10 American Foods That Are Banned in Other Countries

By Dr. Mercola

(This article was published in July 2013 by Dr. Mercola.  We found it so powerful that we had to post it here.  You will find the references and information on Dr. Mercola at 

Americans are slowly waking up to the sad fact that much of the food sold in the US is far inferior to the same foods sold in other nations. In fact, many of the foods you eat are BANNED in other countries.

Here, I’ll review 10 American foods that are banned elsewhere, which were featured in a recent MSN article.

Seeing how the overall health of Americans is so much lower than other industrialized countries, you can’t help but wonder whether toxic foods such as these might play a role in our skyrocketing disease rates.

#1: Farm-Raised Salmon

If you want to maximize health benefits from fish, you want to steer clear of farmed fish, particularly farmed salmon fed dangerous chemicals. Wild salmon gets its bright pinkish-red color from natural carotenoids in their diet. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are raised on a wholly unnatural diet of grains (including genetically engineered varieties), plus a concoction of antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals not shown to be safe for humans.

This diet leaves the fish with unappetizing grayish flesh so to compensate, they’re fed synthetic astaxanthin made from petrochemicals, which has not been approved for human consumption and has well known toxicities. According to the featured article, some studies suggest it can potentially damage your eyesight. More details are available in yesterday’s article.

Where it’s banned: Australia and New Zealand

How can you tell whether a salmon is wild or farm-raised? The flesh of wild sockeye salmon is bright red, courtesy of its natural astaxanthin content. It’s also very lean, so the fat marks, those white stripes you see in the meat, are very thin. If the fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed.

Avoid Atlantic salmon, as typically salmon labeled “Atlantic Salmon” currently comes from fish farms. The two designations you want to look for are: “Alaskan salmon,” and “sockeye salmon,” as Alaskan sockeye is not allowed to be farmed. Please realize that the vast majority of all salmon sold in restaurants is farm raised.

So canned salmon labeled “Alaskan Salmon” is a good bet, and if you find sockeye salmon, it’s bound to be wild. Again, you can tell sockeye salmon from other salmon by its color; its flesh is bright red opposed to pink, courtesy of its superior astaxanthin content. Sockeye salmon actually has one of the highest concentrations of astaxanthin of any food.

#2: Genetically Engineered Papaya

Most Hawaiian papaya is now genetically engineered to be resistant to ringspot virus. Mounting research now shows that animals fed genetically engineered foods, such as corn and soy, suffer a wide range of maladies, including intestinal damage, multiple-organ damage, massive tumors, birth defects, premature death, and near complete sterility by the third generation of offspring. Unfortunately, the gigantic human lab experiment is only about 10 years old, so we are likely decades away from tabulating the human casualties.

Where it’s banned: The European Union

Unfortunately, it’s clear that the US government is not in a position to make reasonable and responsible decisions related to genetically engineered foods at this point, when you consider the fact that the Obama administration has placed former Monsanto attorney and Vice President, Michael Taylor, in charge of US food safety, and serious conflicts of interest even reign supreme within the US Supreme Court! That’s right. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is also a former Monsanto attorney, but refuses to acknowledge any conflict of interest.

#3: Ractopamine-Tainted Meat

The beta agonist drug ractopamine (a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis) was recruited for livestock use when researchers found that the drug, used in asthma, made mice more muscular. This reduces the overall fat content of the meat. Ractopamine is currently used in about 45 percent of US pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys are pumped full of this drug in the days leading up to slaughter. Up to 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket, according to veterinarian Michael W. Fox.

Since 1998, more than 1,700 people have been “poisoned” from eating pigs fed the drug, and ractopamine is banned from use in food animals in no less than 160 different countries due to its harmful health effects! Effective February 11, 2013, Russia issued a ban on US meat imports, slated to last until the US agrees to certify that the meat is ractopamine-free. At present, the US does not even test for the presence of this drug in meats sold. In animals, ractopamine is linked to reductions in reproductive function, increase of mastitis in dairy herds, and increased death and disability. It’s also known to affect the human cardiovascular system, and is thought to be responsible for hyperactivity, and may cause chromosomal abnormalities and behavioral changes.

Where it’s banned: 160 countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China and Republic of China (Taiwan)

#4: Flame Retardant Drinks

If you live in the US and drink Mountain Dew and some other citrus-flavored sodas and sports drinks, then you are also getting a dose of a synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil (BVO), which was originally patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant.

BVO has been shown to bioaccumulate in human tissue and breast milk, and animal studies have found it causes reproductive and behavioral problems in large doses. Bromine is a central nervous system depressant, and a common endocrine disruptor. It’s part of the halide family, a group of elements that includes fluorine, chlorine and iodine. When ingested, bromine competes for the same receptors that are used to capture iodine. This can lead to iodine deficiency, which can have a very detrimental impact on your health. Bromine toxicity can manifest as skin rashes, acne, loss of appetite, fatigue, and cardiac arrhythmias. According to the featured article:

“The FDA has flip-flopped on BVO’s safety originally classifying it as ‘generally recognized as safe’ but reversing that call now defining it as an ‘interim food additive’ a category reserved for possibly questionable substances used in food.”

Where it’s banned: Europe and Japan

#5: Processed Foods Containing Artificial Food Colors and Dyes

More than 3,000 food additives — preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients — are added to US foods, including infant foods and foods targeted to young children. Meanwhile, many of these are banned in other countries, based on research showing toxicity and hazardous health effects, especially with respect to adverse effects on children’s behavior. For example, as reported in the featured article:

“Boxed Mac & Cheese, cheddar flavored crackers, Jell-O and many kids’ cereals contain red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6 and/or blue 2, the most popularly-used dyes in the United States. Research has shown this rainbow of additives can cause behavioral problems as well as cancer, birth defects and other health problems in laboratory animals. Red 40 and yellow 6 are also suspected of causing an allergy-like hypersensitivity reaction in children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that some dyes are also “contaminated with known carcinogens.”

In countries where these food colors and dyes are banned, food companies like Kraft employ natural colorants instead, such as paprika extract, beetroot, and annatto. The food blogger and activist Vani Hari, better known as “Food Babe,” recently launched a petition2 asking Kraft to remove artificial dyes from American Mac & Cheese to protect American children from the well-known dangers of these dyes.

Where it’s banned: Norway and Austria. In 2009, the British government advised companies to stop using food dyes by the end of that year. The European Union also requires a warning notice on most foods containing dyes.

#6: Arsenic-Laced Chicken

Arsenic-based drugs are approved for use in animal feed in the US because they make animals grow quicker and make the meat appear pinker (i.e. “fresher”). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated these products are safe because they contain organic arsenic, which is less toxic than the other inorganic form, which is a known carcinogen.

The problem is, scientific reports surfaced stating that the organic arsenic could transform into inorganic arsenic, which has been found in elevated levels in supermarket chickens. The inorganic arsenic also contaminates manure where it can eventually migrate into drinking water and may also be causing heightened arsenic levels in US rice.

In 2011, Pfizer announced it would voluntarily stop marketing its arsenic-based feed additive Roxarsone, but there are still several others on the market. Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the FDA calling for their removal from the market. In the European Union, meanwhile, arsenic-based compounds have never been approved as safe for animal feed.

Where it’s banned: The European Union

#7: Bread with Potassium Bromate

You might not be aware of this, but nearly every time you eat bread in a restaurant or consume a hamburger or hotdog bun you are consuming bromide, as it is commonly used in flours. The use of potassium bromate as an additive to commercial breads and baked goods has been a huge contributor to bromide overload in Western cultures.

Bromated flour is “enriched” with potassium bromate. Commercial baking companies claim it makes the dough more elastic and better able to stand up to bread hooks. However, Pepperidge Farm and other successful companies manage to use only unbromated flour without any of these so-called “structural problems.” Studies have linked potassium bromate to kidney and nervous system damage, thyroid problems, gastrointestinal discomfort, and cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies potassium bromate as a possible carcinogen.

Where it’s banned: Canada, China and the EU

#8: Olestra/Olean

Olestra, aka Olean, created by Procter & Gamble, is a calorie- and cholesterol-free fat substitute used in fat-free snacks like chips and French fries. Three years ago, Time Magazine named it one of the worst 50 inventions ever, but that hasn’t stopped food companies from using it to satisfy people’s mistaken belief that a fat-free snack is a healthier snack. According to the featured article:

“Not only did a 2011 study from Purdue University conclude rats fed potato chips made with Olean gained weight, there have been several reports of adverse intestinal reactions to the fake fat including diarrhea, cramps and leaky bowels. And because it interferes with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, the FDA requires these vitamins be added to any product made with Olean or olestra.”

Where it’s banned: The UK and Canada

#9: Preservatives BHA and BHT

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are commonly used preservatives that can be found in breakfast cereal, nut mixes, chewing gum, butter spread, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer, just to name a few. BHA is known to cause cancer in rats, and may be a cancer-causing agent in humans as well. In fact, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Toxicology Program’s 2011 Report on Carcinogens, BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It may also trigger allergic reactions and hyperactivity, while BHT can cause organ system toxicity.

Where it’s banned: The UK doesn’t allow BHA in infant foods. BHA and BHT are also banned in parts of the European Union and Japan.

#10: Milk and Dairy Products Laced with rBGH

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is the largest selling dairy animal drug in America. RBGH is a synthetic version of natural bovine somatotropin (BST), a hormone produced in cows’ pituitary glands. Monsanto developed the recombinant version from genetically engineered E. coli bacteria and markets it under the brand name “Posilac.”

It’s injected into cows to increase milk production, but it is banned in at least 30 other nations because of its dangers to human health, which include an increased risk for colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer by promoting conversion of normal tissue cells into cancerous ones. Non-organic dairy farms frequently have rBGH-injected cows that suffer at least 16 different adverse health conditions, including very high rates of mastitis that contaminate milk with pus and antibiotics.

“According to the American Cancer Society, the increased use of antibiotics to treat this type of rBGH-induced inflammation ‘does promote the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but the extent to which these are transmitted to humans is unclear,’” the featured article states.

Many have tried to inform the public of the risks of using this hormone in dairy cows, but their attempts have been met with overwhelming opposition by the powerful dairy and pharmaceutical industries, and their government liaisons. In 1997, two Fox-affiliate investigative journalists, Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, attempted to air a program exposing the truth about the dangers of rBGH. Lawyers for Monsanto, a major advertiser with the Florida network, sent letters promising “dire consequences” if the story aired.

Despite decades of evidence about the dangers of rBGH, the FDA still maintains it’s safe for human consumption and ignores scientific evidence to the contrary. In 1999, the United Nations Safety Agency ruled unanimously not to endorse or set safety standards for rBGH milk, which has effectively resulted in an international ban on US milk.4 The Cancer Prevention Coalition, trying for years to get the use of rBGH by the dairy industry banned, resubmitted a petition to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, in January 2010.5 Although the FDA stubbornly sticks to its position that milk from rBGH-treated cows is no different than milk from untreated cows, this is just plain false and is not supported by science. The only way to avoid rBGH is to look for products labeled as “rBGH-free” or “No rBGH.”

Where it’s banned: Australia, New Zealand, Israel, EU and Canada

Take Control of Your Health with REAL Food

There are many other examples where the US federal regulatory agencies have sold out to industry at the expense of your health, while other countries have chosen to embrace the precautionary principle in order to protect their citizens. If you want to avoid these questionable foods and other potentially harmful ingredients permitted in the US food supply, then ditching processed foods entirely is your best option. About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, so there is massive room for improvement in this area for most people.

Next, you’ll want to swap out your regular meat sources to organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised versions of beef and poultry. The same goes for dairy products and animal by-products such as eggs.

Swapping your processed-food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole foods is a necessity if you value your health.

Inspector Clusot … sometimes we just need a good laugh!

I have loved this scene for ever … not in a good mood?  Having a bad day?  Just watch Inspector Clusot learning English and get the kleenex out!

Christmas Cookies … my favorite recipe!

christmas-cookiesI have been making these Christmas cookies for many years and always getting highly enthusiastic comments about them.  They are truly my favorite.

They are not my mother’s recipe … actually I think these are better than hers … (sorry Mom!). Many years ago, as I was traveling from New York to Charleston, I bought a “local recipe cookbooks” published by  Charleston’s old ladies – you know the kind I mean.  Anyway, I adapted the Christmas cookie recipe I found in the book, and I am happy to share it with you!  Enjoy!!


Cold Water Boils Faster Than Hot Water …. Really?

In one of my cooking classes, the other day, a couple of my students commented on my putting hot tap water in a pot to boil, assuring me that if I put cold water in the pot, it would reach a boil faster.  I remember someone telling me this a few years ago, and I had a good laugh at the time.  This made no sense to me at all!

So this time, I decided to research this, because maybe my little brain didn’t know better?  So, folks, here is your answer.  It’s a myth!!

Reproduced from the New York Times:

“The claim is repeated so often that many people accept it as fact. But according to scientists, the notion that a body of cold water will reach boiling temperature more quickly than an identical body of hot water under the same parameters is simply false.

This kitchen myth may have started as a way to encourage people to cook with cold water, not hot, which can contain more impurities. It may also have its origins in the fact that cold water generally gains heat more rapidly than water that is already hot, though it will not boil faster.

But under the right circumstances, the reverse phenomenon can occur, and hot water can freeze more quickly than cool water.”    Read the full story

French Cheeses

Here is a great French cheese map – how many have you tasted?  Which one is your favorite?

My two favorites are Munster and Reblochon.  Can you find them on the map?


French Wine Pairing 101


Wine Pairing 101 – What You Need To Know Before You Go

By Adam Costa

Wine is delicious. Wine is amazing. Wine is the best thing ever made… especially when it’s paired with a delicious meal.

You’d struggle to go wrong with food pairing, but – like fresh baked bread – there are varying degrees of excellence. In this article we’ll cover popular French wines (called varietals) and which foods pair best with them.

Major French Varietals

White wines

Chardonnay: Originally from the Burgundy region of France, Chardonnay is a full-bodied dry wine. While Chardonnays in California taste like vanilla (due to fermenting in oak barrels), French Chardonnay is often more citrusy.

Goes great with: chicken, shellfish, halibut, salmon, mild cheese and other dishes with a rich, creamy sauce (Chardonnay goes surprisingly well with steak topped with Béarnaise sauce).

Sauvignon Blanc: Originally from the Bordeaux region of France, Sauvignon Blanc is lighter than Chardonnay. Its predominant flavor ranges from herbal (freshly mowed grass or eucalyptus) to green apples or (in the case of New Zealand wines) tropical fruits like melon, pineapple and mango.

Goes great with: shellfish, halibut and poultry.

Sparkling wine

Champagne: This sparkling wine is made in the Champagne region of France (sparkling wines made elsewhere should not be called Champagne) and is usually a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier (the latter two are dark grapes which lend body to Champagne).

Goes great with: dry Champagne goes great with oysters, caviar, seafood and eggs; sweet varieties go better with mild cheeses, fruit and desserts.

Red wines

Gamay: A very light red wine with low tannins (you know dry, leathery feeling in your mouth after sipping Cabernet Sauvignon? That’s the tannins) and relatively high acidity. Gamay is predominantly used in Beaujolais wines, though it is not very common outside of France.

Goes great with: salads, picnics and light poultry dishes without cream.

Pinot Noir: A moderate red wine from France’s Burgundy region, Pinot Noir has relatively low tannins and acid. Its flavors range from cherries, strawberries and plums to earthier flavors such as leather, moss and minerals.

Goes great with: lamb, chicken, salmon and Japanese food (especially sushi)

Merlot: A soft red wine which is perfect for beginners. Merlot grows around the world, but is perhaps most famous for its part in the Bordeaux blend (which includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère). Its flavors include plums, cherries and black currant.

Goes great with: lamb (this is classic), duck, game, pork and strong cheese.

Cabernet Sauvignon: One of the world’s most recognized varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon plays a dominant role in Bordeaux blends. Its strong tannins make it a perfect pairing for meat and other high-fat dishes. Cabernet is a full-bodied wine with strong currant flavors; if aged for several years, the fruit fades while a leathery earthiness remains.

Goes great with: beef, pork, strong cheese.

Syrah: Grown in France’s Rhône Valley, Syrah’s are big, bold reds with flavors of black currant and spice.
Note: Syrah and Shiraz – a popular Australian wine – are the same grape).

Goes great with: beef, pork, game, stew

General Wine Pairing Tips

(Note: use this chart for quick pairing suggestions.)

Match wines to the sauce first. Full-bodied whites can go well with red meat with a cream sauce, while a lighter bodied Pinot Noir goes deliciously with fish in tomato sauce.

Pair acidic foods with acidic wines. Chardonnay is a high acid wine and goes great with tomatoes and citrus based dishes.

Pair fruit-forward wines with sweet foods. Gamay is an excellent choice for sweet foods; drier wines like Cabernet Sauvignon taste too acidic and/or bitter when paired with sweet foods.

Pair tannic wines with high fat dishes. Strong cheeses and meats go well with Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins break down proteins and make food taste better.

Pair lush or acidic wines with rich foods. Rich foods need a similarly rich wine to stand up to it, or a highly acidic wine to cut through it.

Start with white. A general rule of thumb is to drink white before red, young before old. As the evening progresses you should drink bigger, bolder and darker wines and ultimately end up with a desert wine such as Port or Muscat.

Try both extremes. Pair food with wines that share similar traits. For example, a spicy Syrah could go wonderfully with a spicy rib eye steak or a buttery Chardonnay with a butter based sauce. On the other hand, try to contrast flavors. For example, foie gras is delicious with Sauternes (both are big and rich) but it also goes well with dry Champagne.

These simple guidelines will take you far in the world in the food and wine.

Adam Costa is Editor in Chief of, a travel site which helps you find, plan and share your next adventure. He is also the co-founder of Travel Blogger Academy. Follow Adam on Twitter.


Paris in the XIXth Century

The “Musee Carnavalet”  (Carnavalet Museum), in Paris, will be showing a collection of wonderful old photos from the XIXth century, from April to July, 2012.  Here are a few I found on their website.  This makes me dream of old times – wouldn’t you just want to travel in time and visit other centuries?

Women doing their laundry on the Canal Saint Martin – 1904


Before 1852 – chimney sweepers – Paris


Street singer and Barbarie Organ player – 1898 – Paris

Place Saint-Medard – 1899

So, if you happen to be in Paris between April and July, make sure to go and see this wonderful collection!

Musée Carnavalet
23, rue de Sévigné – 75003 Paris



French TV for kids

French television for kidsI recently switched my cable service from Charter to the Dish Network because I wanted access to TV5, a French television channel.  It is much fun for me to find some of my favorite shows, films, documentaries, all in French, and also to watch the news from a European perspective.  And for anyone who wants to learn or to improve their French, it’s a great opportunity to be “bathed” in the language.  Evening news have English subtitles, as do some of the movies.

Today, Dish Network introduced a new channel TiVi5 for kids!How exciting is that?  Cartoons, children movies, all French programs for children.  Now, do you want your children to learn French?  Just turn on TiVi5 for them, and voila!  They will learn French effortlessly, while having fun.  If you are in North Carolina, know that Charter does not offer that programming.  Dish Network and AT&T Uverse do offer TV5 Monde, the regular French channel.  So, if you want to learn French or have your kids exposed to our beautiful language, check your listings to see if your television service offers it.  I pay an additional $10/month for my TV5 Monde channel, a bargain for the value.

Catching up with Life

Now that the winter months are ahead, I am going to have a bit more time to post on my blog.  I am thinking of the fall seasonl in France, in the western suburb of Paris, Chatou where I grew up .. I remember the long walks to school, dragging my feet in the piles of dead leaves from the many horse-chestnut trees along the streets.

I remember picking up their “marrons” so shiny and pretty.  I would keep a couple of them in my pocket and play with them all day.  These are not to be confused with chestnuts as they are not edible.  Horse-chestnut trees are quite common in France.  In the spring they produce beautiful blooms, white or pink.

Horse-chestnut trees are found in many of the Parisian public parks.  They were introduced to Paris in 1615 by a Mr.  Bachelier who brought some from the orient.  You can find one of the oldest, planted in 1606 in Vezac (Cantal department).

Maybe I should plan a trip there?


Panoramic views of Paris

I discovered a new website with wonderful panoramic views of Paris.  You can scroll around, up and down, right and left, you can pull closer or farther away from the views, and you can read info about all the monuments you see, and much more!  I absolutely love it.  It is called Paris 26 Gigapixels, an interactive tour of Paris.   Which is one is your favorite monument?

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