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Top 11 Scary Food Additives

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center page.

 I always tell my daughters they can make a difference in the world, even at their tender ages of 10 and 7. To them, I probably sound like the teacher from Peanuts -- they're more interested in soccer and American Girl right now -- but I hope the lesson eventually sinks in.

My latest example of a kid heroics for them: 15-year-old Sarah Kavanagh from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who gathered more than 200,000 signatures in her online petition asking Gatorade to remove a controversial flame-retardant chemical. Last week, Gatorade announced that they would be removing the ingredient, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), within the next couple of months. That's great news-especially for me personally, because I love the stuff! Actually, so do my daughters.

While Gatorade spokeswoman Molly Carter said the decision wasn't in response to Sarah's petition, the teen is claiming victory. Either way, we all win.

Truth is, chemicals that are used as weed killer, flame retardant, and sunscreen are startlingly common in your supermarket. But you won't find "carcinogens," "paint chemicals," or "beaver anal gland juice" on the back panel. They'll be hidden under names like "Butylated HydroxyAnisole" or "natural flavoring." Break through the science experiment to find out what you're really eating.

Here are the 11 scariest ingredients in your food:

Scary Food Additives
Acesulfame Potassium (Acesulfame-K)

What It Is


A calorie-free artificial sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is often used with other artificial sweeteners to mask a bitter aftertaste.

Where You'll Find It

More than 5,000 food products worldwide, including diet soft drinks and no-sugar-added ice cream. Click here to discover The Strange Reason Diet Soda Makes You Fat.

What You Need to Know

Although the FDA has approved it for use in most foods, many health and industry insiders claim that the decision was based on flawed tests. Animal studies have linked the chemical to lung and breast tumors and thyroid problems.


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