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Once upon a time America was looked upon as the breadbasket of the world but that is no longer the case. Our crops are no longer a staple for the rest of the world. While some of the decline in the world’s dependence on American food can be attributed to more competitive farming in other nations, there is also the looming specter of how safe are our foods.

Chances are that you have never heard of the Church Rock uranium mill spill — the largest release of radioactivity in this nation’s history. You have also likely never been confronted with the notion that uranium mining practices could be poisoning our food supply. However, if the potential  poisoning of our cattle and crop lands with radioactivity while government regulators sit quietly by is too attenuated for your tastes, how about food on American shelves that is banned in other countries.

One website has produced a list of  10 foods that are banned abroad but not in America. One of the more interesting items on the list is meat from animals given the food additive Ractopamine  —  a beta-adrenoceptor agonist. (Sounds delicious already, doesn’t it?) According to the story:

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)

When you reach over 160 countries, including ones not known to be squeamish about food safety like China,you have to wonder why the FDA does not even test for Ractopamine. As an aside, Ractopamine is manufactured by the goods folks at Eli Lilly who are no strangers to lawsuits concerning the safety of the products they put on the market.

Don’t think you can get away from known poisons by eschewing meat and sticking to bread and water. We allow our bread to be laced with Potassium Bromate which is banned in numerous places around the world:

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

Obviously, there is very little public debate about Ractopamine and bromide bread. The FDA doesn’t seem to be swayed by bans in other countries and the press no doubt has sexier fish to fry. As is always the case, the last line of defense against such unsound practices is likely the ever-vilified trial attorneys. If we don’t use the court system to fight for food safety, it looks like no one else will do anything.


One Comment

  1. Gravatar for John Bedford
    John Bedford

    Maybe if the FDA acted as an independent agency rather than an arm of the food industry we could see some positive changes.

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