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Opinion: Take Toxic Additives Out of Our Food


Titanium dioxide, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide are all banned in the European Union because of evidence showing negative effects to the human nervous and hormone systems and linking these chemicals to cancer.


All four of these chemicals are still legally and commonly used as food additives in the U.S.

Abigail Bell Why are they not banned in the U.S.? This is a question many

consumers are beginning to ask. Studies on these chemicals are

beginning to shed light on these harmful additives.


According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, BVO is an emulsifier and clouding agent found in soft drinks. It has been removed the FDA’s “Generally Recognized as Safe” list since the 1960s but is still being added to products in 2024.


A 2022 FDA study regarding BVO tested rats who consumed levels of BVO around the same amount people consume. They found the rats had increased levels of bromide in their blood which effected their thyroid glands and hormones, which are essential in brain development and metabolism regulation.


Even worse, research concerning potassium bromate has linked this popular food additive directly to cancer as a possible human carcinogen. Potassium bromate is commonly added to bread and other baked goods to help the dough rise higher but poses a serious risk to human health.


These are only two food additives that can be found in everyday consumer products including food and cosmetics.

These chemicals are not added to food to promote the quality or nutrition of a product. They are simply added to maintain a longer shelf life and make the product look shiner or more colorful. Why risk consumers’ health by adding them?


Photo Illustration from Unsplash

So why do we continue to consume these toxic additives? Many people are not aware of the abundance of these harmful additives in everyday products. However, there has been an increasing awareness of the toxicity in our foods. Consumers can easily become knowledgeable about the ingredients in products they are buying.


Thankfully, there are many resources to help consumers watch for these toxic additives. Mobile apps like Yuka and EWG are helping bring awareness to the unhealthy additives that are in commonly sold products. Consumers need to take advantage of these resources and take their health and wellbeing into their own hands.


But this shouldn’t be on the consumer alone. The FDA, whose job it is to clear chemicals and substances that Americans consume, should reevaluate these chemicals. The clear evidence points that these chemicals are not okay to be in foods. So take them out.


Many of these chemicals that were reviewed in the late 1900’s need to be reviewed again with the newest science. The protection of consumers should be the FDA’s number one priority, not profit and convenience.


There has been progress related to this area. Because of new information on the risks of BVO, in November 2023, the FDA proposed to revoke the authorization of BVO in food.


This is a small but important step toward protecting consumers and taking toxic chemicals out of our food.


The EU has already done so. When will the FDA?


For more resources on toxic food additives, visit Toxic Free Food FDA and The Environmental Working Group

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