The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is supposed to be our first line of defense against dangerous foods and medications, including pet food and feed for livestock that will someday become food for human consumption. Since its inception, the FDA has banned many different foods, and you need to be aware of the top 20 banned food products.
What the FDA Does and Does Not Do
First, it is important to realize that the FDA does not actually ban food. The FDA bans food additives and color additives – but not just because they are dangerous. For example, a food additive may be banned simply because it has been used deceptively – such as a product used to change the color of a food for the purpose of hiding something.
While the FDA has not historically banned specific foods, as opposed to additives used in foods, there have been a couple of cases where a food was banned. Stevia, which is an artificial sweetener, was banned in the United States. More recently, flavored candy cigarettes were banned – but not due to any danger caused by consuming the product. Instead, the candy cigarettes were banned in an effort to curb smoking by younger people.
The FDA does not ban or approve cosmetics or chemicals that are used outside of the food or drug industries. This is a common misconception concerning the agency. There are other organizations that have control over those chemicals. The FDA does not approve or disapprove companies that produce food or drugs. The FDA does, however, approve or disapprove medical devices used by humans. Ironically, while the FDA does have jurisdiction over everyday food and medical devices, it does not approve or disapprove foods that are used or prescribed for medical purposes.
It is also ironic that the FDA states what is required in terms of nutritional value for infant formula, but as long as those requirements are met, the FDA does not approve or disapprove infant formula.
It is also important to understand that just because a food says that it is approved by the FDA, this isn’t necessarily so. Foods may also say that FDA approval is pending, which usually is true, but it doesn’t mean that the food, or the additives used in the food, are safe.
The FDA currently has control over tobacco.
Twenty Banned Food Additives
1. Coumarin – Toxic to the liver and kidneys.
2. Hexitol Oleate – It was once used in ice cream, but was banned because no petition for its use was ever filed.
3. 8-Hydroxyquinoline Sulfate – Was once used in cottage cheese.
4. Magnesium Cyclamate – This additive can cause damage to the kidneys.
5. Menadione – Poses a danger to fetuses, and it is believed to be just slightly less dangerous to other humans.
6. Monochloracetic Acid – Once used in beverages, it is also used in shampoo and herbicides. It is no longer legal for use in beverages.
7. Myrj 45 or Polyoxyethylene 8-stearate – This was once used in food, and is currently used in cosmetics. It isn’t safe for human consumption.
8. 5-Nitro-2-N-Propoxyaniline or P-4000 – Not legal for use in food due to toxicity.
9. Potassium Cyclamate – Once used as a flavor enhancer.
10. Safrole – Safrole comes from Sassafras, and it occurs naturally in some foods, but it is believed that when added to foods in which it does not naturally occur, it increases the risk of cancer.
11. Sodium Cyclamate – Once used as an artificial sweetener. It was banned because of toxicity.
12. Sodium Fluoride – Banned due to toxicity.
13. Sodium Nicotinate – This was used in ground meat at one time. The practice was considered deceptive, because it was used to retain the color of the meat over time.
14. Thiourea – This was banned because it is a cancer causing carcinogen.
15. Bioflavonoids, Citrus – This was used in dietary foods, which led to misbranding of foods, causing the additive to be banned. The food that it was largely used in was VitaSafe.
16. Borax – Believe it or not, this harsh chemical was once used on fruit, to keep the wax appearance on the outside skin of the product.
17. Cadmium Sulfide – This was used to color foods, and was banned due to toxicity.
18. Chymosin Enzyme Preparation – This was derived from E. Coli and used as a thickener in many foods.
19. Citrus Bioflavonoids – This is the same as bioflavonoids – citrus, and was banned due to false dietary claims.
20. Cobaltous Salts or Acetate – This substance, which is currently used in fingernail polish remover, was once used as a food preservative.
When In Doubt, Ask
Anybody can access the Food and Drug Administration today. You can call them or visit their website. A website visit is recommended if you need to learn more about an additive used in food that you eat, or to find out what the status is on foods that are thought to be dangerous. You can visit the FDA website at www.fda.gov .