11 ingredients in U.S. foods so dangerous they're banned in other countries

2013-06-27 13:23

A recently published list of popular foods in the U.S. considered so dangerous, they've been banned in other countries, has ruffled some feathers in the food industry. The list was made public last week when media outlets across the nation broke the news about a list of eight ingredients banned in other countries, but found in favorite foods on American grocery stores everywhere.

The list came from the book, Rich Food, Poor Food: The Ultimate Grocery Purchasing System, written by Jayson Calton, who has a Ph.D. in nutrition, and Mira Calton, a licensed certified nutritionist.

The married couple has developed a system to determine the healthiest options among the approximate 40,000 food offerings available in the mega-mart today. The couple says that shoppers can avoid processed sugars, high fructose corn syrup, refined flour, artificial colors, and nitrites if only they make a little effort.

"We call it our GPS of grocery purchasing system: how to identify dangerous ingredients, so people can shop safe and smart in the grocery store," said Mira Calton.

The book includes a list of “poor food”, which refers to food that’s been banned because it’s dangerous. By the same token, Calton points out that manufacturers aren’t putting these into foods because they’re “bad people”. The problem goes deeper than that.

"It might have been part of their original formula and sometimes they don't know," Calton said.

Nevertheless, it's not all about dangerous ingredients. Take sugar for example. According to Calton, excessive amounts of the sweetening ingredient may be contributing to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in ways that are complex and alarmingly recidivist.

"Sugar lowers your immune system, blocks Vitamin C from being absorbed into your body and worst of all, locks you into a crave cycle," says Mira. "When you eat something that contains sugar, it blocks the absorption of calcium and magnesium. And when you are low in calcium and magnesium, you crave sugar."

For its part, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has responded in an effort to assure the public that the agency is doing its job to monitor food safety.

"As part of the FDA's overall commitment to ensure the safety of the food supply, the agency uses an extensive, science-based process to evaluate the safety of food additives," the FDA said in a statement.

The law requires the FDA determine with “reasonable certainty” that an additive does not cause harm when used as intended.

“The agency continues to monitor the science on food additives and is prepared to take appropriate action if there are safety concerns,” explained the FDA. “When determining that a food or ingredient is 'generally recognized as safe' or GRAS for its intended use in food, the same quantity and quality of evidence is required as is needed to approve a food additive."

Although the Calton’s say that "all of the ingredients on the list pose a potential danger to consumers, and we feel the consumer should be made aware so that they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to buy a product with these ingredients," the couple is not asking the FDA to ban these ingredients.

"Food is the most powerful thing you do every day for yourself, and if you don't get the right food, you're going to need medicine," Mira said. "Pay now or pay later," she added.

Meanwhile, what drives one country to ban a food and not another often has as much to do with politics as science. So says Julie Jones, author of Food Safety and a professor emeritus with St. Catherine University in Minnesota, who says she believes these products have gone through the correct due diligence in the U.S.

"We have science and politics and they are different in each country," Jones said.

According to the Mira, however, it all comes down to making smart choices.


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