How Can Food Babe Sell Carrageenan So Cheaply? It’s Simple: Volume!

food babe holistic healthcare carrageenan meme

The calendar on the wall says it’s Friday!  That’s payday here at Bad Science Debunked headquarters, which means it’s time for a crowd favorite: another group shopping trip to FoodBabe.com.  Vani Hari, the “Food Babe”, earns a sales commission from purchases we make on Amazon.com after visiting her web site, even if she didn’t recommend the products.  It’s rewarding to have an altruistic science researcher like Vani throwing her weight around.  A portion of each purchase goes to help struggling penguin colonies at the North Pole.** Or something like that.

Food Babe loves Aubrey Organics and John Masters hair care products and raves about the effects they have on her shiny mane.1  Not coincidentally, the blogger who has been caught selling over thirty-six items that contain the same ingredients she says will kill you also happens to feature both companies prominently on her FoodBabe.com shopping page.2

food babe love john masters hair care

Food Babe loves John Masters. (click/enlarge)

But Vani Hari hates carrageenan. Apparently confusing the safe food additive with degraded carrageenan, she falsely links it to cancer.  Oh, and don’t get any of this so-called toxic substance on your skin! Vani adamantly tells whoever is listening (and many who are patiently trying not to) that toxins in beauty products will be absorbed by the skin, the body’s largest organ.6,7  But hey!  Have you heard Hari talk about John Masters and Aubrey Organics hair care products?  They’re the bomb!

food babe aubrey organics hair care

Food Babe adores Aubrey Organics. (click/enlarge)

 

I see someone in the back of the room raising their hand excitedly.  You know what’s coming, don’t you?

Both John Masters and Aubrey Organics use carrageenan liberally in their product lines.

Yes, this is Food Babe, so hypocrisy is the order of the day.  Let’s have a look at some products and the Babe’s sales pitches for them, shall we?  Here are the ingredients for John Masters Honey and Hibiscus Shampoo:3

Food Babe Holistic Hair Care John Masters

John Masters Honey and Hibiscus Shampoo ingredients.  Spelling error is the vendor’s  (click/enlarge)

Carrageenan!  Even though John Masters misspelled it, there’s carrageenan in this shampoo.  But Vani Hari says this is a toxin!  Food Babe, could you enlighten us on the John Masters hair care products that you claim to have so carefully researched?

“John Masters hair products are simply spectacular”–Vani Hari2

“Spectacular” is certainly one way of describing a skeleton in your own closet, isn’t it?

It doesn’t get much better with Aubrey Organics.  Your honor, the prosecution would like to submit into evidence a bottle of Camelia Shampoo:4

food babe holistic hair care aubrey organics

Aubrey Organics Camelia Shampoo. (click/enlarge)

As Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!”  There’s carrageen in this Food Babe product as well, and she claims it’s carcinogenic.   But remind the audience… how do you feel about Aubrey Organics products, Vani?

Aubrey Organics Hair Care – They have the most fantastic products that are all safe!–Vani Hari1

“There is a safe shampoo and conditioner for every type of hair from Aubrey”–Vani Hari2

Food Babe throws out accusations of “toxins” with all the care of a cartoon character tossing a boomerang into air and turning to grin at the camera.  We all know what’s coming.  The loud “thunk!” is the sound of the Babe’s words cycling around to strike her in the back of the head.  She essentially claims the products sold on her web site can cause cancer.

“One of the findings has to do with a carcinogenic ingredient all these products have in common, a substance derived from red algae called carrageenan” (emphasis mine)–Vani Hari8

Oh dear.  Better not get anything containing carrageen on your skin.  Educate the masses, Vani:

“Your skin is your largest organ!  What you put on your skin, is absorbed into your blood.”–Vani Hari9

But fear not.  There’s nothing dangerous about carrageenan or the shampoos offered by John Masters or Aubrey Organics.  Buy them with wild abandon.

Just don’t buy from Food Babe.

Postscript
I’ve purposely omitted Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Shampoo, singled out by Food Babe  as a featured item in her online shop, because I used that product in my first “reveal” of Hari’s carrageenan sales earlier this week.5  As I pointed out at the time, Vani Hari is demanding that a certain carrageenan vendor retract their factual claim that she’s profiting from fear mongering over this safe compound.  Today, I’m pointing out more Food Babe carrageenan sales to preempt claims from #FoodBabeArmy members who might say that the first catch was just a mistake.

How does Hari hide her hypocrisy from her army?  Observe.  I tweeted her a polite note about the carrageenan:

food babe holistic hair care question

A question for Vani Hari… (click/enlarge)

I received a reply that I must admit was not entirely unexpected:

banned by food babe over hair care

Food Babe blocks those who question or disagree with her. (click/enlarge)

#FoodBabeArmy #EchoChamber

**There are no penguins at the North Pole.

References
(1) Holistic Hair Care: How & Why
http://foodbabe.com/2011/11/06/holistic-hair-care-how-why/

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

(3) John Masters Honey and Hibiscus Reconstructing Shampoo (retrieved 09 Aug 2016)
https://johnmasters.com/products/hair-care/honey-hibiscus-reconstructing-shampoo.html

(4) Aubrey Organics Camelia Shampoo Ingredients (retrieved 09 Aug 2016)
https://www.amazon.com/Aubrey-Organics-Camelia-Shampoo-liquid/dp/B0006GZDEQ

(5) Food Babe Is Selling Carrageenan
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/food-babe-is-selling-carrageenan/

(6) Be A Drug Story Beauty Dropout
http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

(7) So Fresh And So Clean–Skin Care Tips
http://foodbabe.com/2011/08/09/so-fresh-and-so-clean-skin-care-tips/

(8) Watch Out For This Carcinogen In Your Organic Food (FoodBabe.com)
http://foodbabe.com/2012/05/22/watch-out-for-this-carcinogen-in-your-organic-food/

(9) So Fresh And So Clean–Skin Care Tips
http://foodbabe.com/2011/08/09/so-fresh-and-so-clean-skin-care-tips/

 

Image Credits
Food Babe screen captures, John Masters product/ingredient, and Aubrey Organics/Amazon.com product/ingredient images 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.

“Be Vewy Vewy Quiet” parody by Mark Alsip/Bad Science Debunked.   Partially derived from content based on/used under parody provisions of 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.

 

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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 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:

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.

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.

References
(1) Holistic Hair Care–How & Why?
http://foodbabe.com/2011/11/06/holistic-hair-care-how-why/

(2) Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing Protein Conditioner 11oz
http://www.aubrey-organics.com/ProductInfo/001.aspx

(3) Why Aren’t You Making Your Own Hummus?
http://foodbabe.com/2011/05/18/homemade-hummus/

(4) USDA Nutrition Database: Search for “Grapefruit”
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Honeysuckle Shampoo

Author’s note (07 Aug 2016): When this article was written 18 months ago, the shampoo being reviewed did not contain honeysuckle. A snapshot of the ingredients at that time can be found in the body of the text. The product has since been reformulated to contain honeysuckle oil. You can find the new ingredients here.

Is it fair to randomly pick one ingredient from a product label, Google it, and scream bloody murder if you come up with something that sounds dangerous?  Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) seems to think so.

Turnabout is fair play, so I’ve read approximately 100 articles published by The Babe and selected some products and foods that she recommends.  I’m going to give these items the same treatment.  The first item is a doozy, linked to kidney disease and cancer, lacking a claimed main ingredient, and chock full of a chemical Vani Hari despises.  And–<gasp!>–there may be hidden GMOs!

Phone the kids and wake the neighbors…

 

Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Shampoo
It won’t surprise people familiar with Hari that she earns a sales commission from most of the items she’s hawking.  Such is the case with Aubrey Organics Hair Care Honeysuckle Shampoo.  She’s in love with this shampoo, as you can see in the following blog post snippet.1  Note the encoded Amazon.com affiliate link2 in the lower left corner. This makes Vani’s cash register go “ka-ching!” if you buy the shampoo:

blog post

Food Babe loves “Honeysuckle” shampoo (Click to enlarge.)

 

So let’s put on our Food Babe Detective Hats and scan the ingredients list for this shampoo3 and see if we can find anything dangerous:

shampoo ingredients

Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Shampoo ingredients. (Click to enlarge.)

Whoa!  Didn’t have to go far!  Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot) is a traditional herb linked to liver damage4,5 and cancer.6  Doctors warn against the use of coltsfoot for any purpose.  Chemists say that coltsfoot contains substances known as pyrrolizidine alkalloids that can be toxic to the liver.  An infant who was regularly fed coltsfoot tea by his parents developed severe health problems that only went away when the tea was withdrawn.4  Another developed liver damage and died after its mother drank coltsfoot tea during pregnancy.4

In a 1976 study, 67% of rats fed high doses of Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot) developed cancer, as opposed to 10% on low doses.6   If you use statistics the way Food Babe does, then you’re looking at a likely carcinogen.

Food Babe should have read the label on this one before shilling for the manufacturer.  I suppose it would cut down on your affiliate commissions if people thought your products were linked to liver damage and cancer.

 

The Dagger
One scholarly resource4 hints that horticulturists may have bred a variant of Tussilago farfara with little or no levels of pyrrolizidine alkalloids.  It would, of course, be horrifying to Food Babe9 if this type of coltsfoot appeared in her shampoo because we are straying into the territory of genetic engineering now.

We could dig a little deeper and query Aubrey Organics about the source of the corn sugar and soy protein listed in their ingredients.  Corn and soy are two major GMO products in the United States and it’s hard to find non-GMO sources for those crops.10  But we’ll leave that for another day.

Anyway, Vani: whether you tinker with the genome of an organism in a test tube, by selective breeding, or any other means, you’re essentially doing the same thing.  One method just gets you there faster.  If your coltsfoot isn’t toxic, it’s genetically engineered.

You choose, Vani.

food babe activism

Nice hair.

It Gets Even Worse
Having Hari down on the mat for a ten count, I could stop here–but it’s not in my nature.

Remember how Food Babe viciously attacked Starbucks for using artificial pumpkin flavoring instead of real pumpkin?8

food babe pumpkin

 

Let’s look at the ingredients in this “honeysuckle” shampoo again (click the image below to enlarge it):

ingredients again

“Honeysuckle” (wink wink-nudge nudge) shampoo ingredients    (Click to enlarge.)

There’s no honeysuckle (Lonicera caprifolium) in this shampoo!!!

Yes, that’s right–Food Babe doesn’t hesitate to warn us about products that use artificial ingredients, then turns around and recommends a honeysuckle shampoo that uses artificial ingredients to produce a honeysuckle scent.  Hey, call in the lady from the Wendy’s commercial:

where's the honeysuckle?

 

Let’s Beat a Dead Horse
Playing by Food Babe rules, we’ve already got a cancer-causing, liver-damaging, fake-ingredient shampoo.  Suppose we removed the toxicTussilago farfara and added some real honeysuckle.  Would the shampoo then pass Vani Hari quality control?

Well, sadly: no.

In her New Year’s “Sugar Archives” article, Vani tells us we must avoid all products containing glucose:7

sugar arhives snippet

 

Oh dear.  This may be tedious, but it’s back to that ingredients list again…  Click to enlarge:

glucose, glucose, glucose

Ouch.  Glucose appears three times.  But according to Vani, we’re supposed to avoid glucose!!!

In the 100+ Food Babe articles I read, the woman displays an appalling lack of knowledge of chemistry, so I can forgive her for not knowing glucoside is derived from glucose.  But if she’d read the product labeling, the other two glucose occurrences are spelled out for her.

So what’s going on here?  Does she not read the labels on what she’s selling?  Or do best sellers get a free pass even if she reads the label and finds problem ingredients?  You cannot possibly miss the issues with this shampoo’s ingredients list!

 

Conclusion
By Food Babe standards, this product fails in three ways:

  1. It contains an ingredient linked to liver damage and cancer
  2. It contains artificial ingredients instead of the advertised natural one (honeysuckle)
  3. It contains “banned” ingredients (glucose, possible GMO corn and soy)

But, in closing, I’ll tell you what Food Babe won’t tell you about this shampoo, or any of the items she slanders:

Honestly, the only danger with this shampoo seems to come from drinking it.  Doctors say coltsfoot is toxic when ingested, not when used in your hair (though one paper I read does say to stay away from the stuff).  Glucose is not a problem unless, for example, you’re a diabetic–Food Babe is just scientifically illiterate when it comes to processed foods, and that’s why she objects to the sweetener.  And there’s no difference in the safety of GMO foods and non-GMO foods.  Food Babe just doesn’t understand the engineering process.

Finally, there is nothing at all wrong with mixing a bunch of non-honeysuckle chemicals together to obtain a honeysuckle scent.  That’s what Aubrey Organics appears to have done.  If you judged them by Food Babe standards, they would fail.

Please don’t judge Aubrey Organics by Food Babe standards.  Buy from them.  But please don’t buy from them using a Food Babe link.

 

Image Credits
Screen snapshots of Food Babe and Amazon.com web pages 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.

“Where’s the Beef?” parody image 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.

 

References
(1) Food Babe: Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Shampoo
http://www.donotlink.com/d15w

(2)  Laughing All the Way to the Bank (Part 1)
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/food-babe-laughing-all-the-way-to-the-bank-part-1/

(3) Amazon.Com: Aubrey Organics “Honeysuckle” Shampoo
http://www.amazon.com/Honeysuckle-Rose-Moisturizing-Shampoo-11oz/dp/B0006GZAKI

(4) NYU Langorne: Coltsfoot
http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=104668

(5) Reversible hepatic veno-occlusive disease in an infant after consumption of pyrrolizidine-containing herbal tea
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7720737

(6) FDA Poisonous Plant Database (Coltsfoot)
http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/plantox/detail.cfm?id=12511

(7) Food Babe: Sugar Archives
http://www.donotlink.com/d16h

(8) Food Babe: Artificial Pumpkin Flavor
http://www.donotlink.com/bckg

(9) Food Babe: Anti-GMO
http://www.donotlink.com/d17i

(10) Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S
http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx