It’s no huge secret that food products sold in different countries have slightly different ingredients used in making them. But we do tend to forget this fact in our day-to-day lives, and this usually becomes apparent to us only when we go abroad.

This difference in product ingredients is most notable when going to the United Kingdom from the United States or vice versa. And let me tell you, it’s shocking when you sit down and compare some of the products from the two countries. That’s exactly what American author and food industry critic Vani Hari, better known as Food Babe, did. Read on for Bored Panda’s interview with Food Babe!

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McDonald’s French Fries

Image credits: Food babe

If you’re living in the US, then the fries you order at McDonald’s might have more than just natural vegetable oil and salt used in the cooking process. While the Quaker instant oatmeal you make yourself for breakfast is also much, much healthier in the UK. When considered broadly, quite a few food products have healthier UK alternatives. This brings into focus the question of whether the extra ingredients are having an effect on Americans and what it might be.

Facebook user Kacey Birch shared Food Babe’s comparison photos online with the words “Are we going to talk about this yet???” and the post went viral, getting more than 8,500 likes, 6,200 comments, and 128,000 shares.

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Packets

Image credits: Food babe

Bored Panda reached out to Hari, aka Food Babe, to get more info about food, nutrition, and the reasons why products have different ingredients in the US and the UK.

“Europe takes a “precautionary principle” approach towards food additives that are potentially risky. They ban or add warning labels to these additives for their citizens. The US does not take this approach. It does not remove additives from our food supply until they have been proven dangerous – which can take a very long time and a lot of red tape.”

“Big Food companies will tell you that the European regulators are just being overly cautious, that all of the ingredients they put in their American products are perfectly safe. But are they really?” Food Babe asked. “If a company can get away with using cheaper ingredients, they will. Given a choice, they’ll always opt for the cheaper flavor enhancer, and the cheaper color additive, and the cheaper preservative, even if these cheaper alternatives potentially have a negative impact on our health.”

Mountain Dew

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“As I discuss in my book Feeding You Lies, the statistics on the health of Americans is downright grim. The U.S. spends 2.5 times more on health care than any other nation and when compared with 16 other developed nations, we come in dead last in terms of health. More than two-thirds of U.S. citizens are overweight and more than 18% of children are obese. After smoking, obesity is America’s biggest cause of premature death. “

Heinz Ketchup

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“While there are many causes behind these dire statistics, undoubtedly one of the primary causes is the American diet, which is full of risky ingredients that are not used to the same extent in other countries. American food is overloaded with bad fats, way too much cheap refined sugar, and heaps of synthetic additives,” Food Babe explained.


Image credits: Food babe

Hari also talked about what the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to diets are: “Blindly trusting what it says on the front of a food package is a big mistake.”

“Claims like “natural”, “healthy”, “diet”, and “sugar-free” mean very little. Instead, always flip over the product and read the ingredient list. This will tell you the truth about what you are eating. If the food contains any additives or preservatives, ask yourself why they are used and whether they’re really necessary. If you don’t know what an ingredient or additive is or how it can affect your health, put the product back and look for a product made with real food instead.”

Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Cereal

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Food Babe is well-known in the US and the world, with over 1.2 million followers on Facebook, 283,000 supporters on Instagram, 104,000 fans on Twitter. Hari has had quite an effect on the food industry: she influenced Kraft to stop putting in the artificial orange color in its macaroni and cheese, and also in part helped convince Subway to drop the bread additive azodicarbonamide.

“When I first saw Kellogg’s new Baby Shark Cereal my heart sank. My daughter, who is 2 years old, loves the Baby Shark song —  and I knew when she saw this she would beg me for a box! These ingredients do not belong in our food — especially for children. This is why I launched a petition two weeks ago asking Kellogg’s to remove the artificial colors, artificial flavors, and BHT from their cereals in the U.S. as they do in other countries. It has surpassed 40,000 signatures and climbing.” 

Macaroni & Cheese

Image credits: Food babe

“In 2015, Kellogg’s announced plans to remove artificial colors and flavors from their cereals by the end of 2018. Over 4 years later, Kellogg’s continues to sell several cereals made with artificial ingredients such as Froot Loops and Apple Jacks, and is launching new limited-edition cereals targeting young children made with these additives,” Food Babe claimed.

“Why is Kellogg’s creating brand new cereals with artificial ingredients if they truly want to remove these chemicals from cereals? Kellogg’s makes Froot Loops and Unicorn Cereal in other countries without artificial colors or BHT, so they already have the formula. We deserve the same, safer cereals that other countries get,” Hari expressed her feelings.

Image credits: kacey.dawn.37

So, dear Pandas, what do you think about the product ingredient differences in the US and the UK? What’s your opinion on Food Babe? Do you have any personal advice on how to eat and live better? Let everyone know in the comments.

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