I found an article listing some of the worst chemicals and additives that are used in the food industry, and if you have not established a list of substances that you will not eat under any circumstances, I'd like to recommend them to you.
You may think that it isn't possible to avoid harmful ingredients, but thanks to our food labeling laws, you can come close enough to prevent some kinds of harm. If we don't do this, the rise in things like birth defects will continue.
A whole television reality industry has sprung up around the hideous array of birth defects that our medical community is dealing with, like the 200-pound tumor that was removed from an American woman by superstar reconstructive surgeon Dr. McKay McKinnon at the University of Chicago.
Conjoined twins and other conditions are occurring more and more, and we need to look at how we feed our children and ourselves because many people are blameless in this regard. It's important: mothers are feeding their families the same things that they were brought up on, but what is inside the packages is not what was in there when we all were children.
I suppose that now is the time to mention the horsemeat scandal that is plaguing the meat industry, but really is is just a matter of making money. Substituting cheaper horsemeat for ground beef is just a way for a wholesaler to make a bit more on the contract, so why not do it? Hey, if it tastes good, it is good!
If you extend this thinking to High-Fructose Corn Syrup, you can see why the beverage industry went en masse to that cheaper sweetener in the Eighties and made more money, because that is the bottom line. I can remember how I thought that Coca-Cola from the fountain at McDonald's was the best. Years later now, it would never occur to me to buy even one can of it. I might, though, when the soda industry stops putting HFCS in their cans and bottles.
So turn the packages around and if you see these ingredients, DO NOT BUY the product no matter what it is.
Food Dyes: Blue 1 and 2, plus Yellow 5 and 6. These dyes are made from coal tar--the same ingredient that kills lice in the shampoo that you buy if your child gets infected. Nice.
Olestra: as it slides through your body without being absorbed into your tissues, it sucks up antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins and takes them away. Who ever had the idea to sell this stuff as food?
Bromated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is used to make drinks feel good in your mouth. It doesn't feel so good in your digestive system though, because it is linked to organ damage and birth defects. It is outlawed in at least 100 countries, but in America is is used in the famous Gatorade, which people are drinking like fish.
Potassium Bromate is found in "bromated" flour, which is treated with it for culinary reasons that have nothing to do with health. The bromation of the flour acts on your body just the same as bromated vegetable oil.
Azodicarbonamide is used to produce "bleached enriched" flour. As Adelle Davis pointed out long ago, refining and bleaching flour are not by any stretch of the imagination a process of enrichment. She writes that if someone robbed you of twenty dollars and gave you back a nickel, you wouldn't consider yourself enriched, would you?
BHA and BHT are two carcinogens that no longer belong in food. They are easy to find on the ingredients label; consider these two terms disqualifiers for your shopping list.
RBGH and RBST are synthetic hormones. The use of them on helpless dairy cattle tells the farmers what it ought to tell us: the cattle develop inflamed udders in connection with these hormones, and guess what? They are linked to breast cancer in women. Look for labels on dairy products that specify "hormone free."
This is just a list of the worst products, mind you, and I added in high-fructose corn syrup to the others. The last I want to mention--again--is Propylene Glycol, a petroleum by-product that appears in some foods in order to give them a smooth feel in your mouth. It is often present in cough syrup, with the label "pharmaceutical grade" attached. That makes no difference; propylene glycol is a known carcinogen and whether you get it from NyQuil or barbecue sauce it puts you at risk.
Avoiding these poisonous things is relatively easy: just check the ingredients before you buy. If you are a parent, remember that there is a food industry out there that simply did not exist when you were a child. It is up to us to look out for ourselves, because no one can be counted upon to have our best interests at heart. The Federal government recently gave the food industry permission to sell meat that has been irradiated. Want some? I don't!
This is another reason to do your shopping in stores that have health-food sections, organic products and sell a wide variety of brands. I was really happy to find the Trader Joe's barbecue sauce without HFCS at their store located at Speedway and Wilmot in Tucson, and to find NOH Hawaiian Barbecue Sauce, which is also free of HFCS, at Walmart. Read those labels, please, because someday you will find a brand that is clean--not necessarily in a health-food store--and you'll be overjoyed. Look at Safeway and Basha's in Tucson, two stores that feature clean brands prominently.