11 Favorite US Foods That are Banned in Other Countries


11 Favorite US Foods That are Banned in Other Countries

Do you know that a huge 40-60% of American pigs get ractopamine? This drug boosts their lean muscle growth. But here's the catch: it's banned in 160 countries, including major ones like the EU, Russia, and China.1 So, what we eat in America isn't always welcome elsewhere. The reasons range from the way food is made to the stuff it's made with. Our food scene is a world all its own.

We're diving into 11 popular American eats that have been ditched or dialled back abroad. This is over worries about our health and safety. The more we learn about these food rules, the more we see how different the U.S. is from the pack. What we grow and how we cook it definitely gets attention.

11 Favorite US Foods That are Banned in Other Countries
  • Many common American foods contain additives, preservatives, and production methods that are banned or restricted in other countries due to health concerns.
  • Cultural and regulatory differences around food safety standards and acceptable ingredients vary greatly between the United States and other nations.
  • Ractopamine, a drug used to increase lean muscle in livestock, is administered to 40-60% of American pigs but is banned in 160 countries.
  • Trans fats found in products like Coffee-mate were banned in the U.S. in 2018, but still exist in some American foods and are also prohibited in several European countries.
  • Certain food dyes and preservatives common in American snacks and cereals are banned in the European Union, Japan, and other regions.


The U.S. is known for its diverse cooking, with many favorites found across the country.2 Yet, some of these American classics are not welcomed worldwide. This might be due to health worries.2 To understand this, it's crucial to look at what makes American dishes special and why they spark debate elsewhere.

Overview of American Cuisine

American food takes something from everyone.3 It melds recipes from Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans. This mix creates a food scene that's always changing and growing. From Maine's clam chowder to Texas's tacos, the menu is vast and exciting.

Reasons for Food Bans in Other Countries

Some American foods are loved globally but face bans in other places.2 These bans vary, often due to different views on safety and quality.23 Everywhere, people want safe, good quality food, but how that's achieved changes.

Food bans can be about many things – from how food is made to what's added to it.23 Each reason shows the many sides of this issue. It points to specific foods that raise concerns when crossing borders.

Farm-Raised Salmon

Salmon is a favorite in the United States but farm-raised salmon is different.4 It's fed grains and treated with chemicals and antibiotics. These might not be safe for us and include eye-damaging petrochemicals.4 In Australia and New Zealand, they just sell wild salmon because of this.4

Use of Astaxanthin for Color

Wild salmon is naturally pinkish-red from what they eat. But, farm-raised salmon get their color from synthetic astaxanthin.4 Wild sockeye salmon, however, is already red inside, naturally.4 Some places worry about the health effects of adding this to farm-raised salmon. So, they restrict it.4

Banned in Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand don't allow farm-raised salmon if it's been treated with astaxanthin.45 They also have strict rules so only naturally colored, wild-caught salmon can be sold.4 But, in the U.S., you'll often find farm-raised salmon, mostly Atlantic, in many restaurants.4 If you want to stay away from farm-raised salmon, look for "Alaskan Salmon" or wild sockeye. These aren't farmed and are safe options.4

Dairy with rBST or rBGH Hormones

In the United States, dairy farmers often give cows hormones like rBST or rBGH. This is to make them produce more milk.6 The milk production can go up by about 10%. But, many worry about the effects on health from these synthetic hormones.6 Even though the FDA says milk from treated cows is as safe as other milk,2 some places, like Canada and the European Union, have said no to these hormones. They fear for people and animals' health.7

Worldwide, diet choicesfood safety issues, and cultural culinary habits differ. They bring about various rules and bans on food. These rules apply to foods like the dairy products in America. As more people learn about these matters, there's more push for the US to review and make changes in its food safety laws.

Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew, a popular soft drink, contains brominated vegetable oil (BVO).283 BVO is not allowed in Japan and the European Union. This is because it has bromine, which is also in flame retardants. Too much bromine can cause memory loss, skin issues, and nerve damage.

Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) as an Emulsifier

There's a lot of talk about BVO in Mountain Dew. It's used to keep the drink's flavors mixed well. However, some worry about how it might affect our health over time.283

Banned in Japan and the European Union

Because of these worries, BVO is banned in many places, including over 100 countries and the European Union.23 This shows how different countries can have their own rules about food safety. Especially, rules about unusual ingredients that may come from American food.8

Chicken Washed with Chlorine

Chicken in the US is soaked in chlorine to cut down on diseases like salmonella.1 But, in the UK and the EU, this method is not allowed because it encourages bad farm hygiene.1 Even though America often uses chlorine on its chicken to make it safer, many other places forbid it. They worry about the effect on how food is raised and on people's health.

Chlorine Used to Reduce Foodborne Illnesses

Since 1997, the EU has said no to chicken treated with chlorine.9 In the US, only a tenth of processing sites use chlorine washes, yet they can offer fresh chicken at a much lower cost than in the UK.9 Every week, Americans munch on about 156 million chickens dipped in chlorine.9 For a person to get sick, they'd have to eat a lot of chlorinated chicken. Not many people eat that much in one day, not even in the UK, to face real health dangers.9

Banned in the UK and the European Union

The British Chicken Group says no to chlorine-treated chickens from the US. They prefer other ways to keep chickens safe.9 The UK might start using special fees on imported foods to avoid products treated with chlorine.9 In the UK and EU, this method is not acceptable due to fears about its effect on farming and health.

11 Favorite US Foods That are Banned in Other Countries

The United States is known for its wide variety of foods and ingredients. But, some favorites are banned in other countries. This is due to101 health and101 safety reasons. Here, we'll look at 11 US foods not allowed in many international markets.

Mountain Dew, the citrus-flavored soft drink, can't be found in places like Japan. That's because it contains brominated vegetable oil (BVO). BVO is an emulsifier that could cause memory loss and other health problems.

In the US, chicken is often washed in chlorine to avoid sickness. Yet, this cleaning method is not accepted in the UK and EU. They worry it might not be good for farming and human health.

More American foods are restricted or banned in different places. This includes farm-raised salmon with artificial colors, and dairy treated with hormones. There are also baked goods and snacks with additives not allowed in some countries due to being unhealthy.

Furthermore, coffee creamers and candies with certain trans fats or artificial dyes are off limits in select areas. We'll go into more detail about why each item is restricted or banned further on.

Meat with Ractopamine

In the United States, farm animals get a growth hormone called ractopamine. It makes them grow more lean meat. Around 40-60% of pigs in the US get this hormone.1112 But, over 160 countries don’t allow this drug. The European Union, Russia, and China are among them. They worry about its effects on people's health.1112

Growth Hormone Used in Livestock

Ractopamine is a type of beta-agonist. It helps animals on farms put on weight and become lean. Even though the US says it’s okay, many health experts around the world have concerns.131112

Banned in 160 Nations

Over 1,700 cases have linked ractopamine in pigs to people getting sick. This led to bans in 160 countries, including places in Europe, Russia, China, and Taiwan.1112 Since 1998, ractopamine has been viewed as harmful. So most nations have stopped its use. They did this to protect their citizens from getting sick.1112

Baked Goods with Azodicarbonamide

Azodicarbonamide is used by American fast-food chain Arby's. It acts as a whitening agent and improves the dough.14 Despite cancer concerns, the FDA still allows its use in the U.S.14 The European Union, however, has banned it over ten years ago due to health worries.14

Used as a Whitening Agent and Dough Conditioner

ACA is mainly used for its whitening and dough conditioning properties. You can find it in bread at places like fast-food joints.14 Only a tiny amount, 45 parts per million, is allowed in bread by the FDA.14

Banned in Europe

In the European Union, however, ACA has been off-limits for more than ten years.14 The body that looks into cancer, IARC, says ACA likely causes cancer in animals.14 Because of this, the EU chooses not to risk it, keeping ACA out of their food.14

Cereals and Snacks with BHT

Many favorite breakfast cereals contain BHT. You can find BHT in Frosted Flakes, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Rice Krispies. It's both a flavor booster and a way to keep foods fresh.15 There's been a lot of research into BHT's link to cancer. The findings are not clear. This uncertainty has led to it being banned in Japan and the European Union.15

Flavor Enhancer and Preservative

BHT helps cereals and other processed foods last longer. It also helps them keep their flavor. But, some worry about its impact on health over time.16 While the United States uses BHT in many products, safety concerns remain.15

Banned in Japan and the European Union

Japan and the European Union have stopped using BHT in foods. The unknown risks of BHT led to this decision.15 In these places, they put health first. They don't use BHT even though it could save money.16

IngredientBanned inReason
BHTJapan, European UnionPotential carcinogenic properties
Synthetic Food DyesEurope, AustraliaHealth concerns, use of natural alternatives
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)Many European countriesPublic safety concerns
Roxarsone (arsenic-based drug)European UnionBanned due to health risks
Ractopamine122 countries, including Russia, China, TaiwanPotential health effects on humans

Coffee-mate with Trans Fats

Many American food products have ingredients that are banned elsewhere. This is because of health risks and safety rules. Coffee-mate is a top coffee creamer in the USA that includes trans fat.10

These trans fats can harm your heart. So, they've been banned in the U.S. since June 18, 2018. Yet, some U.S. foods still have trans fats. They're off-limits in spots like Switzerland and Iceland also. This is all because of the same health concerns.10

Coffee-mate's trans fats show a gap in agreed safety rules worldwide. This tells us about the differences in how food is checked. As people learn more, they might push for changes in the U.S. food rules and what's allowed.

Stove Top Stuffing with BHA and BHT

Kraft's famous Stove Top stuffing mix has the preservatives BHA and BHT. These can be harmful and are thought to cause cancer.1 They are not allowed in the UK, Japan, and some parts of Europe because of these risks.1

Preservatives with Potential Health Risks

The Stove Top Stuffing and mashed potatoes from Kraft have BHA and BHT. These are banned in many places for possibly causing cancer and messing with blood clotting.17 Their use in the US is also under close watch in many countries.17

Banned in the UK, Japan, and Europe

The use of BHA and BHT in Stove Top stuffing has led to a full ban in the UK, Japan, and parts of Europe.1 They are banned because they might cause cancer and affect blood clotting.1


This article looked at 11 American foods and ingredients that other countries ban or limit. Foods like farm-raised salmon, dairy, snacks, and drinks have certain additives and methods. These are seen as risky elsewhere in the world.16 The various rules teach us how food, health, and global trade are closely connected.

The world is paying more attention to these food safety issues. There might be more pressure on US food makers and safety groups to look into these concerns. For example, China, India, Brazil, the EU, and Canada say no to potassium bromate because it might cause cancer.16 Azodicarbonamide is also not allowed in Australia and Europe since it might harm your lungs.16 These actions show the growing barriers in global food trade and cultural differences in food choices, especially concerning American dishes.

The US's different safety views on food from the rest of the world highlight a key issue. It shows we need to keep talking about and aligning our food rules for people everywhere.162


What are some popular American foods that are banned in other countries?

In other parts of the world, several US favorites are banned. This includes farm-raised salmon with the additive astaxanthin. Also, milk with artificial hormones, like rBST or rBGH. Besides, the soda Mountain Dew with brominated vegetable oil is banned. Finally, chicken washed in chlorine to lower the risk of foodborne illnesses is also restricted.

Why are these American foods banned or restricted in other parts of the world?

Other countries restrict these foods due to health and safety issues. The additives and production methods are seen as harmful by their regulations. While the US allows these, other nations do not because they could pose risks to health.

What are the specific reasons for banning or restricting these American foods?

The reasons for the bans vary. Concerns include the potential health effects of additives and chemicals. Also cited are unsanitary farming practices, growth hormones in livestock, and the presence of harmful substances. Countries like the EU, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand have stricter food safety rules. This is why they ban these American foods.

How do these international food bans and restrictions impact American cuisine and trade?

These bans and restrictions show the world's differing food safety rules. They can affect American food exports and its availability in other countries. As awareness grows, the US food industry and regulators might face more pressure to change these practices.

Are any of these banned American foods still available in the United States?

Yes, the US continues to allow many banned or restricted American foods. This is because the US and other countries have different food safety standards.

Source Links

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  12. https://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/10-american-foods-that-are-banned-internationally/
  13. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/these-american-meat-produ_b_5153275
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/28/bread-additives-chemicals-us-toxic-america
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  16. https://foodrevolution.org/blog/banned-ingredients-in-other-countries/
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