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When I walked into my daughter’s daycare today I quickly noticed the foam floor mats that the kids were playing with. They looked just like the mats I read about the other day, the ones that were recalled in Europe because of off-gassing due to formamide, a known carcinogen. (Dangerous for all children, but especially those with asthma and eczema who are particularly sensitive to airborne chemicals.) I quickly mentioned the recall to the educator and she asked me to send her some more information. She pondered why the ban only happened overseas and not in the US or Canada. Surely, she said, there must be a good reason why they were not banned here. Well…..let me step up on my little soap box for a minute. I don’t think my daughter’s educator was quite ready for what came next. So, I did my one thing and shared with her some of my recent findings.
“The Unhealthy Truth,” made me horribly aware of the fact that there are currently many product bans happening only overseas and NOT in the US or Canada. Take a look at this great article from TreeHugger: 7 Foods Banned in Europe, But Still Available in the USA. It’s an eye opener for sure. Yes, the piece is from 2009, but the list still seems to be valid. It lists genetically modified foods (GMOs), 22 pesticides, rBGH (bovine growth hormone), chlorinated chickens, food contact chemicals, stevia (I found this one surprising as it’s in all the health food stores here.), and synthetic food colors/dyes all as banned in Europe, but not in the US or Canada.
On top of the actual bans, I also learned in this book that many big brands like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Mars, and Cadbury have voluntarily removed certain unhealthy ingredients from their products in the UK, such as artificial colors/dyes, after negative studies surfaced in the UK and parents voiced their concerns. The kicker, again, these products were not removed from the US or Canadian versions of the same product. Now, to be fair, you can certainly look at the flip side as I have heard of products (like Absinthe) being banned in the US, but not overseas, but from my research, this seems to be pretty rare. So, who is right? And why do some companies ban certain products when other countries do not?
Personally, I simply want to know about all bans worldwide, so I can educate myself on the product or ingredients and make the best decision for my family and for the planet. Like with food labeling, we shouldn’t be kept in the dark – whether we’re avoiding food allergies or unhealthy ingredients or chemicals, we all have the “right to know” what’s in ALL our products.
Where do you stand? How do you feel about bans and the voluntary removal of specific ingredients in other countries? What about food labeling? Don’t you want to know exactly what’s in our food?