We Need More On The US Food Industry | Teen Ink

We Need More On The US Food Industry

June 30, 2023
By pchakra2024 BRONZE, Exton, Pennsylvania
pchakra2024 BRONZE, Exton, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

There are more restrictions on food processes now than ever before worldwide. In Japan, Mountain Dew is banned because of a flame retardant in the ingredients list. France and Austria banned Froot Loops, due to having so many color additives that cell development inhibition can occur. 

Meanwhile, all of these foods are extremely common in America’s grocery shelves. The way the US Food Industry regulates processes has caused America to grow economically, socially, and environmentally. 

But America’s food industry fails to consider the future of these processes in our lives as a whole, which can be scary for the public. Studies of the processes must continue, and new food labels should be added to guide –and warn- the public about what is in the food.

Some of these processes of the industry -genetically modified foods, artificial coloring, sugar replacement, fat free items, fast foods, and our poultry- are the most talked about processes that are relatively new and controversial.  

Genetically modified organisms -GMOs- make up many of our foods in the United States but are banned in several countries, including those in the EU. GMOs stem from organisms that were genetically engineered and are being used for consumption.


GMOs were approved for food consumption in the United States in the 1990s; and cases of non-edible GMOs accidentally being introduced to the market has already been surfacing since. 

Such an example would be in 2000 when a modified corn, Starlink, mistakenly got into the market despite being labeled as not allowed for human consumption. 


There is also no data yet on the long-term effects of GMO consumption, because they have been only introduced for consumption less than 30 years ago. But because of the newness and errors of market management in history, GMOs are banned in some countries such as Germany and others of the European Union. 

GMOs have provided significant benefits to society. For example Golden rice was extracted from GMO rice and has significantly more vitamins and minerals which can be grown in almost any biome. The invention of Golden rice increases the life expectancy of South Asian children by providing an easy source of nutrition. GMOs have reduced the number of pesticides in the environment because GMOs can be genetically modified to be resistant to pests.  


Artificial food coloring is a process that was introduced much earlier- in the late 1800s, and by the 1900s a great number of foods have them. Yet, at that time there were poisonous metals in the colors such as mercury and lead. 


Today, we still use them to make foods more appealing –without the poisonous metals. In fact, the number of colors that we use today decreased significantly from the past decade thanks to FDA’s Color Additive Amendment which defined color additives and stress that now only colors that are suited and safe for consumption are allowed on the market With the news of new color additives today, it must go through FDA regulation in which the FDA has to investigate its effect of consumption and profitable use. 


Accordingly, FDA has been able to approve 36 food dyes. The nine most common artificial ones are Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6. However, certain food colorings approved by FDA are not approved in other countries’ food industries due to health problems arising from excess consumption. For example, infamous Red 40 consists of naphthalene sulphonic acid and is a very common food additive that is used to make foods more eye-catching. However, it can lead to a worsening impact on youth with ADHD, along with other artificial dyes like red 3 and yellow 5. Red 40’s chemical makeup can emit a toxin as well, yet the temperature for the toxin to emit is so high that it is impossible for a human to reach and therefore there should not be any toxins in the normal human body.  


Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are processed entirely through a chemical synthesizing process and are also low in calories- like monk fruit. However, excess use of these sweeteners can lead to a wide range of side effects, from mild headaches to rare cases of cancer stemming from artificial sweeteners. Major cases of excess use are rare, however long-term effects are yet to be seen. And with that note, most artificial sweeteners are used in a lot of countries outside of the US because of their advantages towards being lower in calories.  


Fat free items, like added sugar, are used to enhance the taste of a substance while being lower in calories. The use of fat free items is to give a replacement to items with saturated fat.  Because of its long length of hydrocarbons, saturated fat leads to blockage in organ function. It is one of the easier fats to synthesis naturally, however, and it is part of many of our favorite foods.


Fat free foods are made by removing the fat in foods, using skim milk to extract the fat out. And yes, that changes the taste of these foods- the foods taste milky often after the process. To replace or replicate the taste to its original full fat food, processed food is often added with a bunch of artificial flavors and sugars, which themselves can cause health problems in excess. While most fat free foods are not necessarily banned in other countries, the US has a lot more fat-free options that means more chances for these health problems. 


Fast foods in general are highly processed and tend to contain a lot of artificial flavors to make them taste good and provide more food in a cheaper way: it is cheaper to sell food made in a factory than by farming because the factory food has a greater supply readily available to the public. A lot of fast foods –and highly processed foods in general- in America’s diet are banned in other countries.


 For example, our Mountain Dew recipe is banned throughout Europe and Japan all because of one ingredient. Artificial sweeteners? Food coloring? No, how about a flame retardant; itself it sounds bad, but long-term consumption can lead to effects in ADHD, autism, and memory loss.  


Not even specific fast-food brands are the only ones that are banned: our American french fries, a staple side in every American burger and American hotdog, is banned in certain countries such as Austria due to containing ADA which we do not know how safe this chemical is for us. 


It's not highly processed food production that is different from other countries as we transition ourselves from the chicken nugget to the chickens themselves in the poultry process. The process uses only one breed of chicken: a hybrid of Cornish and White Rock. 


The chickens are all in a large vessel where a lot of them are slaughtered at the time. After slaughtering the chickens, we clean them with chlorine to remove any bacteria that may have been introduced in the slaughtering process. Unique to the United States and a few other countries, it could be due to the low hygienic of our poultry system. Other countries that do not use chlorine, such as the United Kingdom, do not have to chlorine wash chickens because of regulations against poor hygiene and animal welfare. 


The processes done by the US have provided both economic and environmental advantages. Genetically modified foods especially help create cheaper foods and help certain foods survive better in the natural environment, reducing the need of pesticides and generating more crop yield. The use of certain chemicals helps crops stay fresh longer, reducing the price of buying. 


Fast food places create a cheap ready-made option for Americans to dine on. Our food consumption is higher than any other country at 3,800 kcal per capita; therefore, we have more than enough energy to survive and thrive- not even mentioning that our food is processed to be tastier too! We can generate more food -thus cheaper and readily accessible foods.  


However, the majority of the processes used in the food industry are relatively new and as time goes on, these foods may turn out dangerous in the long run. Studying these processes can help keep track of the consequences of these foods, even before the effects happen on us. And we should make these studies easily accessible- further studies have shown that the more people know about the processes, particularly genetically modifying, the less concerned they are with it. Other processes, such as artificial coloring and fast foods, already have negative health consequences in the long run. These foods do not have FDA labels on their consequences, so we should increase the use of food labels on these consequences to let the people know the warnings.  


If more studies were to be done on these processes of the food industry, then we can have a clearer view of how these engineering techniques can impact us. It can bring reassurance to our food industry, something that has been challenged due to food bans in other countries.


This happened with Pew Research’s Findings in Public Perspectives on Food Risks in 2018, which found out that those who knew more about GMOs were more likely to consume them because of trusting them. With bringing more studies into place too, we can really see the effects of certain food processes, and bring upon a more clear conclusion of the food industries not just in the United States but how it is worldwide. 

The author's comments:

This piece was something I work on in my eleventh grade English Class and was recommended to be look at for publishing. I am personally interested in the science behind these food processes, but want to push out more on its safety based on my research. It can also be applied to the Health category as well.

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