America’s Delicious Toxicity


Every item here contains artificial dyes and more.

Lucas Nogueira, Journalist

Cereals, sports drinks, chips, milk, pork, chicken to pasta, and bread are a few of the laundry list of consumables that contain harmful chemicals as ingredients so corporations can yield a higher profit margin at the expense of your health.

Bread is so simple. Yet baked goods such as pizza dough, rolls, and crackers contain potassium bromate, a chemical that creates a higher rise, reduces cost, baking time, and gives finished loaves a bright white color. Despite it being ubiquitously banned among developed nations around the globe and considered a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, all requests to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban potassium bromate remain denied. This lack of attention should be no surprise. ADA, a whitening agent that is added to flour, is safe to consume according to the FDA even though research shows that the additive caused cancer in lab animals. 

“Most people don’t even think about the fact that certain drinks (soda) or candy have synthetic food dyes.  There are at least 11 banned or regulated ingredients in other countries that are allowed in the United States, but are linked to harmful effects” says Jennifer Bush, Health and Fitness teacher at OHS. Obesity is a heavy weight on our youth. Children’s cereals come with cartoonish figures to appeal to youth and even though breakfast is an important part of the day top names such as Froot Loops, Honey Smacks, Cap’n Crunch are 40-50% sugar by weight. These cereals also contain artificial dyes such as red 40 and yellow 6. All artificial dyes must come with a label when sold in the European Union that says “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children” They are also banned in Norway and Austria due to studies linking them to ADHD, behavioral changes like irritability and depression, hives, asthma, and Tumor growth (most primary food dyes contain benzene, a known cancer-causing substance).

Sports drinks and citrus-flavored soda may contain Brominated vegetable oil; BVO acts as an emulsifier, preventing the flavoring from separating and floating to the surface of beverages. It’s been linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss, which explains why it’s been banned in more than 100 countries.

Unhealthy diets contribute to around 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S., due to nutrition- and obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. In the last 30 years, obesity rates have doubled in adults, tripled in children, and quadrupled in adolescents according to the Center of Science in the Public Interest. 

Lobbying and a lack of knowledge on the American food industry make it difficult for people to choose healthier choices, explains Bush. “There are 56 different names of sugar! There are some very dangerous consequences of consuming foods with toxic chemicals.  Educate yourself about what you are putting into your body. The more you are educated on these topics, the better choices you can make” For those looking to change their habits Bush recommends keeping track of the foods you eat and the effect they have on your mood, perhaps using an app, website, or other sources.