Author’s note: after this article was written, Vani Hari initially (loudly) denied the BHT sales before quietly removing the featured product from her web site. She sold a BHT-laden product for nearly 3 years, all the while telling her followers she used it daily (and urging them to read labels). A follow-up article detailing the purchase of the product from her web site is available here. You can read a debunking of her denials here.
Why is Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) harassing Kellogg’s and General Mills because their cereals contain BHT, when she’s earning a sales commission on a product that contains BHT? She specifically warns her readers to avoid BHT in beauty products!
I’ve been reporting for several months now on the hypocrisy and double standards of Food Babe, who sells a wide range of products that contain the very same ingredients she says are dangerous. But this one takes the cake. In a well-timed publicity stunt in preparation for the release of her new book in 4 days’ time, Hari has rallied her “Food Babe Army” against Kellogg’s and General Mills because their cereal contains Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT),1 a preservative considered safe by the FDA.
Well, guess what else contains BHT? The Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish sold by Vani Hari on FoodBabe.com. Here’s a screen snapshot from her web site:2
Foodbabe.com shopping page featuring the BHT-laden Fresh “Brown Sugar Body Polish”. Click image to enlarge.
Let’s put on our official Food Babe Investigator HatsTM and go over to Amazon.com and look at the ingredients of this body polish (click image to enlarge):3
Sugar Bath “Brown Sugar Body Bath” ingredients. Click to enlarge.
We can zoom in for emphasis:
It matters not that you’re putting this on your skin instead of eating it. Hari specifically says to avoid BHT in all beauty products:4
“Next – do this crucial step to become educated about what is lurking in those beauty products. Check the list below to find out if any of your products contain these dirty dozen chemicals.
1. BHA and BHT. Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.”
Hari did finally get something right–depending on the chemical characteristics of a compound, you’d be right to worry about absorption via the skin–but the fact she’s staging a publicity stunt over BHT without ever checking the ingredients of her own products… well… what was it you said, Vani?
“I shake my head in disbelief.”
Yes, that’s it.
After this article was published on February 6, Vani Hari tweeted the following denial. She directs followers to the Fresh.com website for product information:
Food Babe directs followers to Fresh.com for authoritative product information. I purchased this exact product and it does contain BHT. Click image to enlarge.
So on February 7, in the interest of fairness, I purchased the exact product displayed on Fresh.com, the authoritative source as per Food Babe’s tweet.5 The product is clearly labelled as containing BHT. Images are below. Click any photo to enlarge:
Ingredients. Note the BHT.
Contents. Compare to Fresh.com.
The Forgotten Part of This Discussion
Food Babe has attacked Kellogg’s and General Mills because they are companies selling products that contain BHT. Yet you can’t swing a dead cat in a room full of “Fresh” products without hitting one that contains the additive. I picked four items at random and hit three: the Soy Face Cleanser,6 Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream,7 and Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask.8 Alert readers have found at least 9, and I’ll be linking them all with screen snapshots in future updates.
Why is it OK for a self-styled activist to attack companies over a supposedly “dangerous” additive while at the same time openly earning sales commissions from a company selling at least ten products that contain that same additive?
It’s important to stress that Fresh.com is not the villain here, and I strongly urge readers to not behave in the manner of the “Food Babe Army”. Please–no silly petition drives, spamming of an innocent company’s web site or Facebook page, etc. We’re better than this. According to the currently available science, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Fresh are using a safe ingredient in their products.
Finally, I’d like to mention that I left the following message on Food Babe’s web page with a link to this article, hoping for a clarification and giving her a chance to respond:
“May I respectfully ask why you are selling products that contain BHT when you say it is so dangerous?”
My post was deleted within 3 minutes and I was banned from posting on her page.
I don’t believe in censorship, and welcome debate and dialogue on the subject. Thanks for reading.
Edited for Clarity:
The initial article used Hari’s statements about putting any “toxic” chemical on your skin to assert that she would not support using a beauty product containing BHT. It has been updated to include a specific statement from Hari stating that beauty products containing BHT should not be used.4
(1) “Kellogg’s & General Mills: Drop the BHT From Your Cereal”
(2) Food Babe Shopping Page (“For Your Beauty”)
NOTE: Ms. Hari deleted the Brown Sugar Polish from this page on the evening of Feb 7, 2015–Please see screen snapshots in article.
(3) Fresh “Brown Sugar Body Bath” on Amazon.com
(4) Be a Drug Store Beauty Dropout
(5) Fresh BHT-Free Link
(6) Soy Face Cleanser
(7) Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream
(8) Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask
(9) The Web Never Forgets: Sources for BHT in Fresh Brown Sugar
Amazon.com, Sugar Bath, 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.
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