(VIDEO) Banned by Food Babe: The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

“Thanks for calling out the troll. I’ll make sure to get him”
–Vani Hari, when asked why she’s selling products containing the dyes Yellow 5 and Blue 1


I, Mark Alsip, am the troll referred to in Vani Hari’s quote (above). We had an interesting encounter yesterday on Periscope.  After being encouraged to ask questions, I very politely and respectfully queried Hari on three products she’s selling. I wanted to know why certain of her wares contain nearly a dozen different chemicals she’s specifically called out as “toxic”.

If you’re already aware of Vani’s tactics, you probably won’t be surprised I was banned instantly.  However, for those in the Food Babe Army (or the media) who don’t believe that Hari censors all dissenting comment and immediately bans those who point out her gaffes, presented below are video, screen captures, links to Food Babe’s product labels (with ingredient lists), and more, to back up the claims I made on Periscope.

Food Babe, who encourages followers to “read the ingredients” and mercilessly hound companies such as Subway and Kellogg’s via social media and petitions, does not apply the same standards to herself. She says “the sky is falling” and then tries to sell you a piece of the same sky. And, as demonstrated here, she’s apparently terrified of an honest discussion of the products she offers via her web site.


Three Products, Three Points
I politely called out Vani on three points, listed below and illustrated in the screen captures that follow. Follow the hyperlinks for product labels and information on the items sold by Food Babe:

Three Screen Captures


In an article warning us to avoid aluminum-based deodorants, Vani sells Naturally Fresh deodorant, which contains aluminum. Food Babe falsely links aluminum to Alzheimer’s. (click/enlarge)


Vani’s Tarte Lip Stains contain Yellow #5 and Blue #1, which she claims to be toxic in numerous articles. Her product also contains 3 “endocrine disruptors” she’s warned about, saccharine (she links to cancer), and aluminum. (click/enlarge)


Vani disparages salad dressings containing canola oil because of “poisonous” erucic acid from rapeseed. However, she sells two salad dressings that contain erucic acid. (click/enlarge)


The Video
Here’s a glimpse at what happens when you ask Food Babe honest questions (running time 1:07):
Update: On September 24 Vani Hari tried to silence my criticism by filing a harassing copyright infringement claim on YouTube. She’s apparently unfamiliar with fair use law. While I remind her, you can launch the video in a new window by clicking the image below. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Temporary Video Location (if YouTube non-functional)

YouTube Video (in litigation)

Image Credits
All Periscope video and screen captures are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (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.

Food Babe Slams Kraft Over Three Dyes But Sells Same

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Naturally Fresh Deodorant

Food Babe Selling Erucic Acid (Salad Dressing Article)


Food Babe General Mills Meme Refutation

Vani Hari, Queen of Hypocrisy, published a meme yesterday asking why General Mills donated $1.1 million to fight mandatory GMO labeling, when they “could have fed 350,000 low income children in Minnesota instead”.1

Vani, how do you feel about your affiliate, Dr. Bronner, donating nearly twice that amount ($1.8 million) to support the labeling?2

Food Babe, who sells Dr. Bronner products in her online store, missed something

Food Babe, who sells Dr. Bronner products in her online store, somehow missed the fact he donated nearly twice General Mills’ amount to fight for unnecessary labeling. (click/enlarge)

Here’s Food Babe’s original meme.  You do the math.  If GM could have fed 350,000 low income kids for $1.1 million, how many children could she and Bronner fed with their $1.8 million?

vani hari General Mills meme

Vani Hari slams General Mills for a smaller donation than her affiliate company made in the same battle. 2     (click/enlarge)


Why doesn’t Food Babe criticize Dr. Bronner?  Let’s take a peek at her online store and see if we can find any clues.3

food babe dr bronner

Food Babe (Vani Hari) is smart enough not to bite the hand that feeds her. (click/enlarge)


Image Credits
Food Babe and Dr. Bronner screen captures 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.

(1) Food Babe Meme

(2) Dr. Bronner’s Donation

(3) Food Babe Online Store

In Support of Food Hunk

http://www.gmofreeusa.org/take-action/boycott-scotts-gmo-grass-campaign/Master debunker/satirist The Food Hunk is running a fun contest this week.  It seems that the pseudoscientists over at GMO Free USA have gone all hypocritical, sending out a cease and desist warning over his legal use of their logo in his debunking efforts.  The contest is a simple parody design game.

Apparently, the GMO Free USA organization isn’t familiar with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law, which makes their logo fair game in the way it’s being used by bloggers such as Food Hunk and myself.   I’d be happy to explain the law to them, or have my attorneys do it for me.  But before I point out the hypocrisy behind GMO Free’s protest, here’s my contest entry:

gmo fact free USAIf you’re not familiar with GMO Free USA, suffice to say they’re a major supporter of the organic food industry, which raked in a record 39 billion dollars in revenue last year.1  My logo parody, GMO Fact Free USA, is inspired by the organization’s use of fear tactics and lack of science to drive consumers away from safe, affordable food–and toward products pushed by woomeisters (and GMO Free USA supporters) such as Food Babe2,3 and Dr. Joseph Mercola.4,5

The fear mongers I’m criticizing here don’t rely on facts in pushing their agendas, and/or they blatantly cherry pick and misrepresent facts to distort the truth.  Thus, “GMO Fact Free USA” is born.

It’s ironic how often GMO Fact Free USA and their allies do exactly what’s got their panties in such a wad: using logos of those they’re criticizing in their writing.  The fact is, this is entirely legal.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll leave you with around “six thousand” examples of hypocrisy from the Fact Free woo pushers among us.  You can click any image to enlarge.

gmo free usa hypocrisy

Methinks the pseudoscientists doth protest too much.  Count the copyrighted logos in this GMO Free USA ad campaign.6   (click/enlarge)

gmo usa scott boycott

Scotts didn’t protest GMO Free USA’s use of their logo, for good reason: it’s perfectly legal in this context. 7  (click/enlarge)


food babe logo use

Food Babe, who supports organizations such as GMO Free USA, isn’t shy about legally using other corporate logos.8   (click/enlarge)


food babe starbucks logo

More (GMO Free USA supporter) Food Babe corporate logo use. 9    (click/enlarge)


mercola aspartame

GMO Free USA fan Joseph Mercola isn’t shy about using a corporate logo when it suits his interests.10 (click/enlarge)

mercola soft drinks

More  from GMO Free USA supporter Mercola.10 (click/enlarge)


Revision History
22 Sep 2015: Added missing hyperlink to Scott’s boycott call


Image Credits
GMO Free USA logo/parody is 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.

Food Babe and Mercola.com 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.


(1) Organic Trade Association

(2) The Shocking Difference Between Organic and non-GMO Labels (Food Babe)

(3) Food Babe/GMO Free USA (Facebook)

(4) Mercola/GMO Free USA (Facebook)

(5) Mercola/GMO Free USA (Facebook)

(6) GMO Free USA Boycott Call: Kellogg’s

(7) GMO Free USA Boycott Call: Scott’s

(8) Food Babe: Cereal

(9) Food Babe: Starbucks

(10) Mercola: Aspartame

Refutations to David Avocado Wolfe Memes

Just a quick one for you today.  Couldn’t resist setting David “Avocado” Wolfe straight on butterflies.


My reply to Wolfe's nonsensical meme

My reply to Wolfe’s nonsensical meme

Here’s the Wolfe meme being debunked:

Wolfe's scientifically inaccurate butterfly meme.

Wolfe’s scientifically inaccurate butterfly tripe.

Image Credits
David Wolfe screen snapshot is 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.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) copyright (c) 2014 Mark Aaron Alsip. All rights reserved.

Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan Salt Debunked

If I see one more advert for the magical health benefits of 84-element Himalayan Pink Salt I’m going to vomit.  No, really.  I mean it.  It’s time somebody debunked this garbage.  Every charlatan and snake oil salesman on the planet is pushing this salt, and it’s time for a take-down.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, I’m looking at you.

mercola's pink salt

I’m actually going to let Dr. Mercola debunk himself in this article.  We’ll simply present the ingredients he claims are in his salt,1 along with his own “research” on those same elements.  The truth of the matter is, Mercola unequivocally states that his own product is full of poisonous elements.  (The full ingredient list, provided by Mercola, is provided in the References section at the end of this article.) 1

Before we begin, let’s be clear on something.  We’re talking about trace elements: quantities so minute they’re hard to detect.  But, in Mercola’s quotes, please pay attention to his pathological obsession with how even the lowest levels of “toxic” chemicals are unacceptable.  For example, here’s some Dr. Joe hyperbole on mercury:

“In fact, it [mercury] is SO toxic that entire buildings have been evacuated for a mercury spill smaller than a standard dental filling” 2

If Mercola wants to change horses in midstream and say that the trace elements are not dangerous, then he’s left in the unenviable position of explaining why he’s touting their very presence as the reason his salt is supposed to be healthier than regular table salt.

So, without further ado, let’s let Dr. Joseph Mercola describe ten toxic elements in his Himalayan salt, in his own words:


Mercola’s Himalayan salt contains mercury.  His opinion?

“Mercury is one of the most potent neurotoxins known to man.”2

“In fact, it’s SO toxic that entire buildings have been evacuated for a mercury spill smaller than a standard dental filling.”2

“There Is NO Safe Level of Mercury Exposure” 2

Dr. Joe goes on to fear monger over mercury in vaccines3 and lists it as one of his five most toxic metals to avoid.5

Smacking your head yet? I know I am. But how about…


Aluminum features prominently in Mercola’s salt.  How does he feel about the most common metal in the earth’s crust?

“Aluminum has been long known to be neurotoxic, with mounting evidence that chronic exposure is a factor in many neurological diseases, including dementia, autism, and Parkinson’s disease.”4

Just as with particles in the environment, once aluminum is in your tissues, your body has a difficult time releasing it. This toxic metal serves absolutely no biological purpose, so the less of it you ingest, the better.4

Aluminum also makes Mercola’s list of the five most toxic metals to avoid.5


A star player in Mercola’s list of the 5 most toxic metals,5 his feelings on exposure to even low levels of lead are quite clear. So why is he selling it?

“Studies have found that there is no safe level of lead, and since it does not break down in your body you will accumulate it for a lifetime” 10


“Lead is known to cause damage to your brain and nervous system. Even small amounts can be dangerous, as lead builds up in your body over time.” 11

Arsenic, the favorite poison of the Brewster Sisters in the classic film Arsenic and Old Lace, pops up in this salt.  Mercola’s expert opinion on exposure to trace levels of arsenic?  Well:

“Exposure to low levels of arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of “pins and needles” in hands and feet, and over the long term can cause darkening of the skin and the appearance of small “corns” or “warts” on the palms, soles, and torso.” 5


You’ll find cadmium in Mercola’s salt.  Although after writing the following, he probably wishes you didn’t look too closely at his ingredients list:

” It is a known human carcinogen that appears to act in two ways: it harms DNA directly and disturbs a DNA repair system that helps to prevent cancer.” 5


Polonium made news in 2006 when Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with a particular isotope, polonium 210.9   No word on which of the 33 radioactive isotopes of polonium are present in Mercola’s salt, because his company won’t release the information (claiming it’s “proprietary”). Regardless,  radioactive polonium in any form is not what you want to ingest.  Dr. Mercola, please educate us on polonium:

“It  [research] also showed that polonium, specifically, causes cancer in laboratory animals.” 13


“The [carcinogenic] factor I’m talking about is polonium-210—a highly radioactive element that releases alpha particles as it decays. It’s also chemically toxic. While alpha particles cannot penetrate deeply into your body, they can cause serious damage to cells they do come into contact with.” 6


Uranium is found in Mercola’s salt?  Yes, according to the list provided by his company.  If the doctor is worried about his followers eating radioactive substances, this one should be a no-brainer.  But the doctor tells us:

“Uranium and radium are two known carcinogens found in fluorosilicic acid used for water fluoridation” 6


Mercola flagged radium as dangerous along with uranium in the previous paragraph. Yet radium is found in his pink salt.  Remind us again about radium, please, doctor?

“Uranium and radium are two known carcinogens found in fluorosilicic acid used for water fluoridation” 6


“Alpha particles: Emitted from uranium, radium, plutonium and thorium, alpha particles are a type of ionizing radiation.  The federal public health goal (maximum contaminant level goal, or MCLG) for alpha particles is zero. […] While they can’t penetrate deeply into your body, alpha particles can cause serious damage to cells they come into contact with.” 12  (emphasis mine)


Mercola links thallium and other “heavy metals” to cancer, memory loss, cardiovascular disease, reproductive issues, lung damage, and neurological problems. 7

Perhaps the good doctor can explain why thallium is found in a food product he’s selling.

If you think your favorite lip gloss or eye shadow is “safe” because it doesn’t list lead or arsenic on the ingredients label, think again. A new report revealed that virtually every cosmetic product tested contained a potentially dangerous or proven toxic heavy metal.


None of the products tested contained mercury, but lead was detected in 96 percent of the products, arsenic in 20 percent and cadmium in 51 percent. Nickel was found in all the products tested, beryllium in 90 percent, thallium in 61 percent and selenium in 14 percent. 7 (emphasis mine)

Call the doctor:  if thallium is dangerous in cosmetics, how is it safe in his salt?


Antimony, an element found in Dr. Joe’s Himalayan Pink salt, scares him so badly he’s actually afraid he’ll absorb it from sleeping on mattresses.  I’m not making this up!

Antimony is a metal that may be more toxic than mercury and formaldehyde.


Your mattress may be of particular concern, as many contain not only PBDE’s, but also toxic antimony, boric acid, and formaldehyde.8

I can’t escape the mental image of a doctor sleeping in a bio-hazard suit to protect himself from antimony in his mattress, then salting his eggs with antimony at breakfast.


So there you have it. Ten elements Dr. Mercola purports to be highly toxic, even in minute doses, but all found in his “healthy” Himalayan salt.  There are far more examples, but let’s not beat a dead horse.  If the trace elements are there in sufficient quantities to provide the claimed benefits, then they certainly exist in amounts sufficient to be the poisons Mercola warns about.  Especially when he’s making risible claims such as evacuating entire buildings because of a mercury spill the size of a tooth filling. 2

It would be wonderful to have an explanation from the doctor, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’m reminded of the old Alice Cooper song:

“I want to love you but I better not touch
I want to hold you, but my senses tell me to stop […]
You’re poison, running through my veins”

–Alice Cooper, “Poison”


Revision History
On September 16, 2015, additional Mercola quotes and citations were added for lead and radium.

On December 3, 2015:  For more on this story, see the Forbes article I co-wrote with Kavin Senapathy: “The Toxic ‘Chemical Hypocrisy’ Of Food Babe, Joseph Mercola And Mark Hyman


(1) Himalayan Crystal Salt Mineral Analysis
in response to my query
Mercola.com customer service, 9/13/2015

Note: I repeatedly queried Mercola’s support team as to the source of this analysis.  Was it a scientific study they could cite?  I was rebuffed with comments like this:

“At this time being we are unable to provide a certificate of analysis for the Himalayan Salts as this remains proprietary information.  For your personal reference the manufacturer of our Himalayan Salts is WBM International”

Regardless, this is what Mercola says is in his salt:

 Hydrogen — 0.30 g/kg
 Lithium — 0.40 g/kg
 Beryllium — under 0.01 ppm
 Boron — under 0.001 ppm
 Carbon — under 0.001 ppm
 Nitrogen — 0.024 ppm
 Oxygen — 1.20 g/kg
 Fluoride — under 0.1 g/kg
 Sodium — 382.61 g/kg
 Magnesium — 0.16 g/kg
 Aluminum — 0.661 ppm
 Silicon — under 0.1 g/kg
 Phosphorus — under 0.10 ppm
 Sulfur — 12.5 g/kg
 Chloride — 590.93 g/kg
 Potassium — 3.5 g/kg
 Calcium — 4.05 g/kg
 Scandium — under 0.0001 ppm
 Titanium — under 0.001 ppm
 Vanadium 0.06 ppm
 Chromium — 0.05 ppm
 Manganese — 0.27 ppm
 Iron — 38.9 ppm
 Cobalt — 0.60 ppm
 Nickel — 0.13 ppm
 Copper — 0.56 ppm
 Zinc — 2.38 ppm
Gallium — under 0.001 ppm
 Germanium — under 0.001 ppm
 Arsenic — under 0.01 ppm
 Selenium — 0.05 ppm
 Bromine — 2.1 ppm
 Rubidium — 0.04 ppm
 Strontium — 0.014 g/kg
 Ytterbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Zirconium — 0.001 ppm
 Niobium — under 0.001 ppm
 Molybdenum — 0.01 ppm
 Ruthenium — under 0.001 ppm
 Rhodium — under 0.001 ppm
 Palladium — under 0.001 ppm
 Silver — 0.031 ppm
 Cadmium — under 0.01 ppm
 Indium — under 0.001 ppm
 Tin — under 0.01 ppm
 Antimony — under 0.01 ppm
 Tellurium — under 0.001 ppm
 Iodine — under 0.1 g/kg
 Cerium — under 0.001 ppm
 Praseodynium — under 0.001 ppm
 Neodymium — under 0.001 ppm
 Samarium — under 0.001 ppm
 Barium — 1.96 ppm
 Europium — under 3.0 ppm
 Gadolinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Terbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Dysprosium — under 4.0 ppm
 Holmium — under 0.001 ppm
 Erbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Thulium — under 0.001 ppm
 Ytterbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Lutetium — under 0.001 ppm
 Hafnium — under 0.001 ppm
 Tantalum — 1.1 ppm
 Wolfram — under 0.001 ppm
 Rhenium — under 2.5 ppm
 Osmium — under 0.001 ppm
 Iridium — under 2.0 ppm
 Platinum — 0.47 ppm
 Gold — under 1.0 ppm
 Mercury — under 0.03 ppm
 Thallium — 0.06 ppm
 Lead — 0.10 ppm
 Bismuth — under 0.10 ppm
 Polonium — under 0.001 ppm
 Astat — under 0.001 ppm
 Francium — under 0.10 ppm
 Radium — under 0.001 ppm
 Actinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Thorium — under 0.001 ppm
 Protactinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Uranium — under 0.001 ppm
 Neptunium — under 0.001 ppm
 Plutonium — under 0.001 ppm


(2) Europeans Face Same Hurdles as Americans in Banning Mercury Amalgam

(3) “Mercury Detoxification Protocol”

(4) First Case Study to Show Direct Link Between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity

(5) Five Common Toxic Metals to Avoid, and Where You’ll Find Them

(6) Radioactive Fertilizer—The Surprising Primary Cause of Lung Cancer in Smokers

(7) New Study Finds Major Toxins in Many Cosmetics

(8)  Even if You Do Everything Else Right – This Frequently Overlooked Threat can Destroy Your Health

(9) Alexander Litvinenko: Profile of a Murdered Russian Spy (BBC)

(10) Poison Lead in Lipstick

(11) Lead Exposure in Children

(12)  Water Filters May Reduce Radiation Exposure

(13) Smoking Side Effects

Image Credits
Dr. Mercola 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.

Dr. Mark Hyman’s Cellulose Hypocrisy

Catching pseudoscientific doctors in the act of demonizing ingredients while simultaneously selling the same to their blissfully unaware followers is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

This week we’re back with Dr. Mark Hyman, MD., and another offering from his world class online “Wellness Shop”.  First, of course, we must have the setup: here’s Dr. Hyman weighing in on the common food/supplement additive cellulose:1

Mark Hyman doesn't like cellulose

Mark Hyman doesn’t like cellulose. He doesn’t even understand what it is. (click/enlarge)

Calling cellulose “sawdust” is a scare tactic (and one that’s going to really bite the doctor hard a few paragraphs from now).  Cellulose is simply an organic compound that makes up most of the cell walls of plants (including trees).

Hyman isn’t a big fan of cellulose, listing it as one of the additives to avoid in his article “Health Foods That are Dangerous For Your Health.” 2  (It probably isn’t coincidental that he’s closely affiliated with Vani Hari, who also claims cellulose is dangerous, but let’s stick to Hyman for now.)

As you’ve probably guessed, it’s time to point our browser outward and experience the Mark Hyman Shopping Experience.(Patent Pending)  Let’s have a look at the Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra product being sold on his web site:3

Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra

Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra as seen in the Mark Hyman Wellness Shop.

The list of ingredients on Hyman’s shopping page ends with something that might seem a bit cryptic if you haven’t studied biology:

plant fiber = cellulose

“Hypoallergenic plant fiber”?  Why would Hyman’s web site list the additive this way.  Why, that’s another name for cellulose!

Hypoallergenic plant fiber?”  Excuse me, but that sounds like cellulose!

Not wanting to falsely accuse Hyman, I contacted the manufacturer (Pure Encapsulations) and received this reply:

“Dear Mr. Alsip,

Yes, the hypo-allergenic plant fiber is cellulose derived from pine.  I have attached an information sheet here with this spelled out (also available on our website).”–email from Pure Encapsulations Product Support, 21 Aug 2015 (emphasis mine)

The email went on to explain that the company wasn’t trying to hide anything.  And they certainly weren’t.  Their own web site clearly explains that the “plant fiber” is indeed cellulose.5  The detailed PDF they were kind enough to send explicitly states this.  Hyman clearly edited the word out for his shopping page.  Why?  I can only guess it’s because he has demonized cellulose in his Facebook and blog posts.  If you’re making money from a product, you don’t want people to to think it’s dangerous, right?

pure encapsulations cellulose hyman

Unedited (original) product data from Pure Encapsulations web site (click/enlarge)

I need to stop here and point out how helpful the folks at Pure Encapsulations have been in answering my questions about their products.  They seem as perplexed as I am as to why anyone would have a problem with cellulose.  I hope that Mark Hyman’s hypocrisy and creative editing of ingredients won’t reflect negatively on this company which, to the best of my knowledge, has a sterling safety record and is well regarded by its many clients.

The claimed health benefits of this product have not been evaluated by the FDA, but there’s certainly nothing dangerous about it.  If you want to buy supplements such as this, have at it… just don’t buy from DrHyman.com.


(1) Hyman demonizes cellulose on Facebook

(2) Health Foods That Are Dangerous For Your Health (Hyman)

(3) Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra on Mark Hyman’s Online Store

(4) Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra Ingredients List

Image Credits
Mark Hyman, Facebook, and Pure Encapsulations 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.

Sweet Nothings: Dr. Mercola’s Hypocrisy Revealed In One Simple Product Label

Regular readers of this blog are familiar enough with my debunking methods that I think we can dispense with a verbose rundown on today’s featured snake oil salesman, Dr. Joseph Mercola, and just leap to the big “reveal”.  Here’s the scoop: Like others of his ilk, Mercola is selling products that contain the same ingredients he says are dangerous.  I’m going to quickly tour his online store and expose his hypocrisy.

In a “sky is falling” article on fructose found in food, Mercola warns readers about hidden sources of this innocent sugar.  Quoting biochemist Russ Bianchi, Mercola warns: 1

Mercola warns of tapioca syrup.

Mercola warns of tapioca syrup. (click/enlarge)


Oh dear.  Tapioca syrup can be an “intentionally or deceptively labeled” source of fructose?  Mercola goes on to flag fructose as a danger to our diets, warning that in many cases we’ll want to keep our total fructose intake below 25 grams per day (no more than 15 grams from fruit sources).1   We’re cautioned to keep an eye out for that sneaky fructose because, apparently, there’s no telling where it’ll be found.   I’ll keep that in mind as I go shopping.

Right then.  Off we go to Mercola.com!

How about some tasty protein bars? 2

mercola protein bars

Hmm.  We better take a look at the ingredients…

mercola protein ingredients

Pure Power Peanut Butter Bar Ingredients. (click/enlarge)

Zut Alors!  Mercola just finished warning us about hidden tapioca syrup in our food,1 and here he is selling us food with… tapioca syrup!

Nutrition information on the protein bars only goes so far as to tell us there are 10 grams of sugar per bar.  We don’t get a breakdown of the fructose content, so it’s hard to say how close we’re coming to Mercola’s arbitrary limit of 15-25 grams of fructose if we eat one or two of these things.

But that’s not the point of the debunking.  The issue is that Mercola warns about hidden sources of fructose, then proceeds to sell his followers a food that contains, by his own admission, a hidden source of fructose.  A hidden source he mentioned by name!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Mercola’s followers took his advice and actually read the labels of the products they’re buying?


(1) The Plague of High Fructose Corn Syrup in Processed Foods (Mercola.com)

(2) Pure Power Protein Bars (Mercola.com)

Image Credits
Dr. Mercola/Pure Power Protein Bar 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.

Trick or Tweet: Dr. Mark Hyman Exposed

Social media has long been a bastion of modern-day snake oil salesmen. Twitter, in particular, is a great marketing tool. When it comes to food and product safety, the app’s 140 character message limit provides more than enough room to scare the bejesus out of the public. From there, it’s just a short hop, skip, and jump to the online store of the person making the frightening tweets. The sad fact is that all too often, the products being sold by the so-called expert contain exactly the same ingredients he/she claims to be dangerous.

Eight-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Mark Hyman has mastered this “trick or tweet” technique. Here’s a recent tweet hinting at horrifying side effects from a safe food coloring:1

hyman tweet on caramel color

Dr. Mark Hyman’s tweet on the dangers of caramel color. (click/enlarge)

Caramel coloring has never actually been shown to be dangerous to humans.  But let’s debunk Hyman on a different level.  The doctor apparently makes a comfortable living selling expensive dietary supplements via his web site, drhyman.com.  If you’ve read any of his books or blog posts, you know he’s not shy about pushing these supplements as part of his diet plans.

Let’s drop by the Dr. Hyman online store and do some shopping, keeping in mind his claim that caramel coloring “poses a cancer risk to consumers”:

hyman's caramel color neuromins

Pure Encapsulations “Neuromins” via Dr. Hyman’s store. (click/enlarge)

For only $114 (!) we can pick up a 120 count bottle of “Neuromins”,2 a supplement designed (according to Hyman) to assist in the development of mental and visual functions.  I’m all excited!

But wait…  what’s that I see in the Neuromins ingredient list?3

neuromins ingredients

This supplement, sold by Dr. Hyman, contains the very caramel coloring he tagged “carcinogenic”. (click/enlarge)

Yes, that’s right: caramel coloring.  Didn’t Hyman just claim that caramel coloring was carcinogenic?

Is the caramel coloring in Hyman’s supplements the same coloring found in the soft drinks he falsely and irresponsibly links to cancer?  Why yes.. yes it is!

Caramel coloring levels III and IV are most often featured in carcinogen propaganda campaigns run by pseudoscientists because they’re the ones used in the soft drinks, beer, and pumpkin spice lattes being slandered.  I checked with the manufacturer of Hyman’s supplements, Pure Encapsulations, and they confirmed that the coloring they use is indeed level IV.

Dr. Hyman, if you believe it causes cancer, why are you selling it?

We must pause here and point out that while the health benefits of the product being discussed may be debatable (the claims haven’t been evaluated by the FDA), the safety of the product itself is not being called into question.  As the manufacturer of the coloring points out, the coloring itself does have FDA approval (GRAS–“Generally Recognized As Safe”, CFR Title 21, Section 182.1235).

I sincerely hope no one will punish Pure Encapsulations because of Dr. Hyman’s hypocritical stance on a safe food coloring.  This company was most transparent in answering questions about their product.  No guilt by association, please.

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed I highlighted two ingredients on the Neuromins label earlier.  Caramel coloring shared center stage with “carrageenan”.  Why is this significant?

Because of another Mark Hyman tweet:4

carrageenan mark hyman

Dr. Hyman celebrates removal of “controversial” ingredient carrageenan. (click/enlarge)

Not content with putting just one foot in his mouth, the doctor effortlessly inserts the other with this tweet.  Here, Hyman congratulates his partner in nonsense, the “Food Babe”, in her claimed role in the removal of the benign thickening agent carrageenan from a company’s product line. (Hyman wrote the foreword to Food Babe’s ill informed book “The Food Babe Way”, championing her work in removing “toxins” such as this from our lives.)

If you haven’t followed the controversy, carrageenan is a safe, commonly used additive that’s gotten a bad rap because of pseudoscience.  Woomeisters confuse carrageenan with degraded carrageenan.  The latter appears on an IARC list of “carcinogenic” items such as pickled vegetables, coffee, talc body powder, a compound found in dandelion tea, and the profession of carpentry.5 (Read: the demonstrated cancer risk to humans is nil.)

Are you scared yet?  Me neither.

But, to summarize, let’s put the question to Dr. Mark Hyman:  if caramel coloring and carrageenan are “carcinogenic” and “controversial”, why the hell are you selling them?  As I pointed out in the first article in this series, this type of hypocrisy is (sadly) all too common with the snake oil aficionados.  The fact that the seller in this case carries the initials “M.D.” by his name makes the offense all the more egregious.


(1) Mark Hyman Tweet on Caramel Coloring

(2) “Neuromins” on DrHyman.com

(3) Pure Encapsulations Neuromins Product Fact Sheet

(4) Mark Hyman Tweet on Carrageenan

(5) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–112

Image Credits
Dr. Mark Hyman material, Twitter, and Pure Encapsulations 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.