Happy Friday! As is our custom here at Bad Science Debunked, Friday means a freshly printed paycheck has been pocketed, which in turn leads to yet another shopping spree at FoodBabe.com. Those of you who have followed this series for any length of time are aware that we’ve had some amazing finds. If you’re a first-timer, let me caution you that we evaluate the safety of our prospective purchases according to rules set forth by Vani Hari (the Food Babe) herself. For example…
In her article, “Holistic Hair Care–How & Why”,1 the Food Babe makes an amazing claim about the safety of Aubrey Organics hair care products. In doing so, Hari’s mouth writes a check that a certain product label can’t cash:
All Aubrey Organic hair care products are safe? Alright then, let’s put on those Food Babe Investigator HatsTM we’ve had hanging on the hall coat rack and examine this bold statement. First, we’ll pick a product: perhaps this bottle of Aubrey Organics GBP Balancing Protein Conditioner.2
Seems innocent enough, right? Hold onto your pants. And your credit cards. With both hands. Before we discover the hidden dangers (according to Vani) in this product, we need to take a step back and talk about hummus.
Yes, hummus. (Thanks for asking.) Tell us something frightening about the ingredients in off-the-shelf hummus, won’t you Vani? (emphasis mine) 3
“Sodium Benzoate is another preservative added to commercial hummus – when combined with Vitamin C this can produce benzene that has been known to cause Leukemia and other cancers. It’s a small risk this may happen, but why should the consumer be put at risk in the first place?”3
Gee golly Bob! Sodium benzoate combined with vitamin C can produce benzene and cause leukemia? We’d better steer clear of this dangerous combination!
Oh, I almost forgot. What about the ingredients in the hair care product that Vani is selling? You remember, the one from Aubrey Organics, who makes those “entirely safe” hair care products? 2
The sodium benzoate could not be more clearly labeled; the same goes for ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C. For added effect, we have extract of grapefruit, a fruit rich in vitamin C.4 Here on this label, on a hair care product that received a full pardon from Food Babe against any future charges of toxicity, we have the very two compounds that she links to leukemia in her hummus article.
But does Vani Hari receive a “get out of jail free card” because she wrote about sodium benzoate/Vitamin C cancer dangers in food, and we are instead talking about hair care products? Answer: No. I always like to let Food Babe speak for herself on these issues (emphasis mine):
Your skin is your largest organ! What you put on your hair, is absorbed into your blood through your scalp and face. Nurture it, be kind to it, and most importantly LOVE it!1
So there you have it. Buy this hair care product via Food Babe’s affiliate link (finance her next vacation!), slather some sodium benzoate & vitamin C on your hair where it’ll be absorbed into your blood, and find yourself unable to sleep at night from fear you’re going to develop leukemia.
Or, consider the fact that we’re now rapidly approaching a total of four dozen products sold by Vani Hari that contain the same “toxic” ingredients she warns about. Maybe, just maybe, a few people are eventually going to catch on to the fact that they’re being taken for a very expensive ride.
In reality, there’s nothing dangerous about this conditioner, or anything else Food Babe denigrates. To the best of my knowledge, Aubrey Organics has a shiny safety record and I’d recommend buying their products with wild abandon, if you’re so inclined.
Just don’t buy them from Food Babe.
Food Babe and Aubrey Organics screen snapshots 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.
(1) Holistic Hair Care–How & Why?
(2) Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing Protein Conditioner 11oz
(3) Why Aren’t You Making Your Own Hummus?
(4) USDA Nutrition Database: Search for “Grapefruit”
Another fantastic article! Love your writing!
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Very informative I have looking at labels since I was 19 yrs old continue with your work and investigations
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This is something that i never knew about sodium benzoate, and it’s very interesting.
I thank both you and Vani Hari and Wikipedia for educating me on the dangers of sodium benzoate in presence of Vitamin C…. apparently a number of products were tested by the FDA and found to have benzene levels too high and were reformulated or taken off the market:
Thanks for highlighting the good work of Vani Hari (Food Babe).
It’s funny you think she’s doing good work when she’s the one selling it.
And I think the fact you’re getting your science info from Wikipedia speaks volumes toward your misunderstanding of the chemistry of sodium benzoate and vitamin C 😛
I used Wikipedia to find a source that was outside of Wikipedia. That is quite a good practice, in fact, because many sources in Wikipedia are discussed by editors and chosen to be reliable sources. It’s not always correct and Wikipedia can be gamed (especially by industries with large vested interests like the chemical industry and the fossil fuels industry, as well as ideological groups like Scientologists and other sort of subcultures) but overall Wikipedia is a great resource. However, the article on Wikipedia about Vani Hari is highly biased because it’s been taken over by Skeptics (TM) which is a subculture of hyper-critique of anything that is against the establishment mode of trust in industrialism.
That’s funny. There’s a member of the food babe army in an edit war on Vani’s entry right now. He claims to have a neutral point of view. Maybe you’ve met him? Goes by the handle Sagerad…
And you still blew the science on benzene production, and once again refused to explain why it’s ok for Vani to sell it if she says it’s going to give you leukemia. Why is it ok for her to do this?
Dude you are a real piece of work. You’re not fit to be a reviewer of people. You’ve got an axe the size of Texas to grind. You’re not fit to hold dialogue with either.
There is a way that i know that there are people of your sort who have captured the Wikipedia article on Vani Hari and turned it into an attack piece on her, and who Wikilawyer and game the system to enforce their biased view of the world. That’s an evil thing, because it is ideologically gaming human knowledge. It’s propaganda. Same thing happens in regard to the chemical industry, as well. I don’t see at all how your comment makes any point in your favor. I know what’s happened to the article on Vani Hari and who did it and why.
And blew what science man? Explain yourself. Your dialogue is sick. You’re twisted. Sorry man but you’re not acting like a real human being who gives a sh*t about truth and good judgment here. You’re nitpicking in an attack mode and not even talking reasonably to the commenters on your blog. You’re claiming to have a window on Vani Hari’s unreliability and yet you speak in dialogue like this? I make some comments on you not seeing the forest for the trees and you attack me like this? No thanks.
As I said, you claim to be a neutral Wikipedia editor but you’re a well known member of the food babe army.
I am indeed a member of the “Food Babe Army” which means that i do support critical thinking about the agrochemical and the processed foods industries.
I am also a Wikipedia editor and i fully support policies like reliable sourcing and neutral point of view.
Much of what i do on Wikipedia is focused on rooting out agenda pushing from controversial articles. There seems to be a dedicated and focused corps of editors who use bully tactics to push an industry-aligned establishment point of view into articles and enforce its persistence. It’s not right according to Wikipedia policies, and it’s also not right in terms of human ethics. It results in a world in which the mistakes of the past are not recognized or widely known, and the potential dangers of the present are not widely enough known to cause enough political pressure to enforce a precautionary principle. In fact the very article on “Precautionary principle” is heavily contested by this same group of people. I’ve never edited that article, but i’ve observed conversations there on the talk page.
Are you a Wikipedia editor? What is your username there?