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Experts Say U.S. Food Additives Banned In Europe Are Almost Certainly Making Americans Sick


Europe is renowned for its diverse bread, from baguettes to focaccia, but there's a significant omission from its ingredients list: Potassium bromate. This suspected carcinogen is banned for human consumption in Europe, China, and India, yet remains permissible in the United States.

In the U.S., some food manufacturers incorporate this chemical compound, often in crystalline or powdered form, to enhance dough strength, present in over 100 products. Professor Erik Millstone, an expert on food additives at England's University of Sussex, emphasized that evidence suggests it could be toxic and may promote tumor development, highlighting Europe's more cautious approach to food safety compared to the U.S. In certain countries, Skittles and citrus sodas are banned.

Millstone suggests that differences in regulations likely result in cancer cases in the U.S. that may have been preventable in Europe. This issue extends beyond potassium bromate, with various chemicals banned in Europe still allowed in the U.S., including Titanium dioxide (E171), Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) (E443), Azodicarbonamide (E927a), and Propylparaben (E217).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asserts that all food additives undergo pre-market evaluation, requiring evidence of safety before approval. They continue to monitor substances for safety concerns post-approval.

Stacy McNamara, originally from upstate New York but residing in London for a decade, notes that raising children in the U.K. has made her aware of differences in food safety standards. McNamara has no plans to return to the U.S., citing food safety as a significant factor in her decision.

The FDA defends the use of potassium bromate when applied correctly, claiming it transforms into a harmless substance during food production. However, they acknowledge that not all of the compound may convert, implementing control measures to minimize its presence in final products.

Here is a short list of chemicals in the U.S. that are banned in other countries:

Brominated vegetable oil

rBGH or rBST growth hormone

Potassium bromate



Yellow No. 5

Yellow No. 6

Red No. 40


Butylated Hydroxyanisole

Butylated hydroxytoluene




The stark contrast in regulations governing food additives between the United States and other countries raises critical questions about the safety of our food supply. The persistence of potentially harmful substances in American products, despite being banned in many other countries, serves as a reminder of the importance of robust food safety standards. It's a reminder that our choices, whether in the kitchen or at the grocery store, can have a significant impact on our well-being.

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Link: CBS News


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