Banned in the European Union, but “Safe” for You?

We are all bombarded with chemicals each and everyday.  From our foods to our cleaning products, it is impossible to avoid all chemicals in our environment.  However, it is wise to be aware of those that create havoc and destruction in our bodies. 

One such chemical is Propyl Paraben.  Used as a preservative in our foods, this chemical has been shown in studies to disrupt the body’s endocrine system, and more specifically, affect the reproductive process in humans.  These numerous, convincing studies caused the European Union to ban the use of this preservative in foods in 2006, almost a decade ago. 

Propyl Paraben banned by EU, Nutrition Orange County

However, the FDA continues to list this chemical as “Generally Recognized as Safe.”  So, why this massive disconnect?  If research was conclusive enough to cause the European Union to take drastic steps, then why aren’t we even being warned?  

Further research into Propyl Paraben was shown is has definite effects on hormone signaling and gene expression.  According to the article titled Propyl Paraben: Are You Eating an Endocrine Disruptor?, written by the EWG (Environmental Working Group), “Proper endocrine signaling is particularly important during critical windows of development—while in the womb and during childhood and adolescence. Chemicals that disrupt hormone signaling can lead to adverse effects on development, reproduction, and the neurological and immune systems.” 

In fact, research and opposition became so evident with this chemical, that in 2012 Johnson and Johnson “voluntarily” decided to remove this chemical from all of its baby products.  It seems that if a company as large as Johnson and Johnson can spend millions to remove this from its product then it must not be good for human consumption or use. 

Yet, many products continue to use it and the general public is mostly unaware of what it is and what are the potential ramifications of its use.  Furthermore, in “2010 research led by Antonia Calafat, Ph.D., a respected chemist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported that 92.7 percent of Americans tested had propyl paraben in their urine (Calafat 2010).” 

We obviously cannot understand all of the potential side effects of chemicals and additives that we use in food.  However, we should feel secure that when studies show harmful effects to humans, and many countries and large corporations have taken action steps against a proven-harmful substance, that our FDA will follow suite.  Sadly, this is not the case. 

Instead, we need to all be our own advocates for health.  While we cannot know everything in the world of nutrition and health, which is constantly changing, we can take steps to learn each day.  To learn more about Propyl Paraben, its harmful effects, and the foods which still contain the chemical read more on the Environmental Working Groups website.  Better yet, subscribe to their newsletter to learn about their mission to keep our foods healthy and safe.

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