Axe-idental Poisoning (Josh Axe Debunked)

magical periodic table

How are iron and copper released by bentonite clay while chromium and manganese are targeted and swept away?  Dr. Axe doesn’t sufficiently explain this, but accidentally delves into antimatter and magic in his attempt (see text).

 

So you’ve had another gut-wrenching GMO-free meal at Chi-coli (aka Chipotle) and you’re in need of a quick detox?  Is that what’s bothering you Bunky?  Well set your mind at ease. According to chiropractor and “natural medicine doctor” Josh Axe, all you need to do is eat some dirt.  But not just any dirt.  No, what’s needed here is bentonite clay, a miracle soil that will cleanse and heal the body (get your credit cards ready).1

“Bentonite clay benefits your body by helping to expel many of these toxins [mercury, cadmium, lead, and benzene] and therefore increases immunity and reduces inflammation” 1 — Josh Axe

Golly gee!  I want to know more!

“On top of being able to draw-out toxins from the body, the clay itself has a range of nutrients” 1 — Josh Axe

 

Wait.  Hold on.  Does the clay draw elements out of the body, or put them in?

“When ingested into the body, either in a drink form or by eating the clay, its vitamins and minerals are absorbed similarly to how a supplement would be. Therefore some people use it as a supplement since the clay is a natural source of important dietary nutrients.” 1 –Axe, again

Clay is a source of “important dietary nutrients”, so it puts them into the body?  OK, I’ll bite (no pun intended).  For the sake of argument, let’s take this claim and run with it.  What are the nutritional benefits of bentonite clay, Dr. Axe?1

dr axe bentonite clay

Dr. Axe’s claimed nutritional benefits for bentonite clay include many elements he claims are toxic. (click/enlarge)

 

¡Madre de Dios!  Let’s look at some of the “nutritional elements” I’ve highlighted in the above graphic from draxe.com, and see what the man himself has to say about them:

Mercury exposure, both in one large dose and through low level exposure over time, is linked through scientific data to kidney, brain, urological, fertility, neurological, and renal problems” 2  (emphasis mine)

Low level exposure to mercury over time is linked to some very nasty problems by Axe.  But you’ll find it in the clay he wants you to eat.  The story is even worse with lead:

No level of lead exposure appears to be ‘safe’ and even the current ‘low’ levels of exposure in children are associated with neurodevelopmental deficits.” 3 (emphasis mine)

Axe’s lead quote comes from an article he penned on “toxic” chemicals found in lipstick.  According to him, there’s no safe level of this poisonous element, but you’ll find 1.17mg of lead in each heaping helping tablespoon of his recommended clay.1

Not content with both feet in his mouth, Axe figuratively inserts other remaining body parts as well: in his bentonite clay, you’ll find each and every element I emphasize in his following quote:

The European Union has banned the presence of cadmium, chromium and lead altogether in cosmetics. The Canadian government has set limits for the content of antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury and lead in cosmetics. They’re still trying to determine what levels are avoidable in the manufacturing process.” 3

Why limit the levels of these elements, Dr. Axe?

“While the FDA does limit lead in certain color additives used in cosmetics, it doesn’t set limits on lead in final products.  This is troubling because heavy metals accumulate in the body over time. Low amounts can add up to big effects.3

 

But… but… all of these “heavy metals”, according to you, Dr. Axe, are found in the clay you’re pushing.  But do go on…  what kind of “big effects” can consumers of your super soil expect to experience as the toxins accumulate in their bodies over time?

dr josh axe warns about these metals accumulating over time

Axe issues dire warnings for specific metals accumulating in the body over time.  But each and every metal on this list is found in the bentonite clay he recommends you eat. (click/enlarge)

 

Pot.  Kettle.  Black.

Of course, you could still buy into Axe’s contradictory argument that bentonite clay hunts down and removes these metals from the body.  The problem is, he can’t explain how the good metals are dropped off at the physiological bus stop while the bad ones are picked up by the heavy metal police and carted off to jail without ever passing go.  He makes a hilarious attempt, referencing “positively charged electrons” (that’s antimatter!), but in the end it boils down to magic.  So that I’m not accused of quote mining, I invite you to read his entire article.

Speaking of buying:  Bien sûr, after Axe sings the praises of bentonite clay, he just so happens to have a particular brand he recommends…

dr axe's hidden affiliate link

“Dr.” Axe has a favorite clay–and an undisclosed Amazon.com affiliate link. (click/enlarge)

 

Not only does Axe recommend bentonite, he earns money when you buy it.   In the above image, I’ve highlighted the hidden, encoded Amazon.com affiliate link.  When you’re redirected to Amazon to snag this product, not only does Josh Axe get a cut of the purchase price, he’s also set up to earn commissions on anything else you happen to buy during your shopping session.4,5  Amazon pays out because they’re grateful to Axe for directing you to their web site.  The problem is, legally, the good doctor is supposed to clearly disclose his affiliation when he sends you off to buy–but he never does.

axe hidden link expanded

You can clearly see Axe’s affiliation in the decoded URL (uniform resource locator) after being directed to Amazon.  Axe earns money not only from this purchase, but others you make as well. (click/enlarge)

 

I’ve covered a lot of ground (another dirt pun; sorry) in this piece, and for good reason: there are few things worse, in my humble opinion, than a person hiding behind the title of “doctor” using bad science and fear mongering to sell you products that contain the very same ingredients they’re telling you will harm you.  Here’s a brief recap and, as always, thanks for reading:

  • Axe simultaneously claims bentonite clay both sweeps elements out of your system and puts them in.  Which is it?
  • No scientific explanation is given for the above contradiction.  Axe ascribes near-magical abilities to bentonite, allowing it to hunt down toxins with “positively charged electrons” (antimatter?  WTF?) after coming into contact with water.  Harry Potter would be proud.
  • The so-called doctor’s mastery of chemistry is so poor he can’t differentiate between elements and minerals.
  • The “no safe level of chemical to ingest” mantra could not be more clear in Axe’s writing, yet he proudly lists the levels of each proclaimed toxic chemical in bentonite clay.  Does he ever read his own words and labels?

 

axe unadvertised affiliate link

Help Dr. Axe go on vacation by giving him a cut of all qualifying purchased you make after visiting Amazon.com via his hidden affiliate link.  (click/enlarge)

 

Image Credits
Josh Axe, Redmond Clay, and Amazon.com website 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.

Snippet of the periodic table of the elements taken from ptable.com and also used under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”) with the intent of providing education.  Happy faces poorly drawn by the author.

 

References
(1) 10 Proven Bentonite Clay Benefits And Uses
http://draxe.com/10-bentonite-clay-benefits-uses/

(2) Dangers of Amalgam Fillings
http://draxe.com/dangers-of-amalgam-fillings/

(3) Is Your Lipstick Toxic?
http://draxe.com/is-your-lipstick-toxic/

(4) Amazon.com Affiliate Program Description
https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/

(5) Amazon.com Affiliate Compensation Schedule
https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/join/compensation.html

Hyman’s Sugary Hypocrisy

Mark Hyman’s “Ten Rules To Eat Safely For Life And What To Remove From Your Kitchen”1 has been an absolute gold mine of debunking material.  Never have I found so much hypocrisy in one article.  Nearly every paragraph Hyman writes demonizes an ingredient that he then pushes in his online store.

We’ve already looked at Hyman simultaneously vilifying and selling xylitol and miracle-cure foods in his “ten rules” article.  But he’s not done yet.  Not by a long shot.  Tell us how you feel about sugar derived from cane, Dr. Hyman:

“If sugar (by any name, including organic cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, cane syrup, or molasses) is on the label, throw it out.” 1  (emphasis mine)

(Sigh).  Off we go to Mark Hyman’s online store.  How about a tasty nutritional shake?2

pure lean powder with hyman cane sugarI can hear the skeptics in the crowd shouting, “show me the ingredients!”  I’d be happy to:2

mark hyman cane sugarOrganic cane sugar.

Organic. Cane. Sugar.

But… but… Hyman wrote:

“If sugar (by any name, including organic cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, cane syrup, or molasses) is on the label, throw it out.” 1

 

[Drops microphone.  Leaves stage.]

800px-Microphone

Image Credits
Mark Hyman and Pure Lean Powder product 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.

Microphone by Chris Engelsma, from Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Artist does not necessarily endorse or agree with the viewpoints expressed in this article.

References
(1) Ten Rules To Eat Safely For Life And What To Remove From Your Kitchen
http://drhyman.com/blog/2012/02/02/10-rules-to-eat-safely-for-life-and-what-to-remove-from-your-kitchen/

(2) Dr. Mark Hyman’s Pure Lean Powder: Chocolate
http://store.drhyman.com/Store/Show/Nutritional-Shakes/739/Pure-Lean-Powder%2c-chocolate

(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

image

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)

image

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)

image

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.

References
Food Babe Slams Kraft Over Three Dyes But Sells Same
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/food-babe-slams-kraft-over-three-dyes-but-sells-same/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Naturally Fresh Deodorant
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-naturally-fresh-deodorant/

Food Babe Selling Erucic Acid (Salad Dressing Article)
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/food-babe-selling-erucic-acid-gasp/

Modern Alternative Mama: How Did This Get “Past Your Eyes”?

Regular readers of crunchy mommy blogger Modern Alternative Mama (Kate Tietje) know that she’s an ardent opponent of pasteurization.1,2,3,4  According to Kate’s twisted view of science, pasteurization kills all the “good” bacteria in food products (milk, honey, etc.), leaving room for the “bad” bacteria to grow. She also falsely believes pasteurization destroys all the beneficial enzymes in food, leaving what we eat devoid of nutrition.

For reasons I’m about to reveal, I was a little shocked then to find this fantabulous recipe idea–a “monkey smoothie”–on Tietje’s Facebook page:5

pasteurized milk


Modern Alternative Mama likes this milk. Only one problem…

“Monkey Smoothies” made from Silk brand cashew and almond milk are pushed as a healthy kids’ breakfast by Kate.  There’s only one problem here…

These products are pasteurized!  Here’s the quote from Silk’s product information page (click image to enlarge):6

silk milks pasteurized kate tietje

From the Silk FAQ.  Silk almond & cashew milks are pasteurized. MAM says this is dangerous. (click/enlarge)

Oops!

Now, to be sure, these products are safe, and pasteurization helps make them so.  Kate Tietje makes a plethora of scientifically ignorant statements on pasteurization in her blog posts (such as unpasteurized products having never killed anyone–they certainly have).

But I’m not here to argue the merits of pasteurization (I’ve done that already).  The purpose of today’s blog post is to point out Kate’s hypocrisy.  She says pasteurization makes food products more dangerous by killing off “good” bacteria, leaving room for dangerous pathogens and destroying essential nutrients–so why then is she feeding this “dangerous” brew to her children every morning?

Kate?

References
(1) Kate Tietje: Monday Health, Raw Milk
http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2011/08/01/monday-health-raw-milk/

(2) Where Does Your Dairy Come From?
http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2015/01/20/dairy-come/

(3) Raw Milk: Finding It, Using It, And More
http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2011/02/25/raw-milk-finding-it-using-it-and-more/

(4) Ten Benefits And Uses For Raw Honey
http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2012/07/03/10-benefits-uses-for-raw-honey/(1)

(5) Modern Alternative Mama Monkey Smoothie (Facebook)
https://www.facebook.com/ModernAlternativeMama/posts/10153103399762913

(6) Silk FAQs
https://silk.com/faqs

 

Image Credits
Facebook, Modern Alternative Mama, and Silk 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.

Modern Alternative Mama’s Skin Cancer Extravaganza

Kate Tietje (“Modern Alternative Mama”) is a scientifically illiterate mommy blogger who routinely hands out some of the most dangerous advice on the internet. I’ve previously covered her shameful “vaccine injury awareness month” (meant to counter Breast Cancer Awareness Month–yeah, figure that one out) and the endangerment of her children through neglect. Today I’d like to go back to basics and concentrate on points that even her 57,000+ pseudoscience-loving followers will be able to grasp: hypocrisy and lies.

There will be no squirming out of this one, Kate.

In a recent article, “Have You Gotten Your Sunscreen Yet This Summer?”,1,2 Tietje has this to say about sunscreen ingredients:

“I’m not really comfortable with the physical blockers, like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. I know they are common in “natural” sunscreens and probably fine, but I just do not want to rub that on my children’s skin. I don’t know, I worry. Maybe that’s crazy.” (emphasis mine)

Whoa! Crazy, indeed! Sherman, set the wayback machine7 to a month earlier and let’s peek at another Modern Alternative Mama (MAM) post:3

“It’s been awhile since I’ve done a giveaway here. But, I know that you will truly love this company [BanjOrganics] and I wanted to share it with you.”

Yes, it’s MAMs huge “BanjOrganics Giveaway” contest! The lucky winner takes home a gift basket chock full of natural products, including a jar of sunscreen. Let’s have a look at the ingredients in that sunscreen, shall we?4

banjorganics modern alternative mama sunscreen

BanjOrganics sunscreen ingredients. Note the zinc oxide

Oh dear.  See the highlighted ingredient?  Zinc oxide? What was it that Kate said about zinc oxide? Oh yes… she’s not comfortable with it and just doesn’t want to rub it on her children’s skin.

I suppose one way to avoid exposing your children to “toxic” ingredients is to pawn them off on unsuspecting readers.

So, what does Tietje use on her children? Well, sadly, she freely confesses she’d rather let them run around in the sun unprotected and burn. But when she does apply a sunscreen to her endangered kiddos, she makes her own.

Unfortunately, by her own admission (she doesn’t know it yet–hint hint), she’s using an ingredient that she claims will give the kids skin cancer.

Let’s walk through this. First, here’s her homemade sunscreen recipe.  Take note of the highlighted ingredient.  It will be important later.

Mama's sunscreen ingredients.  Note the raspberries.

Mama’s sunscreen ingredients.  Note the raspberries.

 

Next, we have to remind ourselves of a sunscreen additive that Modern Alternative Mama told us that we must avoid.  She lays this out clearly in her article “What to Look For in Non-Toxic Sunscreen”:5

vita

Hmmm… avoid vitamin A in sunscreens because, according to intrepid scientist Kate Tietje, it can speed development of tumors when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight.  Really?

I think you can see where this is heading.  Remember those raspberries in Mama’s homemade sunscreen?

According to the USDA, raspberries are a rich source of vitamin A:6

usda raspberry

USDA raspberry nutritional information. (click/enlarge)

 

So… vitamin A in sunscreen leads to the possibility of tumors, and Modern Alternative Mama is pushing a sunscreen recipe rich in vitamin A.  Or were we supposed to go back to the zinc oxide solution she’s giving away to readers, but is afraid to use on her own children?

Needless to say, none of the products or ingredients mentioned in this article are actually dangerous.  I’d be happy to debate the issues with Tietje, but like everyone else who questioned her bad science, I was banned from her Facebook page.

 

Image Credits
Modern Alternative Mama, Facebook, and BanjOrganics 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.

References
(1) Have you gotten your Sunscreen yet this summer? (Facebook Intro)
https://www.facebook.com/ModernAlternativeMama/posts/10152975556317913

(2) Have you gotten your Sunscreen yet this summer? (Facebook-Linked Blog Post)
http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2015/05/11/natural-gentle-sunscreen-salve/

(3) Modern Alternative Mama BanjOrganics Giveaway
http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2015/04/28/banjorganics-giveaway/

(4) BanjOrganics Sunscreen Ingredients
http://www.banjorganics.com/#!product/prd1/1903932945/sunscreen

(5) What to Look For in Non-Toxic Sunscreen
http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2014/07/03/look-non-toxic-sunscreen/

(6) USDA Raspberry Nutrient Profile
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2419

(7) The WayBack Machine
http://www.moonmoth.net/paelks/history/wayback.htm

Food Babe’s Hypocrisy Grows. Who Gives a Sh*t? Agave Sh*t!

With the 2015 triathlon season fast approaching here in North America, I’m working overtime on my training regimen.  This, of course, includes a healthy diet.

Because I have a bit of a sweet tooth, I thought I’d turn to nutrition expert Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) for advice on sweeteners.  A bit of chocolate or ice cream is a nice treat after a 50 mile bicycle training ride.  I burn thousands of calories with such workouts, but I don’t want to overdo the sugar reward.  Maybe I’ll do a little shopping on FoodBabe.com.  Hari claims to read the labels of–and personally use–every product she sells.  Surely I can’t go wrong on her own web site!

I wonder what the Babe says about agave nectar, a “natural” sweetener I’ve heard so much about?1  Made from a plant, agave seems like a good “organic” food source.  Take it away, Vani:

Food Babe agave warning

Food Babe warns about agave nectar in this August, 2013 post. (click/enlarge)

Oh dear.  I did not know that!  Fructose, a naturally-occurring sugar found in fruits and vegetables, should be avoided?  Sounds suspicious, but this woman claims to do her homework.  In fact, she elaborates on the theme in her latest book:

“Agave nectar is unnatural and highly refined.  It can make you gain weight, and it can affect your liver and your overall health.  Do not swallow the marketing hype; leave this sweetener on the shelf.”–Vani Hari, The Food Babe Way, page 163.

Sounds like a thoroughly researched scientific position, doesn’t it?  Well, let’s take Hari’s advice to heart and go shopping on FoodBabe.com.  Here’s our shopping list:

  • Chocolates
  • Ice cream
  • Avoid agave nectar

Away we go…

righteously raw goji food babe

Righteously Raw Goji Chocolate Bars sold on FoodBabe.Com. Vani Hari earns a sales commission when you purchase via her web site. (click/enlarge)

I must confess, those Righteously Raw Goji chocolate bars look scrumptious!2  And Vani Hari earns a commission from every purchase,3 which helps fund the crucial role this woman fills in keeping our food supply safe.  What’s not to love?  Let’s pull the trigger on this one…

CaptureWHOA! Not so fast on the purchase button there, cowboy!

I’m sure the rumors we’ve heard of Food Babe selling items she says are dangerous are untrue, but let’s check the ingredients of these chocolate bars.4  This is a skeptical science blog, after all:

Righteously Raw agave

Righteously Raw chocolate bars are made with agave nectar.  (click/enlarge)

 

Uh oh.  Agave nectar? 

But Food Babe told us that:

“Agave nectar is unnatural and highly refined.  It can make you gain weight, and it can affect your liver and your overall health.  Do not swallow the marketing hype; leave this sweetener on the shelf.”–Vani Hari, The Food Babe Way, page 163.

If it’s bad for you, why is she selling it?  She can’t claim she didn’t know it was there.  She wrote about it in another blog post:5

food babe agaveTo their credit, Righteously Raw provides a nice writeup on their web site as to why they believe their agave is better than other agave.  Sadly, they use Dr. Oz, Oprah, and Ellen Degeneres as references.4

Food Babe’s argument against agave is that it contains fructose (a naturally-occurring simple sugar found in all of the fruits she pushes in her recipes).  She tells us fructose “makes a beeline” for our livers, where it supposedly puts us at risk for disease.  So she doesn’t get a free pass on the agave issue, regardless of where it comes from.

Regardless, damn my eyes, agave isn’t just in the chocolate Food Babe pushes.  Let’s look at her online “pantry list”,6 taking particular note of the Coconut Bliss ice creams:

food babe coconut bliss

Food Babe pantry list includes agave-laden Coconut Bliss ice cream. (click/enlarge)

 

Every single item listed on the Coconut Bliss product ingredient page contains agave syrup.7  Every item.  Food Babe hates the syrup even worse than the nectar.  In The Food Babe Way, she has this to say:

“Most commercially available agave is converted into fructose-rich syrup, by using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process that may include activated charcoal, resins, sulfuric and/or hydrofluoric acid, dicalite, and clarimex.  Does this sound healthy to you?” –Vani Hari, The Food Babe Way, page 163.

Perhaps Food Babe will tell us her agave syrup is different from other agave syrups.  But, please keep in mind: her argument against agave is that it contains the simple sugar fructose.  Fructose is fructose.

This isn’t the first time Food Babe has been caught selling products with ingredients she says are dangerous.  It’s become rather obvious to me she doesn’t actually read the labels of the items she sells.  Her reaction to criticism has been, to say the least, suspect.  In the past, she’s either completely ignored reports and continued to sell, quietly pulled items from her store without comment, or tried to shift the blame for her hypocrisy onto her innocent partners.

Only time will tell how she handles the bad news about the agave.  In the interim, I hope that Righteously Raw and Coconut Bliss (Luna & Larry’s) won’t be punished because of Food Babe’s double standards and hypocrisy.  There’s nothing wrong with agave, fructose, and/or the products of these two companies.

I may just buy some Righteously Raw chocolate and Coconut Bliss ice cream as tiny rewards for some of the grueling distance training I’ll be doing this racing season.

I just won’t be buying via FoodBabe.com.

 

 

Image Credits
Food Babe, Amazon, Righteously Raw, and Luna & Larry Coconut Bliss 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.

References
(1) Food Babe on Agave (Facebook)
https://www.facebook.com/thefoodbabe/posts/635528573148524

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

(3) Righteously Raw/Food Babe Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/keywords=Righteously%20Raw%20Bars

(4) Righteously Raw–“Why We Use Agave”
http://righteouslyrawchocolate.com/natural-sweetener-debate/

(5) Food Babe Sugar Archives
http://foodbabe.com/tag/sugar/

(6) Food Babe Pantry List
http://foodbabe.com/pantry-list/

(7) Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss All Product Ingredients
http://coconutbliss.com/info/all-products-ingredients

Food Babe Slams Kraft Over Three Dyes but Sells Same

Note: In December 2015, after two years of selling this product, Vani Hari quietly pulled it from her shopping page without any explanation.  She had previously refused to remove the lip stains described here despite numerous (very public) warnings that it contained the same ingredients she claimed were dangerous.  

Despite a very vocal campaign against Kraft over the use of the dyes Blue #1, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6 in their products,1,2 Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) sells items containing a form of these same dyes via her shopping page, and has apparently been doing so since December, 2013.

The items sold by Kraft are food products, while those sold by Hari are cosmetics intended for use on the lips.

The only difference in the dyes is the addition of a metallic salt in the cosmetics to prevent the dyes from becoming water soluble.  Unfortunately for Hari, the metal in question is aluminum, which she falsely links to Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer.3,14  It must be pointed out that experts in food/product safety strongly disagree with Hari over her claims about the dyes in question–and the aluminum.

Not only did Food Babe miss the presence of the dyes in an item that she claims to use personally–also escaping her attention were 4 compounds she specifically warns should be avoided in beauty products because of alleged endocrine system disruption,4 saccharine (which she says is toxic),5 and retinyl palmitate (which she falsely links to skin cancer when used in the presence of the sun).6

I am not writing as an expert in food and product safety–only to point out Food Babe’s double standards.  The products being discussed in this article all have a solid safety record.  Please keep that in mind as you read.

Hari earns an Amazon.com sales commission via click-throughs on a Tarte Cosmetics link on her shopping page, where she features that company’s Lipsurgence Lip Stain:7

capture19

Screen capture of FoodBabe.com shopping page. Note the highlighted Amazon affiliate ID. (click/enlarge).

 

There are several color options available.  Let’s have a look at the full list of ingredients, according to the Tarte web site.8  Please click to the image to enlarge in a new window.

Tarte Lipsurgence dyes

Ingredients for the full color array of Tarte Lipsurgence lip stains. (click/enlarge)

 

A bit of explanation is in order here.  You’ll notice the word “lake” after each of the dyes.  According to the FDA, approved dyes become lakes when a “salt” is added to make them non-water soluble.9  Simply put, in some products (such as cosmetics or potato chips) you don’t want the colors to run.  According to both the FDA and the manufacturer, the salt in this case is an aluminum compound (e.g., aluminum hydroxide).

Does making the dyes into lakes change their toxicology?  That is, would you expect them to behave in a different manner than Hari’s gloom and doom cherry picked “research” would indicate?  I’m not a chemistry expert, but I found 3 scholarly resources who all cite the FDA.  These sources state that for toxicological purposes, the dyes and their lake forms are identical.10,11,12

Of course, if Food Babe wants to argue this point, she’s left in the awkward position of explaining how the addition of an element she claims to be toxic (aluminum) to a dye she claims is toxic suddenly makes both safe.

 

image

The FDA says lakes are used when you don’t want colors to run–like in this bag of potato chips.    (click/enlarge)

So how long has Food Babe been selling Blue #1 lake, Yellow #5 lake, and Yellow #6 lake? A quick look at the source code of her shopping page at FoodBabe.com7 suggests that she’s been doing this since December, 2013.  By convention, uploaded content (such as product images) is stored in folders tagged with the month and year the content was stored on the web site.  Looking at the screen snapshot below, the association is readily apparent:

Capture

Food Babe appears to have uploaded her Tarte Cosmetics content in December, 2013. (click/enlarge).

 

But, as I said in the introduction, the food coloring is only the tip of the iceberg.  In “Be a Drug Store Beauty Dropout”, Hari warns her readers to avoid the following in all beauty products:

“Siloxanes. Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.” 4  (emphasis mine)

Yet the product she sells and claims to personally use includes:

  1. Cyclopentasiloxane
  2. Phenyl Trimethicone
  3. Dimethicone
  4. Castor Oil Bis-hydroxypropyl dimethicone esters

For someone who previously tried to blame a manufacturer’s web site when caught red-handed, the following online ingredient list isn’t good news: (click to enlarge):

methicones and siloxanes

“methicones” and “siloxanes”–Food Babe somehow missed all of these. (click/enlarge)

 

I’d like to pause here and remind the reader that all of these ingredients have been studied by experts who, unlike Hari and myself, are qualified to pass judgement on them.  Tarte is a reputable company with a superb safety record and I hope that Ms. Hari’s lack of research doesn’t reflect negatively on them.  When caught in this situation before, Food Babe’s response has been to blame the manufacturer for her own mistakes.

I’ve contacted Tarte customer service several times with questions about their ingredients and have always received swift replies with references to scientific literature and government safety regulations.  Just like Kraft, Tarte is selling products that experts overwhelmingly say are safe.  Please do not punish an honest company for Vani Hari’s mistakes.

Having said that:  Food Babe’s lip stain also contains saccharin, which she links to unspecified diseases,5 retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), which she falsely links to cancer,6 and even an IARC group 2B carcinogen (titanium dioxide)–significant because it’s on the very same list as “4-Mel”, a compound found in the caramel coloring over which she previously lambasted Starbucks.13

Of course all of these additives are recognized as safe–it’s just that Food Babe cherry picks literature to make them sound dangerous.  Rather than debate the safety issue with her, however, why not just ask her: if these additive are so dangerous, why does she sell so many products that contain them?  It’s hard to find an item on the Food Babe shopping page that doesn’t contain something she says is harmful.  And yet she accuses other companies of hypocrisy and double standards?

there's more

Food Babe says all these additives are dangerous.  They’re not.  But why is she selling products that contain them?  (click/enlarge).

 

[edited for clarity: statement on aluminum hydroxide clarified 17 Feb 2015]

Image Credits
Amazon.com, Tarte, 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.

Edit History
16 Feb 2015–Added additional reference for Food Babe aluminum toxicity claim

References
(1) Food Babe Kraft Complaint
http://foodbabe.com/2013/03/25/kraft-acknowledged-petition-but-didnt-address-concerns-of-over-a-quarter-million-people/

(2) Food Babe Kraft/Jello Complaint
http://foodbabe.com/2014/05/21/this-childhood-favorite-has-a-warning-label-in-europe-why-not-here/

(3) Food Babe “Throw This Out Of Your Bathroom Cabinet Immediately”
http://foodbabe.com/2013/04/10/throw-this-out-of-your-bathroom-cabinet-immediately/

(4) Be a Drug Store Beauty Dropout
http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

(5) Habits for the New Year and Beyond – #2 Develop a Distaste for Refined Sugar
http://foodbabe.com/tag/refined/

(6) The Ingredients in Sunscreen Destroying Your Health
http://foodbabe.com/2013/05/05/what-you-need-to-know-before-you-ever-buy-sunscreen-again/

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

(8) Tarte Lipsurgence Full Ingredients (official site)
http://tartecosmetics.com/tarte-item-lipsurgence-natural-matte-lip-tint

(9) FDA Color Additive Status List
http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/ColorAdditiveInventories/ucm106626.htm

(10) Food Additive Toxicology
Maga, CRC Press, Sep 13, 1994. p. 185.
https://books.google.com/books?id=6mGmxYqqiREC&pg=PA185&lpg=PA185&dq=fda+lakes+toxicology&source=bl&ots=vO3fpYSTc9&sig=NWIh5whBHCLLOZTvxCpYaBskYe8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KB7iVOXTOfXCsASw1oDgDA&ved=0CD4Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=fda%20lakes%20toxicology&f=false

(11) Handbook of Food Toxicology
Deshpande S.S., CRC Press, Aug 29, 2002. ISBN 0-8247-0760-5. p. 228.
https://books.google.com/books?id=Ex5QNLO-UkMC&dq=fda+lakes+toxicology+deshpande&source=gbs_navlinks_s

(12) Food Safety Handbook
Schmidt R, Roderick G,  Wiley, Mar 10, 2003. ISBN 0-471-21064-1. p. 254

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

(14) How to Find the Best Natural Mascara that Actually Works
http://foodbabe.com/2013/07/27/how-to-find-the-best-natural-mascara-that-actually-works/#more-14046

Manufacturer Confirms Hari Wrong About Ingredients; BHT Product Purchased from FoodBabe.com

Authors note: after selling the product described here for nearly 3 years, Vani Hari quietly removed it from her web site after this information went public. For the most recent information, please see Food Babe’s BHT Denial Doesn’t Hold Water.

All of her denials aside, a product being sold by Vani Hari (the Food Babe) contains BHT, and she has apparently been associated with a company selling at least a dozen such products since the summer of 2012.  This despite the fact that she’s gone on record  saying BHT should be avoided in all beauty products, due to supposed toxicity.  Because Hari claims to personally use each and every product she sells, it’s troubling that she feigned ignorance of the product contents in a Chicago Business Journal interview yesterday, during which she offered a rebuttal of the article you’re now reading.

In a tweet last week, Hari called my proof of BHT in her product “bull****” and said the ingredients listed on the manufacturer’s web site (no BHT) were correct–despite being confronted with photos of product labels clearly showing the additive.

food babe tweet

Food Babe tweet. Click to enlarge.

I reached out to the manufacturer and received the following response today:

“Dear Mark,

Thank you for contacting us!

“Our apologies that our website incorrectly does not list BHT as an ingredient in Brown Sugar Body Polish.  The packaging picture you attached lists the correct ingredients included in the product.

Fresh uses BHT as an antioxidant to protect the ingredients against the risk of oxidation.  Our toxicologists certify that this use of BHT may be incorporated in our products according to the recommendation of the joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review expert panel which confirm that the use of BHT in cosmetics is safe.”

Here is the “packaging picture” referred to in the email (click to enlarge):

ingredients

Email attachment (click to enlarge)

Fresh is correct–according to experts, BHT is safe.  I appreciate the honesty of this company.  What I want to concentrate on here is the hypocrisy of Food Babe.  How is it possible that she has been selling this product for 2.5 years without ever reading the label?

To be absolutely certain of my claims, I placed an order for Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish via the FoodBabe.com shopping page on Friday, February 6.  Food Babe earned an affiliate sales commission from this purchase.

My order confirmation is shown below (click any image to enlarge).

food babe shopping

The Fresh Brown Sugar body polish available on FoodBabe.com on February 6, 2015.  Click image to enlarge.

amazon order details

I placed my order on February 6 via FoodBabe.com’s shopping page, which redirects to Amazon.com.  Click image to enlarge.

 

The order arrived today, February 9.  Let’s open the box:

food babe box

Box received from FoodBabe.com order. Click to enlarge.

ingredients

Snapshot of ingredients. Click to enlarge.

product

The product Food Babe is selling. Click to enlarge.

order confirmation

My order confirmation. Click to enlarge.

As you can see, the item I purchased from FoodBabe.com contains the same additive at the center of Hari’s campaign against General Mills and Kellogg’s.

Food Babe’s web site claimed she used this product personally.  If Vani Hari believed so strongly that this product didn’t contain BHT, why did she delete it from her web site after being confronted?

web site (after)

After photos were published showing that her product did in fact contain BHT, Food Babe quietly deleted the item from her web site.  Compare this image of her shopping page (February 9) to the one above, from which I placed my order (February 6).  Click image to enlarge.

 

Based on simple forensic work on her site, it’s apparent that Hari has been associated with Fresh since July, 2012.  The date of her association can easily be determined by examining the source code of her shopping page, which I saved before she had a chance to delete it:

bht markup

Markup from FoodBabe.com shopping page. Click to enlarge.

Here’s a closer look:

food babe bht snipNote the highlighted sections of the above images.  The year and month that Food Babe uploaded each product image is included as part of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator).  In this case, she uploaded the brown sugar body polish content in July, 2012.  (Similarly, she got started with Josie Maran “Eye Love You” in December 2013, and John Masters’ Shampoo in December, 2011.)

I think the Food Babe Army deserves an explanation as to how their leader could have been using this product for 2.5 years and not seen the BHT on the label.  Here’s what Hari said about the body polish in 2012.  I’m taking this quote directly from the HTML markup of her web page:

“This is quite an amazing scrub. I could use it everyday. Makes my skin baby smooth and the smell is so nice.”–Vani Hari

You have to ask: if she personally uses this product and it’s clearly labeled as containing BHT, how did she miss it?

food babe capture

Screen capture from FoodBabe.com.  “Approved and researched herself.”  Really?

Apparently, everyone else has known about the BHT all along.  Sephora’s question and answer page listed it as far back as 2011–a full year before FoodBabe.com put it on sale.  Amazon.com, the fulfillment source for Food Babe, lists BHT.  The product label lists BHT.

Does Food Babe actually use this product, or has she just been quoting the Fresh.com web site?

Fresh sells over a dozen products containing BHT.  Isn’t it hypocritical for a blogger to criticize companies for selling a product with a certain additive and yet have a commercial affiliation with one that does the same?  In July, 2011, she specifically said BHT in beauty products should be avoided.  In her Chicago Business Journal interview, Hari waffled, saying, in effect, that her BHT wasn’t as dangerous as the General Mills/Kellogg’s BHT.  A clever dodge, as the charge made against her is much more simple: she told her readers not to buy any beauty product with BHT, but sold that very thing for over 2 years and claimed to use it personally.

It’s important to stress yet again that Fresh is not the villain here.  Like Kellogg’s and General Mills, they are selling a product with an additive that is recognized as safe by experts.  On a personal note, my wife and I like Fresh products.  I hope they won’t be punished for this.

What really saddens me is the willingness of some news outlets to promote Ms. Hari as a hero campaigning against giants.  The fact that Food Babe has been “in bed with BHT” since 2012 has been made known to these publications and is now public knowledge.  Thankfully the Chicago Business Journal (and sister publications) did present my BHT charges to her.  Sadly, she sidestepped the issues.

food babe bht product

Product sold by FoodBabe.com.  Click to enlarge.

Edited for Clarity
11 Feb 2015–link to Hari’s statement that BHT in beauty products should be avoided has been emphasized in response to comments she’s only against BHT in food products.  Also added additional screen capture of Hari recommending the product in question.

12 Feb 2015–link to Chicago Business Journal added along with refutation of claims Hari made there.

 

Image Credits
Amazon.com, Fresh, 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.

 

References
Why Is Food Babe Selling A Product With BHT?
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/why-is-food-babe-selling-a-product-with-bht/

Food Babe Shopping (She deleted the body polish after being confronted–see screen snapshots in article)
http://foodbabe.com/shop/for-your-beauty/

Sephora Questions and Answers: Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish
http://answers.sephora.com/answers/8723/product/P7844/questions.htm

Food Babe on BHT in Beauty Products
http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

 

 

You May Also Be Interested In
Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Tarte Blush
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/food-babe-selling-dangerous-items-tarte-blush/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Avalon Organics Repair Milk
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-avalon-organics-repair-milk/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Tarte Lights Camera Action Mascara
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-tarte-lights-camera-action-mascara/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Shampoo
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-honeysuckle-shampoo/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Physician’s Formula Organic Wear
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-physicians-formula-organic-wear/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Borage Therapy Dry Skin Lotion

I’ve got some extra spending money this week, so I thought I’d go shopping at FoodBabe.com.1  I want to be extra careful though, and not buy anything that might harm my body.  So I’m going to use Vani Hari (the Food Babe)’s excellent article, “Be a Drug Store Beauty Dropout”2 as a reference, and closely examine the ingredients of any product I might buy.

Come with me, won’t you?  It’ll be fun!

One warning that particularly stands out in chemistry expert Hari’s thought-provoking piece is the following, where she says we must avoid:

“Siloxanes. Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter [SIC] and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.”2

OK.  Avoid anything ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone”.  Got it.  Let’s go shopping!

Mmmm… that Borage Dry Skin Therapy lotion looks wonderful.  The cold winter weather does have me feeling a bit chapped in the old nether regions.  And the highlighted Amazon.com affiliate ID tells me that Food Babe earns a sales commission from every purchase.  This means I’m helping further this woman’s vitally important work.  What’s not to love?

Borage on FoodBabe.com

Borage Dry Skin Therapy on FoodBabe.com’s shopping page.  Note the highlighted Amazon.com affiliate ID.

But wait…  don’t click the “buy” button just yet!

Following the sage advice of Food Babe, we need to take a close look at the ingredients in this skin therapy lotion.  We wouldn’t want to find anything harmful in there!  Thankfully Borage gives us a nice ingredient list on Amazon.3  You can click the following image to enlarge it, or I’ll zoom in for you momentarily:

Borage ingredients

Borage Dry Skin Therapy ingredients.  Click to enlarge.

 

Uh oh:

oops!Help me out here:  Food Babe said that we’re supposed to avoid ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone”!  Damn my eyes, but doesn’t “dimethicone” end in “-methicone”?

Maybe the Babe just made a mistake.  She’s a fully qualified researcher, but she’s also human, after all!  This could just be a case of mistaken identity.  Let’s see if we can find a more commonly used name for dimethicone by heading over to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubChem database:3

Pubchem dimethicone

Out of the frying pan and into the fire–dimethicone is better known as octamethyltrisiloxane–which ends in Food Babe’s banned “-siloxane”.  (Click to enlarge).

Oops!  Octamethyltrisiloxane.  That ends in “-siloxane”!

This isn’t going very well.  I’d better pull up that Food Babe reference again and make sure I read what she wrote correctly, because she clearly told me to avoid:

“Siloxanes. Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter [SIC] and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.” 2

What the hell?  In addition to her inability to spell “disruptor”, is Food Babe also trying to sell me a skin care product that’s going to mess with my endocrine system, screw up my reproductive organs, and–as an afterthought–kill my pet fish?

I want my money back!

Conclusion
If you’ve read any of the other articles in this series, you know that this is where I usually debunk Vani Hari’s claims that the ingredient in question (in this case, octamethyltrisiloxane) is really dangerous.

It’s getting old.  I’ve written about a dozen of these pieces now, and have already once shot down the -siloxane/-methicone garbage here.  I just don’t have the energy to do it all again. Why reinforce the negative impact of Food Babe’s ridiculous claims by going on and on about the safety?  Psychiatrists call this the “backfire effect”, and I’m loathe to do it. Borage Dry Skin Lotion is completely safe.

However, if you’re curious and would like to hear what experts say about octamethyltrisiloxane (dimethicone, the ingredient in the skin lotion), you’re welcome to read the toxicity summary at PubChem and see that Food Babe’s been pulling the wool over your eyes.

On the other hand, if you believe Food Babe and think that octamethyltrisiloxane (dimethicone) is toxic, then head over to her Facebook page and ask her why she’s selling a product laced with it.  I can guarantee that your comment will be deleted and you’ll be banned… never allowed to comment again.

I’m out of here.  I’m going to go buy some Borage skin lotion.  I’m just not going to buy it from Food Babe.

 

 

You May Also Be Interested In
Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Tarte Blush
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/food-babe-selling-dangerous-items-tarte-blush/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Dandelions
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-dandelions/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Avalon Organics Repair Milk
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-avalon-organics-repair-milk/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Tarte Lights Camera Action Mascara
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-tarte-lights-camera-action-mascara/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Shampoo
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-honeysuckle-shampoo/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Naturally Fresh Deodorant
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-naturally-fresh-deodorant

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Physician’s Formula Organic Wear
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/food-babe-pushing-dangerous-items-physicians-formula-organic-wear/

The Food Babe Ban List
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/the-food-babe-ban-list/

 

Image Credits
Octamethyltrisiloxane courtesy USNLM PubChem, which does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by the author.

Amazon.com and Borage product, 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.

 

References
(1) “For Your Beauty” (Shopping on FoodBabe.com)
http://foodbabe.com/shop/for-your-beauty/

(2) Be a Drug Store Beauty Dropout!
http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

(3) Borage Dry Skin Therapy Product Page on Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0012QYX18

(4) PubChem Summary for Compound CID #24705 (Trisiloxane, aka dimethicone)
http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/24705

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Dandelions

dandelionAh!  Spring is just 6 weeks away here in the Northern Hemisphere.  I can hardly wait for the warm weather.  And the Food Babe (Vani Hari) can’t wait to start digging weeds out of her yard and making juice out of them.

What the…?

Incredibly, in her article “Super Detox Juice”,1 Vani argues that the humble dandelion can be used to detoxify and beautify your body–inside and out.  Well!

The only problem is, by Food Babe’s own logic, drinking dandelion juice will also give you cancer!

How can this be?  Well, to explain, we’ve got to flash back to one of the Babe’s most notorious slander wars: the infamous Starbucks campaign.

Ms. Hari seems to be perpetually enraged–enraged I say (!)–that Starbucks pumpkin latte contains a coloring composed of 4-Methylimidazole (“4-Mel”).2  She uses the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as her source for the claim made in the following info-graphic:

food babe's 4-mel campaign

Screen capture from Food Babe’s Starbucks misinformation campaign.

 

The Babe grossly misrepresents the dangers of 4-Mel, which is only classified as a “group 2B” carcinogen by the IARC.  I’ll explain the group “2B designation” in more detail momentarily (don’t get scared), but for now please keep in mind these two very important points:

  1. Food Babe says the Starbucks latte is dangerous because it contains a group 2B carcinogen
  2. She clearly says her source is the IARC–just read her article.2

Here, let me show you 4-Mel, straight from Food Babe’s source (the IARC list):3

4-mel

 

OK, so what does this have to do with dandelions?

Thank you for asking!  Botanical experts who’ve analyzed dandelions have found that they contain a compound called caffeic acid.4,5,6

So let’s go to the same list from which Food Babe pulled her 4-Mel Starbucks reference and see what else we might find there (queue ominous sounds of thunder):

IARC caffeic acid

 

Caffeic acid?

homer simpsonCaffeic acid, a group 2B carcinogen, is found in dandelions!

Why oh why is it OK for Food Babe to wage a two-year social media, print, and television campaign against Starbucks because of a group 2B carcinogen in their pumpkin latte, but then recommend making a juice out of another group 2B carcinogen?  She has nearly a million followers on Facebook.  Does she care about their well being?  Does she ever actually investigate the food and products she pushes?  Or is she just trying to sell a book with recipes and health advice?

She asks this about a drink containing a group 2B carcinogen:

“Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a Starbucks and order a drink without potential cancer-causing additives and to know exactly what you are drinking?”2

So why is she saying this about a juice that contains a group 2B carcinogen:?

“[…] one of the most healing greens you can buy […] proven to reduce swelling, bloating and stimulate the digestive system to release toxins. You can say bye bye to water retention after travel, a heavily salted meal or eating too much.” 1

Could the answer be that she’s making money from the advice in the second paragraph?

 

I think the great Vince Lombardi said it best…

vince lombardi meme

I think Vince Lombardi would have had this to say about Food Babe’s investigative skills…

 

Conclusion
Group 2B carcinogens–by their very definition–have not been shown to cause cancer in humans.7,8  Group 2B carcinogens are:

“[…] agents for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. [the term] may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. ” –International Agency for Research on Cancer7,8

(Emphasis mine.)

I’m not a doctor or chemist but I’m not too worried about group 2B carcinogens, given that other items in this same group include coffee, pickled vegetables, talc body powder, and the professions of firefighting and carpentry.3

If you want to eat the weeds from your yard, be my guest.  Just remember that Vani says to chew your juice–don’t drink it. 😉

 

Image Credits
Dandelion image by Kate Jewell, from Wiki Commons.  Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.  The image creator does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by the author in this article.

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.

Homer Simpson image is used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Vince Lombardi/Green Bay Packers image is used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

 

References
Please note: I use the DoNotLink service to obfuscate links to questionable web sites and prevent increasing their search engine exposure. I promise you are not being redirected to porn. 🙂

(1) Food Babe: “Super Detox Juice”
http://foodbabe.com/2012/03/17/super-detox-juice/

(2) Food Babe: Drink Starbucks? Wake Up And Smell The Chemicals!
http://foodbabe.com/2014/09/02/drink-starbucks-wake-up-and-smell-the-chemicals/

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

(4) Yarnell, E. ND, RH and Abascal, K. JD, RH.  Integrative Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 2. Apr/May 2009
http://www.imjournal.com/resources/web_pdfs/0409_yarnell.pdf

(5) Li, Yan, Tan, et al. 2006. Qualitative fingerprint and quantitative determination of caffeic acid in compound dandelion enema.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17062364

(6) PubChem Summary for Compound ID #689043 (Caffeic Acid)
http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/689043

(7) IARC Monographs: Classification
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/

(8) IARC Monographs: Scientific Review and Evaluation
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Preamble/currentb6evalrationale0706.php