When Missy Fahey goes grocery shopping, she has one guiding principle.
"I'm on a budget big-time," she said. "I try to make stuff to stretch: lasagna, stuffed shells, chili, soup -- (I'm) feeding six people."
But while being cost-conscious is a necessity for most Americans, new research has revealed keeping your family safe when grocery shopping may also require some label reading and education.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Buzzfeed.com set off a firestorm when it released a list of eight foods Americans eat that are banned in other countries.
The first ingredient on the list is artificial food dye, which is in our favorite cereals, sports drinks and the ever-popular meal among children: mac and cheese.
Cincinnati Nutrition Council's Lauren Niemes said artificial food dye is a legitimate concern. Popular dyes like yellow No. 5 and red No. 40 are banned in the U.K.
Niemes and other experts say you should also avoid synthetic growth hormones found in milk and dairy products. Several studies have linked these hormones to cancer, which has led to Europe and Canada banning them.
Finding milk without synthetic growth hormones isn't as hard as some may think. Many brands, like Snowville Creamery, write "No added hormones" on the front of the carton.
Some sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas also contain ingredients banned in other countries. Several popular brands contain brominated vegetable oil, or BVO. BVO was patented as a flame retardant. Pepsi announced in January it would remove BVO from Gatorade.
BHA and BHT also made Buzzfeed's list. They are preservatives used in cereal, baked goods and snack foods that are linked to cancer and banned in the U.K. and Japan.
WHY ARE THESE INGREDIENTS ALLOWED IN THE U.S.?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it uses an extensive, science-based process to evaluate the safety of food additives.
"The law requires that the FDA determine there is reasonable certainty that an additive does not cause harm when it is used as intended." An FDA spokesperson told our sister station WCPO-TV. "The agency continues to monitor the science on food additives and is prepared to take appropriate action if there are safety concerns."
When determining that a food or ingredient is "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS for its intended use in food, the FDA spokesperson said the same quantity and quality of evidence is required as is needed to approve a food additive.
Niemes said a great way to avoid potentially harmful additives is to browse the produce department.
"I always look for food with no packages," she said. "If you have to read it, don't eat it."