1. Artificial food dye: Makes your food pretty and can inhibit nerve-cell development.
Why it’s dangerous: Artificial dyes are made from chemicals derived from petroleum, which is also used to make gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar! Artificial dyes have been linked to brain cancer, nerve-cell deterioration, and hyperactivity in children, just to name a few.
Where it’s banned: Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and the U.K.
2. Olestra (or Olean): Lowers calorie counts while causing vitamin depletion and anal leakage.
Why it’s dangerous: Created by Procter & Gamble as a substitute for cooking oil, Olestra robs your body of its ability to absorb vitamins. Fun side effects include cramps and leaky bowels.
Where it’s banned: The U.K. and Canada.
3. Brominated vegetable oil: Makes food dye stick to liquid, but also may cause birth defects and major organ damage.
Why it’s dangerous: Bromine is a chemical used to stop carpets from catching on fire, so you can see why drinking it may not be the best idea. BVO is linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss.
Where it’s banned: In over 100 countries.
4. Potassium bromate (or bromated flour): Great for impatient bakers, bad for your kidneys and nervous system.
Why it’s dangerous: Derived from the same harmful chemical as brominated vegetable oil, brominated flour is used to decrease baking time and reduce costs. Only problem is, it’s linked to kidney damage, cancer, and nervous system damage.
Where it’s banned: Europe, Canada, and China.
5. Azodicarbonamide: Bleaches flour, plastic, and induces asthma as an added bonus.
Why it’s dangerous: Used to bleach both flour and foamed plastic (yoga mats and the soles of sneakers), azodicarbonamide has been known to induce asthma.
Where it’s banned: Australia, the U.K., and most European countries.
6. BHA & BHT: Waxy preservatives linked to cancer and tumors.
Why it’s dangerous: Used to keep food from becoming rancid, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are known to cause cancer in rats. And we’re next!
Where it’s banned: The U.K., Japan, and many other European countries.
7. Synthetic growth hormones rBGH and rBST: Harmful to cows and linked to increasing tumor development in humans.
Why it’s dangerous: Growth hormones are bad for cows and people, potentially causing infertility, weakened muscle growth, and a whole array of cancers.
Where it’s banned: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the EU.
8. Arsenic: Basically this dish will slowly kill you.
Why it’s dangerous: Used in some chicken feed to make meat appear pinker and fresher, arsenic is poison, which will kill you if you ingest enough.
Where it’s banned: The EU.
CORRECTION: Some studies linked in the original version of this article were concerning unrelated issues. They have been replaced with information directly from the book Rich Food, Poor Food (6/22/12).