Frosted Flakes Are Banned in Other Countries, Here’s Why

Americans get a lot of flack for some of our dietary customs. Folks from other countries will call us out on our portion sizes, for instance. In my opinion, they just haven’t eaten a real big steak in Montana yet. However, some countries will go so far as to ban the sale of American-made foods altogether. One of those foods: Frosted Flakes. What gives, Europe?!

Why are Frosted Flakes banned in other countries?

Frosted Flakes are banned in the entire European Union and Japan. Their reasoning is not because of the added sugar but the added preservatives. Frosted Flakes, as well as Rice Krispies and several other Kellogg brand cereals, contain a preservative called BHT. 

The United States Food and Drug Administration is responsible for monitoring the country’s food supply. They set standards for how each and every commercially available food is harvested, produced, and processed, and what ingredients are used.

The E.U. and Japan have similar organizations: the European Medicines Agency and the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. In general, they are known for having stricter food restrictions, especially when it comes to processed food. And one of the things they both agree on is that BHT has got to go.

What the heck is BHT?

Butylated hydroxytoluene, duh. 

Okay…but what is that?

BHT is a naturally occurring compound often found in plankton and some fungi. It is known for its antioxidant properties, so scientists have developed a way to chemically replicate it so that it can be used for that exact purpose. In commercially processed food, BHT acts as a preservative, helping things like Frosted Flakes stay fresher longer. BHT is also used as an antioxidant in cosmetics, gas, mechanical fluids, and embalming fluid. Great to see cereal and embalming fluid sharing ingredients.

The FDA classifies BHT as “generally recognized as safe,” which isn’t as reassuring as, “yes, absolutely safe,” but it seems like that’s as close as we’re going to get. However, there have been several studies over the years that have proven BHT to be a carcinogen in rats. Does that mean it will also act that way for humans? Inconclusive, but our government agencies have decided to roll with it.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an independent watchdog agency, gives BHT a caution rating and says to avoid it when possible. You’ll have to decide for yourself who to believe.

How come those other countries ban BHT and we don’t?

The reality is that the EU and Japan are probably just hedging their bets. They aren’t willing to take a risk on poisoning their populaces with a carcinogen. 

And some American companies are joining the bandwagon. In 2015, General Mills announced they would be removing BHT from all of their cereals. So that officially means that Lucky Charms are healthier for you than Frosted Flakes. Shop accordingly.

Am I going to die?

Yes, duh.

No, I mean am I going to die from all this BHT?

Probably not. If you drank (Huffed? Snorted? Ate? I have no idea what pure BHT is) a big ol’ jug of BHT, then, yes, it would probably screw you up. However, the amount of BHT in our foods is pretty small, so if it hasn’t gotten you yet, you’ll probably be fine. Just keep this friendly tip in mind: Everything we eat is killing us.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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  • Europe and Japan has free healthcare so their govn probably don’t want to spend all that money while in the USA it isn’t free so pharma can make a lot of money from people getting sick with cancer. It is all about the Benjamins!!!!! Why do you think Monsato is killing it … same with J&J because it is a cycle. They all make food that is yummy with ingredients that make you sick then sell you drugs that supposedly will heal you…. NOT!!!!!

  • I just looked stthe back of a box of Frosted Flakes and it does not list BHT. Same with Rice Krispies. I’m in the US. Not sure what boxes you are looking at.

  • None of these cereals even contain BHT. Go look at the ingredients lists.

  • They removed BHT from frosted flakes in 2021. Check ingredients in store. Other US cereals unfortunately currently still use BHT, eg Cinnamon Toast Crunch. 🤮

    • It was actually 2015.

  • They are available in the EU, for sure, they are called “Frosties” and they just don’t have BHT. Also probably less sugar than the US version, most (if not all) sweetened cereals in the EU have less sugar than their US counterparts.

  • They are available in the EU, for sure, they are called “Frosties” and they just don’t have BHT. Also probably less sugar than the US version, most (if not all) sweetened cereals in the EU have less sugar than their US counterparts.