Kid’s Foam Mats & Other Products: Banned in Europe, But Not in the USA or Canada, Why?

Today I channeled my inner Robyn O’Brien, founder of Allergy Kids Foundation. In her book, “The Unhealthy Truth,” she suggests we all “do one thing.” And I did just that.

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?

FROM: Asthma, Eczema


  1. Selena Bluntzer on October 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I agree that we should know what is in our products. Why should that be such a startling concept? If I buy an apple, I should be allowed to know if it also contains things other than, say, apple. Also, I completely agree that the disparity in product offerings between countries should really be upsetting to more people, but they just are not aware, plus we really aren’t sure what to do about it. For example, even with all I’ve read, I didn’t know that stevia was banned in Europe. Lack of awareness is a big part of the issue. Before we can even get upset enough to do anything about the issue, we have to know that it exists! Thank you for sharing.

    • Jennifer on October 24, 2012 at 11:22 am

      I know – it really is baffling. How did labeling go so wrong? The idea of labeling is to disclose the full list of ingredients, or so we were all lead to believe. I imagine this was how it started way back when, but somehow along the process the FDA and other governing bodies have really tried to pull a fast one on us. It’s a sad reality. Hopefully just discussing things like this with friends and neighbors will start to open everyone’s eyes and more will talk…and change will happen. One day. Let’s just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

  2. DeidraJ on November 3, 2012 at 12:43 am

    My Mom bought these mats as a cute accessory for my daughter’s room. Thanks for the heads up! As a recent sufferer of new food/drug. product allergies, I am a huge supporter of food labeling. Im disgusted at how other countries have banned chemicals and additives that we have not. Where Europe takes the stance that it hasn’t been proven safe, we take the stance that it hasn’t been proven unsafe…yet. We ask for more research, and sure we get it…research funded by the very companies who’ve added the nastiness to our food in the 1st place, i.e., Monsanto, Monsanto has every important lawmaker in their pockets, and it’ll be a miracle if we can get enough people to care to stop them. It’s gotten so bad, They’re engineering blue strawberries, apples that don’t brown, and faux meat. And they can sneak in just about anything without having to label it.and the FDA won’t do a thing about it.

    • Jennifer on November 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Oh gosh, Monsanto is a monster. The stuff of nightmares for sure. We can only do our part in trying to get labeling passed and pray that Monsanto and his friends are out voted.

      As to the mats, I wouldn’t worry if they’re not new any more. I think the off gassing was only from new mats. If they’ve been used for a while, then the gassing shouldn’t be a problem any more. Better to keep them and use them rather than send to a landfill just to take up space.

  3. Louise on April 7, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Great read Jennifer. We have similar issues here in Australia with foods and things being banned elsewhere but still freely available. To think what our children are exposed to! It would certainly explain the rise of childhood illness, allergies and the like in my opinion.

    • Jennifer on April 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      Wow, in Australia too? I wonder why? What’s up with our governments and why do they have such different opinions than Europe. I just don’t get it. Yes, could definitely explain part of what’s going on, but I think it’s a bigger, more complex puzzle than that.

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