Food Babe Selling Spicy Carcinogens

“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”–Simon & Garfunkel lyrics

 

Woot!  My calendar says it’s Friday, which means it’s time for yet another shopping trip to the FoodBabe.com online store!  These little shopping expeditions have become quite the tradition here at Bad Science Debunked, and  I’m pleased as organic fruit punch to be pumping sales commissions into the pockets of Vani Hari.  Ms. Hari donates a percentage of each and every purchase to help glyphosate-damaged Galapagos Cormorants who, as a result of their Roundup injuries, can no longer fly.  These poor birds must stand in the sun for hours waiting on boats to ferry them from island to island.   Their suffering is heartbreaking. Won’t you come shopping with me and help these flightless wonders?

cormorant in Galapagos

Glyphosate has deprived Galapagos Cormorants the ability to fly.  As a result, they’re subjected to long waits in the hot sun for shipboard transport to move from island to island.  Vani Hari is trying to fund rehab efforts, and your affiliate dollars can help!  (photo by the author.)

Regular readers will forgive me if I remind newcomers of the rules here:  when shopping on Food Babe’s web site, we are very careful to follow Vani Hari’s own safety criteria.  Reminiscent of a carcinogenic episode of Sesame Street, today’s research is brought to you by the letters I-A-R-C, as in the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  This is Food Babe’s “go to” resource when defaming foods that compete with her own products.  For example, Hari lambastes Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte because it contains an IARC Group 2B carcinogen:

“[..] the chemical 4-Mel, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and National Toxicity Program”–Vani Hari, on Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte 1 (emphasis mine)

… and she swings the ban hammer on the additive carrageenan because it’s also on the IARC Group 2B list:

“The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council of the United States  have both determined that degraded carrageenan is a carcinogen”–Vani Hari, on carrageenan 2  (emphasis mine)

 

For those of you who like pictures, here’s what “4-Mel” looks like on the IARC list:3

4-mel

OK, enough of the boring science stuff.   Let’s go shopping!  How about some nice spices?  I’ve been in the mood do do some cooking lately.  Thankfully, Vani sells several brands of herbs and spices.  I can salt my bread and help those flightless cormorants at the same time.  But I need some education first… go all “Spice Girl” on me Vani! 4

vani hari spices

Vani Hari sells Simply Organic and Frontier spices via Amazon.com.   (click/enlarge)

Well there we go!  Simply Organic and Frontier spices are rated safe by Food Babe, so I know I can buy them with confidence–and my purchases pepper her pockets with cash (spice pun intended).

There’s only one thing that bothers me:  According to food scientists, quite a few spices contain a compound known as caffeic acid.5,21  Why is that important?  Well, let’s look back at that IARC list of “known carcinogens” touted by Vani Hari: 3

IARC caffeic acid

Well drop my drawers and call me spanky!  Caffeic acid is a Group 2B carcinogen!  Now, to be fair, not all spices and herbs contain caffeic acid.  Unless we catch Food Babe selling a spice such as marjoram,5,7 oregano, 5,8 Ceylan cinnamon,5,14,15 sage,5,17,18,19 rosemary5,9,10,11,12 and/or thyme,5,13 which we know contain caffeic acid, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Well, here’s a Food Babe spice:

Food Babe Simply Organic spices

Herbes de Provence blend, sold by Food Babe contains four (!) spices that contain IARC Group 2B carcinogen caffeic acid6

Oh dear.   Organic Herbes de Provence contains thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.6  That’s a grand slam of caffeic acid.  Now I’m confused.  Why is Vani Hari telling us to avoid Group 2B carcinogens when they appear in the products she’s selling?

Food Babe Simply Organic Herbes de Provence spice

Simply Organic Herbes de Provence spice blend contains a caffeic acid grand slam: thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.6 (click/enlarge)

 

Maybe she just made a mistake with the Simply Organic brand?  Let’s have a look at the other brand she’s shilling for selling: Frontier Organic.16   Yum.  I love cinnamon… how about you?

vani hari frontier organics cinnamon (caffeic acid)

Ceylon cinnamon was calculated to contain a mean value of 24.20 mg/100g caffeic acid

Damn my eyes! 24.20mg/100g of caffeic acid in this Food Babe offering.20  Is nothing sacred?

***

Before you rush off and dump your spice collection in the garbage, you should know that caffeic acid has been studied for use as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory agent, and myriad other beneficial uses.  Keep in mind that throughout this article, we’ve been looking at these products from a Food Babe perspective. It’s easy to misrepresent science to make safe products look scary.  You can actually make quite a good living doing so–it’s the #FoodBabeWay.

In summary, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy Simply Organic or Frontier spices (if not for their inflated prices)… I just wouldn’t be caught dead buying them from Food Babe.

Image Credits
Food Babe, IARC, Simply Organic, and Frontier Spice 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.
Flightless cormorant in the Galapagos, (c) 2015 Mark Aaron Alsip. All rights reserved.

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

(2) Major Company Removing Controversial Ingredient Because of You
http://foodbabe.com/2014/08/19/breaking-major-company-removing-controversial-ingredient-carrageenan-because-of-you/

(3) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–111
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

(4) Are There Harmful Ingredients Lurking In Your Spice Cabinet?
http://foodbabe.com/2013/12/01/are-there-harmful-ingredients-lurking-in-your-spice-cabinet/#more-15560

(5) Phenol Explorer: Caffeic Acid
http://phenol-explorer.eu/contents/polyphenol/457

(6) Simply Organics Herbes de Provence Ingredients
http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Organic-Herbes-Provence-Ounce/dp/B00AJRKITM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447701170&sr=8-1

(7) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of marjoram dried (1.90 mg/100g)
Proestos C., Komaitis M. (2006) Ultrasonically assisted extraction of phenolic compounds from aromatic plants: Comparison with conventional extraction technics. Journal of Food Quality 29:567-582

(8) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of Italian oregano, fresh (10.40 mg/100g)
Zheng W., Wang S.Y. (2001) Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49:5165-5170

(9) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Jun;388(4):881-7. Epub 2007 Apr 28.
Comparison of GC-MS and LC-MS methods for the analysis of antioxidant phenolic acids in herbs.
Kivilompolo M1, Obůrka V, Hyötyläinen T.

(10) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Proestos C., Komaitis M. (2006) Ultrasonically assisted extraction of phenolic compounds from aromatic plants: Comparison with conventional extraction technics. Journal of Food Quality 29:567-582

(11) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Wang H., Provan G.J., Helliwell K. (2004) Determination of rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid in aromatic herbs by HPLC. Food Chemistry 87:307-311

(12) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
J Chromatogr A. 2007 Mar 23;1145(1-2):155-64. Epub 2007 Jan 31.
Comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography in analysis of Lamiaceae herbs: characterisation and quantification of antioxidant phenolic acids.
Kivilompolo M1, Hyötyläinen T.

(13) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of thyme (21.28 mg/100g)
Zheng W., Wang S.Y. (2001) Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49:5165-5170

(14) Simply Organics Thyme
http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Organic-Certified-0-78-Ounce-Container/dp/B000WR4LM4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447701731&sr=8-1

(15) Contributing article, Ceylan cinnamon caffeic acid mean content (24.20 mg/100g)
J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59.
Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents.
Shan B1, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H.

(16) Frontier Organics Ceylon Cinnamon
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_19?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=frontier+organic+ceylon+cinnamon&sprefix=frontier+organic+ce%2Caps%2C156

(17) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Jun;388(4):881-7. Epub 2007 Apr 28.
Comparison of GC-MS and LC-MS methods for the analysis of antioxidant phenolic acids in herbs.
Kivilompolo M1, Obůrka V, Hyötyläinen T.

(18) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
Wang H., Provan G.J., Helliwell K. (2004) Determination of rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid in aromatic herbs by HPLC. Food Chemistry 87:307-311

(19) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
J Chromatogr A. 2007 Mar 23;1145(1-2):155-64. Epub 2007 Jan 31.
Comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography in analysis of Lamiaceae herbs: characterisation and quantification of antioxidant phenolic acids.
Kivilompolo M1, Hyötyläinen T.

(20) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in Ceylon cinnamon
J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59.
Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents.
Shan B1, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H.

(21) International Agency for Research on Cancer: Caffeic Acid
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol56/mono56-8.pdf

 

 

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