In Support of Food Hunk debunker/satirist The Food Hunk is running a fun contest this week.  It seems that the pseudoscientists over at GMO Free USA have gone all hypocritical, sending out a cease and desist warning over his legal use of their logo in his debunking efforts.  The contest is a simple parody design game.

Apparently, the GMO Free USA organization isn’t familiar with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law, which makes their logo fair game in the way it’s being used by bloggers such as Food Hunk and myself.   I’d be happy to explain the law to them, or have my attorneys do it for me.  But before I point out the hypocrisy behind GMO Free’s protest, here’s my contest entry:

gmo fact free USAIf you’re not familiar with GMO Free USA, suffice to say they’re a major supporter of the organic food industry, which raked in a record 39 billion dollars in revenue last year.1  My logo parody, GMO Fact Free USA, is inspired by the organization’s use of fear tactics and lack of science to drive consumers away from safe, affordable food–and toward products pushed by woomeisters (and GMO Free USA supporters) such as Food Babe2,3 and Dr. Joseph Mercola.4,5

The fear mongers I’m criticizing here don’t rely on facts in pushing their agendas, and/or they blatantly cherry pick and misrepresent facts to distort the truth.  Thus, “GMO Fact Free USA” is born.

It’s ironic how often GMO Fact Free USA and their allies do exactly what’s got their panties in such a wad: using logos of those they’re criticizing in their writing.  The fact is, this is entirely legal.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll leave you with around “six thousand” examples of hypocrisy from the Fact Free woo pushers among us.  You can click any image to enlarge.

gmo free usa hypocrisy

Methinks the pseudoscientists doth protest too much.  Count the copyrighted logos in this GMO Free USA ad campaign.6   (click/enlarge)

gmo usa scott boycott

Scotts didn’t protest GMO Free USA’s use of their logo, for good reason: it’s perfectly legal in this context. 7  (click/enlarge)


food babe logo use

Food Babe, who supports organizations such as GMO Free USA, isn’t shy about legally using other corporate logos.8   (click/enlarge)


food babe starbucks logo

More (GMO Free USA supporter) Food Babe corporate logo use. 9    (click/enlarge)


mercola aspartame

GMO Free USA fan Joseph Mercola isn’t shy about using a corporate logo when it suits his interests.10 (click/enlarge)

mercola soft drinks

More  from GMO Free USA supporter Mercola.10 (click/enlarge)


Revision History
22 Sep 2015: Added missing hyperlink to Scott’s boycott call


Image Credits
GMO Free USA logo/parody 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.

Food Babe and 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.


(1) Organic Trade Association

(2) The Shocking Difference Between Organic and non-GMO Labels (Food Babe)

(3) Food Babe/GMO Free USA (Facebook)

(4) Mercola/GMO Free USA (Facebook)

(5) Mercola/GMO Free USA (Facebook)

(6) GMO Free USA Boycott Call: Kellogg’s

(7) GMO Free USA Boycott Call: Scott’s

(8) Food Babe: Cereal

(9) Food Babe: Starbucks

(10) Mercola: Aspartame


Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan Salt Debunked

If I see one more advert for the magical health benefits of 84-element Himalayan Pink Salt I’m going to vomit.  No, really.  I mean it.  It’s time somebody debunked this garbage.  Every charlatan and snake oil salesman on the planet is pushing this salt, and it’s time for a take-down.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, I’m looking at you.

mercola's pink salt

I’m actually going to let Dr. Mercola debunk himself in this article.  We’ll simply present the ingredients he claims are in his salt,1 along with his own “research” on those same elements.  The truth of the matter is, Mercola unequivocally states that his own product is full of poisonous elements.  (The full ingredient list, provided by Mercola, is provided in the References section at the end of this article.) 1

Before we begin, let’s be clear on something.  We’re talking about trace elements: quantities so minute they’re hard to detect.  But, in Mercola’s quotes, please pay attention to his pathological obsession with how even the lowest levels of “toxic” chemicals are unacceptable.  For example, here’s some Dr. Joe hyperbole on mercury:

“In fact, it [mercury] is SO toxic that entire buildings have been evacuated for a mercury spill smaller than a standard dental filling” 2

If Mercola wants to change horses in midstream and say that the trace elements are not dangerous, then he’s left in the unenviable position of explaining why he’s touting their very presence as the reason his salt is supposed to be healthier than regular table salt.

So, without further ado, let’s let Dr. Joseph Mercola describe ten toxic elements in his Himalayan salt, in his own words:


Mercola’s Himalayan salt contains mercury.  His opinion?

“Mercury is one of the most potent neurotoxins known to man.”2

“In fact, it’s SO toxic that entire buildings have been evacuated for a mercury spill smaller than a standard dental filling.”2

“There Is NO Safe Level of Mercury Exposure” 2

Dr. Joe goes on to fear monger over mercury in vaccines3 and lists it as one of his five most toxic metals to avoid.5

Smacking your head yet? I know I am. But how about…


Aluminum features prominently in Mercola’s salt.  How does he feel about the most common metal in the earth’s crust?

“Aluminum has been long known to be neurotoxic, with mounting evidence that chronic exposure is a factor in many neurological diseases, including dementia, autism, and Parkinson’s disease.”4

Just as with particles in the environment, once aluminum is in your tissues, your body has a difficult time releasing it. This toxic metal serves absolutely no biological purpose, so the less of it you ingest, the better.4

Aluminum also makes Mercola’s list of the five most toxic metals to avoid.5


A star player in Mercola’s list of the 5 most toxic metals,5 his feelings on exposure to even low levels of lead are quite clear. So why is he selling it?

“Studies have found that there is no safe level of lead, and since it does not break down in your body you will accumulate it for a lifetime” 10


“Lead is known to cause damage to your brain and nervous system. Even small amounts can be dangerous, as lead builds up in your body over time.” 11

Arsenic, the favorite poison of the Brewster Sisters in the classic film Arsenic and Old Lace, pops up in this salt.  Mercola’s expert opinion on exposure to trace levels of arsenic?  Well:

“Exposure to low levels of arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of “pins and needles” in hands and feet, and over the long term can cause darkening of the skin and the appearance of small “corns” or “warts” on the palms, soles, and torso.” 5


You’ll find cadmium in Mercola’s salt.  Although after writing the following, he probably wishes you didn’t look too closely at his ingredients list:

” It is a known human carcinogen that appears to act in two ways: it harms DNA directly and disturbs a DNA repair system that helps to prevent cancer.” 5


Polonium made news in 2006 when Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with a particular isotope, polonium 210.9   No word on which of the 33 radioactive isotopes of polonium are present in Mercola’s salt, because his company won’t release the information (claiming it’s “proprietary”). Regardless,  radioactive polonium in any form is not what you want to ingest.  Dr. Mercola, please educate us on polonium:

“It  [research] also showed that polonium, specifically, causes cancer in laboratory animals.” 13


“The [carcinogenic] factor I’m talking about is polonium-210—a highly radioactive element that releases alpha particles as it decays. It’s also chemically toxic. While alpha particles cannot penetrate deeply into your body, they can cause serious damage to cells they do come into contact with.” 6


Uranium is found in Mercola’s salt?  Yes, according to the list provided by his company.  If the doctor is worried about his followers eating radioactive substances, this one should be a no-brainer.  But the doctor tells us:

“Uranium and radium are two known carcinogens found in fluorosilicic acid used for water fluoridation” 6


Mercola flagged radium as dangerous along with uranium in the previous paragraph. Yet radium is found in his pink salt.  Remind us again about radium, please, doctor?

“Uranium and radium are two known carcinogens found in fluorosilicic acid used for water fluoridation” 6


“Alpha particles: Emitted from uranium, radium, plutonium and thorium, alpha particles are a type of ionizing radiation.  The federal public health goal (maximum contaminant level goal, or MCLG) for alpha particles is zero. […] While they can’t penetrate deeply into your body, alpha particles can cause serious damage to cells they come into contact with.” 12  (emphasis mine)


Mercola links thallium and other “heavy metals” to cancer, memory loss, cardiovascular disease, reproductive issues, lung damage, and neurological problems. 7

Perhaps the good doctor can explain why thallium is found in a food product he’s selling.

If you think your favorite lip gloss or eye shadow is “safe” because it doesn’t list lead or arsenic on the ingredients label, think again. A new report revealed that virtually every cosmetic product tested contained a potentially dangerous or proven toxic heavy metal.


None of the products tested contained mercury, but lead was detected in 96 percent of the products, arsenic in 20 percent and cadmium in 51 percent. Nickel was found in all the products tested, beryllium in 90 percent, thallium in 61 percent and selenium in 14 percent. 7 (emphasis mine)

Call the doctor:  if thallium is dangerous in cosmetics, how is it safe in his salt?


Antimony, an element found in Dr. Joe’s Himalayan Pink salt, scares him so badly he’s actually afraid he’ll absorb it from sleeping on mattresses.  I’m not making this up!

Antimony is a metal that may be more toxic than mercury and formaldehyde.


Your mattress may be of particular concern, as many contain not only PBDE’s, but also toxic antimony, boric acid, and formaldehyde.8

I can’t escape the mental image of a doctor sleeping in a bio-hazard suit to protect himself from antimony in his mattress, then salting his eggs with antimony at breakfast.


So there you have it. Ten elements Dr. Mercola purports to be highly toxic, even in minute doses, but all found in his “healthy” Himalayan salt.  There are far more examples, but let’s not beat a dead horse.  If the trace elements are there in sufficient quantities to provide the claimed benefits, then they certainly exist in amounts sufficient to be the poisons Mercola warns about.  Especially when he’s making risible claims such as evacuating entire buildings because of a mercury spill the size of a tooth filling. 2

It would be wonderful to have an explanation from the doctor, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’m reminded of the old Alice Cooper song:

“I want to love you but I better not touch
I want to hold you, but my senses tell me to stop […]
You’re poison, running through my veins”

–Alice Cooper, “Poison”


Revision History
On September 16, 2015, additional Mercola quotes and citations were added for lead and radium.

On December 3, 2015:  For more on this story, see the Forbes article I co-wrote with Kavin Senapathy: “The Toxic ‘Chemical Hypocrisy’ Of Food Babe, Joseph Mercola And Mark Hyman


(1) Himalayan Crystal Salt Mineral Analysis
in response to my query
  #(MER-784356F2DDQJ) customer service, 9/13/2015

Note: I repeatedly queried Mercola’s support team as to the source of this analysis.  Was it a scientific study they could cite?  I was rebuffed with comments like this:

“At this time being we are unable to provide a certificate of analysis for the Himalayan Salts as this remains proprietary information.  For your personal reference the manufacturer of our Himalayan Salts is WBM International”

Regardless, this is what Mercola says is in his salt:

 Hydrogen — 0.30 g/kg
 Lithium — 0.40 g/kg
 Beryllium — under 0.01 ppm
 Boron — under 0.001 ppm
 Carbon — under 0.001 ppm
 Nitrogen — 0.024 ppm
 Oxygen — 1.20 g/kg
 Fluoride — under 0.1 g/kg
 Sodium — 382.61 g/kg
 Magnesium — 0.16 g/kg
 Aluminum — 0.661 ppm
 Silicon — under 0.1 g/kg
 Phosphorus — under 0.10 ppm
 Sulfur — 12.5 g/kg
 Chloride — 590.93 g/kg
 Potassium — 3.5 g/kg
 Calcium — 4.05 g/kg
 Scandium — under 0.0001 ppm
 Titanium — under 0.001 ppm
 Vanadium 0.06 ppm
 Chromium — 0.05 ppm
 Manganese — 0.27 ppm
 Iron — 38.9 ppm
 Cobalt — 0.60 ppm
 Nickel — 0.13 ppm
 Copper — 0.56 ppm
 Zinc — 2.38 ppm
Gallium — under 0.001 ppm
 Germanium — under 0.001 ppm
 Arsenic — under 0.01 ppm
 Selenium — 0.05 ppm
 Bromine — 2.1 ppm
 Rubidium — 0.04 ppm
 Strontium — 0.014 g/kg
 Ytterbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Zirconium — 0.001 ppm
 Niobium — under 0.001 ppm
 Molybdenum — 0.01 ppm
 Ruthenium — under 0.001 ppm
 Rhodium — under 0.001 ppm
 Palladium — under 0.001 ppm
 Silver — 0.031 ppm
 Cadmium — under 0.01 ppm
 Indium — under 0.001 ppm
 Tin — under 0.01 ppm
 Antimony — under 0.01 ppm
 Tellurium — under 0.001 ppm
 Iodine — under 0.1 g/kg
 Cerium — under 0.001 ppm
 Praseodynium — under 0.001 ppm
 Neodymium — under 0.001 ppm
 Samarium — under 0.001 ppm
 Barium — 1.96 ppm
 Europium — under 3.0 ppm
 Gadolinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Terbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Dysprosium — under 4.0 ppm
 Holmium — under 0.001 ppm
 Erbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Thulium — under 0.001 ppm
 Ytterbium — under 0.001 ppm
 Lutetium — under 0.001 ppm
 Hafnium — under 0.001 ppm
 Tantalum — 1.1 ppm
 Wolfram — under 0.001 ppm
 Rhenium — under 2.5 ppm
 Osmium — under 0.001 ppm
 Iridium — under 2.0 ppm
 Platinum — 0.47 ppm
 Gold — under 1.0 ppm
 Mercury — under 0.03 ppm
 Thallium — 0.06 ppm
 Lead — 0.10 ppm
 Bismuth — under 0.10 ppm
 Polonium — under 0.001 ppm
 Astat — under 0.001 ppm
 Francium — under 0.10 ppm
 Radium — under 0.001 ppm
 Actinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Thorium — under 0.001 ppm
 Protactinium — under 0.001 ppm
 Uranium — under 0.001 ppm
 Neptunium — under 0.001 ppm
 Plutonium — under 0.001 ppm


(2) Europeans Face Same Hurdles as Americans in Banning Mercury Amalgam

(3) “Mercury Detoxification Protocol”

(4) First Case Study to Show Direct Link Between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity

(5) Five Common Toxic Metals to Avoid, and Where You’ll Find Them

(6) Radioactive Fertilizer—The Surprising Primary Cause of Lung Cancer in Smokers

(7) New Study Finds Major Toxins in Many Cosmetics

(8)  Even if You Do Everything Else Right – This Frequently Overlooked Threat can Destroy Your Health

(9) Alexander Litvinenko: Profile of a Murdered Russian Spy (BBC)

(10) Poison Lead in Lipstick

(11) Lead Exposure in Children

(12)  Water Filters May Reduce Radiation Exposure

(13) Smoking Side Effects

Image Credits
Dr. Mercola 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.

Got Milk?

I was recently introduced to the work of Dr. Joseph Mercola through a dangerous article he penned.  In “Fight for Raw Milk Heats Up in Wisconsin and Illinois“,1 Mercola sings the praises of raw, unpasteurized milk.  Before somebody ends up seriously ill, I’d like to draw attention to some facts about consuming unpasteurized dairy products.  I’ll be using selected quotes from Mercola’s article to drive the narrative, but encourage readers to check out his full write-up in case there are any suspicions of quote-mining.

For those who’ve forgotten, pasteurization is simply the rapid heating — then cooling — of milk. This eliminates most of the bacteria that would make you sick, and it allows the milk to stay fresh longer.  Pasteurization isn’t the same as boiling/sterilization: it doesn’t wipe out all the pathogens, but it also doesn’t destroy the flavor or essential nutrients.2, 3, 6, 12


Pinocchio, patron saint of liars. See footnotes for image credit.

Mercola claims:

“Raw milk dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. It’s far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk, and if statistics are any indication, it’s safer, too”

This is an outright lie.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, unpasteurized dairy products are 13 times more likely to cause hospitalization and 150 times more likely to result in foodborne illness.2  Unpasteurized milk is a common source for the bacteria that causes diseases such as diphtheria, tuberculosis, and, typhoid fever.3  It’s irresponsible for anyone labeling themselves as “doctor” to spread deceit like this.  Some of the dangers include:

Salmonellosis, usually transmitted to humans by consuming animal products contaminated by animal feces:4  Put bluntly, those organic cows you see standing in the organic fields munching organic grass growing in piles of organic shit… yeah, that’s what “feces” means. Salmonella is at best an uncomfortable disease, featuring diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.  In extreme cases it can lead to hospitalization.  Untreated, in can result in death.

Brucellosis, most commonly acquired by consuming unpasteurized dairy products:5 Common symptoms include fever, anorexia, muscle/joint pain, swelling of the heart/liver/spleen, and swelling of the testicles/scrotum in men.  (If you’re a female reporting swelling in the testicles, you’re most likely an anti-vaccine proponent reporting a fake adverse reaction.)

The cautionary list is a long one.  For more, please see the CDC page “Food Safety and Raw Milk.”6


Living in the good ol’ days. See footnotes for image credit.

“it’s worth remembering that raw milk was consumed for eons before the invention of pasteurization.” — Mercola

It’s also worth remembering that in the 1900s the average adult didn’t live beyond age 50,7 and the earliest humans were lucky to make it out of their 20s.8  Scientific advances in fields such as medicine and agriculture have led to significant increases in the average adult life span.  “Eons ago” is a piss-poor argument.  Speaking of piss… eons ago, humans allowed their sewage to mix freely with drinking water.  Then we learned better.

Back to dairy…  by the 1900s, mothers knew the dangers of raw milk, but the pasteurized product wasn’t widely available.  They began boiling it to reduce the risk to their infants.3   Has Mercola learned nothing from history?

It’s sad how champions of alternative living long for the good ol’ days — without remembering how bad those days really were.11  


“Organically raised cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture where they can graze for their natural food source produce very different milk.”  — Mercola

Mercola doesn’t tell us what’s in his “different milk”.  Milk is milk.  It’s hard to debunk ghost claims.  And they’re frustratingly, frequently, common in quack articles such as the good doctor’s.  What we do know is the chemical composition of milk.9  Milk, by any other name… is milk. The next time you see a woomeister talking about “different” milk, ask them what’s in their milk, and compare.

The implication here is that “organic is better”, and that’s just not true.  Crude oil is 100% natural and organic.  Is it good for you?  That’s not a joke.  It’s not sarcasm.  Look it up.  (But don’t drink it.)

 855“It’s also important to realize that pasteurization is only really required for certain kinds of milk” — Mercola

And condoms are only necessary for safe sex with certain kinds of strangers.  Sorry, but no.  Look: cows aren’t the most sanitary of creatures.  They don’t exactly wash their hooves (or udders, or any other body part) after going to the bathroom.  They wade through fields full of cow dung all day munching on… well… dung-laden grass.  You don’t know what’s growing there, other than the very real possibility it won’t be good for you.   For example, consider this photo:

Agrocybe pediades spores

Spores from poisonous Agrocybe pediades, a mushroom found growing on a cow patty

Dairy cattle are subject to other disease vectors such as insects and wild animals.  Drinking unpasteurized milk is rather like playing the lottery.  Instead of picking numbers, you’re picking bacteria, spores, and other contaminants, and hoping against hope that you don’t swallow something dangerous.


Tinfoil hats“While the US government, public health, and dairy industry officials say they want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw milk because of safety concerns, it’s quite clear that safety isn’t the motivating factor.” — Mercola

Except that:

In industrialized countries, milk-borne and milk product-borne outbreaks represent 2–6% of the bacterial foodborne outbreaks.2

I snuck one in on you.  That’s not a Mercola quote above.  That’s from real scientists, something you won’t find in a Mercola article.  Since being introduced to Dr. Mercola, all I’ve found in his work is pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.  Safety is the motivating factor here, and has been since pasteurization was introduced.

So why is milk pasteurized, according to Mercola?  Hang on to your seats…

“The fact of the matter is that Big Dairy depends on pasteurization”

(Sigh).  And Big Pharma depends on cancer: they’re causing it on purpose to increase drug sales.

And aliens are controlling us via hidden signals in our television sets.  And… and…



(1)  Fight for Raw Milk Heats Up in Wisconsin and Illinois

(2) Raw or heated cow milk consumption: Review of risks and benefits

(3) The Dangers of Raw Milk (USDA)

(4) Salmonellosis

(5) Transmission | Brucellosis (CDC)

(6) Food Safety and Raw Milk

(7)  National Institute on Aging:  Living Longer

(8) Late Pleistocene adult mortality patterns and modern human establishment

(9)  Basic Report:  01077, Milk, whole, 3.25% milkfat, with added vitamin D

(10) Agrocybe pediades

(11) Gastroenteritis Conveyed by Raw Milk

(12)  Raw Milk Questions and Answers (CDC)


Image Credits

Unpasteurized milk (skull and crossbones) photo illustration by the author, using two public domain works from WikiCommons: “P0772931750(37561)(NRCS Photo Gallery).jpg” from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services — milk in a bottle, extensively photoshopped by author for effect.  Image in public domain as a work of the U.S. Government.  Skull and crossbones in image by “ScottForesman”, released into public domain with no restrictions.  Use of these images does not imply that the original owners share the opinions expressed by the author.

Gladys the Swiss Dairy Cow from Wiki Commons, released into the public domain by James Lebinski.  Image owner does not necessarily share the opinions expressed by the author.

“Jager út de Stientiid” (caveman boy) is from Wiki Commons and is in the public domain of the United States, having been published prior to 1923.

Trojan brand condoms from copyrighted image, Church & Dwight Co., inc.  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

Agrocybe pediades spores:  image from Wiki Commons, uploaded by user Ron Pastorino, shared under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.  Image owner does not necessarily share the opinions expressed by the author.

“Jim Dines Pinocchio-skulptur Walking to Borås” by Wiki Commons author “Mrkgrd”, used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.  Image owner does not necessarily share the opinions expressed by the author.

Tinfoil hats still from the movie “Signs”, copyright 2002 Touchstone Pictures.  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