5 Scary Things To Look Out For On Nutrition Labels

Photo: Getty/Science Photo Library

Photo: Getty/Science Photo Library


You might see it written out as butylated hydroxyanisole, too.  It's used to keep food from going rancid, and while the Department of Health and Human Services has said it's a carcinogen, the FDA has yet to ban the stuff. The crazy reason why: It's only been proven to cause cancer in animals' forestomachs — an organ humans don't have.

You'll find it in: breakfast cereal, potato chips, sugar-free gum

Partially Hydrogenated Oil

This is just a fancy name for trans fat, the kind of fat you've always been told to avoid.  It's much more difficult for your body to digest and does bad things to your cholesterol. Companies are allowed to state the product has zero grams of trans-fat if it has less than half a gram per serving but, newsflash: That partially hydrogenated oil is still hiding in there.

You'll find it in: margarine, coffee creamer, frozen pizza


MSG might be listed as monosodium glutamate, but glutamates can be found in lots of other ingredients, like yeast extract, soy protein, and citric acid. It's added to America's obesity epidemic and is linked to type 2 diabetes.

You'll find it in: salad dressing, soup, frozen veggie burgers

Potassium Bromate

This additive is most often found in baked goods since it helps dough firm up and rise. It's been shown to cause cancer in animals, but while countless other countries (Brazil, Canada, Peru, and the entire European Union, to name a handful) have banned the ingredient, the U.S. has yet to.  California, though, does require bakers to add a warning label on products that contain potassium bromate.

You'll find it in: white bread, pizza crust, pastry dough

Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrate

The two special types of salt are used to prevent bacteria that can cause botulism, but they're not so good themselves:  When linked with amino acids, nitrite can form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite can also cause metabolic syndrome, a condition that can lead to diabetes.

You'll find it in: cured meat, smoked fish, canned beans


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