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Report: Chemicals Most Countries Ban Still Permitted in US Foods

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

Spawned by a petition calling on Gatorade to remove a flame retardant from their sports drink, the Chicago Tribune released an investigation into the chemical ingredients that the United States and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are permitting despite frequent bans elsewhere.

Mississippi 15-year-old, Sarah Kavanagh, launched the petition after learning that Gatorade contains an emulsifier, brominated vegetable oil (or BVO), which is illegal to use as a food additive in the European Union, India, Nepal, Canada, Brazil and Japan because of its connection to reproductive and behavior problems.

"In the U.S. money rules and industry wields a lot of influence and that's how it has been for a while," said Michael Hansen, senior scientist at the Consumers Union, "but in Europe they take into serious consideration what their population wants, too. And why shouldn't the population be concerned about new things being put into food?"

Whereas other international authorities tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to evaluating food additives, in the US new food products "simply need an OK from experts hired by the manufacturers" giving the FDA the option to investigate later "if health issues emerge."

Though the FDA's mission is purportedly "to protect public health by ensuring that foods are safe and properly labeled," a second examination released Wednesday by the non-profit food watchdog, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), revealed that the amount of food fraud and mislabeled ingredients is up by 60 percent this year.

In comparison to their initial Food Fraud Database published in April 2012, the group found a surge in adulterated ingredients in common household products.

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