Food Babe Slams Kraft Over Three Dyes but Sells Same

Note: In December 2015, after two years of selling this product, Vani Hari quietly pulled it from her shopping page without any explanation.  She had previously refused to remove the lip stains described here despite numerous (very public) warnings that it contained the same ingredients she claimed were dangerous.  

Despite a very vocal campaign against Kraft over the use of the dyes Blue #1, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6 in their products,1,2 Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) sells items containing a form of these same dyes via her shopping page, and has apparently been doing so since December, 2013.

The items sold by Kraft are food products, while those sold by Hari are cosmetics intended for use on the lips.

The only difference in the dyes is the addition of a metallic salt in the cosmetics to prevent the dyes from becoming water soluble.  Unfortunately for Hari, the metal in question is aluminum, which she falsely links to Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer.3,14  It must be pointed out that experts in food/product safety strongly disagree with Hari over her claims about the dyes in question–and the aluminum.

Not only did Food Babe miss the presence of the dyes in an item that she claims to use personally–also escaping her attention were 4 compounds she specifically warns should be avoided in beauty products because of alleged endocrine system disruption,4 saccharine (which she says is toxic),5 and retinyl palmitate (which she falsely links to skin cancer when used in the presence of the sun).6

I am not writing as an expert in food and product safety–only to point out Food Babe’s double standards.  The products being discussed in this article all have a solid safety record.  Please keep that in mind as you read.

Hari earns an Amazon.com sales commission via click-throughs on a Tarte Cosmetics link on her shopping page, where she features that company’s Lipsurgence Lip Stain:7

capture19

Screen capture of FoodBabe.com shopping page. Note the highlighted Amazon affiliate ID. (click/enlarge).

 

There are several color options available.  Let’s have a look at the full list of ingredients, according to the Tarte web site.8  Please click to the image to enlarge in a new window.

Tarte Lipsurgence dyes

Ingredients for the full color array of Tarte Lipsurgence lip stains. (click/enlarge)

 

A bit of explanation is in order here.  You’ll notice the word “lake” after each of the dyes.  According to the FDA, approved dyes become lakes when a “salt” is added to make them non-water soluble.9  Simply put, in some products (such as cosmetics or potato chips) you don’t want the colors to run.  According to both the FDA and the manufacturer, the salt in this case is an aluminum compound (e.g., aluminum hydroxide).

Does making the dyes into lakes change their toxicology?  That is, would you expect them to behave in a different manner than Hari’s gloom and doom cherry picked “research” would indicate?  I’m not a chemistry expert, but I found 3 scholarly resources who all cite the FDA.  These sources state that for toxicological purposes, the dyes and their lake forms are identical.10,11,12

Of course, if Food Babe wants to argue this point, she’s left in the awkward position of explaining how the addition of an element she claims to be toxic (aluminum) to a dye she claims is toxic suddenly makes both safe.

 

image

The FDA says lakes are used when you don’t want colors to run–like in this bag of potato chips.    (click/enlarge)

So how long has Food Babe been selling Blue #1 lake, Yellow #5 lake, and Yellow #6 lake? A quick look at the source code of her shopping page at FoodBabe.com7 suggests that she’s been doing this since December, 2013.  By convention, uploaded content (such as product images) is stored in folders tagged with the month and year the content was stored on the web site.  Looking at the screen snapshot below, the association is readily apparent:

Capture

Food Babe appears to have uploaded her Tarte Cosmetics content in December, 2013. (click/enlarge).

 

But, as I said in the introduction, the food coloring is only the tip of the iceberg.  In “Be a Drug Store Beauty Dropout”, Hari warns her readers to avoid the following in all beauty products:

“Siloxanes. Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.” 4  (emphasis mine)

Yet the product she sells and claims to personally use includes:

  1. Cyclopentasiloxane
  2. Phenyl Trimethicone
  3. Dimethicone
  4. Castor Oil Bis-hydroxypropyl dimethicone esters

For someone who previously tried to blame a manufacturer’s web site when caught red-handed, the following online ingredient list isn’t good news: (click to enlarge):

methicones and siloxanes

“methicones” and “siloxanes”–Food Babe somehow missed all of these. (click/enlarge)

 

I’d like to pause here and remind the reader that all of these ingredients have been studied by experts who, unlike Hari and myself, are qualified to pass judgement on them.  Tarte is a reputable company with a superb safety record and I hope that Ms. Hari’s lack of research doesn’t reflect negatively on them.  When caught in this situation before, Food Babe’s response has been to blame the manufacturer for her own mistakes.

I’ve contacted Tarte customer service several times with questions about their ingredients and have always received swift replies with references to scientific literature and government safety regulations.  Just like Kraft, Tarte is selling products that experts overwhelmingly say are safe.  Please do not punish an honest company for Vani Hari’s mistakes.

Having said that:  Food Babe’s lip stain also contains saccharin, which she links to unspecified diseases,5 retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), which she falsely links to cancer,6 and even an IARC group 2B carcinogen (titanium dioxide)–significant because it’s on the very same list as “4-Mel”, a compound found in the caramel coloring over which she previously lambasted Starbucks.13

Of course all of these additives are recognized as safe–it’s just that Food Babe cherry picks literature to make them sound dangerous.  Rather than debate the safety issue with her, however, why not just ask her: if these additive are so dangerous, why does she sell so many products that contain them?  It’s hard to find an item on the Food Babe shopping page that doesn’t contain something she says is harmful.  And yet she accuses other companies of hypocrisy and double standards?

there's more

Food Babe says all these additives are dangerous.  They’re not.  But why is she selling products that contain them?  (click/enlarge).

 

[edited for clarity: statement on aluminum hydroxide clarified 17 Feb 2015]

Image Credits
Amazon.com, Tarte, 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.

Edit History
16 Feb 2015–Added additional reference for Food Babe aluminum toxicity claim

References
(1) Food Babe Kraft Complaint
http://foodbabe.com/2013/03/25/kraft-acknowledged-petition-but-didnt-address-concerns-of-over-a-quarter-million-people/

(2) Food Babe Kraft/Jello Complaint
http://foodbabe.com/2014/05/21/this-childhood-favorite-has-a-warning-label-in-europe-why-not-here/

(3) Food Babe “Throw This Out Of Your Bathroom Cabinet Immediately”
http://foodbabe.com/2013/04/10/throw-this-out-of-your-bathroom-cabinet-immediately/

(4) Be a Drug Store Beauty Dropout
http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

(5) Habits for the New Year and Beyond – #2 Develop a Distaste for Refined Sugar
http://foodbabe.com/tag/refined/

(6) The Ingredients in Sunscreen Destroying Your Health
http://foodbabe.com/2013/05/05/what-you-need-to-know-before-you-ever-buy-sunscreen-again/

(7) Shopping at Food Babe.com
http://foodbabe.com/shop/for-your-beauty/

(8) Tarte Lipsurgence Full Ingredients (official site)
http://tartecosmetics.com/tarte-item-lipsurgence-natural-matte-lip-tint

(9) FDA Color Additive Status List
http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/ColorAdditiveInventories/ucm106626.htm

(10) Food Additive Toxicology
Maga, CRC Press, Sep 13, 1994. p. 185.
https://books.google.com/books?id=6mGmxYqqiREC&pg=PA185&lpg=PA185&dq=fda+lakes+toxicology&source=bl&ots=vO3fpYSTc9&sig=NWIh5whBHCLLOZTvxCpYaBskYe8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KB7iVOXTOfXCsASw1oDgDA&ved=0CD4Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=fda%20lakes%20toxicology&f=false

(11) Handbook of Food Toxicology
Deshpande S.S., CRC Press, Aug 29, 2002. ISBN 0-8247-0760-5. p. 228.
https://books.google.com/books?id=Ex5QNLO-UkMC&dq=fda+lakes+toxicology+deshpande&source=gbs_navlinks_s

(12) Food Safety Handbook
Schmidt R, Roderick G,  Wiley, Mar 10, 2003. ISBN 0-471-21064-1. p. 254

(13) Wake Up And Smell the Chemicals
http://foodbabe.com/2014/09/02/drink-starbucks-wake-up-and-smell-the-chemicals/

(14) How to Find the Best Natural Mascara that Actually Works
http://foodbabe.com/2013/07/27/how-to-find-the-best-natural-mascara-that-actually-works/#more-14046

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51 thoughts on “Food Babe Slams Kraft Over Three Dyes but Sells Same

    • I’m confused as to why consumers think she’s doing something for them Kathy. She’s currently selling a product with the same dyes she’s telling her army are dangerous. She sold BHT for almost 3 years while slamming other companies for the same thing. Nearly every product in her online store has the same ingredients she says are harmful. All one has to do is read her article and read the ingredients in her products.

      I’m not trying to bait you. I’d really like one of her followers to explain this, please. How can you follow her, given that she’s using scare tactics to get you to buy what she’s telling you is going to hurt you? Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 8 people

      • They can’t explain it because they’re stupid & just follow her because she has a pretty face & wish that by following her words, they’ll be pretty too. That’s about it.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, she miseducates the public by making hysterical, if not inherently false, claims based on fraudulent science so that people will buy products from her website. So VERY generous of her.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Since Mark took the high road, I won’t. What are you VOTING for her for, first of all? Secondly, did you actually read the article? Thirdly, if you did, how do you read about someone being a complete hypocrite and then glowingly support her? Do you realize how moronic that is? Do you realize how foolish that makes you look? Mark: “Here’s how blatantly hypocritical this person is, she’s lying to you to take your money. Kathy: “Isn’t she awesome?” So, please, explain it to us. Or are you just a Fraud Boob Army paid shill?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Right on, Kathy. I read Food Babe religiously. The fact that she is pissing off so many people must mean she is on to something.

      Like

      • It would be great to have a conversation with someone who follows Food Babe so closely, Kate–if you’re willing. How do you feel about the fact that many of the products Vani Hari sells contain exactly the same ingredients she says are dangerous? She sells BHT, cellulose, food dyes, aluminum, multiple so-called endocrine disruptors, etc.

        I’ve tried to ask her this on her Facebook page, but she immediately bans anyone who points out that she’s wrong.

        This type of dishonesty is what “pisses” people off about her. If you’re in favor of safer products, you and I are actually on the same side. If you’re not subjecting Vani Hari to the same scrutiny she uses on others… that’s a problem, I think.

        Like

        • Mark, I believe the products you are referring to are cosmetics that Food Babe recommends (and, yes, for which she earns a small commission to do so). Don’t you think there is a difference between products designed to be eaten and those that are intended for topical use? I have purchased many of the products that Food Babe recommends and have been very satisfied with their high quality and purity. The Food Industry is vast and the FDA underfunded and overworked. I appreciate that Food Babe is out in front reading labels and publishing warnings. We cannot know today what tomorrow we may discover to be dangerous. I concur with her conclusion that no synthetic chemicals added to our food to increase their shelf life are acceptable.

          Like

          • Kate, thank you for responding. These aren’t products that she just recommends–she sells them, while telling people to avoid competing products that have the same ingredients. Vani Hari unequivocally says that “toxins” in cosmetics are just as bad as those in food. For reference, check out her articles including “Be a drug story beauty dropout”, “Holistic Hair Care”, and her sunscreen article(s).

            She doesn’t stop at cosmetics, of course. Her book contains a warning not to use agave nectar, but it’s in the products she sells. She warns not to ingest cellulose, but for years sold a supplement that contains cellulose.

            But, to the point: without making any judgement as to “purity”, when Food Babe says in “Be a drug store beauty dropout” to avoid any cosmetic with an ingredient ending in “-ethicone” or “-siloxane”, how can she justify selling cosmetics that contain dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane?

            Like

          • Well man, I admire your patience – it is amusing to read about people trying to keep Babe out of the hole where she put herself – could they be so gullible? Well, if they could buy anything from a “Babe” one’s, yes, they can.
            😀

            Liked by 1 person

      • In addition to FoodBabe’s own blurring of the lines between food and topical safety, she has explicitly argued that aluminum in deodorant puts one at risk of Alzheimer’s; are the lips a safer body surface for it than the armpits? And people lick their lips, and those of their partners …

        Like

    • And you are the epitome of why it was a bad idea to allow women to vote for anything; you have no mental capacity to assess fact from fiction and you live your life based on how things make you feel, like a pre-school child.

      Like

      • Dude, call an individual an idiot, but when you try and pretend like they’re a representative of their gender, you lose all credibility.

        There are just as many stupid males who blindly follow people they like and spout hypocritical rhetoric when pressed about it. Being a dumbass misogynist just gives people who want to argue against you easy ammo: that you’re a dumbass misogynist, why should they listen to anything you say?

        Like

        • (Edit: I blew it here. Thanks to Kristna for pointing it out. Please see retraction below.). I challenge you to find a single misogynistic comment. I hope for a reply from you. Where, exactly, did I pretend anyone is a representative of their gender? Please, point it out.

          Given that you launched into an ad hom attack instead of debating the fact that Food Babe is selling the same dyes she says are dangerous, is it safe to assume you don’t have an answer to for that one? Can you explain how Yellow 5 and Blue 1 are dangerous in the products Vani petitions against, but are OK in the ones she sells?

          I do hope you’ll come back and debate this. Without the personal attacks though. They really weaken your “argument”.

          Like

      • Mark, I love your article and have great respect for how much patience and tact you have shown in responding to Food Baby Army commenters, but I believe Johnny was directly replying to The People’s Truth who said that Kathy’s comment about Food Babe having her vote is proof that women should not vote.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kristina, thank you for pointing that out. I missed that, and I apologize. I see comments in a control panel format and because of that I sometimes miss the flow of a thread.

          Rather than deleting a mistake to hide it, I’ll let it stand with my retraction here below it. I criticize Food Babe for deleting things, it would be wrong of me to do the same.

          Thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow!

          Like

  1. You are awesome. The sooner Food Babe’s false reign ends, the better. Hopefully she’ll fade into obscurity with the rest of these fear mongering, snake oil salesmen. Although I’m willing to bet that this is my youth speaking. I’m sure some other pseudoscience fad will take the place or these types will never die but simply form newer, dumber opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “she’s left in the awkward position of explaining how the addition of an element she claims to be toxic (aluminum) to a dye she claims is toxic suddenly makes both safe.” Sodium and chlorine go together quite nicely, but I wouldn’t ingest either alone. (Not knocking the main points of the post – just a passing comment).

    Liked by 1 person

    • A very well made point John. Hari claims aluminum in any form is dangerous. It’s ironic that aluminum hydroxide is used in the deodorants she links to Alzheimer’s and also the lakes in the lip stain she sells, but I wasn’t sure how hard to hammer the point. She just claims that if its there, it’s harmful. Sorry if I didn’t make her claim clear.

      Like

    • Also, compound vs mixture? Sodium chloride ≠ a mixture of sodium and chlorine.

      Now if you used the example of sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid, on the other hand… 😉

      Then again, a lot of people think they’re going to burn holes in them too, even when present in equimolar quantities…

      Like

  3. Well, my vote too – as a candiate to “smart enough fraudster to push hoaxes to raise personal business”, the (not so) “new” (but rather)old frontier of modern E-Commerce.
    😀

    Snake oil sellers: how cute are they. When in jail, I mean….

    Like

    • Imagine how popular she’d be in a women’s prison… They’d tell her to “toss the salad” and she’d ask if it was organic, non GMO salad.

      Like

  4. She follows a very common ploy to bilk easily scared, self-conscious or just plain stupid people out of their money

    Step 1: Convince people they have a problem that doesn’t exist, and anyone that tells them otherwise is trying to harm them in some way
    Step 2: Tell them you know exactly what is causing that problem
    Step 3: Sell them the “solution” to the non-existent problem

    Then, once they have spent money on your scams, they will be reluctant to acknowledge their error and solidify their opinion that you are their savior.

    Like

  5. WoW!!! Vani deleted my comments on her webpage. I questioned her true motives. I used to be a follower until a friend of mine had an issue with a product last year and emailed Vani about it. Vani’s reply was to get a lawyer!!! She really isn’t out to help people which was also apparent with the many emails sent out “Reserve a copy of my book today!!”. Food Babe is a fake … A distraction and she is happily making money off of people who do not know any better. Beware of “leaders” who promote themselves… And who silence anyone who questions them. Unfortunaty Zen Honeycutt of Moms Across America is the basically the same… She deletes and blocks Moms who ask questions of transparency in reference to her fundraising and glyphosate testing… And soon she will have a book published with fundraising money… After she buys stocks in chemical companies and airplane ticket, babysitting fees… All courtesy of Moms who trust her! Sickening.

    Like

    • It’s sad how much time she dedicates to censorship. I don’t think the dye story is going to go away, no matter how much she ignores it. I am a little saddened by how mainstream media ignores the story though, while at the same time giving her pseudoscience so much publicity. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. And let’s not forget that Vani is going after these dyes because she falsely believes that contain coal tar (because they were extracted from it or something). While it is true that these dyes are called ‘Coal tar dyes’ because of the fact that many dyes were extracted from coal tar in the past, these days they are extracted from plant extract.

    Like

  7. Pingback: Vani Hari, a.k.a. “The Food Babe,” doubles down on the misinformation in her response to the New York Times – Respectful Insolence

  8. Pingback: Society for the Green Voice, or So You Think You’ve Joined a Cult | The Skeptical Beard

  9. Pingback: Kraft Mac & Cheese just got duller. You can thank (or blame) ‘The Food Babe.’ | Health News Latest

  10. It was all fun and games until she messed with Easy Mac. I can’t believe her brand of pseudoscience is actually making change happen. The loudest and the easily led shall inherit the earth.

    Like

  11. Pingback: Everything You Eat Will Kill You, if Fear-Mongering Idiocy Doesn’t First. | lucidmed

  12. As an FYI, she still has Tarte Lights Camera Lashes mascara which contains:
    cyclopentasiloxane
    And Tarte MultiplEYE™ which contains:
    ethylhexylglycerin, polyglyceryl-3 disiloxane dimethicone, sodium hydroxide

    Just a few of the ingredients. Not to mention the Josie Maran hair care which contains:
    : Cyclomethicone (and) Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane,

    I could go on, but the end point is that people who follow her are blinded by her “star” status and couldn’t care less about the truth. Our only real hope is to make sure the “fence sitters” are fully educated on her hypocrisy and pray the others have an “a ha” moment.

    Like

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