It is a known fact that several snacks and drinks commonly available in American grocery stores are unhealthy. However, some common foods are so unhealthy, they're banned in other countries.

As first highlighted by Buzzfeed, a new book titled "Rich Food Poor Food" by Dr. Jason Calton and certified nutritionist Mira Calton features a section solely dedicated to a list of banned ingredients, including where they are banned and what caused governments to ban them.

One of the most common ingredients that has been banned in some countries is artificial food coloring. Food coloring is made from petroleum and is found in several American products, such as soda, sports drinks, macaroni and cheese, and candies. Although average consumption of these products may not cause adverse effects, moderate to excessive consumption of some of these ingredients can have life-threatening consequences.

Here is a list of eight ingredients found on grocery shelves in the United States that are banned in other countries:

Artificial food dye

Artificial food dye is found in practically everything we eat to make it look appealing: cake mixes, sports drinks, Jell-O, sauces, boxed macaronic and cheese, and candy.

Dangers: Artificial food coloring and dyes are made from chemicals that are derived from petroleum. Petroleum is used to make gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt and tar. Some artificial colors have been linked to hyperactivity, cancer and cell deterioration.

Where it’s banned: Norway, Finland, Austria, France and the United Kingdom.

Olestra (or Olean)

Olestra is a fat-free additive found in foods such as fat-free potato chips, french fries, and corn chips.

Dangers: In 1996, the FDA approved Olestra as a food additive as a substitute for cooking oil, shortening and butter. But the invention of Olestra not only removed excess fat from foods; it restricted the body's ability to absorb essential vitamins. Other side effects include: cramps, bloating, gas and loose bowels.

Where it’s banned: the U.K. and Canada.

Brominated vegetable oil

Brominated vegetable oil is used to make food dye stick to liquid. It is found in several sports drinks and some sodas, including citrus sodas, to protect flavor.

Dangers: Brominated vegetable oil contains bromine, which is an ingredient used to keep couches and carpets from catching on fire. Excessive consumption of BVO can lead to organ damage, heart disease, reproductive damage and behavioral problems.

Where it’s banned: In more than 100 countries.

Potassium bromate (bromated flour)

Potassium bromate is found frequently in wraps, rolls, breadcrumbs and bagel chips. It is a food additive that is an oxidizing agent, primarily used in baking. The additive helps speed up the baking process, which in turn helps companies save money.

Dangers: Potassium bromate has the same harmful chemical as brominated vegetable oil. It has been linked to kidney failure and cell deterioration.

Where it’s banned: Europe, Canada, and China.


Azodicarbonaminde is used in found commonly like breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes and packaged baked goods. It is used to make flour look more white and for dough to appear more elastic.

Dangers: Azodicarbonaminde is used in plastic foaming and is used in forming gym mats and the soles of shoes. It has been linked to a potential cause of asthma.

Where it’s banned: Australia, the U.K. and most European countries.


Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as a food preservative, as well as to preserve fats and oils in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. BHA is commonly found in chewing gum, butter, cereals, snack foods and beer. It can also be found in food packaging, cosmetics, rubber products and petroleum products.

BHT is commonly found in packaging materials, shortening, cereals, and other foods with fats and oils.

Dangers: BHA and BHT have been known to impair blood clotting when consumed in high quantities, and promote tumor growth.

Where it’s banned: England, Japan and many other European countries.

Synthetic growth hormones rBGH and rBST

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) was approved by the FDA in 1993 and is used to increase milk production in cows. Cows given the hormone are more prone to udder infections and thus are given more antibiotics than cows that are not treated with the hormone. Milk from cows given growth hormones contains more IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1).

Dangers: Humans naturally have IGF-1, but elevated levels in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancer.

Where it’s banned: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the EU.


In 2010 and early 2011, a drug called Roxarsone was still being used in chicken feed to stave off infections with parasites. In turn, the drug would also make meat appear pinker and fresher.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found traces of inorganic arsenic in poultry that was treated with Roxarsone. In June 2011, Roxarsone was pulled from shelves. The National Chicken Council said in a statement that they are no longer using arsenic-based drugs. However, the National Turkey Federation says Nitarsone, another arsenic-based drug, is given to turkeys during the first few weeks of their lives and during summer months.

Dangers: Arsenic is often used in herbicides and pesticides and is classified as a class 1 carcinogen, meaning it is highly toxic to humans.

Where it’s banned: The European Union.