7 Ingredients Banned in Other Countries That Are Legal in the U.S.

A few months ago, the makers of Fireball suffered a controversy when some European countries began recalling the drink for including propylene glycol, an ingredient found in antifreeze. Turns out, propylene glycol is illegal in Europe, but perfectly okay in the United States.

The makers of Fireball now have two versions they sell, one containing this ingredient that gets sent out to the United States, and another without that goes to Europe. You may be scratching your head thinking “Huh?” Why would they send people in the U.S. a different product?

Despite efforts to regulate food safety, the FDA allows many ingredients in the U.S. that have been banned in other countries. Although these ingredients have been deemed safe or are said to need further testing, you may want to consider eliminating them from your diet, as there usually good reasons these other places have made them illegal.

Next time you’re purchasing a food product, look out for these potentially dangerous ingredients that have been banned in other countries.

Image: bantam10/Flickr

Food dyes

Coloring agents Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40 are all banned in many countries in Europe, but you can find them in various foods available in the United States, including candy, cereal, drinks, and even packaged ingredients such as macaroni and cheese. Research has found that these color additives cause cancer, which is alarming considering use of food dyes has gone up fivefold since 1955. Food dyes are not only carcinogenic, but they can change the brain development of children, causing hyperactivity and potential behavioral problems.

Image: cibomahto/Flickr

Genetically Modified Soybeans and Corn

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Corn and soybeans are the two largest crops in the United States, and about 90 percent of the growth is genetically modified. Studies have found that these genetically modified crops are less nutritious than their untouched counterparts, and they contain a higher amount of pesticide residue than the unmodified versions. Both of these genetically modified crops are illegal in Europe, which has the strictest anti-GMO laws in the world.


Also known as Olean, olestra is a fat substitute used in fat-free potato chips. Currently banned in the U.K. and Canada, olestra robs your body of fat-soluble nutrients, including vitamins and carotenoids. Other side effects include abdominal cramping and loose stools.

Image: foodjunk/Flickr

Potassium Bromate

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Potassium bromate, also known as bromated flour, is a flour-bulking agent used in bread, buns, and baked goods. By strengthening the dough, potassium bromate lowers cooking time, saving companies money, but in turn causing kidney and nervous system disorders, cancer, and gastrointestinal issues. The additive is currently banned in Canada, China, and Europe.

Growth Hormones (rGBH and rBST)

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

These synthetic growth hormones are injected into cows to increase milk production, but they are banned in places such as Australia, Canada, Japan, and Europe. Dangers include increased cancer risk, especially breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Not to mention, cows that are injected with this hormone are often unhealthy and contaminated with infections.


You may have heard that Subway got some criticism for including a “yoga mat chemical” in their sandwiches this past year, and this chemical was azodicarbonamide. Found in many breads, pastas, and packaged baked goods, azodicarbonamide is used to bleach flour, and it has been banned in Australia, Europe, and some countries in Asia. It has been most commonly linked to asthma and other respiratory issues.

Image: mrtea/Flickr

Brominated Vegetable Oil

Also known as BVO, brominated vegetable oil is used in sports drinks and sodas to prevent flavors from separating and floating to the surface. It is banned in over 100 countries, as its main ingredient, bromine, is considered a toxic chemical that can cause hypothyroidism, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, among others.

Image: Fotolia