Many people diligently read food nutrition labels when they shop. What most of them do not know is that there is often more to food labelling than meets the eye. Continue reading for 11 potentially dangerous food ingredients that you might want to look out for next time you visit the supermarket.

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

This is mainly contained in chips, sausages and cereals ingredient lists. They are generally waxy substances that act as preservatives, keeping foods from becoming sour. While they remain “largely recognised as safe” by the U.S FDA they are often considered controversial. Though both substances have some disease fighting properties, they have been shown to raise cancer risks in animal tests. According to the U.S national toxicology program, both BHA and BHT are banned from foods in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan and throughout Europe


AzodicarbonamideIn the U.S it is used to enhance the texture of soft white breads, which include hamburgers and buns at McDonald’s and Burger King. It is capable of interfering with respiratory health and can cause allergic reactions and asthma in people. This has not been taken lightly in countries such as Australia, the U.K and other European countries. What`s more, if you add azodicarbonamide to food in Singapore you could face up to 15 years in prison and nearly $50,0000 fine.

Recombinant bovine Growth hormone and Recombinant Bovine Somatropin.

These synthetic hormones are used to increase milk production in cows. Due to human and animal health risks they are not permitted in the European Union, Canada and some other countries. It is wise that you buy milk labelled rBGH/rBST-free or organic milk.

Potassium bromate.

This is a bread additive that is used in the strengthening of dough. Though it lowers production costs, research in Japan published a study showing that it causes cancer in the thyroids, kidneys and other body parts of rats and mice. It`s banned in many countries but the U.S FDA hasn`t banned it though it advises moderate use only and proper labelling


OlestraRanked among the 50 worst inventions, it was banned soon after its release. This was due to its side effects namely wind, cramps and anal leakage (uncontrollable diarrhoea). Though illegal in other countries, it remains legal in the U.S as long as companies warn consumers of its complications on product packaging.

Olestra Chips

Genetically Modified (GM) Canola Oil.

According to NPR as of 2010, roughly 90% of canola plants in the U.S are genetically modified. This therefore means that canola producers use a lot of pesticides on their crops. Residues may find their way into the finished product hence organic or non-GMO expeller-pressed brands of canola oil are recommended

Genetically Modified (GM) Corn.

A June 2013 study published in the Organic Systems Journal found that pigs fed a combination of GM soy and corn suffer more stomach inflammations and enlargement of the uterus, compared to those fed on non-GM diet. To avoid this risks, try purchasing corn from your local farmers market and for processed foods opt for certified organic

Genetically Modified (GM) Soya beans

Soybeans and soy derivatives are found in surprisingly many foods including energy bars, butter substitutes, breads, crackers, meat substitutes and many more. This therefore means that even if you ever eat edamame or tofu and soy containing products, choose non-organic types.

Blue Dye No 1

This food colorant is often used in U.S ice creams, cereals, and bottled food colorings and in the liquor blue curacao. Research has connected this colorant also called brilliant blue with allergies, hyperactivity, learning problems, aggressiveness and irritability in children

Yellow Dye No. 5

Otherwise known as tartazine, this food colorant is widely used in the U.S. This is so despite six of the 11 conducted studies on it proving it causes gene toxicity. Gene toxicity is a deterioration of the cell`s genetic material with the potential to mutate healthy DNA. These effects can cause serious problems such as causing growth abnormalities. Common sources include cheese flavoured crackers and chips, colourful cereals and yellow sports drinks macaroni among others.

Yellow dye no 5

Yellow No. 6

Also called sunset yellow, it`s the third most widely food coloring in the U.S. found in fruity cheerios, trix, some Eggo waffle products and some Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners. Finland and Norway banned it after lab studies showed a link between the additive and tumours in the adrenal glands and kidneys of animals.