How the Food in the US Differs from Europe and the Impact on your Health, Deon Hall Garriques
This summer my family and I vacationed in Portugal and our palettes were pleasantly surprised by how different the foods we loved tasted there compared to back in the US. I had read about the differences between the food standards and quality in the United States (US) and Europe, but to actually experience it was remarkable. First, the chicken reminded me of how chicken used to taste when I was growing up compared to the chicken (organic) that I typically purchase in the US. The bread, pastries, fruits, and vegetables also tasted different.
There are several differences in the food standards and quality in Europe and the US.
Most notable, Europeans do not allow substances that are known or suspected cancer-causing agents in their food. They will also pull products off the market that are found to have substances that can cause harm. While in the US, the standards are somewhat lax. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the regulatory authority responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary products. However, they have very little authority over our food because they create a list of food and food ingredients that are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) and they rely on the companies producing the products to decide on the safety of substances that they use in their food. Essentially, companies using these GRAS ingredients, are protected from lawsuits that could occur under US liability law.
Potassium Bromate and Azodicarbonamide (ADA) are chemical substances that are commonly used in foods in the US, but not allowed in the European Union (EU) for human consumption.
Potassium Bromate is added to flour to make the dough rise and turn white. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Potassium Bromate has been found in animal studies to increase benign and malignant tumors in the thyroid and in the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and cause increases in cancer of the animals’ kidneys, thyroid, and other organs.
ADA is used to whiten cereal and is a dough conditioner to make bread stay soft and spongy longer. ADA is also used to create bubbles into certain plastics that are then used to make soft and spongy goods such as yoga mats and flip flops.
Europeans demand higher-quality food. As a result, American companies that supply products to the European markets produce higher quality and healthier versions of their products. For example, Heinz, Quaker Oats, and Mountain Dew European products contain fewer chemical additives than those sold in the US.
The lower food standards and quality in the US are major contributors to the increase in obesity and other chronic illnesses in the US. Currently, over 60% of Americans are overweight or obese and the overall impact on our health collectively is significant. The illnesses (e.g., diabetes, food allergies, autism, cancer, etc.) associated with obesity are expected bankrupt the US healthcare system in the near future.
In the US, we focus a lot on restricting certain foods and eating fewer calories in order to be healthy, instead, we should focus on the quality of our food supply and the close correlation to the multitude of illnesses and diseases of our citizens instead of counting calories.
In Good Health,
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DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide medical advice. The purpose is to provide education and broader understanding to my readers. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. I do not recommend or prescribe, or recommend changing dosage or discontinuing, any prescription medications or pharmaceutical drugs.
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