How Dangerous are Packaged Foods?

<p>Mountain Dew</p>

Mountain Dew

If you're a fan of those packaged convenience foods like TV dinners and soda, you may now think twice before buying them.

A new book called Rich Food Poor Food found that a number of countries have banned 80% of those types of products from their stores.

Countries like Canada and the United Kingdom have deemed ingredients in many foods we consume here in the United States "toxic" and have made it illegal to sell to their citizens.

These foods include low fat snack foods and some things as basic as cereal.

But the question is, are these foods really that dangerous for us?

According to the book, authors Mira and Jason Calton say many ingredients used in the majority of all American convenience foods are items banned by other countries. 

For instance, they say Olestra is used in almost all low or no-fat snack foods and is banned in both the United Kingdom and Canada and is known to cause serious Gastro-Intestinal issues.

Kennewick registered dietician Mary Squires says Olestra can be a problem if eaten in large quantities. "It's not dangerous to our body in any of the research that's been done but it does cause some GI upset. So when people eat too much of these convenience foods or products that contain olestra, they are prone to have more Gastro-Intestinal upset."

The authors also say Mountain Dew, Fresca and Squirt all contain brominated vegetable oil, banned in more than 100 countries because it's been linked to thyroid disease.

Matthew Bishop of Kennewick says he's not surprised ingredients on our grocery shelves are banned elsewhere. "I think it shows that they're a step ahead of us. I think it shows they care a lot more about their citizens."

Caresse Brown of Kennewick says it's hard to eat healthy. "We try and buy organic as much as we can and it gets tough.. but there's definitely a reason that it's illegal in other countries."

But Squires says it's up to the consumer to decide what's best for them. "The American consumer needs to be more responsible for themselves instead of waiting for somebody else to regulate their own body and healthcare."

But not everyone is concerned about changing their habits. Ron Cook of Pasco said, "We have had those items for scores of years and we're still okay. We have a basically heatlhy people even if they're overweight," laughs Cook.

For consumers the bottom line is be aware of whats in your food, read labels, and keep track of serving portions.