Consumer Protection, Government & Politics, Healthcare

5 Foods Americans Love That Are Banned in Europe


It’s no secret that Americans love to eat.

While it’s getting easier to tell what’s really in those packages on the supermarket shelves — if you care to read the label — those ingredients can still be pretty confusing. Here in the US, we chow down on foods that are actually illegal in the European Union and many other countries.

While public outcry over food almost always revolves around health, politics plays a big role when it comes to deciding whether to ban a food.

Milk, Cheese and Ice Cream

dairy cowActually, Europeans love dairy products and the EU countries together are the number one dairy producers in the world. Back in 1999, the EU banned milk and dairy products from cows treated with synthetic growth hormones, which are also banned in Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Since 1993, the Food and Drug Administration has maintained that the hormones, which make cows produce more milk, pose no threat to humans. The FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institutes of Health all agree that they can’t tell the difference between milk from hormone-treated and untreated cows.

However, advocates, including some physicians, say the effects of bovine growth hormone aren’t widely understood. In response to public demand, many manufacturers and retailers, such as General Mills, Dannon, and Wal-Mart, have pledged to go hormone-free.

Tinkered Tofu

Scientists have created strains of corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops that resist devastating insects and diseases. These crops have been widely grown in the US for years, but not the European Union.

Europeans are suspicious of genetically modified foods and what they see as the corporate interests behind them. Some experts, including world-renowned scientist David Suzuki, believe that genetically modified foods are leading to an increase of antibiotic resistance, both in the crops and the creatures that consume them — including humans.

Vibrantly Colored Breakfast Cereal

If it seems impossible to imagine a world in which cereal, mac-n-cheese, candy and juice drinks don’t come in eye-popping colors,  just go to the UK. Numerous studies have shown a link between behavioral problems in children and the laundry list of most common food colorings, including Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3 and Yellow 6.

While the European Union hasn’t outlawed the dyes altogether, it does require special labeling of foods with the dyes linked to behavioral problems.

Dr. David Schab, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center, said in this article that “While not all children seem to be sensitive to these chemicals, it’s hard to justify their continued use in foods, especially those foods heavily marketed to young children.”

Bright White Flour

Most dedicated bakers in the US are adamant: Bleached flour, which has less protein than the unbleached kind, works best for making light and fluffy cakes, waffles and pancakes.

Bleached flour does have fewer nutrients than non-bleached flour, but that’s not the real issue here.

In Europe, flour is whitened by letting it sit in the air for a week or so. In the US, flour is bleached using food additives including chlorine, bromates, and peroxides, which have been banned in Europe and many other countries since the early 1990s. The reason is that these chemicals may cause cancer and were never really intended to be eaten in the first place.

Man-Made Fats

Found in everything from pastries to candy to peanut butter, partially hydrogenated oils (which don’t exist in nature) are cheap, create a great texture, and by all accounts are really, really bad for you. It’s no surprise that many European countries have strictly limited the amount of hydrogenated oils in products. In 2003 Denmark, one of the healthier countries in the world, introduced laws, limiting the amount of trans fats in foods to no more than 2%.

The United States didn’t even require manufacturers to list “trans fats” — the stuff that makes hydrogenated oil so unhealthy — until 2006. Because public health experts blame trans fats for a plethora of heart diseases and cancers, many manufacturers are voluntarily giving them up.

New York City banned man-made fats from being used in restaurants as of July 2008 and California passed a similar law, which took effect on January 1.


  1. 1

    For information on GMO and dangers you can download an interesting article from

    Personally I do not trust the large corporations that are promoting it and controlling it world wide. Look at how the tobacco industry promoted cigarettes…

  2. 2

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  3. 3

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  5. 5

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  6. 6

    Don’t forget chicken! No chicken bred in America is allowed in Europe because of the bleaching process it undergoes.

  7. 7

    Which ones of these are about health and not about politics? Everyone of these “health” scares is a push by European producers and farmers to avoid competition. The alleged health concern is pushed by local economic interests.

  8. 9

    MSG – Americans and anyone else who appreciate their freedom of choice and free will should rise up against the usage of Monosodium Glutamate in their foods. Unless stated on the packaging MSG free then most likely contains it. Most of the restaurants use it especially the all you can eat buffets. Have you heard of or suffered from Restless Leg Syndrome ? MSG and its close relatives are Neuro Toxins…. That awlful feeling that seems to take over your entire body….insomnia…. just can’t sleep and you know you didn’t have caffeine ? Resently behind a local all you can eat buffet that states on their menu no MSG added, I discovered emtpy 100 pound round keg like containers that are labled Mono Sodium Glutamate. Widely used in the food industry and apparently the sudden and overwhelming usage of MSG and its mind controlling cousins are backed by The Food And Drug Administration. The effect ….. you take tasteless foods, the stuff you normally would never wish to eat again, The resturant you will never visit again…Suddenly your mind is controlled and you can’t get enough… Everything having the same after taste. Now because of the MSG added your senses are fooled into believing its the best thing you ever had… Just look at all the cars at All you can eat buffets. Pizza, whether frozen or fresh from a pizza shop – MSG. Campbell’s soups – even good old chicken noodle. Look up Mono Sodium Glutamate for yourself and see its effect on your body and mind. Is it right for you? Remember the United States Government once backed the usage of DDT. What’s the long term effect?

  9. 10

    I hope Americans will stop putting value in the beauty of our food and will start valuing nutrition! But we can make a difference. If we all stop eating chemicals and start eating real food then the food industry will take the cue.That way the food industry will be forced to get real food on the shelves of our grocery stores instead of dead food filled with a bunch of chemicals. Until then please supplement with Juice Plus! Visit: for more information. Strive for a healthy life!

  10. 13

    America. Fat, Broke and owned by [racial slurs removed]. I’m moving to Costa Rica.

    • 14

      It’s sad that you criticize the people that come here work hard instead of those eating cheap garbage food – making themselves fat and our country broke by inflating health care costs (ie: heart disease and diabetes).

      And btw, I hope you do move. We don’t need people who ignorantly sling racial epithets around.

    • 15

      I’m 3 years late lol. You’re probably already there… I was thinking the same thing. GET OUT.. Costa Rica or pretty much anywhere else except here would be a better, healthier place to live.

  11. 16

    don’t forget that old favourite – refined corn syrup. That crap is in absolutely everything in huge quantities in the US (or at least, it was in anything where I checked the ingrediants.In the UK they won’t even put it in Coke – really, really bad for you!

  12. 18

    Great article. Shows that the Europeans care more about people than making money for big corporations. Too much corruption in our government and big business ties. Also need to watch, Earthlings. Similar to Food Inc. but more intense.

  13. 19
    Born Conservative

    Need to watch Documentaries —-

    1. Food, Inc.
    2. Controlling Our Food
    3. Max Igan – The Big Picture

    All can be found on the Internet.. (for now)

    • 20

      I’m sorry but when people discuss GMO food and say it is the worst thing and not understand it, it really pisses me off. Do you know that GMO food has saved over 1 billion people? No of course not, you don’t care. Norman Borlaug was the person who did such a feat using GMO . GMO reduces the need for fertilizers, pestisides, water and other products that many people do not have. We have the luxury of not having to suffer starvation, but have the audacity to remove food from a persons mouth because we think that it’s bad. The real difference between GMO and regular food is that GMO is more precise at getting the consumers target which also decreases the amount of time needed. For those that think that we shouldn’t touch nature, I have some news for you….we’ve been meddling with nature ever since we started to grow our own produce and raise live stock, and its called cross breeding. Cross-breeding takes time, and may lead to the desired characteristics but may remove other characteristics that were needed.
      There are a few flaws with GMO such as patent laws, but we have the same problem with medicine, technology, and other fields. So please, if you want to remove GMO food, then give your food to people who don’t have the luxuries that you have and let your family starve, because people like you make me regret being a Homo Sapien.

      • 21

        I agree that most people don’t understand genetic modification well enough to make an informed decision about whether it is bad or not. Basically it is a tool like any other (ie plant or animal breeding) and whether the products produced with that tool are bad or not just depend on how that tool is used.

        In fact the results can be the same as conventional plant or animal breeding except it is much much quicker. As an example lets say there are two strains of corn: Corn A is a heavy producer but very susceptible to a new fungus blight, corn B is a poor producer but is resistant to the fungus. A conventional plant breeder would cross the two strains of corn (AxB) and after many generations and thousands of test plants and probably 8 or 10 or more years later the breeder my have a strain of corn that is a good producer and also resistant to the fungus. Using genetic techniques someone in a lab could isolate the gene for the fungus resistance from corn B (assuming it is just a single gene) and transfer that gene to the heavy producing corn A and in much less time end up with the same or similar results as the conventional plant breeder.

        The problems start when they start using genes from other organisms that, using conventional techniques, one could never breed into a plant or animal. The biggest example, and the one that is causing the most concern as far as I understand it is corn that contains the gene for the BT toxin. This is a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis a bacteria. BT toxin has been sold and used for years and years (I used it at lest 20 years ago and it had been around long before that) and when sprayed on plants it will kill any caterpillar that consumes leaves with the toxin on it. The toxic effects are specific to that stage of the insects life cycle and supposedly it is not toxic to any other organisms. Of all the sprays (non-organic that is) one can buy to kill insects, this has always been considered the least toxic. I’ve even been told someone could drink a whole bottle of BT toxin with no ill effect (I’m not recommending this). By the way there are lots of certified organic sprays that are way more toxic than BT toxin.

        It seems there are now some studies linking the BT corn to health problems. I haven’t looked at the studies specificaly but from the damn headlines it sounds like they compared BT corn to non GM corn and although this may be a good comparison it may just as well not be. What they really need to do is take BT corn and grow it side by side with BT corn that has had the BT gene knocked out (deactivated so the corn no longer produces the BT toxin). This way everything else is the same and the only variable that has been changed is the presence or absence of the BT in the corn. Maybe this is what they did, but I don’t know. Comparing the BT corn to other strains of corn isn’t conclusive, at least not to me, since it could just be that the other strain has a better vitamin content or something along those lines resulting in less health problems.

        So anyway, to ban all genetically modified crops to me would be foolish. It is just a tool and weather it is bad or not really depends on how it is used. Personally I’m an organic farmer and I grow and raise most of my own food, but I have a background in science and all the hype in the media is upsetting when it is obvious people don’t understand the whole picture. I don’t grow any BT corn, but I’m not yet convinced it is bad. You all should be growing your own food or buying it from a local farmer you know anyway. Stop reading the headlines and go plant a garden.

      • 22

        Clearly you know absolutely nothing about GMO. Just because we have been breeding many species into a monoculture that is easily wiped out by disease – doesn’t mean we should.

        Traditional cross-breeding has one redeeming quality – it doesn’t put fish genes in tomatoes because getting a fish to mate with a tomato just wouldn’t happen. Nature has been doing it for eternity with the process of natural selection – the key word here is NATURAL. GMO is frankenscience creating frankenfood.

        Lets not forget the vested interest that companies like Monsanto have. They don’t care about the starving children in Africa – they are only selling them GMO seed, so that they then have to buy Monsanto’s herbicide as nothing else will work.GMO is all about the bottom line.

        • 23

          Why do you bring up Monsanto’s profits? What has that got to do with whether the products are safe or useful? Too often I find the jealousy of supposedly “Liberal and Progressive” people is not related to their desire to improve society but only to their envy and jealousy against others who are making a lot of money. Everyone in a free society has the opportunity to attempt to get rich. That is the equality of a free enterprise system. Many of society’s advantages come from the incentive to get rich. Communist China, and Communist Russia had to finally capitulate to a free market free enterprise system because their people would not work hard without the incentive to get rich. I thought this discussion was about the science of genetic modification of food species. Let’s keep our envy or profits and the rich in its proper place. (Wherever envy and jealousy have a proper place?)

          • 24

            No, Monsanto’s profits do not have a cause-effect relationship, but they definitely show a potential motive to introduce unsafe foods without adequate testing, or to hide potential problems. It is only by identifying potential conflicts of interest that we as a society can keep an eye on corporations to ensure that they are not harming people in the name of the almighty dollar.

            So, while it is not evidence of any problems, it is relevant circumstantial evidence that should be considered when analyzing safety claims made by the producers of GM food. There is no free lunch, (hardly a liberal comment), and this is relevant to the question of who is ultimately paying the price for the increased production.

          • 25

            No cause-effect but a potential motive. Geez, everything has a potential motive behind it…its called profit. Welcome to the business world.
            We could go back to all natural and have even more people dying because we can’t grow enough food or afford it. Bash the companies all you want, without corporations and profits we would be starving and priced out of affordability.

      • 26

        I read half of your comment, it’s absolutely ridiculous. Are you a hybrid or something? What is your point when you comment on tweaking nature? If you haven’t noticed, the “meddling” with nature has resulted in our current sad situation- sick, diseased America (plants, humans & animals) The act of speeding up the process of nature and changing the original structure of how something is supposed to be is 1) unnecessary and 2) will ALWAYS produce an inferior replica. The original, natural source is perfect and doesn’t require any modifications by man. END OF STORY.

  14. 27

    It is great that Americans are becoming more aware of GMO’s and the potential health hazards that GMO’s pose. Most packaged foods on the shelf are heavily processed and have life taking force.Some great advise someone once gave me was: To live healthy eat living foods.

  15. 28

    This article could be shortened to:
    “1 thing that Americans love but Europeans hate
    1) fake food e.g. additives, colourings and artificial flavourings”

    • 29

      I’m not sure it’s that simple. I live in France and i assure you that, not only is it easy to find plenty of additives and flavorings in any grocery store here, but people are buying them too. I see it all around me when i go every week for our grocery shopping (and on the ground where people throw the wrappers).

      One thing I’ve noticed since being away from my home country is that we Americans are really, really hard on ourselves but the reality is that every country is made up of human beings who make mistakes and poor choices just like us. Rarely do we read articles about what the U.S. is doing right that we could offer to the rest of the world, only the lessons we should learn from our older, wiser “sibling” Europe. It seems like we should stop beating ourselves up and start being proactive!

    • 32

      I agree with you Yaron. After living in Europ/Germany for a time, I as an American learned how eating simple foods grown and cooked from scratch. All natrual ingredients are best, NO Question about it.
      This American has converted!!

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