Food Babe Selling Spicy Carcinogens

“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”–Simon & Garfunkel lyrics

 

Woot!  My calendar says it’s Friday, which means it’s time for yet another shopping trip to the FoodBabe.com online store!  These little shopping expeditions have become quite the tradition here at Bad Science Debunked, and  I’m pleased as organic fruit punch to be pumping sales commissions into the pockets of Vani Hari.  Ms. Hari donates a percentage of each and every purchase to help glyphosate-damaged Galapagos Cormorants who, as a result of their Roundup injuries, can no longer fly.  These poor birds must stand in the sun for hours waiting on boats to ferry them from island to island.   Their suffering is heartbreaking. Won’t you come shopping with me and help these flightless wonders?

cormorant in Galapagos

Glyphosate has deprived Galapagos Cormorants the ability to fly.  As a result, they’re subjected to long waits in the hot sun for shipboard transport to move from island to island.  Vani Hari is trying to fund rehab efforts, and your affiliate dollars can help!  (photo by the author.)

Regular readers will forgive me if I remind newcomers of the rules here:  when shopping on Food Babe’s web site, we are very careful to follow Vani Hari’s own safety criteria.  Reminiscent of a carcinogenic episode of Sesame Street, today’s research is brought to you by the letters I-A-R-C, as in the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  This is Food Babe’s “go to” resource when defaming foods that compete with her own products.  For example, Hari lambastes Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte because it contains an IARC Group 2B carcinogen:

“[..] the chemical 4-Mel, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and National Toxicity Program”–Vani Hari, on Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte 1 (emphasis mine)

… and she swings the ban hammer on the additive carrageenan because it’s also on the IARC Group 2B list:

“The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council of the United States  have both determined that degraded carrageenan is a carcinogen”–Vani Hari, on carrageenan 2  (emphasis mine)

 

For those of you who like pictures, here’s what “4-Mel” looks like on the IARC list:3

4-mel

OK, enough of the boring science stuff.   Let’s go shopping!  How about some nice spices?  I’ve been in the mood do do some cooking lately.  Thankfully, Vani sells several brands of herbs and spices.  I can salt my bread and help those flightless cormorants at the same time.  But I need some education first… go all “Spice Girl” on me Vani! 4

vani hari spices

Vani Hari sells Simply Organic and Frontier spices via Amazon.com.   (click/enlarge)

Well there we go!  Simply Organic and Frontier spices are rated safe by Food Babe, so I know I can buy them with confidence–and my purchases pepper her pockets with cash (spice pun intended).

There’s only one thing that bothers me:  According to food scientists, quite a few spices contain a compound known as caffeic acid.5,21  Why is that important?  Well, let’s look back at that IARC list of “known carcinogens” touted by Vani Hari: 3

IARC caffeic acid

Well drop my drawers and call me spanky!  Caffeic acid is a Group 2B carcinogen!  Now, to be fair, not all spices and herbs contain caffeic acid.  Unless we catch Food Babe selling a spice such as marjoram,5,7 oregano, 5,8 Ceylan cinnamon,5,14,15 sage,5,17,18,19 rosemary5,9,10,11,12 and/or thyme,5,13 which we know contain caffeic acid, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Well, here’s a Food Babe spice:

Food Babe Simply Organic spices

Herbes de Provence blend, sold by Food Babe contains four (!) spices that contain IARC Group 2B carcinogen caffeic acid6

Oh dear.   Organic Herbes de Provence contains thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.6  That’s a grand slam of caffeic acid.  Now I’m confused.  Why is Vani Hari telling us to avoid Group 2B carcinogens when they appear in the products she’s selling?

Food Babe Simply Organic Herbes de Provence spice

Simply Organic Herbes de Provence spice blend contains a caffeic acid grand slam: thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.6 (click/enlarge)

 

Maybe she just made a mistake with the Simply Organic brand?  Let’s have a look at the other brand she’s shilling for selling: Frontier Organic.16   Yum.  I love cinnamon… how about you?

vani hari frontier organics cinnamon (caffeic acid)

Ceylon cinnamon was calculated to contain a mean value of 24.20 mg/100g caffeic acid

Damn my eyes! 24.20mg/100g of caffeic acid in this Food Babe offering.20  Is nothing sacred?

***

Before you rush off and dump your spice collection in the garbage, you should know that caffeic acid has been studied for use as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory agent, and myriad other beneficial uses.  Keep in mind that throughout this article, we’ve been looking at these products from a Food Babe perspective. It’s easy to misrepresent science to make safe products look scary.  You can actually make quite a good living doing so–it’s the #FoodBabeWay.

In summary, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy Simply Organic or Frontier spices (if not for their inflated prices)… I just wouldn’t be caught dead buying them from Food Babe.

Image Credits
Food Babe, IARC, Simply Organic, and Frontier Spice screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.
Flightless cormorant in the Galapagos, (c) 2015 Mark Aaron Alsip. All rights reserved.

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

(2) Major Company Removing Controversial Ingredient Because of You
http://foodbabe.com/2014/08/19/breaking-major-company-removing-controversial-ingredient-carrageenan-because-of-you/

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

(4) Are There Harmful Ingredients Lurking In Your Spice Cabinet?
http://foodbabe.com/2013/12/01/are-there-harmful-ingredients-lurking-in-your-spice-cabinet/#more-15560

(5) Phenol Explorer: Caffeic Acid
http://phenol-explorer.eu/contents/polyphenol/457

(6) Simply Organics Herbes de Provence Ingredients
http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Organic-Herbes-Provence-Ounce/dp/B00AJRKITM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447701170&sr=8-1

(7) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of marjoram dried (1.90 mg/100g)
Proestos C., Komaitis M. (2006) Ultrasonically assisted extraction of phenolic compounds from aromatic plants: Comparison with conventional extraction technics. Journal of Food Quality 29:567-582

(8) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of Italian oregano, fresh (10.40 mg/100g)
Zheng W., Wang S.Y. (2001) Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49:5165-5170

(9) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Jun;388(4):881-7. Epub 2007 Apr 28.
Comparison of GC-MS and LC-MS methods for the analysis of antioxidant phenolic acids in herbs.
Kivilompolo M1, Obůrka V, Hyötyläinen T.

(10) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Proestos C., Komaitis M. (2006) Ultrasonically assisted extraction of phenolic compounds from aromatic plants: Comparison with conventional extraction technics. Journal of Food Quality 29:567-582

(11) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Wang H., Provan G.J., Helliwell K. (2004) Determination of rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid in aromatic herbs by HPLC. Food Chemistry 87:307-311

(12) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
J Chromatogr A. 2007 Mar 23;1145(1-2):155-64. Epub 2007 Jan 31.
Comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography in analysis of Lamiaceae herbs: characterisation and quantification of antioxidant phenolic acids.
Kivilompolo M1, Hyötyläinen T.

(13) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of thyme (21.28 mg/100g)
Zheng W., Wang S.Y. (2001) Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49:5165-5170

(14) Simply Organics Thyme
http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Organic-Certified-0-78-Ounce-Container/dp/B000WR4LM4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447701731&sr=8-1

(15) Contributing article, Ceylan cinnamon caffeic acid mean content (24.20 mg/100g)
J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59.
Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents.
Shan B1, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H.

(16) Frontier Organics Ceylon Cinnamon
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_19?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=frontier+organic+ceylon+cinnamon&sprefix=frontier+organic+ce%2Caps%2C156

(17) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Jun;388(4):881-7. Epub 2007 Apr 28.
Comparison of GC-MS and LC-MS methods for the analysis of antioxidant phenolic acids in herbs.
Kivilompolo M1, Obůrka V, Hyötyläinen T.

(18) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
Wang H., Provan G.J., Helliwell K. (2004) Determination of rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid in aromatic herbs by HPLC. Food Chemistry 87:307-311

(19) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
J Chromatogr A. 2007 Mar 23;1145(1-2):155-64. Epub 2007 Jan 31.
Comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography in analysis of Lamiaceae herbs: characterisation and quantification of antioxidant phenolic acids.
Kivilompolo M1, Hyötyläinen T.

(20) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in Ceylon cinnamon
J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59.
Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents.
Shan B1, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H.

(21) International Agency for Research on Cancer: Caffeic Acid
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol56/mono56-8.pdf

 

 

Food Babe Selling Pesticide, Coal Tar Dyes To Children

Piggy Paint from food babe

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

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

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

Piggy paint?

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

food babe piggy paint nail polish

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

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

food babe encrypted affiliate link

Food Babe’s encoded  affiliate ID.

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

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

Ingredients in Piggy Paint nail polish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Ingredients in Piggy Paint nail polish.

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

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

Capture3

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

 

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

Oops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Revlon Hot For Chocolate Ingredients

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

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

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

 

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

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

Let’s find out.

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

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

vani hari piggy paint solvent demonstration

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

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

food babe piggy paint

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

 

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

food babe piggy paint demo

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

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

So what happened?

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

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

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

 

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

Image Credits
Piggy Paint and Food Babe screen snapshots and product image captures are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

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

References
(1) New Products That Make Me Scream In Excitement
http://foodbabe.com/2013/04/13/new-products-that-make-me-scream-in-excitement/

(2) Piggy Paint Ingredients
http://www.piggypaint.com/product-info/#.VikWjJegaoc

(3) Natria Neem Oil Pesticide (Lowes)
http://www.lowes.com/pd_636312-24182-706250_0__?k_clickID=cf2454b4-a7c6-4d38-af34-c02641845fd3&store_code=492&productId=50251737

(4) Garden Safe Neem Extract (Lowes)
http://www.lowes.com/pd_86891-316-HG-93179_0__?productId=3276665&store_code=492&cm_mmc=SCE_PLA-_-LawnGarden-_-OutdoorPesticide-_-3276665:Garden_Safe&CAWELAID=&kpid=3276665&CAWELAID=112496842

(5) Bonide Neem Oil (DoYourOwnPestControl.com)
http://store.doyourownpestcontrol.com/bonide-s-neem-oil-concentrate-16-oz?gclid=CMDnwsC16MgCFYRFaQod1hEB5w

(6) Safer Brand 1 Galllon Neem Oil Insecticide
http://www.saferbrand.com/store/outdoor-insect/98424gal?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cse&CAWELAID=1571569067&CAGPSPN=pla&gclid=CM-I0eG16MgCFZKIaQodhggOvw

(7) The Indian Journal of Pediatrics
May 1982, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 357-359
N. Sundaravalli, B. Bhaskar Raju M.D., K. A. Krishnamoorthy M.D. (1)
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02834422

(8) Neem oil poisoning: Case report of an adult with toxic encephalopathy
Indian J Crit Care Med. 2013 Sep-Oct; 17(5): 321–322.
Ajay Mishra and Nikhil Dave
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841499/

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

(10) Holistic Hair Care
http://foodbabe.com/2011/11/06/holistic-hair-care-how-why/

(11) 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/

(12) EWG Skin Deep Database: Orange No. 5
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701779/D%26C_ORANGE_5/

(13) Color Additives and Cosmetics (FDA)
http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/ColorAdditivesinSpecificProducts/InCosmetics/ucm110032.htm

(14) Revlon Hot For Chocolate/Ingredients (Amazon.com)
http://www.amazon.com/Revlon-Enamel-Hot-Chocolate-903/dp/B001KYVZ04/ref=sr_1_1?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1447870004&sr=1-1&keywords=revlon+hot+for+chocolate

 

Trick or Tweet: Dr. Mark Hyman Exposed

Social media has long been a bastion of modern-day snake oil salesmen. Twitter, in particular, is a great marketing tool. When it comes to food and product safety, the app’s 140 character message limit provides more than enough room to scare the bejesus out of the public. From there, it’s just a short hop, skip, and jump to the online store of the person making the frightening tweets. The sad fact is that all too often, the products being sold by the so-called expert contain exactly the same ingredients he/she claims to be dangerous.

Eight-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Mark Hyman has mastered this “trick or tweet” technique. Here’s a recent tweet hinting at horrifying side effects from a safe food coloring:1

hyman tweet on caramel color

Dr. Mark Hyman’s tweet on the dangers of caramel color. (click/enlarge)

Caramel coloring has never actually been shown to be dangerous to humans.  But let’s debunk Hyman on a different level.  The doctor apparently makes a comfortable living selling expensive dietary supplements via his web site, drhyman.com.  If you’ve read any of his books or blog posts, you know he’s not shy about pushing these supplements as part of his diet plans.

Let’s drop by the Dr. Hyman online store and do some shopping, keeping in mind his claim that caramel coloring “poses a cancer risk to consumers”:

hyman's caramel color neuromins

Pure Encapsulations “Neuromins” via Dr. Hyman’s store. (click/enlarge)

For only $114 (!) we can pick up a 120 count bottle of “Neuromins”,2 a supplement designed (according to Hyman) to assist in the development of mental and visual functions.  I’m all excited!

But wait…  what’s that I see in the Neuromins ingredient list?3

neuromins ingredients

This supplement, sold by Dr. Hyman, contains the very caramel coloring he tagged “carcinogenic”. (click/enlarge)

Yes, that’s right: caramel coloring.  Didn’t Hyman just claim that caramel coloring was carcinogenic?

Is the caramel coloring in Hyman’s supplements the same coloring found in the soft drinks he falsely and irresponsibly links to cancer?  Why yes.. yes it is!

Caramel coloring levels III and IV are most often featured in carcinogen propaganda campaigns run by pseudoscientists because they’re the ones used in the soft drinks, beer, and pumpkin spice lattes being slandered.  I checked with the manufacturer of Hyman’s supplements, Pure Encapsulations, and they confirmed that the coloring they use is indeed level IV.

Dr. Hyman, if you believe it causes cancer, why are you selling it?

We must pause here and point out that while the health benefits of the product being discussed may be debatable (the claims haven’t been evaluated by the FDA), the safety of the product itself is not being called into question.  As the manufacturer of the coloring points out, the coloring itself does have FDA approval (GRAS–“Generally Recognized As Safe”, CFR Title 21, Section 182.1235).

I sincerely hope no one will punish Pure Encapsulations because of Dr. Hyman’s hypocritical stance on a safe food coloring.  This company was most transparent in answering questions about their product.  No guilt by association, please.

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed I highlighted two ingredients on the Neuromins label earlier.  Caramel coloring shared center stage with “carrageenan”.  Why is this significant?

Because of another Mark Hyman tweet:4

carrageenan mark hyman

Dr. Hyman celebrates removal of “controversial” ingredient carrageenan. (click/enlarge)

Not content with putting just one foot in his mouth, the doctor effortlessly inserts the other with this tweet.  Here, Hyman congratulates his partner in nonsense, the “Food Babe”, in her claimed role in the removal of the benign thickening agent carrageenan from a company’s product line. (Hyman wrote the foreword to Food Babe’s ill informed book “The Food Babe Way”, championing her work in removing “toxins” such as this from our lives.)

If you haven’t followed the controversy, carrageenan is a safe, commonly used additive that’s gotten a bad rap because of pseudoscience.  Woomeisters confuse carrageenan with degraded carrageenan.  The latter appears on an IARC list of “carcinogenic” items such as pickled vegetables, coffee, talc body powder, a compound found in dandelion tea, and the profession of carpentry.5 (Read: the demonstrated cancer risk to humans is nil.)

Are you scared yet?  Me neither.

But, to summarize, let’s put the question to Dr. Mark Hyman:  if caramel coloring and carrageenan are “carcinogenic” and “controversial”, why the hell are you selling them?  As I pointed out in the first article in this series, this type of hypocrisy is (sadly) all too common with the snake oil aficionados.  The fact that the seller in this case carries the initials “M.D.” by his name makes the offense all the more egregious.

 

References
(1) Mark Hyman Tweet on Caramel Coloring
https://twitter.com/markhymanmd/status/568754599953244160

(2) “Neuromins” on DrHyman.com
http://store.drhyman.com/Store/Show/SearchResults/533/Neuromins-

(3) Pure Encapsulations Neuromins Product Fact Sheet
http://www.pureencapsulations.com/neurominstm.html

(4) Mark Hyman Tweet on Carrageenan
https://twitter.com/markhymanmd/status/502810272294109184

(5) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–112
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf

Image Credits
Dr. Mark Hyman material, Twitter, and Pure Encapsulations 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.

Food Babe Selling “Toxic” Product: Nutiva Chia Seeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

Phenylalanine

[…]”–Food Babe, GMO Ingredients A-Z

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

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

Capture2

 

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

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

chia seeds amino acids phyenylalanine

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

Holy biomolecular precursors, Batman!  Chia seeds contain phenylalanine!

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

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

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

Just don’t buy from FoodBabe.com

 

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

References
(1) Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health
http://foodbabe.com/2011/12/09/wanna-a-piece-of-gum/

(2) Food Babe Shop: For Your Belly
http://foodbabe.com/shop/for-your-belly/

(3) USDA Statistics Report: #12006, Seeds, chia seeds, dried
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3643?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=&sort=&qlookup=&offset=&format=Stats&new=&measureby=

(4) GMO Ingredients A-Z
http://foodbabe.com/possible-gmo-ingredients-a-z/

Image Credits
Nutiva, USDA, and Food Babe screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Food Babe: Tell Us When You’re Going To Drop The BHT

Vani Hari, the world’s greatest hypocrite, made an ironic post to Facebook today,1 reminding Kellogg’s and General Mills that it’s been four months since she petitioned them to remove the preservative BHT from their products:

” It’s now been 4 MONTHS since we launched this petition, and we still have no timeline from either of these companies.”–Food Babe Facebook post

The irony stems from the fact that it’s been four months since I caught Food Babe selling a BHT-laden product2–a body scrub she claimed to use daily.  And, despite a poorly constructed excuse3 and a promise to remove the item from her web site, she’s still pushing it via Pinterest4… four months later.

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”–Hamlet, Act III, Scene II

Food Babe sold the product in question for nearly three years and says she personally uses every item she sells.  How did she miss the BHT on the label?  Inquiring minds want to know.  We’d also like to know why most of the products sold by Vani Hari contain the same ingredients she says are dangerous.  Of course, we can’t ask her, because commentary on her Facebook page and web site is heavily censored.  Anyone pointing out her double standards is immediately banned.

But, anyway… tell us, Food Babe: when are you going to drop the BHT?  It has, as you say, been four months.

 

food babe facebook

Food Babe’s rather hypocritical Facebook post. (click/enlarge)

 

food babe pinterest bht

Screen capture of Food Babe’s Pinterest page on June 5, 2015.  Note the BHT-laden Fresh Brown Body Polish.  (click/enlarge)

 

ingredients

Purchased from FoodBabe.com in February, 2015, Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish clearly contains BHT. (click/enlarge)

 

References
(1) Food Babe Facebook Post (June 6, 2015)
Food Babe Facebook Post (June 6, 2015)

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

(3) Food Babe’s BHT Denial Doesn’t Hold Water
Food Babe’s BHT Denial Doesn’t Hold Water

(4) Food Babe Pinterest Beauty Page
Food Babe Pinterest Beauty Page

Image Credits
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.

Food Babe Links Her Own Product To Leukemia, Other Cancers

food babe meme

Abstract: Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) does little to differentiate between “toxins” in the belly or applied to the skin.  According to Hari, toxins applied to the hair and skin are dangerous because they’re absorbed by the body.  The Babe is guilty of selling food and beauty products that contain the very same ingredients she falsely claims will harm her readers.  We’ll illustrate this fact here in a “Food Babe-style” investigation.

 

It’s payday.  My pockets are flush with cash and my cheeks are flushed with excitement–I’ve got some extra money to blow over on the FoodBabe.com shopping page!  My wife and I are still thrilled with the BHT-laden brown sugar body polish we recently purchased from Food Babe, and we thought we’d pick up a bottle of shampoo to go along with it.

Now, those of you who have previously gone on these shopping excursions with me know we adhere to a strict set of rules, taken from the Vani Hari playbook itself:

  1. Always read the product labels
  2. Consult FoodBabe.com and Vani Hari’s The Food Babe Way for advice
  3. Scream bloody murder if we find any “dangerous” ingredients

Wanna go shopping with me?  It’ll be an eye opening experience, I promise.  Let’s go!

As I mentioned, we’re looking for shampoo.  This offering from the Food Babe beauty shop looks good: John Masters Organics Evening Primrose:1

john masters organics food babe

John Masters Organics Evening Primrose Shampoo on FoodBabe.com.

I sleep better at night knowing Food Babe isn’t just about food–she’s out there on the front lines fighting for safer beauty products as well:

“Being a Food Babe doesn’t stop at food. Once you’ve understood what chemicals can do in your diet – The next logical step is to understand what other chemicals in your surroundings can effect your health. Ever thought about what toxins are lurking in the cosmetic industry? Why there are so many chemicals in your shampoo or toothpaste?”–Vani Hari2

Vani goes on to explain to me exactly why I should worry about chemicals in my shampoo:

Your skin is your largest organ!  What you put on your hair, is absorbed into your blood through your scalp and face.”–Vani Hari3

Food Babe says unequivocally that what I put on my hair is absorbed into my blood.  I’ll try to keep this in mind as we shop, but I hope you’ll remind me.  You’ll do that, won’t you?  Great!

So about this shampoo Ms. Hari is selling: as Shakespeare might have said: “Soft!  What ingredient through yonder product breaks?” (click image to enlarge)

food babe sodium benzoate

This shampoo sold by Food Babe contains sodium benzoate, which she says is dangerous. (click/enlarge)

Why, it’s sodium benzoate, and the Food Babe Army is the pawn.

Vani Hari says this about sodium benzoate:

“one of the absolute worst preservatives out there.”–Vani Hari4

… because:

“when combined with Vitamin C this [sodium benzoate] can produce benzene that has been known to cause Leukemia and other cancers.”–Vani Hari7

All of a sudden, I’m all torn up inside.  I know Vani was writing about food when blasted sodium benzoate, and we’re only shopping for shampoo on her web site, but I’m haunted by something she said earlier.  You were going to help me remember, weren’t you, dear reader?  What was it Food Babe said?

“Your skin is your largest organ!  What you put on your hair, is absorbed into your blood through your scalp and face.” (emphasis mine)– Vani Hari 3

Yes, that’s it!

Now I’m a little worried.

But let’s not overreact.  Food Babe says we need the combination of sodium benzoate and vitamin C to produce her “leukemia-causing benzene”, and we’ve only spotted the sodium benzoate on the label.  There’s no vitamin C listed there.

Or is there?

To be safe, let’s put on our Food Babe Investigator Hatspatent pending and scan that ingredient list for a source of vitamin C:

food babe sodium benzoate vitamin C

According to multiple research papers, aloe vera is a source of vitamin C. (click/enlarge)

Oh dear.  We didn’t have to go far.  I’m not a biologist, but, according to multiple research papers written by experts, aloe vera is a reliable source of vitamin C.8,9,10

So Food Babe’s shampoo does contain sodium benzoate and vitamin C.

And she says this combination is toxic.

And she expressly forbids you from putting it on your hair, because she believes “toxins” will be absorbed into the body.

But she sells it on her web site.

the screamLook, the sodium benzoate/vitamin C scare is an old one, and I’m not going to give it credence by debunking it–not until Vani Hari explains why she’s selling multiple products with this combination while simultaneously claiming it’s dangerous.  Did I say “multiple products”?  Yes, I did–#FoodBabeArmy, I’ll leave it to you to do some label reading of your own.

The upshot of all of this is that John Masters is a fine company with a solid safety record.  They use products made of ingredients reviewed and approved by those far more qualified than Vani Hari (or myself), and it’s those experts I’ll be going to when making purchasing decisions.  In honor of John Masters’ solid track record, and based on the favorable reviews left by customers on Amazon, I’m going to be buying a bottle of this shampoo.

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

I’ll leave you with a quote:

“Your skin is your largest organ.  It covers and protects everything on your body. How you treat it is incredibly important to your health. However, the skin is one of the most unappreciated organs, and one that I used to totally take for granted, slathering products full of toxic chemicals on it day after day. When I look back at all the different potions I’ve tried, I shake my head in disbelief and wish I would have known better.”–Vani Hari5

Practice what you preach, Vani.

Image Credits
Amazon.com, John Masters, 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.

Dr. Evil meme courtesy memegenerator.net. Also 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.

“The Scream” from WikiCommons, image is in the public domain because copyright has expired.

References
(1) Food Babe Shopping: For Your Beauty
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) Holistic Health Care
http://foodbabe.com/2011/11/06/holistic-hair-care-how-why/

(4) Food Babe–Jason’s Deli
http://foodbabe.com/2013/04/23/jasons-deli-whats-healthy-whats-not/

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

(6) John Masters Organics Evening Primrose Shampoo Ingredients
https://johnmasters.com/products/hair-care/evening-primrose-shampoo.html

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

(8) ALOE VERA: A SHORT REVIEW
Amar Surjushe, Resham Vasani, and D G Saple
Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53(4): 163–166.
doi:  10.4103/0019-5154.44785
PMCID: PMC2763764
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/

(9) Biologic Effects Of Aloe Vera Gel
N Kathuria, N Gupta, Manisha, R Prasad, Nikita
(Internet Scientific publications)
https://ispub.com/IJMB/9/2/6161

(10) Effects of Drugs Effect of an extract of Aloe vera on the biodistribution of sodium pertechnetate in rats
Holanda, Costa, Silva, et al
Acta Cirúrgica Brasileira – Vol. 24 (5) 2009
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/38031194_Effect_of_an_extract_of_Aloe_vera_on_the_biodistribution_of_sodium_pertechnetate_%28Na99mTcO4%29_in_rats

 

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

She Did It Again! Food Babe Linked To Another Company Using Same Dyes She Forbids

As if more proof was needed of Vani Hari’s hypocrisy and double standards, the self-styled “Food Babe” can now definitively be linked to a third company using the very same dyes  featured in her campaigns against the likes of Nestle, Kraft, and McDonald’s.

Food Babe earns sales commissions on Giovanni beauty products via an article on “holistic health care” (yes, it’s OK to roll your eyes in amusement).1  Several of her affiliate’s offerings contain dyes such as Red #40 and Yellow #5,2  which the Babe links to a variety of diseases and conditions in her petition wars against other corporations that use the same additives.

Hari cannot excuse herself on the grounds that Giovanni isn’t offering food products, because she explicitly warns against beauty products containing these dyes as well.3  The question must be asked: if she’s dead set on companies removing these ingredients from their products, why is she affiliated with such companies?

The Giovanni news is only the tip of the iceberg.  Food Babe blatantly sells a line of Tarte lip stains containing her “forbidden” dyes via her web site’s shopping page,4 and has been selling another line of cosmetics (Josie Maran) containing the dyes since 2013.5

Giovanni, Tarte, and the other companies mentioned here all have wonderful safety records and I hope they will not be punished because Vani Hari chose to align herself with them.

This is a well established pattern.  Recently, I wrote that Hari has been selling a product containing the preservative BHT, even while she led a petition drive against General Mills and Kellogg’s for using the same additive.  Though she quietly pulled the item from her web site, she continues feature it on her Pinterest page.6

Worse, Food Babe publicly threw her affiliate under the bus, claiming they were “sneaky” about the ingredients listed on their web site–a curious statement coming from an activist who claims to personally use every product she sells.7  The manufacturer clearly lists BHT as an ingredient, and Food Babe urges her followers to always read the product labels.  How did she go nearly 3 years without seeing the BHT?

The bigger questions are, (1) how much longer will members of the “Food Babe Army” (#FoodBabeArmy) continue to blindly follow a leader who obviously doesn’t practice what she preaches, and (2) when will American news organizations stop breathlessly promoting Hari as an activist working for the public good, and instead take just 5 minutes to do what I’ve done (check the ingredients of her products against the list of those she says are dangerous)?

 

 

food babe giovanni

Giovanni beauty products feature prominently in Hari’s Holistic Hair Care article. (click/enlarge)

 

Food Babe highly recommends this company's products. (click/enlarge)

Food Babe highly recommends this company’s products, despite the fact several contain dyes she claims are dangerous.  Experts disagree with Hari–the ingredients are safe.  Please don’t punish Giovanni for Hari’s mistakes.  (click/enlarge)

 

food babe giovanni yellow 5

Giovanni uses safe dyes that Food Babe says are dangerous–but sells anyway.  Confused?  So is she, apparently.  This product contains the same dyes (red 40, yellow 5) over which she lambasts McDonald’s.  And yes, she says the dyes are dangerous in beauty products as well as food products.  (click/enlarge)

 

 

food babe pinterest

Food Babe continues to sell Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish, which contains BHT, while she’s simultaneously campaigning against Kellogg’s and General Mills to remove BHT. (click/enlarge)

 

Image Credits
Food Babe, Pinterest, Giovanni 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 Holistic Hair Care
http://foodbabe.com/2011/11/06/holistic-hair-care-how-why/

(2) Giovanni Product Ingredients
http://www.giovannicosmetics.com/GIOVANNI-INGREDIENT-LIST.PDF

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

(4) 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/

(5) Food Babe “Staring” at Nestle Over Dyes; Should be Looking in the Mirror
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/food-babe-staring-at-nestle-over-dyes-should-be-looking-in-the-mirror/

(6) Food Babe Pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/foodbabe/beauty-products/

(7) Food Babe’s BHT Denial Doesn’t Hold Water
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/food-babes-bht-denial-doesnt-hold-water/

Food Babe “Staring” at Nestle Over Dyes; Should Be Looking In the Mirror

Yesterday, Vani Hari (the Food Babe) warned Hershey’s that she was “staring” at them after Nestle announced the pending removal of FDA-approved dyes from their chocolate products.1

Hari should have been looking in a mirror, as I’ve found her affiliated with a company selling products containing the same dyes.  (She’s already been caught in a separate dye blunder earlier this week.)

As early as 2013, Food Babe has been in a relationship with Josie Maran cosmetics, earning sales commissions from at least two of their products via her web site.2

Several Josie Maran offerings include the same dyes featured in Nestle’s press release, including Red #40 and Yellow #5.3,4,5,6  Hari campaigns vigorously against yellow #5.  The two items I found on Hari’s web site don’t contain the dyes in question, but that’s beside the point–Food Babe argues (quite loudly) that companies should not be using these dyes at all.  So why is she in business with a company that sells them?

food babe hershey nestle

Food Babe is staring at Hershey’s.  She should have been looking at herself. (click/enlarge)

 

For the record: experts say that these dyes have been extensively tested. They are considered safe by the FDA.7  Josie Maran has an excellent safety record and there is no reason to punish this company because of the poor research and double standards exhibited by Food Babe.

This isn’t the first time Food Babe has been caught out on the dye issue.  On February 16, I revealed that she has been selling a lip stain that contains 3 dyes over which she berated Kraft.8  She has yet to respond.

Why is it OK for Food Babe to scold Nestle because their products contain (safe) dyes and colorings when she’s connected with a company that’s doing the same thing?  How much longer will her double standards and hypocrisy be allowed to go unchecked?

Josie Maran lip stain ingredients.  "Lakes" are water insoluble forms.  "May contain" presumably takes into account that the list is for multiple colors.  (click/enlarge)

Josie Maran lip stain ingredients.  Both straight dyes and “lakes” are found.  Lakes are water insoluble forms–see my article here.  “May contain” presumably takes into account that the list is for multiple colors.  (click/enlarge)

 

Edit History
The original article incorrectly said that the Nestle press release stated dyes were being removed from all products.  It should have said all CHOCOLATE products.  This has been corrected.

Image Credits
Josie Maran 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) Nestle Announcement
http://www.nestleusa.com/media/pressreleases/nestl%C3%A9-usa-commits-to-removing-artificial-flavors-and-fda-certified-colors-from-all-nestl%C3%A9-chocolate-candy-by-the-end-of-20

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

(3) Josie Maran Coconut Water Lip Stain Ingredients (Manufacturer Web Site)
http://www.josiemarancosmetics.com/coconut-watercolor-lip-stain-shine.html#.VOUXiMa5X_4

(4) Josie Maran Argan Love Your Lips Hydrating Lipstick
http://www.josiemarancosmetics.com/argan-love-your-lips-hydrating-lipstick.html#.VOUvnMa5X_4

(5) Josie Maran Argan Color Stick
http://www.josiemarancosmetics.com/argan-color-stick.html#.VOUvP8a5X_4

(6) Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee
http://www.josiemarancosmetics.com/coconut-watercolor-cheek-gelee.html#.VOUc6ca5X_4

(7) FDA: Color Additives
http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/

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

Food Babe’s BHT Denial Doesn’t Hold Water

After it was revealed that Food Babe (Vani Hari) has been selling a product containing BHT for over 2 years–while simultaneously blasting other companies for doing the same–she quickly (and quietly) pulled the item from her web site.  What’s incredible is that Hari is now saying she didn’t know what was in a body polish she claimed to personally use–despite the fact that each and every box is clearly labeled with the ingredients.

food babe bht denial

Food Babe denial.  (Click/enlarge).

Hari says “there’s no story here”.  On the contrary:

Vani Hari claims to use each and every product she sells.  The packaging of this item could not be more clear: it contains BHT.  If she actually uses the body polish, Food Babe could not have missed this.  It doesn’t matter what a  web site said.  Trying to shift the blame onto a company with which she’s been affiliated for nearly 3 years is disingenuous.  Fresh (the manufacturer) should not be punished for Food Babe’s hypocrisy.  They correctly listed the ingredients on the web site where she sold the body polish, and they correctly listed them on the packaging:

food babe recommends

Hari says she personally uses this product, and every product that she sells. (Click/enlarge).

ingredients

Product purchased from FoodBabe.com.  The PACKAGING clearly lists BHT. (Click/enlarge).

 

Amazon listing

Ingredients listed on Amazon.com, where Food Babe was selling the Fresh body polish. (Click/enlarge).

If you really want to understand how hypocritical Vani Hari’s denial is, you just need to read a little further.  She says:

“we must be vigilant and read the labels always”

What?  How could this self-styled investigator be selling a product for so many years, claiming to use it on a daily basis, stressing the importance of reading labels–and never once read the label?

Food Babe Claim

Food Babe claims to use the products she sells on a daily basis. (Click/enlarge).

 

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.