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Organic Consumers Association

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There Are 2,000 Untested Chemicals in Packaged Foods — and It’s Legal

The only way to minimize your exposure to dangerous chemicals that are currently allowed in packaged foods is to purchase products that are certified organic.

A major but largely glossed over report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental and public health nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., shows that thousands of untested chemicals (an estimated 2,000, to be exact) are found in conventional packaged foods purchasable in U.S. supermarkets. And yes, all of them are legal. 

The extensive collection of permissible additives includes several known or suspected carcinogens, such as synthetic sodium nitrate, found in processed meats and considered probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organization, and butylated hydroxyanisole, also known as BHA, a chemical listed as a cancer-causing chemical by the state of California and found in commonplace items like frozen pepperoni pizza. Other unappealing chemicals are commonly found in our food packaging, such as polypropylenesulfuric acid and bisphenol A — all of which can have impacts on human health and the environment.

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