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30 American Foods That Are Banned in Other Countries

Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but it gets even worse when you add in brominated vegetable oil. This ingredient is flame-retardant and has been used in American sodas for decades. In some, it can cause skin lesions, memory loss, and nerve problems.

That’s exactly why Europe and Japan have banned it from all food and beverages. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have promised to remove it from all drinks as of 2014 but still have yet to deliver on this promise.

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Milk

While becoming less common in the United States, some dairy farms still practice the use of rBST in their milk. This is a hormone that causes increased milk production.

However, it's been linked to a variety of health conditions including high rates of mastitis in cows that contaminate the milk with pus and antibiotics. Thanks to the use of rBST, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the EU have banned milk and dairy products form the U.S. 

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Boxed Mac and Cheese

Our beloved box of Kraft Mac and Cheese has food dye. While this brand has promised to go au natural, other brands still dye their food with yellow #5 and #6.

These food additives are banned in Austria, Norway, and some other European countries because it can cause hyperactivity, increased cancer risk, and allergic reactions. These dyes can be found in countless other items including potato chips, jams, candy, drinks, pet food, shampoo, and even medications. 

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Pre-Packaged Ground Beef

Pre-packaged ground beef may be easy, but it has pink slime. Pink slime is an additive that lowers the overall fat content. During the process, your meat is exposed to ammonia gas or citric acid to kill bacteria. This isn’t regulated and can cause significant issues in humans. It’s banned in Canada and the European Union.

The sale of American beef, in general, is also restricted in many other countries. This is due to the fact that our cows are treated with hormones to make them produce more milk. Additionally, the use of antibiotics is restricted in other countries. This makes beef a big no-no for most places. 

Papaya, Corn, and Soy

America is kind of iffy on genetically modified foods – GMOs for short. Several nations have a ban on them, including Russia. The EU specifically has a ban on American corn, soy, papaya, and any foods that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to the ringspot virus.

This type of GMO has been linked to multiple-organ damage, massive tumors, birth defects, sterility, and premature death. Even if the United States declared them safe, other countries are staying on the side of "better safe than sorry."

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Chicken

Chicken may be one of the healthier meats to eat in the United States, but our chicken isn’t so great according to the outside world. First of all, chicken is sometimes fed arsenic, which makes the meat appear pinker and fresher. Arsenic is a poison, which can kill you if you ingest too much.

Additionally, chlorine is sometimes used to wash the meat to kill any microorganisms on the bird, but it basically all comes down to profits.  Chickens in the U.S. have less space than those in the EU.

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Pork

Ractopamine is a beta-agonist that’s used to increase protein synthesis in pork by reducing the overall fat content. While less fat may seem like a good thing, it's not a great hormone to have in our systems.

Some studies show that up to 45% of pigs have been given ractopamine, and 20% of the ractopamine remains in the meat when we buy it from the store. For this reason, our pork is banned in 160 countries across Europe, Russia, China, and Taiwan. 

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Bread

Potassium bromate is an important chemical for bakers that don’t have time to cook bread the classic way. What you may not know is that it’s been linked to kidney damage, cancer, and nervous system damage.

The chemical is found in wraps, rolls, bread crumbs, bagel chips, and flatbreads. It’s no surprise that potassium bromate is banned in Europe, Canada, and China.

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Frozen Dinners

Azodicarbonamide can be found in a variety of things including frozen dinners, breads, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods. It’s used to bleach flour and foamed plastic, like yoga mats and the soles of sneakers.

It doesn’t sound too safe, and tests found that it can induce asthma. Anything containing azodicarbonamide is banned in Australia, the United Kingdom, and most European countries. 

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Sugar Cane

Banned in the EU, crops in the United States can still be treated with Atrazine. It’s an herbicide that has a wide variety of uses, but it’s been known to cause birth defects, reproductive tumors, skin sensitization, and muscle degeneration.

Another horrible thing about atrazine is that it easily leaks into the water supply and interferes with wildlife. Atrazine is most commonly found in sugar cane, where it’s used about 90% of the time.

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Fat-Free Snacks

Olestra was considered one of the best inventions in a while. Now, we can have our cake and eat it without it causing weight gain. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as fantastic as it seemed.

Found in fat-free potato chips, corn chips, and French fries, Olestra (or Olean) makes your body unable to absorb vitamins. It can also cause cramps and leaky bowels in someone that eats too much. It’s banned in Canada and the United Kingdom. 

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Chewing Gum

We love chewing gum. While chewing gum is banned in some countries because people spit it onto the ground, the United Kingdom, Japan, and many other European countries ban it because it contains BHA.

This chemical is used to preserve food and keep it from going bad, but it's known to cause cancer in rats. BHA can also be found in cereal, nut mixes, butter, meat, and dehydrated potatoes. 

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Salmon

Salmon is alright in other countries as long as it isn’t farm-raised. Salmon that have been farm-raised are fed chemicals to make them the bright pinkish-red that we love so much. They’re also given a ton of antibiotics and other drugs that aren’t safe for humans.

Finally, they’re fed synthetic astaxanthin to make their flesh look more appealing, which can cause eyesight damage in humans. Farm-raised salmon is banned in Austria and New Zealand. 

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Froot Loops

Froot Loops has a ton of artificial dyes in it – the same goes for Fruity Pebbles. A ton of stuff we eat actually has artificial dyes. Specifically, the dye in Froot Loops can inhibit nerve-cell development.

That’s why Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and the U.K. have banned it from their countries. If you want your Froot Loop craving, you may have to look elsewhere. Also as a note, Fruity Pebbles are also banned, so that's a no-go, too. 

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Artificial Blueberry

Artificial blueberry may be convenient and pretty, but it’s bad for you. The blue dye used to color it is derived from petroleum, which is also used to make gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar.

It’s also been linked to nerve-cell degeneration, brain cancer, and hyperactivity. It’s also banned in Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and the U.K. Thankfully, you'll be able to get real blueberry in these countries, so the food may actually taste better. 

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American M&Ms

So, you can find M&Ms overseas, but the thing is, every country has its own little formula. Our formula contains blue dye #2. While the other M&Ms may be fine, the blue ones aren’t so great. M&M has a history of adding dangerous dyes in its sweet.

In 1976, the red ones were found to contain amaranth (a suspected carcinogen). After the public forgot, the red ones were reintroduced. American M&Ms are explicitly banned in Europe. 

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Maraschino Cherries

Red #40 is on the list of dyes you should avoid. Countless people are allergic to the dye, plus it increases your risk of cancer. While maraschino cherries are one of the biggest culprits, red dye #40 is also found in grenadine and cherry pie mix.

You can check the ingredients list for any dangerous dyes. Anything containing red #40 is banned in Norway, Finland, France, Austria, the U.K., and several other European countries. 

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Rice

Arsenic is a ground metal that is easily absorbed by plants, and it’s especially high in rice. As we increase our use of pesticides and inorganic arsenic, things are only getting worse.

It’s a known carcinogen and is dangerous to infants and children because it can interfere with brain development. Rice is monitored, but it isn’t enough for Europe to ban the grain.

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Apples

Ever wonder why apples were so shiny? Well, they’re glossed up using a mixture of chemicals that keep the fruit looking fresh for longer. It certainly makes apples look better, but it can also be dangerous for your body. 

The European Food Safety Authority recently blocked American apples because the chemicals (DPA) has been linked to various cancers. More research is needed, but Europe isn’t taking any chances. 

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Chocolate Milk

We all love a good glass of chocolate milk, but you may not want to pour a glass for yourself after reading this. Some brands of chocolate milk have carrageenan, which is a type of seaweed. It’s been used for ages, but modern American society uses it for veggie burgers, soy milk, beer, ice cream, and chocolate milk.

This ingredient can cause inflammation and can lead to heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Tests also found that laboratory mice developed glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action. The European Union acted quickly and banned it.

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Ketchup

We all know that France takes its food very seriously. Well, apparently, officials thought ketchup was hindering their food culture. In 2011, France banned serving ketchup in elementary schools because it was unhealthy, but that isn’t the only reason.

During an interview with the Daily Mail, National Association of Directors of Collective Restaurants, Christophe Hebert said, “We have to ensure children become familiar with French recipes so that they can hand them down to the following generation.”

Potato Chips

BHT or butylated hydroxytoluene is a sister compound of BHA. BHT is mostly used as a preservative to keep food fresh so consumers have plenty of time to buy it. It’s often found in foods like potato chips, sausage, and even meat patties.

In the United States, it's “generally recognized as safe,” but in other countries, it isn't so "generally" safe. Some places have banned it while others have put heavy restrictions on it since data has shown it can cause cancer.

Cheese

Whether it’s cheese or milk, some countries don’t allow American dairy products for one nasty reason: rBGH. Recombinant bovine growth hormone is a synthetic version of BST. It’s injected into cows to increase milk production.

It’s currently banned in 30 countries because it increases the risk of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer. In the United States, many people prefer to avoid these hormones by consuming hormone-free dairy and meat.  

Coffee-Mate

Coffee-Mate is supposedly a great addition to your coffee, but is it? This item is banned in many countries including Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. The reason is simple: hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils.

These ingredients have been linked to heart disease. While the United States also banned these ingredients in 2018, officials did nothing about the existing product out there, meaning there’s still plenty of it floating around.

High Fructose Syrup

High fructose corn syrup is in a lot of our food, especially the cheaply made products. The sweetener is made from pure fructose and sugar. Unfortunately, it can also cause major health ailments.

Things like obesity and Type 2 diabetes have skyrocketed since its introduction. In response, the United Kingdom and several other European countries have restricted the products or banned the use of high fructose syrup completely.

Palm Oil

Nothing is better than peanut butter and jelly, as long as the peanut butter isn’t made with palm oil. Palm oil isn’t healthy for your body as it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. That being said, the EU decided to ban this ingredient for a completely different reason.

In early 2019, the EU decided to ban palm oil and products that used it. Rather than being harmful toward humans, the reasoning was to stop deforestation in the rainforest. American products use a lot of palm oil in products like ice cream, chocolate, bread, cookies, Ritz, and of course, the aforementioned peanut butter.  

Diabetic Baked Goods

So, it’s no surprise that artificial sweeteners could be bad for you. It’s a hot topic in the United States, but the EU took a stand in 2018. The European Union banned many artificial sweeteners in baked goods, especially those targeted toward diabetics.

Some of the sweeteners that cannot be used are Acesulfame K, Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin, Neotame, and more. The EU also decided that it would approach the issue again in 2020 to decide whether they should completely ban artificial sweeteners.

Processed Meats

We all know that processed meats aren’t the best for us, but this isn’t about the fat content. Many bacon brands, smoked meats, and processed meats are banned in the EU for one preservative: sodium nitrate.

Sodium nitrate is a type of salt that keeps food from degrading while also giving it a distinct smoky flavor. However, it’s been linked to certain types of cancer, so the EU went ahead and banned it. While bacon and smoked meats are available, don’t bet on finding any with sodium nitrate. 

Stevia

Along with artificial sweeteners, stevia (a natural sweetener) was also banned in the EU from the start. Early in 1999, the European Commission banned stevia’s use in food products pending further research. There were concerns that this sweetener could be harmful to our health.

Despite there being many supporters and it being hugely popular in the United States, the Food Standards Agency in the UK claims that there's evidence from animal tests that stevia could increase the risk of certain cancers and male infertility.

Trans Fats

This one is the most recent addition to the EU-banned list. Trans fats are popular in many food products because it causes the item to have an extremely long shelf life as well as being cheap to produce. However, they can raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels while also lowering your good (HDL) cholesterol. Overall, trans fats can also increase your risk of stroke and developing heart disease.

Many snack foods like crackers, cookies, and microwave popcorn are known to have trans fats. You can also find trans fats in frozen pizzas, fast food, and coffee creamer. The law will prohibit anything that has more than two grams of trans fats per 100 grams of food.