Globally Banned Additives You'll Find in Your Grocery Bag

Globally Banned Additives You'll Find in Your Grocery Bag

When it comes to food additives, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lets a lot of things slide. It’s often up to individual companies to decide which ingredients they choose to include in their foods. Canada, Europe, and some countries of Asia have banned a myriad of harmful ingredients that the FDA still allows in foods we eat every day.

The result is that the responsibility to make healthy, safe decisions is left up to the consumer. When possible, opt for whole foods over processed ones to minimize your exposure to potentially harmful food additives. If you do buy processed foods, try to buy organic and make sure the ingredients list is relatively small and includes ingredients you could find in your pantry or a grocery store. Look for products that clearly state that they are free of any specific additives, preservatives, and hormones.

Luckily, as more consumers are becoming more health-conscious, many major brands are removing harmful ingredients even if they’re FDA approved. Examples include high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors. But it’s not enough. Here are just a few ingredients that are banned in other countries that are still legal in the US:

Potassium Bromate

Potassium Bromate is a rising agent in flour. It’s often labeled as bleached, bromated and enriched — but it has been linked to kidney and thyroid cancer. Logically, a handful of regions including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Nigeria, South Korea, and Peru have all banned the additive. But in the US, consumers still need to watch out for bromated flour in some store-bought bread products like hamburger buns and bagels.

The best way to ensure your bread is free of potassium bromate is to source it from a local bakery that uses the fewest, most natural ingredients possible. Plus, it supports local businesses!


Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) prevent oils in food from oxidizing, and are therefore used as preservatives. BHA is considered a human carcinogen and both BHA and BHT can promote tumor growth and impair blood clotting. They’ve been banned in Japan, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Look out for these artificial preservatives in store-bought cereals like Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. If carcinogenic preservatives weren’t reason enough to stay away, sugary cereals like these can spike your blood sugar and lead to crashes throughout the day. Opt for a whole-grain cereal or granola instead.

Artificial Colors

Artificial colors have been linked to hyperactivity and inattention in children, and were therefore banned in the European Union. However, in the US, you can find them in everything from chips and pizza sauce to frosting and candy. Even vanilla frostings may contain artificial dyes to achieve a perfectly white color.

Whether you’re shopping or making food coloring from scratch, some natural food dyes include annatto extract, beet juice, carrot, paprika, saffron, spirulina, and turmeric.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is a chemical used in soft drinks and energy drinks to keep them from separating. It often gives drinks a cloudy appearance like in Mountain Dew and Sun Drop. Unfortunately, it’s toxic in high amounts, causing headaches, fatigue, memory loss, and loss of muscle coordination. BVO has been banned in Japan, Europe, and India. But if you’re trying to make healthier choices, we recommend bubbly waters like Topo Chico or La Croix in place of soda, whether or not it has BVO.

rbGH and rbST

Recombinate Bovine Growth Hormone (rbGH) and Recombinate Bovine Somatotropin (rbST) are artificial growth hormones that increase milk production in cows. Japan, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have banned these hormones due to health risks for the cows. There are also ongoing studies on rbGH and rbST and increased risk for human colon, pancreas, breast and prostate cancer. It’s hard to spot these hormones because they’re not listed in ingredients lists, so opt for the most natural and organic dairy products you can find.

With so much information available on harmful products and their effects on our bodies, making healthy choices has never been easier. To see which brands are improving their ingredients and to learn some smart shopping tips, check out the infographic below:

Globally Banned Additives You'll Find in Your Grocery Bag Infographic


  1. comment authorClarissa Nov 22, 2021

    Thank you for this information!

  2. comment authorChris Jan 6, 2022

    I agree. Thanks for the information.

  3. comment authorWoody Wiles Jan 14, 2022

    Good to read there are organizations willing to make the change. More companies should get on the list of improving health quality products.

  4. comment authorPatrick Feb 19, 2022

    Thank you for sharing. I appreciate this article.

  5. comment authorJanet Jun 21, 2022

    How can we hold the US FDA accountable for their greed and deception? Most ppl know engineered food additives are bad only bcz of ADD, ADHD & hives in children. Public trust in the FDA is off the charts! If they're publicly brought up on criminal charges & exposed for approving foodstuffs that absolutely cause cancers and other grave harm to lab animals, that alone would save countless human lives and greatly reduce the need to continue torturing animals on our behalf. Whether convicted or not.

  6. comment authorNatalia Oct 16, 2022

    Thank you for this information. Very Helpful!

  7. comment authorNellie Nov 1, 2022

    This is so helpful, thank you so much.

  8. comment authorCyrie Harris Feb 2, 2023

    And we all wonder why Cancer, Dementia, Autism, etc. is so prevalent today! Come on people! We have to educate & re-educate that we all need to start eating cleaner!

  9. comment authorMona Whitlock Feb 22, 2023

    Thanks for the reminder have forgotten the list.

  10. comment authorReesesPuffsMan Feb 23, 2023

    Are Reeses Puffs banned?

  11. comment authorMatthew Apr 3, 2023

    Can you provide references, please? Specifically where to find the listings stating BHT is banned in specific countries.

    comment authorGoFoodservice Invalid Date

    Unfortunately we're unable to provide a reference but after researching the topic, we found that the following countries currently ban BHTs: Japan, European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea. There may be more but this is what we've found so far. Please know, we can not guarantee these claims and this data is subject to change.

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