Like in stories about bat boys living in caves, it's always best to use foreign lands few people visit (like West Virginia) in stories about being somewhere smarter and/or prone to mutants. If West Virginia is too alien, Europe will do. In the case of chemicals banned in Europe that America lets slide, ABC took a list from Buzzfeed that took a list from the book “Rich Food, Poor Food: The Ultimate Grocery Purchasing System” by nutritionist Mira Calton and engaged in a little scare journalism.
I mean, if these things are banned in other countries, what's up with the FDA? Are they on the take from Big Red #40 Food Coloring?
Well, no. They actually require evidence before they ban things while other countries pick and choose their science based on voter surveys.
Weekly World News eventually went out of business because there is only so much nonsense an increasingly literate public will believe in the 21st century. Food people are still firmly trapped in the past, where this kind of thing might be possible. Just replace bat boy with GMOs or whatever.
That's not to say all this stuff is great for you. But, really, if you are worried about the calories in potato chips, stop eating potato chips. If you buy the diet ones with that olean stuff and get a little anal leakage, you have been warned for 20 years that could happen. That doesn't make olean dangerous. But potato chips in quantity are bad for you.
Artificial food dyes are on the FDA okay list - like Blue #1, Blue #2, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 and Red #40 - also not dangerous. But if Finland wants to ban them, fine. All you have to do is mention that food dye has been linked to nerve damage and that is good enough for Finns. Brits too - the people who invented Frankenfood hysteria are rather gullible that way. Correlation studies are the go-to methodology for both Scare- and Miracle-Vegetable-Of-The-Week Stories so maybe in a few years food dyes will be on Dr. Oz preventing cancer. All someone has to do is show that people who eat American boxed macaroni and cheese showed a lower rate of some kind of cancer, pay a fee to publish it in an open access journal, and it will get on TV for saving kids from cancer and probably even become a diet fad.
Brominated flour and oil: Who knew vegetable oil was so much more dangerous than the animal fat they used to cook with when McDonald's french fries were still delicious? Not me. You need something to make the pretty artificial food dye (see above) colors in sports drinks stick to the actual liquid and brominated oil does that. It has also been implicated in both organ damage and schizophrenia. How? Dunno, I guess more schizophrenics claim they drink sports drinks than they do coffee - when it comes to food, methodology, stretched conclusions and data inconsistent with the null hypothesis are acceptable so you just have to be scared when a media report tells you to be scared.
It's in lots of those citrus soda drinks also, so look forward to a future where all of America has schizophrenia. Why would people drink Mountain Dew White Out, anyway? That makes the least sense of all and schizophrenia does not explain it.
BHA and BHT. Three-letter stuff is always scary. You know why the Alar scare promoted by environmentalists about apples in the 1980s never took off? Not because it was unsubstantiated nonsense (see Frankenfood above - nonsense works all of the time) promoted by fundraising groups, but because it had four letters. DDT, anyone?
Europeans want their meat and cereal to go rancid really, really fast. That's their choice. Europe, the home of suspect rat studies, says these two dangerous chemicals cause cancer in those too. Note to advocates: If you want to make sure you find a link to cancer, use Sprague-Dawley rats and let them live a long time. If you let rats stare at the FDA website for two years, for example, 70% of them will get cancer. Thus, you can claim the FDA website causes cancer.
rBGH and rBST. Here on the west coast, Whole Foods shoppers love to tell us they are against rBST. If you ask them why, they will just sputter and tell you everyone knows why.
Cows have hormones, just like people. rBST is one of those, it is simply synthetic. I know, I know, the naturalistic fallacy is that natural is good and synthetic is bad, though that does not explain why Big Organic has lobbied the FDA to get dozens of synthetic exemptions for its 'organic' sticker designation. rBST does not affect humans. It does help cows produce more milk. It also reduces gaseous emissions from cows.
Hate rBST? Then you are a shill for Big Oil because less milk per cow means more cows needed and that means more global warming from cow feed and their resulting burps.
Arsenic. This made the waves among Dr. Oz and probably the other Four Horsemen of the Alternative a few years back. The doc is busy being awesome on TV so he can't be expected to look over every little study before he scares his audience about apple juice, so he missed the fact that the arsenic levels were the same in all natural, organic apple juices as they were anything else. Everything has arsenic. His old medical school classmate, Dr. Richard Besser, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called Oz "extremely irresponsible."
If we drank leafy green vegetable juice, for example, it would contain even more arsenic than apple juice. But most people don't do that so apple juice gets implicated. You'd die of diabetes before you drank enough apple juice to be harmed by the arsenic.
Rather than worry about what does have arsenic, good luck finding what doesn't. Supposedly Europe bans arsenic (in their chicken feed) but I don't see how that is really possible.
Other stories have amplified the ingredients banned in Europe even more. Where Buzzfeed only had 8, Yahoo chose to create a bigger list by itemizing the 5 food dyes separately but I don't see that making a difference. The public has limits on what it will endure for the intellectual placebo of 'natural' - when Starbucks announced they were reducing the use of artificial colors, their customers cheered. When Starbucks announced that they were instead using what our ancestors used, all-natural, organic cochineal dye made from ground-up bugs, people balked.
Not because Frappuccinos were no longer non-vegan (which was true), but because people felt it was gross. Not all modern stuff is bad, suddenly went the rationale.
The FDA insists its "extensive, science-based process" is why the scary ingredients banned in Europe are not banned in America. There is no evidence of harm. Real evidence, anyway.
When the lack of actual evidence regarding the danger claims is brought up to fear and doubt promoters in the U.S., the default response is 'this is a relatively new area of research', which means they are still waiting for those Sprague-Dawley rats to get cancer.
It'll happen, just keep waiting.