I feel like the more I learn about the food system in America, the more I feel confused and disconnected from what I'm even eating. There are so many additives and chemicals in our foods today and it makes it seem impossible to find a simple, naturally grown item.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves all foods that are sold in our grocery stores in the US. They're supposed to be making sure foods are safe for us to eat, but honestly, they have approved some sketchy sh*t that is actually banned in other countries. Here are some of the outright terrible foods that the FDA should have never approved.

1. Partially Hydrogenated Oil

cookie, chocolate, sweet, pastry, cake, goody, chocolate cookie, dairy product
Missy Miller

Partially hydrogenated oils are made from liquid oils and chemicals that are added to make them solid at room temperature. These oils are in tons of packaged baked goods in grocery stores and are often used in fried foods at restaurants. These oils create the dreaded trans fats that are so incredibly terrible for our bodies.

These fats also increase your probability of getting heart disease and are the most harmful fat in our foods. Many food companies are removing partially hydrogenated oils from their products, but the FDA still has yet to ban them.

2. Foods Containing Flame Retardants

beer, water, alcohol
Ashton Caudle

What? Flame retardants? I swear I am not lying. Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is added to some drinks, such as Mountain Dew, to enhance the citrus flavor. BVO has also been used by other companies as a flame retardant in plastics.

This chemical blocks receptors in our bodies, which can lead to endocrine problems, reproductive problems, and more. This chemical has been banned in other countries but is approved by the FDA. Do your insides a favor and steer clear of drinks with brominated vegetable oil listed in the ingredients.

3. Olean or Olestra in Fat-Free Foods

sweet, milk, beer
Jaye Lind

Olean is an additive in many packaged foods that are fat-free. This chemical is very toxic because it inhibits our body's ability to absorb the essential vitamins that do great things for our health. The body doesn't know how to process this ingredient and consumption could lead to loose bowel movements—and know no one wants that. 

4. Caramel Coloring

cocktail, tea, ice, beer
Claire Waggoner

Caramel coloring is found in soft drinks, beer, and some packaged foods. According to one source, it contains a chemical that can increase the risk of cancer in humans. Caramel coloring is the most used food coloring in the world despite its risks.

Many companies are trying to stop using this ingredient in their foods and drinks but it is still approved by the FDA. Make sure to look at food labels and stay away from things that have caramel coloring.

5. RBGH in Dairy

cream, ice, milk, dairy product, chocolate, ice cream, sweet, coffee
Torey Walsh

RBGH stands for recombinant bovine growth hormone. It is given to cows to increase their milk production. According to the American Cancer Society, this hormone has the potential to increase the risk of cancer in humans (although more research still needs to be completed). This hormone also causes udder infections in cows. The FDA approved RBGH in 1993 even though it is banned in the European Union, Canada, and other countries.

At the end of the day, we just can't trust that everything sold in grocery stores is safe for us to eat. It's up to us to look at food labels and make sure we're not buying foods with these additives in them.