A Casual Exploration of Ingredient Awareness and Global Food Regulations
I often find my mind wandering to different topics, interrupting phone calls, meetings, or reading sessions. These thoughts take center stage, making it challenging to refocus on the original task.
Interestingly, this mental game sometimes proves helpful. Whether it's a forgotten task during a book or a work-related bug that surfaces while spending time with family, these moments can be both distracting and beneficial.
A peculiar incident occurred last week when, despite my usual preference for organic food, I accidentally purchased non-organic sourdough bread. Initially trying to ignore it after enjoying a slice for breakfast, curiosity led me to search for its ingredients. The search took me down a rabbit hole of articles and comparisons between the European Union and the United States, accompanied by alarming posters like “Stop Eating Cancer.”
Though not a chemistry enthusiast, I felt the need for some chemistry knowledge to navigate ingredient lists. It seemed complex, with some ingredients deemed safe, others unknown, and some linked to health issues.
The idea of a simple barcode reader app solving this mystery crossed my mind. Such an app could provide a safety score for food items. However, existing apps in the market often push for subscriptions or paid versions.
But wait a minute, the government needs to check it for me right?
Maintaining a healthy diet appears to come at a higher cost. Even with organic non-GMO choices, scrutinizing ingredients becomes crucial. It feels like an unwelcome chemistry lesson, requiring the memorization of various terms to ensure the elimination of potentially harmful foods.
Questioning the need for personal scrutiny, I pondered the role of the FDA, a government organization meant to safeguard consumers. However, the approach varies significantly between the US and the EU.
The FDA in the US tends to take a hands-off approach, allowing new food ingredients unless proven harmful. This includes substances like GMOs, growth hormones, and chemical preservatives. In contrast, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) mandates safety proof before approving additives and bans certain substances, including growth hormones and various chemicals.
These differing regulatory philosophies result in the approval of certain additives in the US but their prohibition in Europe. Notable examples include growth hormones, ractopamine, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, olestra, azodicarbonamide, and various coloring agents and preservatives.
Armed with this information, I've become more conscious of what I consume, hoping others will do the same. It's a reminder to stay informed about the food we eat for the sake of our health.