13 Dangerous Toxins To Avoid In Your Food
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You can’t reach for a fork these days without hearing about one toxic food trouble or another. To take a significant bite out of the potential dangers on our dinner plates and avoid toxins in food, try reading labels, understanding food sources, and keeping the kitchen clear of the following unsavory ingredients. This is especially important for kids’ plates; pound for pound they take in more than adults do. 

Here are some toxins to avoid: 

1. Pesticides

Used to raise and treat produce and other products, these poisons often leave behind residues. They've been linked to everything from cancer to birth defects. 

Solution: Organic foods are required to be synthetic pesticide-free.

2. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) & BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

These common processed food preservatives have been declared carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They’re also accused of disrupting hormones and impacting male fertility. 

Solution: Check ingredient lists to avoid.

3. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST)

Given to cows to increase milk production, rGBH produces elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in dairy products. IGF-1 is a significant factor in breast, prostate and colon cancers. 

Solution: Choose organic or rBGH-free dairy products.

4. Sodium Aluminum Sulphate and Potassium Aluminum Sulphate

Used in processed cheese products, baked goods, and microwave popcorn, among other packaged goods, these ingredients are linked to adverse reproductive, neurological, behavioral, and developmental effects. 

Solution: Read ingredient lists to avoid this toxin.

5. Bisphenol-A (BPA)

Found in food and beverage can linings, this hormone-mimicker is suspected of promoting breast and prostate cancer, reproductive and behavioral problems, obesity, and diabetes. 

Solution: Avoid canned foods. Choose fresh, dried, or frozen instead.

6. Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate

Used in deli foods like processed meats, these preservatives are linked to many types of cancer. Beware of “uncured” and “no added nitrites/nitrates” products. They often use celery juice instead, which is high in nitrates. 

Solution: Read ingredient lists to avoid this toxin.

7. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

These carcinogens are created when fat is burned—by flames or very high heat. 

Solution: Pre-cook grillables and finish over low flame.

8. Heterocyclic Amines

These carcinogens form when natural substances found in meats and fish react together in high temperatures like those found during grilling. 

Solution: Pre-cook grillables and finish over low flame.

9. Acrylamide

Formed by cooking or frying starchy foods like potatoes and grains at high temperatures, acrylamide is a carcinogen. 

Solution: Avoid fried foods, snack chips, crackers, toasted cereals, cookies, and bread crusts.

10. Brominated Vegetable Oil

Used in fruit-flavored drinks and sodas, animal studies found high doses of this toxin led to reproductive and behavioral problems. 

Solution: Check ingredients listings.

11. Artificial Food Coloring/Dyes 

These ubiquitous chemicals have been linked to neurological disorders like ADHD. Solution: Read ingredient lists to avoid.

12. Dioxins

These highly toxic pollutants accumulate in fatty foods and are linked to cancer, liver damage, birth defects, and endocrine and immune disruption. 

Solution: Choose low- or no-fat foods.

13. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) 

Found in about 70 percent of processed foods with corn-, soy-, cottonseed-, canola-, and sugar beet-based ingredients, GMOs may cause organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. 

Solution: Go organic! GMOs aren’t allowed in certified organic foods. And they aren’t ever labeled, making them difficult to avoid in non-organic foods.

Want more tips? Check out Easy Steps to Eating Healthy & Safe Foods, the new free e-book from Healthy Child, Healthy World.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

For more than 20 years Healthy Child Healthy World, a non-profit whose mission is to empower families to make better, safer choices, has been protecting children from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals. We are seeing increased evidence of the impact of these chemicals found in everyday products on children’s health. Through evidence-based information and up to date resources and programs, we help families, promote solutions, and influence policy.

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