM

File photo of the inside of a box of Kellogg's FrootLoops cereal (© Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)What do Mountain Dew, Hungry Man frozen dinners, Chex Mix and Froot Loops (pictured) have in common? They're all packaged food products that include some ingredients that have been banned outside the U.S. 

PepsiCo's (PEP) Mountain Dew, for example, includes brominated vegetable oil, which is banned in more than 100 countries, reports the Daily Mail, which cites a book called "Rich Food, Poor Food" that includes a list of American staples made with ingredients outlawed in other countries.

Some Pinnacle Foods' (PF) Hungry Man frozen dinners include azodicarbonamide, a chemical used to make bleach and rubber yoga mats, the Mail notes. The chemical has been banned in Australia, the U.K. and many European countries.

As for General Mills' (GIS) traditional Chex Mix, it includes butylated hydroxytoluene, or BHT. It's made from petroleum and has been banned in Japan, the U.K. and other countries. And Kellogg's (K) Froot Loops includes Yellow 6 food coloring, which the book notes is banned in some countries.

Despite calls for change, consumers who are concerned about such ingredients are fighting huge industries that may have little incentive to tinker with their formulas. Sales of sodas such as Mountain Dew totaled $28.8 billion last year. 

Brominated vegetable oil prompted a food fight last year after a 16-year-old high school student started a petition to have the ingredient removed from PepsiCo's Gatorade. The drink maker earlier this year said it would use an alternative. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says brominated vegetable oil is safe, critics contend it's potentially harmful to humans. 

Although Gatorade changed its formula, other soft drinks still contain brominated vegetable oil, including Squirt and Fresca, the Daily Mail notes. 

One of the most common additives banned outside the U.S. but used in American foods is coloring. That became an issue earlier this year when two food bloggers questioned the use of Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 in Kraft (KRFT) Macaroni & Cheese, which sells the product without those dyes outside the U.S.

Kraft defended its record, noting its food products follow the FDA's regulations. It also offers varieties that don't include the dyes, such as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Organic White Cheddar.

The outcry against such additives may be giving a boost to the organic food industry, which reached $26.7 billion in sales in 2010, up from just $1 billion in 1990, according to the Organic Trade Association. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Jun 24, 2013 10:32AM
It sounds like the FDA are just another paid off bunch.
Jun 24, 2013 1:26PM
Most other countries don't have as strong as a food lobby as we do here in America. The FDA is a joke and is filled with people from the food industry. The least we can do as a country is properly label food so people know what they are eating and can make the choice themselves. Theproblem is that unless you are a bio-chemist you are unlikely to understand what these chemicals are
Jun 24, 2013 11:08AM
What's a bit of poison when money is involved?
Jun 24, 2013 11:24AM
Wow, this shows American governments and the FDA really care about its people.  Oh, I mean they care about its people's money as their free salaries and get paid/bought by corporations for working for them, and their stocks ownership.
Jun 24, 2013 11:11AM
Tell em about the meat glue used in to meat back together to look like whole cuts. You tube The truth may scare you #7 about 30 min long.
Jun 24, 2013 11:49AM
But bromine is my third favorite halogen!
Jun 25, 2013 9:17AM

Food and Drug Administration should be separate entities esp in this country where processed food is making people sick.  oh but here come the drug companys to save the day making billions..  Conflict of interest perhaps?

Jun 24, 2013 11:25AM
ok i guess this isnt the money section. this is the supposed poisons in food section of msn
Jun 25, 2013 12:52PM
Jun 24, 2013 9:56PM
Government doesn't care if we die.
Jun 24, 2013 3:43PM

Looking for answers, all you have to do is following the money.

Jun 24, 2013 1:49PM

It makes it so much easier on me, giving up red meat, cow dairy products, and, finally grains...reading of the companies...huge companies...blithely poisoning one and all for least those of us that allow it by continuing to spend money on products...


Twinkie, anyone? Line another CEO's pocket and the fat is on You!



Jun 24, 2013 2:27PM
 it would have been caught if it was not for the sequestration!!!
Jun 25, 2013 3:16PM
You name it, I'm allergic to it.  I read labels very carefully and choose products without artificial dyes, flavors, and for skin products perfumes.  Mainly we don't eat packaged foods,  Remember making everything from "scratch"? 
Jun 24, 2013 4:14PM
The FDA has to stop regulating everything we consume. It's become indoctrinated that the American people are continuously subjected to chemicals that are harmful in our American diet, so why do they accept it?
Jun 24, 2013 12:59PM

How many super moms take Botox in their lips, have chemical peels, have breast implants, have

tattoos and now they worry about something in their food?????????????  Give me a break///////

If your so worried about food just try growing some yourself and see how long it will take for you

to starve to death////////////

Jun 24, 2013 1:31PM

Just because something is banned in other countries doesn't mean it is unsafe, especially at the levels used in food. Some silly decisions have been made in banning colorants and sweeteners.


These articles are written to boost the organic food industry, but if you read studies, organic foods are not all safer.

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