10 Commonly Eaten Foods So Dangerous They Are Banned in Other Countries

Updated On

We may collect a share of sales from items linked to on this page. Learn more.

Vegan, vegetarian or meat-eater – we all agree that we shouldn’t be putting dangerous chemicals into our bodies.

It’s just common sense.

So it seems logical to think that if a food is banned in one country, that the same ban should apply to all countries, right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Which gets kind of worrying when you find out that Mac N’ Cheese that you’ve been feeding your kids is actually banned in another country.


#1 Farm Raised Salmon

Fish in market
Photo via Natalie Maynor

Farm raised salmon is banned in Australia and New Zealand because the fish are raised on a diet of grains, antibiotics and other drugs which leaves their flesh sickly and unappetizing. To remedy the mater, they’re given astaxanthin and petrochemicals, chemicals that are not approved for human consumption.

To avoid farm-fed salmon, avoid anything labelled “Atlantic Salmon” as they’ve been known to be farm-fed. Also, look for salmon with very red flesh and with the white stripes on the flesh very close together.


#2 Ractopamine–Tainted Meat

cow in pasture

Ractopamine is a dangerous chemical that is often fed to cattle after it was discovered that it made mice who took it more muscular. The drug, that was proved to have poisoned 1,700 people in 1998, is banned in 160 countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China and the Republic of China.

Currently, the US doesn’t test its meat for the drug, even though it’s been linked to increased death and disability in animals.


#3 Processed Food Containing Artificial Food Colours And Dyes


Artificial food dyes, that are banned in Norway, Austria, Finland, the UK, France and requires warnings on food labels in every country in the EU, can still be found in other countries all over the world, in items such cheese, cakes, candy and even macaroni and cheese.

Artificial dyes are made from chemicals derived from petroleum (i.e. the same stuff that gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt and tar are made from). Artificial dyes have been linked to nerve-cell deterioration, hyperactivity in children and brain cancer.


#4 Arsenic-tainted chicken


Of course arsenic-tainted chicken is banned! Right?

Yup, but only in the EU.

Arsenic-based drugs are used in animal feed because it makes animals grow faster and it makes their flesh pinker.

The FDA in the US claims that the arsenic-laced drugs are still used because it’s a safe organic arsenic, but scientists have stated that the organic arsenic can easily turn into inorganic arsenic when digested, which is a known carcinogenic.

Some pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, have actually gone as far as to stop selling the drug, but there are still others on the market that are commonly used in animal feed.


#5 Olestra (or Olean)


Olestra is cooking oil substitute created by Procter & Gamble, which is used to lower calorie counts in foods such as potato chips and French fries.

Olestra, which is banned in the UK and Canada, actually robs your body of its ability to absorb vitamins.

In 2010 Time Magazine included Olestra in its worst 50 inventions ever list.

After one trial leaving nearly half of its subjects with diarrhoea, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, David A. Kessler, M.D. stated that “Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools in some individuals, and inhibits the body’s absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients”.


#6 Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

mountain dew

Bromate was first produced as a flame retardant chemical, but is now famously known for its use in Mountain Dew and other sodas to have food dye stick to the liquid.

It’s banned in over 100 countries, where reports on how it may cause birth defects and major organ damage has been heeded.


#7 Synthetic Growth Hormones rBGH and rBST


Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a synthetic version of the naturally occurring bovine somatotropin (BST) hormone that is produced in cows’ pituitary glands. It’s injected into cows to increase milk production.

Growth hormones have been proven to be bad for both animals and people, causing potential infertility, weakened muscle growth and cancer.

It is the largest selling dairy animal drug in America, yet it is banned in over 30 counties including Australia, New Zealand, the EU, Canada and Israel.


#8 Bread With Potassium Bromate


Yayy! Bromate again! This worked out so well last time, right?

Bromated flour is used to decrease baking time and reduce costs.

And all you have to do? Suffer from kidney damage, cancer and nervous system damage.

It’s found in wraps, bread crumbs, bagel chips, flat breads and rolls.

So maybe that gluten-free diet was a good idea.

It’s banned in Canada, China and the EU.


#9 Azodicarbonamide (ADA)

bread roll

There are only five countries in the world that don’t have this banned for use as bleach in flour and plastic.

Yes, flour and plastic.

Definitely two things that need to share a chemical.

ADA has been known to induce asthma.


#10 BHA and BHT Preservatives

Eclipse gum

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are commonly used preservatives that are found in cereals, meat, chewing gum, beer and dehydrated potatoes to keep food from becoming rancid.

The waxy preservatives are known to cause cancer and tumours in rats and it is thought to have cancer-causing impacts in humans as well.

In 2011 the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Toxicology Program’s 2011 Report on Carcinogens, stated that BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” BHA is also thought to trigger allergic reactions and hyperactivity, and BHT can cause organ system toxicity.

It is banned in the UK, Japan and several European countries.

  • Sarah Burke

    Sarah is a graduate of the University of College Dublin. After receiving her MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture, she taught High-school English and History for three years before moving to Vancouver to pursue a career in writing. In her spare time, Sarah likes to write poetry, go to music festivals and drink wine. Her favorite food is the burrito. She is an avid reader of fantasy novels, an active participant in feminist circles, and will always have an adventure planned in the foreseeable future. Interesting fact: Sarah is fluent in Irish (Gaeilge).

What do you think? Leave a comment!