We all have our favorite foods. Some of us love to savor a slice of homemade pie, while others prefer a juicy burger from their local fast-food joint. Whatever your taste buds desire, it’s important to know some certain ingredients and additives can be found on the shelves here in the United States but are banned in Europe and elsewhere. Here are nine specific banned foods in Europe you should be aware of before you decide what to cook up next time:
What We Will Cover
What Authorities Can Ban Foods in Europe?
The European Union (EU) has a number of organizations that have the authority to ban foods. These organizations include:
- The European Commission: The European Commission is the executive branch of the EU. It is responsible for proposing new legislation, including legislation on food safety. The Commission can ban foods that it considers to be unsafe or that do not meet EU food safety standards.
- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): EFSA is an independent scientific body that provides advice to the European Commission on food safety. EFSA can assess the safety of food additives, pesticides, and other substances that may be used in food. If EFSA finds that a substance is unsafe, it can recommend that the Commission ban it.
- The European Parliament: The European Parliament is the legislative branch of the EU. It has the power to approve or reject legislation proposed by the Commission. The Parliament can also initiate its own legislation on food safety.
- The Council of the European Union: The Council of the European Union is the decision-making body of the EU. It is made up of representatives from the governments of the EU member states. The Council can adopt legislation on food safety proposed by the Commission.
Brominated Vegetable Oil
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a chemical banned in 50 countries, including the European Union. It’s used to keep flavor oils from separating from citrus drinks—think Mountain Dew or Squirt—but it also contains bromine, which can cause issues with thyroid function and kidney problems. BVO was added to sodas in the 1960s as an additive for flame-retardant properties and is not found naturally in any foods or beverages.
Trans fats are formed when processed vegetable oils are chemically altered to make them more solid. They’re used to give foods a longer shelf life and improve flavor, texture, and appearance.
While trans fats were once considered healthy because they were thought to lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) without increasing HDL (the “good” kind), they’ve been shown actually to increase LDL levels while lowering HDL levels—not good for your heart health! In fact, one study found that consuming just five grams per day of trans fat can raise the risk of coronary heart disease by 23 percent! That’s why European countries have banned them entirely from their food supply.
Potassium bromate is one of the banned foods in Europe, but still allowed in the United States. Some food companies use it to help them make bread fluffier and extend its shelf life, but it’s also been shown to be a potential human carcinogen.
Queen Conch or Strombus pugilis is a sea snail that’s popular in the Caribbean for its meaty texture, creamy consistency, and strong flavor. The queen conch is endangered but still available on menus in Europe and the US.
According to the Food Safety News, Queen Conch has been banned from being imported into Europe since 1989 because they are considered “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The US also bans imports of this species due to overfishing concerns.
Of the banned foods in Europe, this one is understandable. Shark finning is the practice of cutting off sharks’ fins and throwing them back into the ocean to die. The shark will slowly bleed out, sink down to the bottom and die from starvation or suffocation from its missing gill slits. Shark finning is wasteful and cruel, as it involves killing many sharks for no reason other than for their fins.
The European Union banned shark finning in 2009, but this ban does not apply if you’re a member state of the EU yourself (as opposed to being a European citizen). While there are some restrictions on shark fishing in certain areas of Europe, most people can still sport their fins without any problem.
Some fast-food chains make baked goods with the chemical azodicarbonamide as a whitening agent and dough conditioner. Social pressure and awareness are causing its use to decline in the United States because of concerns that it is a carcinogen, but the FDA still permits it. It is banned in Europe.
Horse meat is a common ingredient in European cuisine. It’s often used as a substitute for beef, which is considered more flavorful and lean. But horse meat has been banned in most of Europe since 2013—for reasons that may surprise you!
Horse meat is banned because of concerns over its safety and the possible presence of disease-causing pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes (a bacteria found in uncooked meats that can cause severe illness). To prevent these harmful bacteria from contaminating food products, governments have taken measures to ensure that all ready-to-eat foods sold across Europe contain no more than 1% horsemeat. So if you’re visiting Europe or eating there frequently, don’t worry too much about finding some horse on your plate during each meal!
Mountain Dew is a popular soft drink banned in many schools. It contains high levels of caffeine, which can cause health problems when consumed in large quantities. Mountain Dew also contains high amounts of sugar and a poor source of nutrition. This can lead to obesity and other health problems if consumed regularly.
The soda also contains brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a food additive that contains bromine, which is toxic in high doses.BVO is banned in Europe due to its negative health effects and potential to cause severe allergic reactions. Brominated vegetable oil is used as a flame retardant and added to Mountain Dew and other soft drinks.
Casu Marzu is a traditional Italian cheese made from sheep milk. It is also known as “maggot cheese” because it’s produced by infesting the cheese with live insect larvae. The larvae are deliberately introduced to the cheese by Sardinian shepherds, who find them delicious. The larvae are actually fly maggots of the cheese fly Piophila casei, which feed on and digest parts of the sheep’s milk protein casein. Casu Marzu has been banned in most European countries due to health concerns regarding these insect larvae.
You may have heard stories about people eating this food before, but they’re probably untrue! In reality, these foods are much harder to find than you might think—and even if you come across one at some point during your trip abroad, it’ll probably be best if you turn around and walk away (or take a photo instead).
On the surface, it might seem like farm-raised salmon could be a healthier alternative to wild salmon. But when you look at what they’re both eating, it’s clear that’s not the case. Wild salmon subsist on a diet of krill and other small crustaceans in their natural environment. The same cannot be said for farmed salmon, whose feed often includes fish meal made from smaller fish like herring, sardines, and anchovies—fish that are high in PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).
When consumed consistently over time, PCBs are toxic chemicals that can cause human cancer. They can also cause organ damage and reproductive issues such as birth defects and low sperm count (in males). In addition to being found in the fat tissue of wild and farm-raised fish, PCBs also tend to accumulate, especially in areas with little or no vegetation growing close by—like around farms!
Red 2 and Red 40
Red 2 and Red 40 are artificial food dyes linked to health problems such as hyperactivity and allergies. The EU has banned using Red 2 and Red 40 in food.
Several additives and food ingredients that are banned in Europe but still sneak into our food
BVO is one of the banned foods in Europe and Japan but is used as a stabilizer in many citrus-flavored soft drinks such as Mountain Dew and Fanta Orange. It’s also found in sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and Vitamin Water.
Trans fats are among the banned foods in Europe because they’ve been shown to increase your risk for heart disease by raising bad cholesterol levels and lowering good cholesterol levels, according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has required that trans fat be listed on nutrition labels since 2006, but non-trans fats are still allowed to be labeled as zero grams per serving even if they contain 0.49 grams per serving or greater of trans fat—which can add up quickly when you’re eating fast food multiple times per week!
Final Thoughts About Banned Foods In Europe
Now that you know about the food and drink items banned in Europe, it should be easier to avoid them. Awareness of these banned foods in Europe is essential to making healthier choices for yourself and your family. Understanding the potential risks and reasons behind these bans allows you to be a more informed consumer and advocate for food safety. Remember that regulations may differ between countries, so always stay updated on the latest information and guidelines. By prioritizing your health and making conscious food choices, you’ll enjoy better well-being and contribute to a more responsible and sustainable food industry.