As promised, here’s my NEVER list (this goes for food I would buy for a pet as well):
Acesulfame-K: (potential: cancer, thyroid issues); More info: Expert quotes, Elmhurst chembook
Aspartame: (potential: cancer, neurological problems); More info: Mercola, CSPI cites new research
BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA): (potential: cancer, liver & kidney problems); Preservative found in beverages, ice cream, candy, baked goods, cereal, sausage and other foods.
Carbon monoxide: Added to meat to bring out the “red” color.
Carmine and cochineal: (Potential: allergies); I put this in my “never” list because it’s just gross (and I’m an industrial vegan). These names (carmine and cochineal) describe quite a different ingredient: dead bugs. Carmine and cochineal are used to bring the red color to products like candy, yogurt, ice cream and beverages. The red color is extracted from the dried body of a dead cochineal bug.
Recipe: Kill, dry, smash and eat. Yumm!
Food Dyes (artificial): (e.g. Blue 1, potential: cancer; Blue 2, potential: brain tumors; Red 3, potential: thyroid tumors; Yellow 6, potential: adrenal and kidney tumors); Food dyes have also been associated with behavioral problems in children. Many countries are removing these dyes from foods. However, many of these same food products sold in the U.S. still use these dyes (because they are cheaper). Consider this comparison from the CSPI:
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFC): There’s little credible research to link HFCs with a particular health condition. However, HFCs are void of ANY nutrition and are generally found in poor quality food products that usher in more dangerous additives.
Industrial meat and dairy: All of the steroids, concrete dust, antibiotics, growth hormones, saw dust, etc. that is fed or injected into the animal WILL end up in the meat and milk. Add this to the unethical treatment of the animals and the wide-spread violation of safety and quality standards during slaughtering makes for some seriously unhealthy food. Hormone disruption, cancers, antibiotic resistance… the list of possible side-effects from industrial meat and dairy is a long one. See earlier WG posts on this for healthier meat: Chief of Steak, Food Inc. & The Meatrix, Chicks Raised “Without Antibiotics”, CSI McDonald’s
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): MSG has many of the same concerns as HFCs. MSG is an amino acid that brings out flavors in food. This allows manufacturers to put more MSG in and less real ingredients. MSG in a food product is a good sign that it’s full of other additives. It’s also possible to have a sensitivity or allergy to MSG (fatigue, migraines, joint pain and other symptoms can result).
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (trans fat): (potential: heart disease); More Info: FDA
Potassium Bromate: (potential: cancer); Japan and the U.S. are virtually the only countries that haven’t banned this additive. It’s used in processed flour-products and chips.
PROPYL GALLATE: (potential: cancer); Here’s a bit of the definition from the National Toxicology Program (NTP): “As an additive, it may be found in edible fats, oils, mayonnaise, shortening, baked goods, candy, dried meat, fresh pork sausage, and dried milk, and it is used in hair grooming products, pressure-sensitive adhesives, lubricating oil additives, and transforming oils.” Fresh sausage? Hair gel? Glue? Ewww!
Rebaudioside A (rebiana, brand name PureVia, Truvia): (potential: cancer, reproductive problems); Rebaudioside A comes from the stevia plant. Tons of controversy on this one- I’ll be posting on Rebaudioside A and stevia in the future. Here’s an earlier WG post on stevia.
SACCHARIN: (potential: cancer); Here’s a nice FDA summary. In my opinion, the FDA got hassled into bringing this product back to market.
SODIUM NITRITE, SODIUM NITRATE: (potential: cancer); Used to cure meats (bacon, ham, etc.)- check labels.
Sucralose (Splenda): Check an earlier WG post on this.
If you want more info on food additives, CSPI has a great list (which has been a huge help in creating my own list).
Honestly, following my list is NOT difficult. I just purchase everything “All Natural”, check the label quickly and then get more specific when I have to (organic, grass-fed, etc.). However, I’m not gonna lie, going off conventional soda took a full month before I was free of intense cravings (I was obsessed with Diet Coke with lime).
I encourage you to also make your own list. In addition to getting rid of toxins, it’s a helpful practice to bring more attention and mindfulness to the food you eat.
Give it a try… what are some important ingredients that you might put on your list?