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5 Food Ingredients That Should Be Outlawed, Consumer Reports Says

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Woman pushing away doughnuts
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When you munch on your favorite foods or sip your drink of choice, do you really understand what is going into your body?

Sometimes, these foods might contain additives linked to serious health problems, according to Consumer Reports.

For that reason, CR has joined forces with the Environmental Working Group to advocate for a bill now working its way through the California State Assembly that would ban five chemicals from serving as additives to any food items or drinks sold in the Golden State.

According to Consumer Reports, the health risks associated with these chemicals — all of which have been banned as food additives in Europe — are:

  • Cancer
  • Nervous system damage
  • Hyperactivity
  • Other behavioral problems

Following are the five substances that soon might be prohibited from use in California.

Titanium dioxide

Coffee creamer
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What it is: Titanium dioxide is a metal commonly found in plants and animals.

What it’s in: Titanium dioxide is used as a food coloring to whiten coffee creamers, baking decorations and sauces. It is also used as a type of “paint primer” on candy to make other colors appear more vivid.

Why it’s concerning: Titanium dioxide has been linked to issues with the digestive tract. There is also some evidence that it might damage genetic information in cells.

Red dye No. 3

Red sugared almonds
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What it is: Red dye No. 3 — also known as Erythosine — is a synthetic dye made from petroleum.

What it’s in: Red dye No. 3 is a food coloring that gives a cherry-red appearance to “thousands of food products,” according to Consumer Reports. These include baked goods, candies, cereals, sodas and snacks.

Why it’s concerning: Red dye No. 3 has been linked to cancer and thyroid tumors in lab animals and to hyperactivity and other neurobehavioral impacts in children.

Brominated vegetable oil

Glass of soda
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What it is: Brominated vegetable oil is a vegetable oil with bromine added to it.

What it’s in: Brominated vegetable oil is used as an emulsifier in sports drinks and sodas, helping to blend liquids that otherwise don’t blend easily.

Why it’s concerning: Brominated vegetable oil has been linked to neurological issues and problems with the heart, liver and thyroid. It also is associated with developmental and reproductive problems.

Potassium bromate

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What it is: Potassium bromate is a white crystal powder and oxidizing agent.

What it’s in: Potassium bromate is used in flour to strengthen dough and help baked goods rise in the oven. Packaged breads, dumplings and frozen foods all have this additive.

Why it’s concerning: Potassium bromate has been linked to cancer.


wrap sandwich
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What it is: Propylparaben belongs to the paraben family of preservatives.

What it’s in: Propylparaben is used as a preservative to extend the shelf life of packaged foods by helping prevent mold and bacteria from growing. It can be found in corn tortillas, baked desserts and cake icing.

Why it’s concerning: In lab testing, propylparaben has been linked to endocrine disruption and reproductive issues.


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