Here’s Why Ritz Crackers Are Banned in Other Countries

To my mind, there is no more classic snack than crackers and cheese. I’m on record as a huge cheese fan, and when combined with a cracker, it really can’t be topped. If you’re feeling fancy, you can opt for some camembert and cranberry-studded crackers, if you’re feeling wild, you can go for the flavor explosion of habanero pepper jack piled on some garlic Triscuits, but if you just want it plain and simple, you really can’t go wrong with a classic Ritz cracker and a slice of cheddar cheese…or so we thought. 

Did you know that Ritz, arguably the most classic of all crackers, is banned in other countries? What dark secret is this snack staple hiding? Let’s find out.

Why are Ritz Crackers banned in other countries?

To discover why Ritz are verboten in several places outside the U.S., you need look no further than the ingredients list: unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate {vitamin B1}, riboflavin {vitamin B2}, folic acid), canola oil, palm oil, sugar, salt, leavening (calcium phosphate, baking soda), high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, natural flavor. Of particular note here is the canola oil, which contains small amounts of trans fats. 

These trace amounts of trans fats got Ritz crackers banned in Europe. Now, what are trans fats? Well, I’m no scientist, so I’ll turn it over to the folks at Medline, who say, “Trans fats are made when liquid oils are turned into solid fats, like shortening or margarine. These are called partially-hydrogenated oils (PHOs). Because of the health risks from these fats, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned food manufacturers from adding PHOs to foods.”

Now, this might get slightly confusing because Ritz doesn’t specifically list trans fats on the nutrition label. Men’s Journal explains that, “Those dinner party crackers you bought may say zero grams of trans fat, but companies often round 0.5 grams down to nil. Some common brands known to have 0.5 grams of trans fat include: Nabisco’s Ritz crackers, Chex Mix’s Traditional Snack, Nabisco’s Animal Crackers, Keebler’s Original Graham Crackers, and Nabisco’s Original Saltine Crackers.” Note that these companies aren’t adding additional trans fats to their product, which is how they’re able to get past the FDA regulations. But some countries in Europe are a bit more stringent. 

Where are Ritz Crackers banned?

If you’re traveling abroad and you’re hankering for some Ritz crackers, you’re going to be out of luck if you’re visiting Austria, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Hungary, or Switzerland. These countries have very staunch laws against trans fats (even stauncher than the U.S., which does have laws prohibiting most of them) so don’t go looking for Ritz there.

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.