Food Babe: Still Selling GMOs While Trying To Avoid Them

Vani Hari's GMO corn


I laughed so hard I cried after reading Food Babe’s latest post on avoiding GMOs. It’s hard to avoid something when you’re selling it in your own store.  Yes Vani Hari, I’m looking at you.

As I pointed out in an earlier article,2  Hari sells a hand sanitizer derived from GMO corn. The sanitizer’s manufacturer freely admits this fact.  If you break down the source code of Vani’s shopping web site, you can see she’s been hawking this product for over four years.  So much for Food Babe’s “investigative skills”:

vani hari page source

Vani Hari uploaded this GMO-based product to her online store in November, 2011.

To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing to fear from genetically modified corn–or any other such organism.  GMOs have been in our food supply for decades, with no ill effect.  Thousands of studies support their safety.  But one could derive a drinking game from Food Babe’s anti-technology posts, taking a swig every time we encounter the word “GMO”.  For example, you could empty a bottle of good vodka poring over a Food Babe narrative on enchiladas:

food babe gmo post

If Food Babe is trying to avoid GMOs, she should stop selling them in her own online store.  (click/enlarge)

Vani Hari doesn’t get off the hook just because she’s writing about GMOs in food and the GMO product she’s selling is intended for use on the skin.  She’s written multiple articles preaching the dangers of using “toxic” chemicals on skin, 3,4 claiming the poisons will be absorbed into the body.   And she’s diametrically opposed to the production of genetically modified crops:5,6

 “I want the pollution of our earth to stop”–Vani Hari on GMO crop production

So you have to stop and wonder why Food Babe has been selling an item made from GMO corn for four years.

In a future article, we’ll look at possible answers to this question, along with an interesting, mysterious puzzle: Vani Hari has been quietly pulling products from her online shop with no explanation, despite a very public announcement in January 2015 that she’d be transparent about her mistakes and errors.  What’s really going on behind the scenes a


Image Credits
Food Babe screen snapshots and Clean Well hand sanitizer product images 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) Food Babe GMO Post (Facebook)

(2) Food Babe Is Selling GMOs

(3) Be A Drug Store Beauty Dropout

(4) Throw This Out Of Your Bathroom Cabinet Immediately

(5) Confirmed: Lab Tests Show… (Food Babe)

(6)  Difference Between Organic and Non GMO Labels (Food Babe)

Food Babe’s Video Rant: The Hidden Gem Everyone Missed

As the internet shakes its collective head in amusement over Vani Hari’s recent epic video rant over Boar’s Head Foods and trolls, the watershed moment sneaking in at the 11:56 mark in the recording probably escaped everyone’s notice.

I’m here to correct that.

Nearly twelve minutes into the Oscar-worthy performance, Hari, the self-christened “Food Babe”, pauses to display and read a viewer comment containing a link to a Forbes article purportedly written by “PR trolls”.  This is a screen snapshot from Vani’s video:

food babe boar's head video capture

Food Babe didn’t like this Forbes article, which points out a few problems with her and Dr. Mark Hyman’s business model.

Here, Food Babe laments an article “attacking” her and the distinguished (her words, not mine) Dr. Mark Hyman.  Hyman, if you’re unfamiliar, wrote the foreword to Hari’s book, The Food Babe Way, and serves on her advisory council. The Forbes article in question, which we must assume Vani has read, points out that both Hari and Hyman sell products made from the very chemicals they claim are toxic.

So why is all of this important?

Because one of the reasons Vani Hari is attacking Boar’s Head Foods is over the alleged use of the “cancer-causing” (wink wink, nudge nudge) class IV caramel coloring in some of their hams.  Drum roll, please:

Do you know who sells a diet supplement made with the same class IV caramel coloring used by Boar’s Head?  Why, none other than the distinguished Dr. Mark Hyman!  And where was this pointed out to Vani Hari?  In the very Forbes article she discusses in her video.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to go on a rant about a company using a “carcinogenic” compound, and then post a video highlighting an article that proves your distinguished advisor/co-author is selling that same carcinogenic compound!  (Extra points for dismissing the authors who warned you about your double standards as trolls instead of addressing the problem.)


Caramel coloring is used in this product sold on  Food Babe says it’s a carcinogen in Boar’s Head products, but it’s OK for Hyman,  her distinguished advisor, to sell it for ingestion:  at $114.70 a bottle.  GTFO!  (click/enlarge)

Labeling everyone who points out your errors a “troll” is a great way to play the martyr and avoid discussing the great wrong you’re doing.  My Fear Babe co-author Marc Draco coined the term “straw troll”, an informal fallacy, for moments like this:

“[…] a form of an ad hominem attack where the speaker accuses an opponent of trolling simply because they are presenting rebuttal which the speaker is unable to refute”

Food Babe doesn’t try to refute Hyman’s use of the same caramel coloring allegedly found in  some Boar’s Head meats, even though she knows the  Forbes article well enough to call the authors (myself and Kavin Senapathy) “PR trolls”.  But Hari’s “head in the sand” approach doesn’t stop there.  To wit:

As the year 2016 dawns, it’s becoming clear that Food Babe’s way of dealing with scientific and journalistic criticism hasn’t changed at all since 2015:  Ignore the facts and call everyone who’s caught you with your organic, non-GMO cotton pants down a “PR troll”.

Bravo, Vani.  Bravo.  When you’re done congratulating yourself, you and your compatriots will still be selling dozens of products that contain the same “harmful” additives you’re warning your unsuspecting followers about.

straw troll

Hari doesn’t refute the truth (she and Dr. Hyman sell exactly what they say are dangerous). Instead, she attacks those pointing out the facts, calling them “trolls”. (click/enlarge)


Image Credits
Straw Troll meme by Marc Draco, using artwork by Deviant Art user “egohankerrigan” (  Meme creator/artist not necessarily in agreement with the viewpoints expressed in this article, which are solely those of the author.

Food Babe and Dr. Mark Hyman screen snapshots and product image 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 Is Selling GMOs

Her virulent protests and bluster to the contrary, it can now be revealed that Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) is selling a product with an ingredient that’s derived from genetically modified corn.

Follow me, dear reader, into the Vani Hari online store, and have a look at the natural hand sanitizer that earns her a nice sales commission on Amazon:1

food babe cleanwell gmo corn sugar

Clean Well is indeed non-toxic.  It just happens to be made from sugar derived from GMO corn, which Food Babe falsely links to myriad health problems. (click/enlarge)

The ingredient in question?  One that Vani loves to rant about:  GMO corn:2

food babe gmo corn sugar

According to the USDA, the amount of GMO corn planted in the United States in 2015 has reached approximately 85%.3  It’s hard to avoid it, and Vani’s product doesn’t.

Notice, if you will, the “emulsifier derived from corn sugar”.  If you’ve followed the GMO debate for any amount of time now, you’re well aware that most corn produced in the United States is genetically modified “Bt corn”, a variety that produces a natural pesticide that’s completely safe for humans but opens up a can of chemical whup-ass on one of corn’s primary predators.  Win-win.

But Vani Hari doesn’t like GMO corn.  Not only for purposes of eating.  She doesn’t like all the imagined (and I do mean imagined) evil things it does to the environment.4  And slathering anything “toxic” on your skin is a faux-pas, according to Vani.5 For Food Babe, GMO is the ultimate boogeyman, to be avoided at all costs.  It doesn’t matter to Hari that in this case we’re talking about sugar, which isn’t an organism, and so can’t possibly be a GMO.  If it was derived from a GMO, that’s bad enough for her.  You’ll find myriad non-organisms on my “Food Babe Ban List“, which contains over 600 products/brands/items Vani Hari has banned, many because she wrongly believes they’re genetically modified organisms.

This is an important point: when I say “Food Babe is selling GMOs” in this article, I mean so in the vernacular.  I fully understand the difference between an organism and a carbohydrate.  Food Babe doesn’t–that’s why she commonly refers to things like sugars as “GMOs”.

I spoke with the manufacturer of Clean Well hand sanitizer by phone, and they’ve confirmed that the corn is in fact GMO sourced, though they said non-GMO corn may also be mixed in as well.  To be honest, they had no idea who Food Babe even was, and I sensed a great deal of confusion over the fact people made such a big deal over nothing.  “Don’t they know this is a sugar, not an organism?”, seemed to be the theme of the conversation.

I couldn’t agree more.

At this point in my brief one year stint as a writer, I’ve uncovered over four dozen products that contain the very same ingredients Vani Hari says are dangerous.  This hand cleaner won’t be the last.  Could another GMO product be in Vani’s cupboard?  You’ll have to stay tuned and see!

On a more somber note… I feel sorry for the good people at Clean Well because Vani Hari chose to slap her affiliate ID on their product.   If you read their back story, their search for a low-allergenic cleanser has a touching personal slant many could identify with.  I’ve also rarely found a company so willing to answer questions about their products.   It’s my hope that Clean Well won’t be penalized by Food Babe’s attempt to earn a sales commission by featuring their products on her shopping page.  Out of the thousands of studies on GMO safety, not a single one has found a problem. There’s no reason to fear this product–especially since sugars aren’t GMOs (take a science course, Vani!)

Buy Clean Well products with full confidence. Just please… don’t buy them from Food Babe.


Image Credits
Food Babe website screen snapshots and Clean Well product image 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.

(1) Food Babe Shop

(2) Clean Well Hand Sanitizer Ingredients

(3) Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S

(4) Difference Between Organic and Non-GMO Labels (Food Babe)

(5) Holistic Hair Care

Food Babe Selling Another Product She Says May Give You Leukemia

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  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:

food babe claims all of Aubrey Organics hair products are safe

Food Babe claims that all of Aubrey Organics Hair Care products are safe. We’ll apply her own standards, and challenge that claim. (click/enlarge)

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

food babe aubrey organics

“Aubrey Organics Hair Care–They have the most fantastic products that all are safe!” gushes Food Babe. (click/enlarge)

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

Food Babe Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing Protein Conditioner 11oz

Ingredients for Food Babe Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing Protein Conditioner. (click/enlarge)

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.


Image Credits
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”

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 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


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   (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.

(1) Wake Up And Smell The Chemicals

(2) Major Company Removing Controversial Ingredient Because of You

(3) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–111

(4) Are There Harmful Ingredients Lurking In Your Spice Cabinet?

(5) Phenol Explorer: Caffeic Acid

(6) Simply Organics Herbes de Provence Ingredients

(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

(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

(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



Food Babe Selling Pesticide, Coal Tar Dyes To Children

Piggy Paint from food babe

Piggy Paint, sold by Food Babe. (click/enlarge)

Friday is payday here at Bad Science Debunked.  As I’m wont to do when I’m flush with cash, I thought a trip to for a little online shopping might be fun.  As always, we’ll  be wearing our Food Babe Investigator HatsTM as we browse, which means that when evaluating the safety of product ingredients, we use Vani Hari’s rules.  In addition, as a special treat, we also need to don Food Babe Lab Coats (patent pending) and Vani Hari Safety Goggles,SM because we’ll be going into our kitchen laboratory to do an actual chemistry experiment.

I can barely stand the excitement, and I already know what explodes!  Ready to go?  Put on those safety goggles.  Today’s Food Babe product is:  “Piggy Paint”.

Piggy paint?

Yes, Piggy Paint
I bought Food Babe’s Piggy Paint nail polish for children from after reading her article “New Products That Make Me Scream In Excitement”. I screamed too, because I saw an elementary school science project being deceptively used to sell fingernail polish:

food babe piggy paint nail polish

This cheap grade school science fair project fooled Food Babe.  I’ll recreate it later in the article, explain it, and show how her nail polish is just as “bad”. (click/enlarge)

If you’ve studied chemistry, even at the grade school level, you already know the secret of the “melted” styrofoam plate that makes Food Babe’s competition look so dangerous.  At the end of this article we’ll do a simple experiment to shed light on this.  But, for now, let’s just highlight the encoded affiliate link that allows us put vital cash in Vani Hari’s pocket each and every time we buy Piggy Paint from her:

food babe encrypted affiliate link

Food Babe’s encoded  affiliate ID.

I’m fairly certain Hari donates a portion of each purchase toward the rehabilitation of GMO-injured penguins at the North Pole.  Such is the extent of her scientific outreach.  My dreams are sweeter each night knowing I’m helping fund her vital work.

Without further ado, let’s take a peek at the ingredients in this nail polish:2

Ingredients in Piggy Paint nail polish.

The first highlighted ingredient, neem oil, is a well known pesticide used in organic farming.3,4,5,6  (You did know that organic farmers use pesticides, didn’t you?)

Oh dear.  Vani Hari is selling a pesticide to children?

Why yes, she is.  At least it’s organic!  But crude oil is also 100% natural and organic, so we can’t defend her actions using an appeal to nature.  Vani is a skilled researcher, so this must be a mistake… can we just say neem oil isn’t toxic and move on?

“Twelve children were admitted with convulsions and altered sensorium following ingestion of locally obtained neem oil.  Ten died within 24 hours.”–Indian Journal of Pediatrics 7

Ten dead children?  So much for non-toxic!  But that’s just one report, right?

“This report highlights the toxicity associated with neem oil poisoning in an elderly male. […]  In the emergency department, the patient developed generalized convulsions with loss of consciousness. “–Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine 8

As it turns out, there are many reports of neem oil poisoning, especially in children (the target audience of Vani’s nail polish).  The Indian Journal of Pediatrics paper says that refining can remove toxic components, but Food Babe is against refined and processed products.  Honestly, I’m not sure how to defend Hari, my champion of science…  if I say that this is a cosmetic and all the poisonings were from drinking neem oil, her critics  will point out that she says applying toxins to your skin is dangerous as well .9,10

If I mention that neem oil is also sometimes used as a traditional folk medicine and not just a pesticide, detractors of the Babe will point out the Subway bread debacle:  It didn’t matter to Food Babe that azodicarbonamide was used safely in one area (food)–since it was used in another setting (the manufacturer of yoga mats), it was dangerous everywhere.

Maybe we’d better treat Vani’s pesticide just as she would: ignore it completely and move on to something else.

Neem oil, found in Piggy Paint, is an organic pesticide (insect killer).  (click/enlarge)


Ooh, The Pretty Colors
Here are the Piggy Paint ingredients again. Let’s apply our Food Babe research methods to those interesting color/number combinations:

Ingredients in Piggy Paint nail polish.

Ingredients in Piggy Paint nail polish. (click/enlarge)

“Orange 5″… “red 22″…  these seem to be the FDA-approved “short names” 13 for “D&C Orange Number 5” and “D&C Red Number 22”.  Why, they are!13  You know the D&C dyes, right?  Educate the masses, Vani:


In “Be A Drug Store Beauty Drop Out”, Vani Hari warns ominously that D&C “Coal Tar Dyes” can cause cancer and may be toxic to the brain. 9 (click/enlarge)


All of those “natural” colors Vani is selling to your kids and giving away to her friend’s little girls?  They’re all the same “toxic coal tar dyes” she warned would cause cancer and brain toxicity.


According to Food Babe’s own “research”, she’s selling a toxic rainbow:

  • “Red 28” is D&C Red 28 (CI 48410)
  • “Yellow 10” is D&C Yellow 10 (CI 47005)
  • “Violet 2” is D&C Violet 2 (CI 60725)
  • “Red 22” is D&C Red 22 (CI 45380)

I’m disappointed in Food Babe for not catching this faux pas.  She didn’t have to go to the FDA, who regulates the dyes.  No, she has her own higher authority:  the  Environmental Working Group:11

“In the end – If you want to know if your makeup is safe and not toxic – check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, they have thousands of your favorite brands listed with their safety ratings for you to investigate yourself…”–Vani Hari11

What does Vani’s beloved EWG say about the Orange 5 she’s selling?

“D&C Orange 5 is a synthetic dye produced from petroleum or coal tar sources”–EWG Skin Deep Database  12

With full disclosure that I’m a co-author and this could be considered an affiliate link, Marc Draco and Kavin Senapathy point out in our book, The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House, that “coal tar dye” is a misleading term.  These dyes are commonly derived from petroleum now, not coal tar, but once “derived”, they’re no longer petroleum. The good folks at Piggy Paints reaffirmed this in an email to me, and correctly point out that the dyes are tested under the authority of, and approved by, the FDA. But since Food Babe says they’re dangerous, isn’t it curious that she’s selling them?

Looking at the big picture, Piggy Paint nail polish appears to be just as safe for its intended use as conventional nail polish. I hope the company won’t be punished because a hypocritical “activist” is selling this polish while simultaneously (falsely) linking the ingredients to myriad diseases. If not for their deceptive advertising, I’d be happy to buy Piggy Paint nail polish for my young nieces. I just wouldn’t buy it from Food Babe.

Speaking of that deceptive advertising, you’re welcome to join me in the kitchen for a quick experiment that exposes the “melting” Styrofoam plate used by Piggy Paint and Food Babe to scare people away from conventional nail polish…


How Piggy Paints and Vani Hoax Their Customers With That “Melting Plate” Demonstration
A skeptical mind would well ask why Vani and the Piggy Paint promoters selected a Styrofoam plate as the “substrate” (the target for their nail polishes) in the product demo that kicked off this article.  It’s almost as if they knew that the Piggy Paint wouldn’t eat through the plate while the competing nail polishes would, and chose styrofoam for that reason alone. In fact, that’s exactly what happened.

Conventional nail polishes contain a component known as a solvent that helps keep the polish in the form of liquid until it’s time to apply it.  Once on the nails, the solvent quickly evaporates, leaving behind a solid film of color bound to the nail.  Organic solvents used in nail polish include acetone, ethyl acetate, and butyl acetate.

Revlon Hot For Chocolate Ingredients

Conventional nail polishes use organic solvents such as acetone, ethyl acetate, or butyl acetate. This brand, Revlon “Hot For Chocolate” purports to use all three!14 (click/enlarge)

Styrofoam is made up mostly of air and a small amount of a polymer named polystyrene.  The long polystyrene polymers in Styrofoam intertwine during manufacturing, trapping copious amounts of air.  95% or more of that styrofoam plate is actually just air.  (A kind reader pointed that “Styrofoam” is a trademark that covers a specific manufacturing process for polystyrene and that the manufacturer of Styrofoam doesn’t actually make cups and plates. Please note I used “Styrofoam” in the generic sense in this article.)

Polystyrene is soluble in acetone and other organic solvents used in nail polish and nail polish removers.  The solvents dissolve the polystyrene strands, allowing the air to escape. That’s all that happens.  What looks like “melting” certainly isn’t an indicator of what’s going to happen to your nails, which–in case you haven’t noticed–aren’t made of styrofoam. Knowing the composition of your product and your competitor’s product, it’s easy to pull off a deceptive marketing trick like “melting” a plate.


Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
But wait!  Two can play this game.

What if, using the very same rules laid down by Vani Hari and Piggy Paint, I can accomplish the opposite of what they’ve done with their Styrofoam test?  That is, would it be possible for me to make the Piggy Paints looks like the “Dirty Dissolvers” while the conventional nail polishes come out looking clean as fresh-fallen snow, not leaving a mark on the surface where they’re applied?

Let’s find out.

Here’s a reminder of the rules:  I have to use both Piggy Paint and conventional nail polishes.  Just as Team Piggy/Vani got to pick a Styrofoam plate, I get to pick my own substrate.  Whatever I choose, Piggy Paint must damage it.  Conversely, the conventional polishes can’t do it any harm.

OK.  I choose hard white discs with a circumference roughly equal to an American half dollar, made primarily of solidified sodium bicarbonate and citric acid.  The discs I’ve obtained are far more rigid than Team Piggy’s foam plates, and at least five times thicker:

vani hari piggy paint solvent demonstration

I chose hard discs of sodium bicarbonate and citric acid instead of paper plates… (click/enlarge)

With any experiment, we need a control group.  Here is mine:  swatches of three conventional nail polishes spread on a styrofoam plate, alongside a similar spread of Piggy Paint polishes.  Note that the conventional polishes have bubbled and warped the plate just like with Team Piggy’s experiment, while the Piggy Paint leaves the plate unscathed. The control we’re using here affirms that we’re using the same type of nail polishes used in Vani Hari’s demo.

food babe piggy paint

On the top: Piggy Paint. On the bottom: conventional nail polish, which seems to have “melted” the styrofoam plate. (click/enlarge)


Let’s pour some conventional nail polish on three of the discs, and Piggy Paint onto another three:

food babe piggy paint demo

Foreground: Piggy Paint reacts violently with the three discs. Background: conventional nail polish has no effect on the discs. (click/enlarge)

Zut alors!  Piggy Paint reacts violently with the discs, while the conventional nail polishes have no effect whatsoever.  Look Ma… I just conclusively demonstrated that conventional nail polish is safe and Piggy Paints are dangerous.  Or not.

So what happened?

When I studied organic chemistry, we spent a huge amount of lab time learning to pick a solvent that would affect one substance while leaving another substance untouched.  This is really important when, for example, you want to separate two compounds.

So, knowing the solvent used in Piggy Paints (water), I picked Alka Seltzer discs.  The solid sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, for you Food Babe fans) and citric acid dissolved in the water.  The chemical reaction between base and acid released carbon dioxide, causing the Piggy Paint nail polish to bubble violently.  Alka Seltzer isn’t as soluble in acetone and other organic solvents as water, so before the discs could dissolve, the solvent evaporated, leaving the discs untouched by the conventional nail polish.

Did I cheat?  Well, only as much as Vani Hari and the Piggy Paint vendors did when they made that styrofoam plate appear to “melt” away.  The moral of the story: armed with a modest chemistry education, it’s easy lead the casual observer into believing something is “safe” or “dangerous” with nothing more than a cheap science fair project.  And that’s exactly what Food Babe and Piggy Paints have done.


Edit History
Noted polystyrene solubility in acetone, other solvents used in nail polish (ethyl acetate and butyl acetate are more common than acetone), sodium bicarbonate = baking soda, “Styrofoam” trademark, word “encoded” more accurately used than “encrypted” in describing Vani’s affiliate link. (13 Nov 2015).  Added Revlon “Hot For Chocolate” ingredients as an example of a nail polish that used all organic solvents mentioned in this article.

Image Credits
Piggy Paint and Food Babe screen snapshots and product image 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.

Kitchen chemistry shots by the author. Freely distributable for educational purposes, photo credit to “Mark Aaron Alsip/Bad Science Debunked” appreciated.

(1) New Products That Make Me Scream In Excitement

(2) Piggy Paint Ingredients

(3) Natria Neem Oil Pesticide (Lowes)

(4) Garden Safe Neem Extract (Lowes)

(5) Bonide Neem Oil (

(6) Safer Brand 1 Galllon Neem Oil Insecticide

(7) The Indian Journal of Pediatrics
May 1982, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 357-359
N. Sundaravalli, B. Bhaskar Raju M.D., K. A. Krishnamoorthy M.D. (1)

(8) Neem oil poisoning: Case report of an adult with toxic encephalopathy
Indian J Crit Care Med. 2013 Sep-Oct; 17(5): 321–322.
Ajay Mishra and Nikhil Dave

(9) Be A Drug Store Beauty Dropout

(10) Holistic Hair Care

(11) How To Find The Best Natural Mascara That Actually Works

(12) EWG Skin Deep Database: Orange No. 5

(13) Color Additives and Cosmetics (FDA)

(14) Revlon Hot For Chocolate/Ingredients (


Food Babe’s Tricky Treats

food babe debunked

You get what you pay for
(inspired by a Jerry James meme)

Food Babe is back in time to ruin another holiday for everyone. This time it’s Halloween, and her target: children and their candy.  It wouldn’t be a Vani Hari affair if she wasn’t promoting her own overpriced products that, as always, contain ingredients that violate the very safety standards she pulled out of her anal region from her previous writings.

I’d like to walk you through Hari’s list of recommended alternative sweets and, wearing my ever-faithful Food Babe Investigator Hat,TM apply Vani’s own bloody knife of reason to each and every candy she’s selling.1   If I sound nit-picky on any point, let me remind you we are playing by Vani Hari’s rules here.  So grab some popcorn and let’s get started.  The Food Babe Candy Massacre stars:


good vs evil

Good vs. evil. Every product sold by Hari has at least one ingredient she says to avoid. (click/enlarge)

Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears
If Vani Hari was directing a horror movie, the Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears would be the innocent little creatures walking, oblivious, backward into a room full of masked men who are wielding roaring chainsaws. The bears would be smiling, fingers stuck in their ears, as they nervously chant “we’re made with natural flavors!”.2

Oh no. Not natural flavors!

Educate us on natural flavors, Vani:

“‘Natural Flavor’ is one of the most deceptive ingredients on a label of any product.” 3

Food Babe swings the natural flavoring slur like a murder weapon in a slasher flick, once going so far as to imply that Campbell’s V8 Juice might include dead animal parts just because it was made with natural flavors.

The poor Sour Berry Bears also get a controversial rating from Vani because they contain malic acid, which she labeled a “questionable ingredient” on Panera’s “Hidden Menu” in a June, 2013 Facebook post.4 (Malic acid is actually a safe organic ingredient that gives a tart taste to foods.)

YumEarth Organic Lollipops
These organic lollipops are made with evaporated cane juice.5

What does Food Babe think of evaporated cane juice?  Not much.6,7  She calls it a refined sugar and disdains its use, saying “it has no nutritional value”.6

Claiming that refined sugars are addictive, make you fat, tired, depressed, age faster, give you dull skin, and are responsible for a long laundry list of evils,6 Vani channels the true spirit of Halloween by asking:

“Did you know that refined sugar is the devil?” 6

Bless her heart.  Somebody needs a hobby!

TruJoy Sweets Organic Fruit Chews
This product is a train wreck of Food Babe forbidden ingredients.8  We start with powdered sugar.  This “processed” sugar is such a Vani Hari no-no I don’t even need to give a citation for it.  Strike two for the maltodextrin in the fruit chews, even if it comes from tapioca, because it’s a “refined” product in Vani’s eyes.9  And, as discussed in the YumEarth Lollipops entry, the dried cane syrup is on the Food Babe ban list because it has “no nutritional value” and there’s a long list of imagined ills it can cause.6

Perhaps the biggest nightmare lurking in this Vani Hari affiliated product though is the brown rice syrup.10  In a September 22, 2015 blog post, Hari jumps the shark and uses the “C word”, ominously warning that brown rice syrup is

“notoriously contaminated with with arsenic, which is a “potent human carcinogen” according to scientists at Consumer Reports and classified as a group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer” 10

Norman Bates didn’t need a knife in the famous shower scene of Psycho. According to Vani’s own rules, these lollipops sound so deadly he could have used one of them instead.

YumEarth Gummy Bears
These cute little bears would horrify Vani because they contain natural flavors.11  There’s also the gross-out factor that they’re made with gelatin (crushed up animal bones–now that’s a Halloween treat!), though Hari sees some light at the end of the tunnel here:

“To be honest, when I found out what gelatin was made from (animals bones) I was a bit disgusted – however – after really looking into it I’ve found that gelatin has some redeeming health benefits.  […] Since it is an animal product, it’s crucial that you carefully choose your gelatin and that it doesn’t come from factory-farmed animals that were subjected to antibiotics, artificial hormones and GMO feed.” 12

No word on where YumEarth gets its gelatin, but before Food Babe investigates that, she might want to take a look at the IARC group 2B carcinogen that could be lurking in this candy: caffeic acid16 from carrots11 used as a coloring.13, 14, 15

4-mel and caffeic acid

4-Mel (from caramel coloring) and caffeic acid (found in carrots) are both group IARC group 2B carcinogens. (click/enlarge)

Food Babe Army, you’re familiar with group 2B carcinogens, right?  Vani talked you into petitioning Starbucks over the possibility of one (“4-Mel”) in their Pumpkin Spice Latte.17  She’s also had you spamming countless corporate Facebook pages over another group 2B member, carrageenan.  Well, caffeic acid is on the very same list.16 It’s found in carrots,13, 14, 15 and Food Babe’s strict criteria is that we don’t buy such “dangerous” foods.

sadgummySorry Mr. Gummy Bear.  Off to the dumpster you go.


Alter Eco Organic Salted Truffles
altero eco organic salted truffles

I’m sorry.  $55.80 for a box of 60 chocolates?18  Are you ****ing kidding me?   Imagine an average American, living on minimum wage, doling out nearly $60 for Halloween candy.  I know families trying to buy a week’s worth of groceries for that amount of money. Suggesting this alternative Halloween treat–and earning a sales commission from it–only goes to further Food Babe’s image as an entitled, out-of-touch misanthrope.

But since I promised to debunk every item on Food Babe’s shopping list using her own criteria, here you go:  this product lists the cryptic “natural flavors”19 that drives Hari over the edge.  I’m reminded of that famous warning on natural flavors:

Castoreum (or beaver butt) is just one of the ingredients that could be called a “natural flavor.” 20 –Vani Hari

I wonder how many beaver butts you can fit into a 720 gram truffle jar?

Unreal Candy Coated Milk Chocolates
This company is proud to use organic carrots to provide coloring for their candies.21 A fact that no doubt makes hippy vegan rabbits happy, but it’s bad news for the Food Babe Army. As we just said in the YumEarth Gummy Bear blurb, carrots contain caffeic acid,13, 14, 15 an IARC group 2B carcinogen.16 Food Babe treats group 2B carcinogens such as 4-Mel and carrageenan like vampires and wields petitions like holy water against them, but somehow manages to ignore all the IARC group 2B members she’s hawking.

Before anyone gets too worried about the carrots in their fridge jumping out to attack them, also on the list of group 2B carcinogens are coffee, pickled vegetables, and the profession of carpentry. When you take the time to do a little reading, Food Babe’s scary ingredients aren’t so scary after all.

Endangered Species Organic Chocolate Bug Bites
The Endangered Species brand uses soy lecithin as an emulsifier in all its chocolates,22 which is ironic, as perhaps no ingredient is more vilified by Hari in her “chocolates to avoid list”.1

Food Babe Army inductees will quickly recite the mantra “but it’s because soy is usually a GMO product!”. And they’d do so only because they really haven’t read Food Babe’s articles.

In a “100 Days of Real Food” piece,23 Vani Hari lambastes soy lecithin as one of the cheap “junk fillers” found in chocolates we shouldn’t be buying. As always, it’s “junk” in everyone else’s products but “good food” if Vani is selling it.

Ocho Minis
Ocho Minis are made with organic dried cane syrup.24,25

In her article “How Frozen Yogurt Went Bad”,26 Vani Hari clearly refers to evaporated cane syrup as a refined sweetener.  And as we know by now, refined sweeteners are the Grim Reaper of the bakery aisle in Vani Hari’s eyes. The only difference I see on Vani’s label is “dried” vs. “evaporated”.

I’d like to hear Food Babe explain how “evaporating” is a different refining process than “drying”, but given that she is opposed to pasteurizing milk and juice32,33 but favors boiling it, I don’t think she’s going to do a very good job convincing anyone with a basic chemistry background that she’s got her brain firmly wrapped around the core concepts.

food babe boil milk

Boil but don’t pasteurize… could we trust Vani to explain evaporate vs. dried? Let’s not risk it. (screen capture courtesy Kavin Senapathy)

For the record, all Ocho Minis products are also made with soy lecithin, which Vani classified as a junk filler in a 100 Days of Real Food article.22


Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups
Vani sells both the mini cups and the full size cups.  Both have the same ingredients.27,28  One of those ingredients is her “junk” filler, soy lecithin.22


Nutiva O’Coconuts
One of the two available flavors is made from hemp and chia seeds.29  Chia seeds contain the essential amino acid phenylalanine,30 a molecule that both confused and greatly frightened Food Babe when she wrote about chewing gum in December, 2011.31   Imagining that phenylalanine is somehow “added” to the artificial sweetener aspartame during the manufacturing process, the Babe warns that it can induce harm in susceptible individuals:

“[…] mental retardation, brain seizures, sleep disorders and anxiety. All this from chewing a piece of gum. SCARY.”

Well, yeah. When you put it that way, it does sound scary.  So where’s the warning label on your O’Coconuts candy, Vani?  Oh, there isn’t one?


I delve more deeply into the Food Babe phenylalanine scare here if you’re interested.


Of course, none of the candy sold by Food Babe is actually dangerous. None of the candy she says to avoid is dangerous either.  All I’ve done here is use Food Babe’s own tactics–and words–against her.

The only significant differences between the sweets Food Babe wants you to avoid and those she wants you to buy is that she earns a sales commission on the latter.  And… her brands are typically far more expensive.

If you can afford to shell out $55 for 60 organic chocolate truffles and don’t mind Vani Hari getting a cut of the action, I wish you joy in it.  Otherwise, ignore the Food Babe hyperbole, act like a nice rational human being, and hand out some of the candy she hates.  The kids will love you, your pocketbook will remain a little fatter, and you won’t have fallen for one of the most obvious Vani Hari Halloween tricks to have ever hit the Internet.



Image Credits
All Food Babe, screen snapshots and product image 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 “Lucy Psychiatry Booth” parody by Mark Alsip, inspired by a Jerry James “Banned by Food Babe” Group meme.

Food Babe pasteurization post screen capture courtesy Kavin Senapathy.


(1) How To Stop Poisoining The Neighborhood Children On Halloween

(2) Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears Ingredients

(3) Vani Hari Natural Flavoring Archives

(4) Food Babe Panera Hidden Menu

(5) YumEarth Organic Lollipops Ingredients

(6) Food Babe Refined Sugar Archives (Cane Juice)

(7) Food Babe Evaporated Cane Juice (Facebook)

(8) TruJoy Fruit Chews Ingredients

(9) Food Babe on Maltodextrin

(10) Avoiding Common Gluten Mistakes (Brown Rice Syrup Reference)

(11) YumEarth Gummy Bears Ingredients

(12)  This Childhood Favorite Has a Warning Label In Europe Why Not Here?

(13) Phenolic acids in potatoes, vegetables, and some of their products.
Journal of Food Composition and Analysis
Volume 20, Issues 3–4, May 2007, Pages 152–160
Pirjo Mattila, Jarkko Hellstrom

(14) Chlorogenic acid biosynthesis: Characterization of a light-induced microsomal 5-O-(4-coumaroyl)-d-quinate/shikimate 3′-hydroxylase from carrot (Daucus carota L.) cell suspension cultures
Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Volume 258, Issue 1, October 1987, Pages 226-232
Thomas Kühnl, Ulrich Koch, Werner Heller, Eckard Wellmann

(15) Food Colorants: Chemical and Functional Properties
Carmen Socaciu
CRC Press, Oct 24, 2007
ISBN 9781420009286

(16) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–111

(17) Food Babe 4-Mel Archives

(18) Alter Eco Organic Caramel Salted Truffles (Pricing)

(19) Alter Eco Organic Caramel Salted Truffles (Ingredients)

(20) Do You Eat Beaver Butt?

(21) Unreal Candies Ingredients

(22) Endangered Species Organic Chocolate Bug Bites Ingredients

(23) Food Babe 100 Days Of Real Food (Soy Lecithin)

(24) Ocho Minis Peanut Butter Bar

(25) Ocho Minis Ingredients

(26) How Frozen Yogurt Went Bad

(27) Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups Ingredients

(28) Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups (regular size) Ingredients

(29) Nutiva Ococonuts Ingredients

(30) USDA Statistics Report: #12006, Seeds, chia seeds, dried

(31) Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health

(32) Food Babe Organic Milk (Pasteurization)

(33) Food Babe Juice Labels (Pasteurization)

(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

Food Babe Selling “Toxic” Product: Nutiva Chia Seeds

I haven’t been shopping at in a while, and I must admit I miss the experience.  It’s true that I’ve been surprised once or twice (or maybe three or four or five times), but who’s counting?  Vani Hari is a world class researcher who thoroughly investigates (and personally uses) each and every product she sells.  It’s exactly her kind of dedication we need to keep our food supply secure (and the world safe for democracy).  Why not show her some love via her affiliate shopping links?

As  I head over to Vani’s web site to go shopping, I’m reminded of a poignant warning The Babe once penned on  the subject of chewing gum:1

“And what’s up with the warning at the bottom of some of the ingredient lists for “Contains: Phenylalanine”? Does the average person even know what this means? Phenylalanine is added to the ingredient Aspartame and could seriously be dangerous if you have certain health conditions. Consuming this substance (if you have a condition that makes you sensitive to this additive) can cause mental retardation, brain seizures, sleep disorders and anxiety.”–Food Babe on Phenylalanine  (emphasis mine)

Yikes!  Brain seizures and mental retardation from phenylalanine, an essential amino acid?  Well, if you suffer from the rare disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU), it could indeed be a problem.

To further compound the fear, Vani warns us that products containing phenylalanine could be genetically engineered:4

“If a non-organic packaged good has one of these ingredients listed below it could be GMO or genetically engineered.  Look for Non-GMO Project certified products and ingredients that are listed as 100% organic on labels to avoid all GMOs in your diet.



[…]”–Food Babe, GMO Ingredients A-Z

So let’s take Vani’s expert advice to heart and stay the hell away from any products containing phenylalanine.

Got it?  Good!  Let’s go shopping at, where Vani has personally checked the safety of every product for us.  I’m in the mood for some ancient superfoods today.  How about you?  Hey, these chia seeds look good:2



Ooh!  Packed with fiber and revered by the Aztecs and Mayans!  Gotta have it!

Tut tut tut… before we bang away on that “Buy Now” button, we need to pull out our official Food Babe Investigator Magnifying GlassesTM and take a look at the nutritional content of these seeds.  Let’s head over to the USDA for a full breakdown.  Regular readers of this blog, and those of you who got the obvious foreshadowing, will have rightly guessed we’re headed straight for the section on amino acids:3

chia seeds amino acids phyenylalanine

USDA Report: Amino acids found in a 100 gram serving of chia seeds. (click/enlarge)

Holy biomolecular precursors, Batman!  Chia seeds contain phenylalanine!

But wait.  Vani specifically warned us about phenylalanine, and yet there’s 1016mg per 100g in the chia seeds she’s selling.  She makes it clear in her book, The Food Babe Way, that there’s just no safe level of chemical to ingest–ever.  What are we to make of this?

Given that Food Babe clearly didn’t understand that this amino acid isn’t “added” to aspartame as she claims, and given that most of the products she sells contain the same ingredients she says are dangerous, I’d say it’s safe to conclude she doesn’t know [expletive deleted] about nutrition.  That’s what I make of it all.

The good news is that unless you suffer from the rare disorder PKU, you aren’t going to be harmed by the phenylalanine, no matter if it comes from the products sold by Food Babe, or the ones she’s telling you to boycott.  So feel free to buy plenty of Nutiva Chia Seeds.

Just don’t buy from


[Edited 19 Aug 2015: Added Food Babe’s warning that products containing phenylalanine could be genetically modified]

(1) Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health

(2) Food Babe Shop: For Your Belly

(3) USDA Statistics Report: #12006, Seeds, chia seeds, dried

(4) GMO Ingredients A-Z

Image Credits
Nutiva, USDA, 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.