Manufacturer Confirms Hari Wrong About Ingredients; BHT Product Purchased from FoodBabe.com

Authors note: after selling the product described here for nearly 3 years, Vani Hari quietly removed it from her web site after this information went public. For the most recent information, please see Food Babe’s BHT Denial Doesn’t Hold Water.

All of her denials aside, a product being sold by Vani Hari (the Food Babe) contains BHT, and she has apparently been associated with a company selling at least a dozen such products since the summer of 2012.  This despite the fact that she’s gone on record  saying BHT should be avoided in all beauty products, due to supposed toxicity.  Because Hari claims to personally use each and every product she sells, it’s troubling that she feigned ignorance of the product contents in a Chicago Business Journal interview yesterday, during which she offered a rebuttal of the article you’re now reading.

In a tweet last week, Hari called my proof of BHT in her product “bull****” and said the ingredients listed on the manufacturer’s web site (no BHT) were correct–despite being confronted with photos of product labels clearly showing the additive.

food babe tweet

Food Babe tweet. Click to enlarge.

I reached out to the manufacturer and received the following response today:

“Dear Mark,

Thank you for contacting us!

“Our apologies that our website incorrectly does not list BHT as an ingredient in Brown Sugar Body Polish.  The packaging picture you attached lists the correct ingredients included in the product.

Fresh uses BHT as an antioxidant to protect the ingredients against the risk of oxidation.  Our toxicologists certify that this use of BHT may be incorporated in our products according to the recommendation of the joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review expert panel which confirm that the use of BHT in cosmetics is safe.”

Here is the “packaging picture” referred to in the email (click to enlarge):

ingredients

Email attachment (click to enlarge)

Fresh is correct–according to experts, BHT is safe.  I appreciate the honesty of this company.  What I want to concentrate on here is the hypocrisy of Food Babe.  How is it possible that she has been selling this product for 2.5 years without ever reading the label?

To be absolutely certain of my claims, I placed an order for Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish via the FoodBabe.com shopping page on Friday, February 6.  Food Babe earned an affiliate sales commission from this purchase.

My order confirmation is shown below (click any image to enlarge).

food babe shopping

The Fresh Brown Sugar body polish available on FoodBabe.com on February 6, 2015.  Click image to enlarge.

amazon order details

I placed my order on February 6 via FoodBabe.com’s shopping page, which redirects to Amazon.com.  Click image to enlarge.

 

The order arrived today, February 9.  Let’s open the box:

food babe box

Box received from FoodBabe.com order. Click to enlarge.

ingredients

Snapshot of ingredients. Click to enlarge.

product

The product Food Babe is selling. Click to enlarge.

order confirmation

My order confirmation. Click to enlarge.

As you can see, the item I purchased from FoodBabe.com contains the same additive at the center of Hari’s campaign against General Mills and Kellogg’s.

Food Babe’s web site claimed she used this product personally.  If Vani Hari believed so strongly that this product didn’t contain BHT, why did she delete it from her web site after being confronted?

web site (after)

After photos were published showing that her product did in fact contain BHT, Food Babe quietly deleted the item from her web site.  Compare this image of her shopping page (February 9) to the one above, from which I placed my order (February 6).  Click image to enlarge.

 

Based on simple forensic work on her site, it’s apparent that Hari has been associated with Fresh since July, 2012.  The date of her association can easily be determined by examining the source code of her shopping page, which I saved before she had a chance to delete it:

bht markup

Markup from FoodBabe.com shopping page. Click to enlarge.

Here’s a closer look:

food babe bht snipNote the highlighted sections of the above images.  The year and month that Food Babe uploaded each product image is included as part of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator).  In this case, she uploaded the brown sugar body polish content in July, 2012.  (Similarly, she got started with Josie Maran “Eye Love You” in December 2013, and John Masters’ Shampoo in December, 2011.)

I think the Food Babe Army deserves an explanation as to how their leader could have been using this product for 2.5 years and not seen the BHT on the label.  Here’s what Hari said about the body polish in 2012.  I’m taking this quote directly from the HTML markup of her web page:

“This is quite an amazing scrub. I could use it everyday. Makes my skin baby smooth and the smell is so nice.”–Vani Hari

You have to ask: if she personally uses this product and it’s clearly labeled as containing BHT, how did she miss it?

food babe capture

Screen capture from FoodBabe.com.  “Approved and researched herself.”  Really?

Apparently, everyone else has known about the BHT all along.  Sephora’s question and answer page listed it as far back as 2011–a full year before FoodBabe.com put it on sale.  Amazon.com, the fulfillment source for Food Babe, lists BHT.  The product label lists BHT.

Does Food Babe actually use this product, or has she just been quoting the Fresh.com web site?

Fresh sells over a dozen products containing BHT.  Isn’t it hypocritical for a blogger to criticize companies for selling a product with a certain additive and yet have a commercial affiliation with one that does the same?  In July, 2011, she specifically said BHT in beauty products should be avoided.  In her Chicago Business Journal interview, Hari waffled, saying, in effect, that her BHT wasn’t as dangerous as the General Mills/Kellogg’s BHT.  A clever dodge, as the charge made against her is much more simple: she told her readers not to buy any beauty product with BHT, but sold that very thing for over 2 years and claimed to use it personally.

It’s important to stress yet again that Fresh is not the villain here.  Like Kellogg’s and General Mills, they are selling a product with an additive that is recognized as safe by experts.  On a personal note, my wife and I like Fresh products.  I hope they won’t be punished for this.

What really saddens me is the willingness of some news outlets to promote Ms. Hari as a hero campaigning against giants.  The fact that Food Babe has been “in bed with BHT” since 2012 has been made known to these publications and is now public knowledge.  Thankfully the Chicago Business Journal (and sister publications) did present my BHT charges to her.  Sadly, she sidestepped the issues.

food babe bht product

Product sold by FoodBabe.com.  Click to enlarge.

Edited for Clarity
11 Feb 2015–link to Hari’s statement that BHT in beauty products should be avoided has been emphasized in response to comments she’s only against BHT in food products.  Also added additional screen capture of Hari recommending the product in question.

12 Feb 2015–link to Chicago Business Journal added along with refutation of claims Hari made there.

 

Image Credits
Amazon.com, Fresh, and Food Babe screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

 

References
Why Is Food Babe Selling A Product With BHT?
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/why-is-food-babe-selling-a-product-with-bht/

Food Babe Shopping (She deleted the body polish after being confronted–see screen snapshots in article)
http://foodbabe.com/shop/for-your-beauty/

Sephora Questions and Answers: Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish
http://answers.sephora.com/answers/8723/product/P7844/questions.htm

Food Babe on BHT in Beauty Products
http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

 

 

You May Also Be Interested In
Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Tarte Blush
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/food-babe-selling-dangerous-items-tarte-blush/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Avalon Organics Repair Milk
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-avalon-organics-repair-milk/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Tarte Lights Camera Action Mascara
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-tarte-lights-camera-action-mascara/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Shampoo
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-honeysuckle-shampoo/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Physician’s Formula Organic Wear
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-physicians-formula-organic-wear/

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20 thoughts on “Manufacturer Confirms Hari Wrong About Ingredients; BHT Product Purchased from FoodBabe.com

  1. Pingback: Why Is Food Babe Selling a Product With BHT? | Bad Science Debunked

  2. Pingback: Manufacturer Confirms Hari Wrong About Ingredients; BHT Product Purchased from FoodBabe.com | whyzat

  3. By chance are you eating that Brown Sugar Body Polish? I’m assuming you’re not. The lady mentioned is fighting to keep it out of edible products which in this case is cereal. Would you want an ingredient that’s been added to Body Polish to preserve shelf life inside your cereal? If you don’t mind it then I see your argument as valid otherwise not sure the point you’re trying to make. She’s fighting to keep BHT out of food and makes no mention of keeping it out of Body Polish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You could not be more wrong, and this is why I wish people would do the research on Food Babe before defending her. She had this to say about BHT in beauty products (NOT food):

      “Next – do this crucial step to become educated about what is lurking in those beauty products. Check the list below to find out if any of your products contain these dirty dozen chemicals.

      1. BHA and BHT. Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.”

      You can read the full article in context at the link provided below. It’s important to point out this is not the only ingredient she’s campaigned against that she also sells a product in which it’s found. In particular the products she sells are loaded with what she labels as “endocrine disruptors”. Her stance against 4-Mel (an IARC group 2B carcinogen) in the Starbucks campaign is the most hypocritical of all, as she sells a ton of products with group 2B carcinogens. I’M USING THE SAME REFERENCE LIST THAT SHE IS.

      http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Hi Mark, I understand your frustration. I started following FoodBabe.com because, like Vani, I also think we have too many synthetic chemicals in our lives and I admire her tenacity, however, a few things really bother me about her:

    1. You are correct that she promotes products to make money, even though they contain the ingredients that she says are toxic. I went to a link to a food supplier that was an affiliate of her blog and the second product that I looked at had an ingredient that she is constantly telling her readers to stay away from. Very hypocritical.

    2. She is waaaaay too sensationalist. I don’t generally trust the motives of people who are sensationalist.

    3. She promotes eating packaged foods. A healthy diet is one that is made up of whole foods, not organic, non-GMO, processed, packaged mac ‘n cheese that sits on a shelf. These are the kinds of items that she will recommend on her website as ‘healthier’ alternatives. If she really wanted people to be healthy, she wouldn’t go after these companies, but instead suggest that people ditch the packaged foods altogether and eat a whole food diet. But, there is not much money to be made with that advice, because, unless you are a farmer or nutritionist, there is nothing to sell.

    4. She is constantly comparing herself to Gandhi… I’m sorry, but Gandhi lived a very simple life, while passively fighting violence and poverty. Very few people can compare themselves to him!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Virtual Skeptics #119 – 2/11/2015 | The Virtual Skeptics

  6. Pingback: The Food Babe: “There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever” – Respectful Insolence

  7. And to underscore that Food Babe makes no distinction between components found in food or in beauty products, consider this:

    http://foodbabe.com/2013/05/05/what-you-need-to-know-before-you-ever-buy-sunscreen-again/

    “Your skin is your largest organ.

    “It covers and protects everything on your body. How you treat it is incredibly important to your health. However, the skin is one of the most unappreciated organs, and one that I used to totally take for granted, slathering products full of toxic chemicals on it day after day. When I look back at all the different potions I’ve tried, I shake my head in disbelief and wish I would have known better.”

    Then there’s this video, in which she says that basically everything you put in your hair (even if you rinse it out, like shampoo) apparently creeps into your skin and every bodily orifice when you sleep at night:

    http://foodbabe.com/2011/11/06/holistic-hair-care-how-why/

    So she makes NO distinction between internal and external. She doesn’t believe the simple fact that skin is a waterproof barrier that very few substances can simply permeate on their own. We apparently are all big, sloshy sponges in her pineapple-under-the-sea world.

    And not only does she say that you should drink only filtered water, but you should SHOWER only with filtered water too, even if doing so is unbelievably expensive and totally unnecessary:

    http://foodbabe.com/2013/09/14/aquasana-water-filter-giveaway-1500-value/#more-14697

    As afraid as she seems of every substance and every possible way of ingesting it, I’m surprised that she’s even able to leave the house and isn’t confined to be like a germ-dreading Howard Hughes. But then again, she cannot possibly believe this, or she wouldn’t be trying to argue away all of her inconsistencies when they run afoul of her money-grubbing.

    BTW, I love in that last link how she helpfully defines carcinogens as “things that cause cancer and diseases,” an explanation that itself is incorrect and obfuscatory.

    But going back to that first post about skin and slathering “toxic chemicals” on it, I think there’s one thing that we can all agree with Food Babe on: We shake our heads in disbelief and wish that she would have known better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed Matt. And the one that will always haunt her (until she goes back and deletes the page):

      http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

      Because she says:

      “Next – do this crucial step to become educated about what is lurking in those beauty products. Check the list below to find out if any of your products contain these dirty dozen chemicals.

      BHA and BHT. Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.”

      What really hurts about her Chicago Business Journal rebuttal is that they let her off the hook when they had her. She claims to personally use every product she sells, yet she somehow “didn’t know” there was BHT in the Brown Sugar Body Polish because EWG gave it a good safety rating. Wait–there’s a photo of her on her web site saying how much she enjoys using it, and the product is clearly labeled!

      And she’s been selling it since July, 2012. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Food Babe: Tell Us When You’re Going To Drop The BHT | Bad Science Debunked

  9. Pingback: Bad science debunked « Flexible Reality

  10. Who pays you to attempt to discredit? She removes items that are found to contain bad ingredients! You are ignoring real science and believing the propaganda. Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS as well as the majority of media, are controlled by big business and they lie to us. I believe in natural food and products! No GMO or pesticides for me! Do you believe the lies about vaccinations helping us? The truth will prevail eventually, but it may be too late to undo the damage to humanity. In our lifetime we have seen the terrible effects of chemicals being put into our food and injected into out bodies. I pray for the next generations.

    Like

    • No Randal, she doesn’t remove items. Who pays you to say otherwise? She sells at least 40 that contain the same ingredients she says are dangerous. Examples include Naturally Fresh deodorant, Tarte Lip stains, Nutiva Chia seeds, and all the Halloween candy she sold recently. I’d be happy to run through a list of products with you and proof she knows about them if you’ll stick around for debate.

      ALL food is 100% chemicals, as is your entire body. The natural food and products you believe in are 100% chemicals. No exceptions.

      I don’t “believe” anything about vaccinations. I know the evidence. They’ve eradicated many diseases–or had, until unvaccinated people brought them back. But one debate at a time. Let’s start with Hari. Look up the ingredients to “Naturally Fresh” deodorant, sold by Hari in her blog post “Throw this out of your bathroom cabinet immediately”. It contains aluminum. The same ingredient she warns you to avoid in deodorant in the article.

      Like

  11. Unfortunately, a lot of these companies gain your trust then change their ingredients and/or sell out to major companies with no news report etc. Food Babe is aware of this now and that’s why she is starting her own brand of products. I fell victim to this and continued to use a product I trusted for years before I realized they changed.

    Like

    • Actually I’ve caught Food Babe selling over 3 dozen products that contain her banned ingredients at the same time she’s selling them with the packages clearly labeled–and she says she personally uses and reads the label of every product she sells.

      The only product in her new line (Truvani) is laden with chemicals though she rails against them. I’ll have an article with a list coming up shortly.

      Like

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