True Cellular Formulas Team - June 6, 2023

BHA's Global Mashed Potato Crackdown

But is Still Sold in the United States!

BHA's Global Mashed Potato Crackdown

Boxed mashed potatoes, a convenient and shelf-stable food product, have long been a staple in many households across the globe. However, regulations in Japan, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have led to the banning of this comfort food, mainly due to the presence of a controversial ingredient – Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA).[1] In this article, we'll delve into the details of BHA, its potential health risks, and why these countries have chosen to ban boxed mashed potatoes containing this additive.

Background of BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)

BHA is a synthetic antioxidant used as a preservative in numerous food products, particularly in those with high fat content, to extend shelf life and prevent rancidity.[2] It's often found in packaged foods like potato chips, preserved meats, and indeed, boxed mashed potatoes. The reason for its widespread use is its effectiveness in protecting against the detrimental effects of oxidation, which can impair food quality. Despite its practical application in food preservation, BHA has been at the center of controversy due to potential health concerns that have resulted in increased regulatory scrutiny.[1]

Potential Health Risks of BHA

The concern with BHA arises from numerous scientific studies, some of which have indicated a potential link between this substance and cancer.[3] In animal studies, BHA has shown carcinogenic properties, particularly in rodents where it led to the development of certain types of tumors. Though the results are not directly translatable to humans, they suggest a potential risk that has stirred apprehension.[4] Furthermore, BHA has been categorized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as "possibly carcinogenic to humans," furthering the concern surrounding its use in food products.[3]

Europe's Stand on BHA

In response to these potential health risks, Europe has been proactive in their regulatory approach. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set strict guidelines concerning BHA use, allowing it only in specific, low concentrations in certain foods. However, in the case of boxed mashed potatoes, the EFSA deemed the BHA levels unacceptable, resulting in a region-wide ban.[5] This move has sparked intense debate within the food industry and among consumers, further emphasizing the growing concern for food safety and the potential impact of chemical additives.

Japan's Stand on BHA

Japan, known for its stringent food safety regulations, has followed suit with Europe. The Japanese government, guided by the standards set by the Japan Food Chemical Research Foundation, has also decided to ban boxed mashed potatoes containing BHA.[6] The government's decision was a result of meticulous risk assessments and a precautionary approach to food safety.[6] The ban has triggered widespread media coverage, instigating robust public dialogue around the role of food additives and their impact on health.

Canada's Stand on BHA

In Canada, the use of BHA in food is regulated by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.[7] Following a comprehensive review of available scientific data, these bodies decided to ban the use of BHA in boxed mashed potatoes. This decision aligns Canada with its international counterparts in prioritizing consumer health and food safety, marking a significant turning point in the nation's approach to regulating food additives.

Australia and New Zealand's Stand on BHA

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the body responsible for food regulation in both countries, has also decided to ban the use of BHA in boxed mashed potatoes. After considering the potential risks associated with BHA, and in alignment with the 'Precautionary Principle', FSANZ concluded that its removal from such products was the most responsible action.[8] This decision highlights the growing international consensus about the risks of BHA and its suitability for use in food products.

The Role of Food Safety Organizations

International food safety organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), play an influential role in guiding national regulations.[9] These organizations monitor and evaluate scientific research on food additives, including BHA, and provide recommendations. While their stance has influenced the regulatory decisions made by countries like Japan, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it's critical to note that their guidelines are advisory, and it is ultimately up to individual countries to set their own food safety regulations.

Comparison with the United States

In contrast to the countries discussed, the United States has yet to ban BHA in food products, including boxed mashed potatoes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies BHA as "Generally Recognized As Safe" (GRAS), despite the controversy surrounding its potential health risks.[10] This discrepancy in regulation highlights the divergent approaches to food safety worldwide, reflecting differences in scientific interpretation, policy, and public sentiment.


The global discourse around BHA and its ban in various countries underscores the importance of continued research into food additives and their potential impacts on human health. As consumers, it's vital to stay informed about the ingredients in our food and the ongoing research surrounding their safety. The decisions made by Japan, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand serve as a reminder of the role of regulatory bodies in ensuring food safety and the need for vigilance and adaptability in response to evolving scientific understanding.

  1. Food Revolution Network. “Banned Ingredients in Other Countries.”
  2. ScienceDirect. “Butylated Hydroxyanisole.”
  3. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. "An updated review of the toxicological effects of butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene." (2021)
  4. David Suzuki Foundation. “Dirty Dozen: BHA, BHT.”
  5. Rabin, Roni Caryn. “What Foods Are Banned in Europe but Not Banned in the U.S.?” The New York Times, 28 Dec. 2018,
  6. Sato, S. “Regulation of food-related carcinogens in Japan.” Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology : RTP vol. 11,2 (1990): 149-57. doi:10.1016/0273-2300(90)90018-7
  7. Canada, Health. “Government of Canada.” Canada.Ca, / Gouvernement Du Canada, 3 May 2017,
  8. “Colours and Food Additives Reported as Banned.” Australian Food Standards,
  9. “Food Safety.” World Health Organization,
  10. Martín, José Manuel, et al. “The Antioxidant Butylated Hydroxyanisole Potentiates the Toxic Effects of Propylparaben in Cultured Mammalian Cells.” Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 72, 2014, pp. 195–203, doi:10.1016/j.fct.2014.07.031. 

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