This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “food poisoning.” Many of these and others are listed in Dr. Jayson Calton and certified nutritionist Mira Calton’s new book, Rich Food, Poor Food.
1. Artificial food dye: Makes your food pretty and can inhibit nerve-cell development.
Found in: Practically everything we eat: cake mixes, sports drinks, cheese, candy, and even macaroni and cheese.
Why it’s dangerous: Artificial dyes are made from chemicals derived from petroleum, which is also used to make gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar! Artificial dyes have been linked to brain cancer, nerve-cell deterioration, and hyperactivity in children, just to name a few.
Where it’s banned: Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and the U.K.
Solution: Buy similar, natural alternatives at health food stores or health food sections of grocery stores, that don’t taste much different, but use natural sweeteners, colors and organic grains.
2. Olestra (or Olean): Lowers calorie counts while causing vitamin depletion and anal leakage.
Found in: Fat-free potato chips, corn chips, and French fries.
Why it’s dangerous: Created by Procter & Gamble as a substitute for cooking oil, Olestra robs your body of its ability to absorb vitamins. Fun side effects include cramps and leaky bowels. Yummy!
Where it’s banned: The U.K. and Canada.
Solution: Avoid this poison completely.
3. Brominated vegetable oil: Makes food dye stick to liquid, but also may cause birth defects and major organ damage.
Found in: Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas.
Why it’s dangerous: Bromine is a chemical used to stop carpets from catching on fire, so you can see why drinking it may not be the best idea. BVO is linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss.
Where it’s banned: In over 100 countries.
Solution: Organic, fair-trade coffee, tea and other natural drinks.
4. Potassium bromate (or bromated flour): Great for impatient bakers, bad for your kidneys and nervous system.
Found in: Cheap, wraps, rolls, bread crumbs, bagel chips, flat breads.
Why it’s dangerous: Derived from the same harmful chemical as brominated vegetable oil, brominated flour is used to decrease baking time and reduce costs. Only problem is, it’s linked to kidney damage, cancer, and nervous system damage.
Where it’s banned: Europe, Canada, and China.
Solution: Buy organic, bread from health food stores, Trader Joe’s.
5. Azodicarbonamide: Bleaches flour, plastic, and induces asthma as an added bonus.
Found in: Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods.
Why it’s dangerous: Used to bleach both flour and foamed plastic (yoga mats and the soles of sneakers), azodicarbonamide has been known to induce asthma.
Where it’s banned: Australia, the U.K., and most European countries.
Solution: Great tasting organic alternatives from companies like Amy’s and Morningstar Farms, etc. Ask your local grocer where the health food section is.
6. BHA & BHT: Waxy preservatives linked to cancer and tumors.
Found in: Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes.
Why it’s dangerous: Used to keep food from becoming rancid, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are known to cause cancer in rats. And we’re next!
Where it’s banned: The U.K., Japan, and many other European countries.
Solution: Head to the health food store and ask about natural gum that doesn’t have this garbage in it.
7. Synthetic growth hormones rBGH and rBST: Harmful to cows and linked to increasing tumor development in humans.
Found in: Milk and dairy products.
Why it’s dangerous: Growth hormones are bad for cows and people, potentially causing infertility, weakened muscle growth, and a whole array of cancers.
Where it’s banned: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the EU.
Solution: Soy, Almond, Hemp milk, or organic, non-factory farmed, hormone-free milk found nearly everywhere now.
8. Arsenic: Basically this will slowly kill you.
Found in: Poultry.
Why it’s dangerous: Used in some chicken feed to make meat appear pinker and fresher, arsenic is poison, which will kill you if you ingest enough.
Where it’s banned: The EU.
Solution: Once again, hit the health food store. There are tons of chicken alternatives that are way better for you and taste… like chicken. But if you must eat chicken, you can find organic forms at your local health food store. But why not give the meat alternatives a try? They are lean pound-per-pound cheaper, easier to prepare and really don’t taste any different on the grill.