While we were at the airport recently, my thoughtful and well-intentioned husband went to Planet Smoothie and came back with a large fruit drink for me. Before I had a chance to ask what was in it, he proudly described his diligence in making sure it contained only a healthy combination of fruit blended with water and ice. After thanking him, I excitedly starting drinking, but realized after only one sip there was a mind numbing amount of sugar present.
What my husband didn’t know is that unbeknownst to consumers, just about all of the large smoothie companies advertising their products as healthy on-the-go options soak their frozen fruit in loads of sugar. This made me think about all of the harmful ingredients needlessly included in products in an effort to keep you coming back for more. There are downright dangerous food additives used for aesthetic purposes only that are banned throughout many developed countries that the U.S. sadly continues to allow in its food supply.
Brominated vegetable oil, a flame retardant, makes food dye stick to liquid and it is banned in more than 100 countries. Commonly found in sports drinks and sodas, I thought I could easily avoid consuming BVO, but surprisingly it was on the ingredients in a glucose test drink, “Glucola,” I was required to consume during pregnancy to test for gestational diabetes. BVO serves no purpose other than to create an appealing look and a side effect of consuming it is possible birth defects.
Azodicarbonamide, banned in the European Union and Australia, is needlessly used in the food industry as a flour-bleaching agent and to make dough rise faster. It is linked to respiratory problems and can be found in more than 500 products on our grocery store shelves, mostly in bread and pastries. Additionally, watch out for potassium bromate, which also is banned throughout many developed nations and can be found in bread and cereals. It is derived from the same chemical as BVO and is used to speed up the baking process.
Artificial food dyes, derived from petroleum, can be found in pretty much everything including Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, sports drinks, Jello, candy, cake mixes, cheese and even personal care products marketed for use in babies. These dyes have been linked to a host of behavioral issues, brain cancer and nerve-cell deterioration and are banned in select countries throughout Europe. Companies adjust and create products that are in line with international laws. For example, the M&M’s you find abroad are different than what is available in the U.S. Not only are the harmful dyes cut out, but so are GMOs. In countries where GMOs are required to be labeled, companies cut them out of their product and use non-GMO ingredients instead. I wonder if they are concerned that consumers will choose different products if they realize the one they would have picked contains GMOs.
We raise chicken in the U.S. with feed with added arsenic because it makes the chicken appear fresher and pinker. This frightening and dangerous practice is rightfully banned throughout the European Union. Arsenic is a poison and consuming it will kill you if you ingest enough.
I focused on BVO, azodicarbonamide, dyes and arsenic because the inclusion of these additives are mainly to create an appealing appearance in the eyes of the consumer, and they are pointless and dangerous. My family and I will continue to avoid products that contain them.
Samantha Adams lives in Jackson, with her husband, Greg, and her two sons, Gavin and Jackson. Visit her on Facebook on “If You Seek Nutrition.”