What Foods Are Banned in Europe but Not Banned in the U.S.?

The European Union prohibits or severely restricts many food additives that have been linked to cancer that are still used in American-made bread, cookies, soft drinks and other processed foods. Europe also bars the use of several drugs that are used in farm animals in the United States, and many European countries limit the cultivation and import of genetically modified foods.

“In some cases, food-processing companies will reformulate a food product for sale in Europe” but continue to sell the product with the additives in the United States, said Lisa Y. Lefferts, senior scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a food safety advocacy organization.

A 1958 amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the Food and Drug Administration from approving food additives that are linked to cancer, but an agency spokeswoman said that many substances that were in use before passage of the amendment, known as the Delaney amendment, are considered to have had prior approval and “therefore are not regulated as food additives.”

In October, the F.D.A. agreed to ban six artificial flavoring substances shown to cause cancer in animals, following petitions and a lawsuit filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other organizations. The F.D.A. insists the six artificial flavors “do not pose a risk to public health,” but concedes that the law requires it not approve the food additives. Food companies will have at least two years to remove them from their products.

Here’s a short list of some of the food additives restricted by the European Union but allowed in American foods. Most must be listed as ingredients on the labels, though information about drugs used to increase the yield in farm animals is generally not provided.

These additives are commonly added to baked goods, but neither is required, and both are banned in Europe because they may cause cancer. In recent years, some American restaurant chains have responded to consumer pressure and removed them from their food.

Potassium bromate is often added to flour used in bread, rolls, cookies, buns, pastry dough, pizza dough and other items to make the dough rise higher and give it a white glow. The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers it a possible human carcinogen, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the F.D.A. to ban it nearly 20 years ago. The F.D.A. says potassium bromate has been in use since before the Delaney amendment on carcinogenic food additives was passed.

Azodicarbonamide, or ADA, which is used as a whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner, breaks down during baking into chemicals that cause cancer in lab animals. It is used by many chain restaurants that serve sandwiches and buns. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has urged the F.D.A. to bar its use. The F.D.A. says it is safe in limited amounts.

The flavor enhancers and preservatives BHA and BHT are subject to severe restrictions in Europe but are widely used in American food products. While evidence on BHT is mixed, BHA is listed in a United States government report on carcinogens as “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen.

BVO is used in some citrus-flavored soft drinks like Mountain Dew and in some sports drinks to prevent separation of ingredients, but it is banned in Europe. It contains bromine, the element found in brominated flame retardants, and studies suggest it can build up in the body and can potentially lead to memory loss and skin and nerve problems. An F.D.A. spokeswoman said it is safe in limited amounts, and that the agency would take action “should new safety studies become available that raise questions about the safety of BVO.”

These dyes can be used in foods sold in Europe, but the products must carry a warning saying the coloring agents “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” No such warning is required in the United States, though the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the F.D.A. in 2008 to ban the dyes. Consumers can try to avoid the dyes by reading lists of ingredients on labels, but they’re used in so many things you wouldn’t even think of, not just candy and icing and cereal, but things like mustard and ketchup,” marshmallows, chocolate, and breakfast bars that appear to contain fruit, Ms. Lefferts, the food safety scientist, said.

The F.D.A.’s website says reactions to food coloring are rare, but acknowledges that yellow dye No. 5, used widely in drinks, desserts, processed vegetables and drugs, may cause itching and hives.

The European Union also bans some drugs that are used on farm animals in the United States, citing health concerns. These drugs include bovine growth hormone, which the United States dairy industry uses to increase milk production. The European Union also does not allow the drug ractopamine, used in the United States to increase weight gain in pigs, cattle and turkeys before slaughter, saying that “risks to human health cannot be ruled out.” An F.D.A. spokeswoman said the drugs are safe.

Source: The New York Times article here.


Donald Trump’s Big Macs, bacon and Doritos – deconstructing his diet

 According to a dietitian, the food Trump eats ‘is linked to mood disorders’ ... Photograph: Guardian Design Team

According to a dietitian, the food Trump eats ‘is linked to mood disorders’ … Photograph: Guardian Design Team

You’re the world’s most powerful man, moving into the world’s most famous address. Your staff includes five full-time chefs, which is four more than most cafes. So what’s top of president Donald Trump’s shopping list? Lay’s potato chips and Doritos, that’s what.

Ah, crisps! Just the ticket for powering through a day of dubious decision-making and 3am tweets, no? Jo Travers, a dietitian and author of The Low-Fad Diet, is unconvinced. She is particularly worried about the impact of Trump’s diet (heavy on the fast food, easy on the veg) on his ability to think straight.

For starters, Trump barely touches anything containing omega-3s – the fats found in nuts, oily fish and flax seeds that our brain cells need to function. “His body will substitute with other types of fats, which are less fluid, making it harder for neuro transmitters to get through. This is linked to mood disorders,” she says – which might explain a thing or two …

On the off chance Trump is up for a delayed new year health kick – we get it, he has been busy – Travers has a few pointers based on what he likes best.

On breakfast, which Trump skips if he can, or eats bacon and eggs if pushed, Travers thinks he should be “replenishing the nutrients his body can’t store overnight”. And cut down on the bacon. “It’s a processed pork product, which has been linked with cancer, so his risk of developing the disease will go up.” She would rather see a more even balance of protein and carbs. “His high-protein diet can put added pressure on his organs if he doesn’t drink enough water.”

When lunch is meatloaf, one of his favourites, Travers says it’s OK if he eats it in a sandwich (and apparently he does), again for the balance. She also advises brown bread. “Meatloaf is essentially just meat. There’s no roughage. And no fibre impacts on gut health. If you don’t feed your gut bacteria with fruit and vegetables, that can impact the immune system and lead to infections.”

For dinner, Trump’s favourites include a Big Mac or KFC bucket. Unsurprisingly, Travers warns that he risks overloading his body with trans fats, “which act like saturated fats, and they are linked to heart disease”. An overdone steak, Trump’s preferred choice, “isn’t necessarily bad, but burned food is linked to changes to our DNA, which can also cause cancers”.

Read the complete article on The Guardian web site here.


Roast potatoes and toast that’s a bit too brown may cause cancer, say authorities

Eating a lot of toast that’s a bit too brown could increase the risk of developing cancer, says the Food Standards Agency. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Eating a lot of toast that’s a bit too brown could increase the risk of developing cancer, says the Food Standards Agency. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Eating potato chips, well-browned roast potatoes and toast that is more than lightly grilled can increase the risk of cancer, according to a public health campaign urging people to change their eating and cooking habits.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK says people are consuming too much acrylamide, a chemical produced naturally as a result of cooking starchy foods at high temperatures.

Acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in animals and while it has not been conclusively produced to have the same effect in humans, the scientific consensus is that it is likely to do so.

The FSA insists that it does not want to scare anyone and would not describe the risk as significant but nevertheless said it is one that most people can readily reduce.

“We’re not saying avoid particular foods or groups of foods but vary your diet so you smooth out your risk. We are not saying to people to worry about the occasional piece of food or meal that’s overcooked. This is about managing risk across your lifetime.”

The warning relates to foods that are high in starch, with potatoes, including sweet potatoes, the biggest staple affected. But it also covers other root vegetables, crackers, cereals, including cereal-based baby food, bread, biscuits and coffee. There is no safe threshold defined in humans but the FSA says research suggests people in all age groups are eating more than its experts are comfortable with and are unaware of the risks.

Cath Mulholland, a senior adviser at the FSA, said: “If you’re living on crisps (potato chips), burnt toast, whatever, that’s going to be more risky than a healthy diet. It’s not a high level of risk but it’s higher than is comfortable.”

People are also being advised to eat a varied diet, carefully follow cooking instructions and not to keep raw potatoes in the fridge if they intend to roast or fry them as this can increase acrylamide levels. Instead, raw potatoes should be stored in a dark, cool temperature above 6C.

The potentially carcinogenic nature of acrylamide in food was first highlighted by a Swedish study in 2002. It differs from warnings relating to barbecuing meat, which are concerned with another substance called benzopyrene.

You may read the complete article on The Guardian here.




Cheesey Americans – Illegal food

cheese platter

Last week, the United States put a blockade on mimolette, the brightly colored orange cheese that traditionally hails from Lille. To refine the flavour of the cheese, mites are deliberately introduced, a practice that up until now has not caused a problem. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has claimed, however, that the tiny organisms could cause allergic reactions and halted the sale of Mimolette , outraging French producers and importers of the cheese in the US.

In fact, in the US the FDA has a strict ban on the import of unpasteurised, raw-milk cheese, less than 60 days old. Australia and New Zealand have similar restrictions, and in Scotland, raw milk itself is banned outright, offending cheese lovers and producers alike. Traditional foods and delicacies aren’t just part of local food cultures, often – and especially in the modern era when words such as “artisan” carry a lot of culinary weight – they are a way into the global market for small-scale producers.


Banned in Australia and New Zealand until 2005, the blue cheese from the south of France hasn’t always had an easy time outside of its home country. In its final days, the Bush Administration placed a 300% duty on the cheese, essentially keeping it out of the American market.

Foie gras

Banned in California since 2012, partly due to campaigns from activists and lobbyists, chefs and producers alike have protested against the state’s move to keep the goose liver delicacy from being served, but to no avail. While the import and sale of foie gras is legal in Europe, force-feeding animals for non-medical purposes is banned in a handful of European countries, including the United Kingdom and Norway, limiting production to Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Spain and France.

Casu marzu

Because of food and hygiene regulations, this traditional Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese containing live insect larvae was banned until recently by the European Union. But here’s where food culture reigns: the ban was lifted on the grounds that Casu marzu is a traditional food made using traditional methods.


The traditional Scottish staple makes its way to plenty of plates in the UK, but in America it has been banned since 1971 because of the use of sheep’s lung. Since the US has firm Scottish roots, there is, however, a small market for American businesses making lung-free haggis for the domestic market.

Read the complete Guardian article on illegal food here.

Conservatives kill a profitable 77 year-old food protection program

harper and moose.jpf

Governments around the world are scrapping programs and staff to get their fiscal house in order, so I’m dumbfounded when Stephen Harper cancels a program returning 200% profit and protects prairies against drought. Mr. Harper must have his head up the east-end of a westbound moose.

Under cuts to Agriculture Canada, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration’s (PFRA) longstanding shelter-belt and community pasture programs will be divested and eventually turned over to the provinces or the private sector.

Within the shadow of Bill C-38, the 452-page omnibus budget bill introduced a year ago, Ottawa had decided after 77 years that it was time to close the agency and hand responsibility for the 9,300 square kilometres it administers – an area nearly twice the size of Prince Edward Island – to the provinces where the land is located.

But the provinces will likely sell prime pasture land to corporate investors or foreign corporations, the only one’s able to afford to purchase such vast tracts of food production.

According to an article by Trevor Herriot in the Globe and Mail, ”

Phrases such as “food security” seldom arise at the coffee shop or rink, but many farmers know the PFRA is a bulwark against the forces now consolidating and globalizing the beef industry. With large feeder cattle operations and foreign-owned meat processors tilting the marketplace their way, community pastures have helped to sustain smaller operators, keeping our national livestock herd connected to local economies.

When that other icon of prairie farm economy, the Canadian Wheat Board, was stripped of its collective bargaining power last year, urban people, even in the grain-growing provinces, found it hard to grasp the significance. The PFRA controversy, by contrast, has cowboys sitting in rooms talking to aboriginal people, and farmers breaking bread with urban environmentalists and hunters.

The difference is in the common ground represented by the services that healthy native grassland has to offer all of us, town and country.

If well managed, grassland can flourish when subjected to grazing, but once it is plowed to grow crops, biologists say it has been “converted” because more than just the crocuses disappear; the appropriation is total. The public values and natural capital found in the prairie – its capacity to store carbon, foster biodiversity, stabilize fragile soils, filter and hold water, and provide recreation for hunters, hikers and naturalists, and stirring beauty for the rest of us – do not survive.”

Read the complete article on the Globe & Mail here.

Most Canadians not informed about GMOs, experts say


Trinity, 4, holds up an anti-genetically modified alfalfa during a demonstration outside the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. While farmers and other interest groups rally against genetically modified organisms, does the average Canadian consumer really care what’s in their food? (John Rieti/CBC)

Thousands of products in Canada’s food chain contain some form of a genetically modified item or GMO’s — and because there are no mandatory labelling requirements, it’s difficult for consumers to know which ones do.

Ottawa has approved over 80 types of GM crops, including corn, canola, soybeans and wheat. Products that contain any of these items, including most processed and packaged foods, likely contain genetically modified ingredients. Many meats are also affected, since animals are often fed GM crops.

In fact, a survey conducted last year by the B.C. Growers’ Association found that 76 per cent of Canadians feel that the federal government hasn’t given them enough information on GM foods. Another nine per cent said they’d never even heard of GM foods.

Registered dietitian Christy Brissette, is working on a masters in nutrition at the University of Toronto.

“I think a lot of people have seen what happened in Europe, with a lot of lobbying to European governments demanding that these foods be labelled so that consumers can then make educated choices,” Brissette says. “I think Canadians want that same kind of transparency.”

In 2002 Canadians were cautioned about GMO’s. In an attempt to quell the growing public concern over GM food, the federal government commissioned a report from the Royal Society of Canada, the country’s top scientific body. A year later their report is out and the CBC’s Bob McDonald talked to Brian Ellis, the associate director of University of British Columbia’s Biotechnology Laboratory and co-chair of the report. The society blasts Canada’s approach to regulating GM food, concluding that government’s assumption that GM food is the same as conventional food is scientifically unsound.

• The Royal Society of Canada’s report, Regulation of Food Biotechnology of Canada, made over 50 recommendations. Some of the key suggestions include:
– testing of GM foods should be conducted in a transparent and open environment
– the outcome of all tests are to be monitored by an independent expert panel who report to the public
– clearer definitions of the types of toxicological studies required to ensure the safety of GM foods.

• The Royal Society of Canada was founded in 1882 to promote learning and research in the arts and sciences. The society has 1,700 distinguished Canadian scientists and scholars who have been recognized by their peers for their outstanding contributions.

• A 2004 study, authored by Dr. Peter Andrée of Trent University and the Polaris Institute, concluded that the Canadian government has failed to respond seriously to the 58 recommendations made by the Royal Society of Canada. The study accused the Canadian government of dawdling and being unwilling to butt heads with the powerful biotech industry.

Link to CBC News articles: 1, 2, 3, 4. Place mouse over number to see article subject.

A Cookbook by Ted, Volume 2

My second cookbook contains 38 new recipes, mainly from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Oyster stuffed halibut steak, Pineapple Pie, Fish liver pâté, Uncooked rosehip jam, Baked salmon with mustard-dill sauce, Macédoine salad, Sourdough applesauce cake, Almond and Raisin Sauce, and Broiled chicken marinade are some of the recipes in this cookbook. Also includes lots of information on different herbs and spices. Enjoy.

You may view a free sample of my cookbook on Smashwords here. Link opens in new window or tab.

Cover of my second cookbook, now on Smashwords