The Surprising Reason Pop-Tarts Are Banned In Other Countries

Compared to other countries, the U.S. has notoriously relaxed regulations regarding food additives. Things like flame retardants and carcinogens are federally allowed to be added to our food in small amounts and still be considered safe for consumption (via WebMD). In other countries, however, this isn't the case. The Daily Meal compiled an exhaustive list of specific ingredients and additives that are banned in some places, and, forewarning, it's a little freaky to read. 

Ever heard of the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)? Well, it's a man-made hormone given to cows to make them produce more milk (via Center for Food Safety). In those countries where the hormone is deemed unsafe, you won't find milk produced by cows treated with rBGH at their supermarkets. The same goes for the brominated vegetable oil (BVO) additive found in sodas and sports drinks. According to Stacker, popular products permitted in the U.S., like Lucky Charms, Swiss Rolls, Mountain Dew, and even Pop-Tarts, are actually illegal or come with a warning label in other countries. Yes, you read that correctly. The much-loved breakfast food is partially banned in the European Union. But why? 

Pop-Tarts contain dyes that aren't allowed in some European countries

The good news is that Pop-Tarts don't contain any flame retardants, carcinogens, or other especially harmful chemicals that some of the other listed foods have in their ingredients list. Now for the not-so-good: Pop-Tarts aren't allowed in certain European countries due to the inclusion of food dyes Yellow No. 5, Yellow No. 6, and Red No. 40 (via Stacker). Although the artificial food colorings found in the toaster pastry are deemed safe to eat domestically, a 2007 study published in The Lancet journal changed things in Europe. During the controlled trial study, scientists evaluated six dyes, two of which are found in Pop-Tarts (Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 5). They concluded that the dyes have adverse effects on the behavior of young children and infants. As a result, in 2010, the European Parliament mandated that any foods containing any of the six artificial dyes carry a warning label. But for kids, the use of food dyes is outright banned (via Slate). 

We totally understand that these frosted breakfast favorites are incredibly delicious and convenient. But if you're concerned about any health issues that could arise when eating Pop-Tarts, it's best to check the label and possibly eliminate them from your pantry.