It’s been a while since I’ve taken notice of Vani Hari, a.k.a. The Food Babe, the misguided “food safety” activist who sees chemicals, chemicals, chemicals everywhere and raises fears about them all, especially the ones that she can’t pronounce. The first time I took any significant notice of her was about a year ago, when she was making news for lobbying Subway to remove the “yoga mat chemical” azodicarbonamide from its bread. Of course, as I explained, azodicarbonamide is a safe chemical that disappears during the baking. It’s a maturing agent that makes bread dough rise better and improves the handling properties of doughs, yielding drier, more cohesive doughs that are more pliable, hold together better during kneading, and machine better. Then, she made some astonishing ignorant statements about beer, where she pulled the same routine, to the point where I said labeled her tactics as the “appeal to yuckiness.” Basically, if something sounds yucky to her (such as isinglass, which is derived from the swim bladders of fish and is used in some beers to remove haziness and yeast byproducts), then it must be bad, either for you or just bad because it’s gross. It also turns out that The Food Babe makes quite a pretty penny spreading her ignorance and has become sought after to feature in various media appearances, such as magazine covers.
Oh, and she believes in Masaro Emoto’s water woo (in the context of claiming that microwaving is bad for food) and has shown some antivaccine stylings.
For the last few months I’ve been somewhat dreading February, because I knew Hari was poised to release her first book. As I described before, she has more than a fair amount of social media savvy and business acumen, which have allowed her to build the Food Babe brand rapidly and explains (to me at least) why she seemed to come out of nowhere to be on a trajectory to become as influential as Dr. Mehmet Oz. Her book, released this week, is called The Food Babe Way: Break Free from the Hidden Toxins in Your Food and Lose Weight, Look Years Younger, and Get Healthy in Just 21 Days! (Talk about ridiculously long subtitles.) You see, I knew that when it came time for Hari’s book to come out we’d be seeing a lot more of her, and unfortunately that’s what happened. As part of that publicity, Hari was featured in a fairly long feature article in The Atlantic by James Hamblin, The Food Babe: Enemy of Chemicals. It’s a relatively amusing title, to be sure, and there’s a lot that’s good about the article. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that’s downright infuriating as well, the more so given that Hamblin is a physician and really should know better. To some extent, he does, but unfortunately in this piece he shows himself far more respectful of pseudoscience of the sort promoted by The Food Babe than a physician should be.
What’s infuriating is that this article is one of the most egregious examples I’ve seen in a long time of “false balance.” In this case, the false balance comes in the form of a “point-counterpoint” style of telling the Food Babe’s story, whereby she makes a claim, which is then refuted or contested by a scientist. You might think: Great! The article is debunking Hari’s nonsense, and, to a reasonable extent it does, but it does so in such a way as to give the illusion that there is actually a scientific controversy about the topics Hari gloms onto. With few exceptions, there isn’t, and for the exceptions she inevitably takes the most fear mongering approach. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised. Hamblin has revealed himself to be insufficiently skeptical about dubious medical claims before, specifically about chelation therapy.
On the other hand, I will give Hamblin credit for quoting part of Hari’s book that perfectly encompasses her complete ignorance of chemistry, physiology, and pharmacology:
Her stance on food additives is an absolute one: “There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.”
So may I assume that Hari doesn’t ingest water? That’s a chemical. What about salt or sugar? Those are chemicals too. What about food? Our food, even part of a perfect raw vegan diet, is chock full of chemicals because organisms, be they plants or animals, are made up of chemicals with structures ranging from very simple to highly complex, such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids, and many others.
Yes, I know that when someone like Hari says “chemical,” she isn’t using the scientific definition of the word, which basically describes all matter cooler than plasma. After all, pretty much everything is made up of chemicals. Rather, when someone like Hari says “chemicals,” she means synthetic, man made chemicals. Of course, that’s—if you’ll excuse the term—an artificial distinction. What’s “natural” and what’s not? Is it “unnatural” to modify a natural product and use it? What about mixtures? Yes, Hari’s fear of chemicals is completely over-the-top, and Hamblin notes the criticism that she has received:
Most of the scientists who have spoken on Hari’s work, though, are less than supportive of that sweeping message. Rather, her work has drawn ardent criticism, primarily from a vocal contingent of academic researchers and doctors, who accuse her, in no uncertain terms, of fear-mongering and profiteering. They say that she invokes science when it is convenient, as in the passage above, but demonizes it when it is not—as in her blanket case against any and all genetically modified food. Last month, NPR ran a critique of Hari’s work, quoting several of her outspoken detractors. Science writer Kavin Senapathy, for one, captured the concerns of many in saying that Hari “exploits the scientific ignorance of her followers.” Others, including neurologist Steven Novella, have said that she is to food what Jenny McCarthy is to vaccines.
Yep. The Food Babe is, as I’ve put it, the Jenny McCarthy of food.
Of interest to me, at least, was the part of the profile where Hamblin goes into a bit more detail than I had known before about the Food Babe’s origins:
One cold winter night, when she was in her early 20s, Vani Hari developed some pain in her lower abdomen. She went to a nearby hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was born and had returned to live after college. In the emergency department, she remembers being told to relax, that her ovaries were “moving,” and she’d be fine. The next morning she went in for a second opinion, and she was diagnosed with appendicitis. Within an hour she was having her appendix laparoscopically excised. Recovering in the hospital that night, she remembers someone took a picture of her, and she ripped it up thinking she looked “so, so bad.” And she definitely felt horrible.
Since graduating from college, Hari had been working as a consultant at Accenture. She kept long, exhausting hours. She recalls being afraid to leave to use the bathroom during meetings because the environment was so intense. She ate decadent catered meals from exorbitant expense accounts. “A bunch of stuff that really doesn’t serve the body,” she recalls. “But I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be a partner. I was ambitious.” But the health issues she’d had as a child—allergies, eczema, asthma—flared up. Over the first year of the job, she gained between 30 and 40 pounds. She felt bad and “didn’t look that great.”
When the appendicitis hit, that was a breaking point. Lying in her hospital bed, Hari said, “I just had this light bulb awakening moment, you know? This isn’t how I want to live.”
It’s not that uncommon a story among cranks. Mike Adams, for example, cites the origin of his crank activism (although he wouldn’t put it that way, of course) as being due to a deterioration in his health at a young age where he was, if you believe his story, diagnosed with type II diabetes at age 30. Ditto Chris Wark of Chris Beat Cancer, who became an activist after suffering from colon cancer in his 20s, an unusually young age to be stricken with the disease. The “wake up call” of a serious health problem suffered at a young age is a common story among cranks and quacks. After all, young people tend to believe that they are relatively indestructible and can expect good health for several more decades before old age and its attendant problems finally catches up with them. When poor health strikes at such a young age, people can feel cheated.
Of course, it’s great that Hari cleaned up her act, lost a bunch of weight, and saw her health problems go away. However, as all too often happens, she also attributed her health problems to more than just a poor diet and lifestyle. She blamed the evil chemicalz! She blamed processed foods, various food additives, and basically any synthetic chemical. Over time, as I’ve observed, this belief has morphed into a seeming concept that anything with a long chemical name that she can’t pronounce must be bad. Indeed, it’s evolved, as Hamblin notes, to include even things that are perfectly “natural,” such as isinglass derived from fish swim bladders. Hamblin just doesn’t seem to note that the reason isinglass is bad to The Food Babe is nothing more complex than her revulsion that a product of fish swim bladder is used to make some beers. Ditto the product of beaver anal glands and others:
At times, even, Hari’s suspicions lead her to contradict the basic tenet that natural is good. “Readers of my blog know,” she writes in the book, “that the next time you lick vanilla ice cream from a cone, there’s a good chance you’ll be swirling secretions from a beaver’s anal glands around in your mouth.” Indeed. “Called castoreum, this secretion is used as a ‘natural flavor’ not only in vanilla ice cream but also in strawberry oatmeal and raspberry-flavored products.” And, similarly, “If you chew gum, you may also be chewing lanolin, an oily secretion found in sheep’s wool that is used to soften some gums. What nutritional value do you think these disgusting additives have for your body? None! They exist just to get you to buy something fake or that shouldn’t be food, rather than a real alternative.”
Appeal to yuckiness, indeed. And to “chemically-sounding” names. Or whatever else Hari can’t understand or finds gross.
Another thing that drives Hari is an intense competitiveness, which she attributes to her talent as a high school debater. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, the goal of a debater is not to find out what is accurate from a scientific standpoint (or any other standpoint, for that matter). It is to defend her position. It is to attack her opponent’s position. It is to win the debate based on rhetoric and carefully selected evidence (not to mention carefully constructed attacks on your opponents evidence). Winning a debate involves marshaling evidence to support a given position, not following the evidence where it leads. Actually, Hari’s love of high school debate and her competitive nature, when coupled with her scientific ignorance, provide a pretty darned good explanation why she is so impervious to correction. So does this:
“There’s disconnect between the language of science and the language of common communication,” Folta said, explaining why, while many people are upset over the GRAS system, it doesn’t bother him. “You can never demonstrate that something is ‘safe.’ Whether it’s water or sugar; there’s no way. Because you can’t test every aspect. All we can say is, of all the things we’ve looked at, there’s no evidence of harm. If you said, can you prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that something is safe, I’d say, no way. With vaccines, sure, you can’t account for some extremely rare effect that might be seen in someone with a particular metabolic disorder, but that’s not to say they’re not a tremendous benefit to society as a whole.”
I guess the only good thing about my having encountered Vani Hari is that I became aware of Kevin Folta, an outspoken food scientist. He’s an impressive guy, although I must disagree with him when he says, “I don’t want to throw her under the bus; I want her to get on the bus.” The reason is that I don’t think Hari is educable. I suppose that there’s some slim chance that I’m wrong about this, but I doubt it, given how rare it is for someone who’s gone so far down the rabbit hole of pseudoscience to reverse course. I suppose we can always hope.
In any case, GRAS stands for “generally recognized as safe,” a designation used by the FDA to describe substances that have been in long use and are, well, generally recognized as safe. There might be an issue, as noted by Hamblin, that more substances have gained the GRAS designation than rate it, but the Food Babe goes far beyond science-based calls for reform of the GRAS designation every time she goes off the deep end with respect to science. For instance:
“The scientists who argue with me about this minute data, who keep saying ‘The dose makes the poison,’ Hari says, shaking her head. “Why aren’t we more cautious about the ingredients we allow in our food supply? Why are we allowing all these additives? And what’s the cumulative effect of all these additives together? That’s something people are just starting to study.”
And why are we giving so many vaccines so early? It’s “too many too soon.” What are all those chemicals in vaccines? They’re “toxins.” Truly, Vani Hari is the Jenny McCarthy of food.
And like Jenny McCarthy, Hari thrives on the opposition her crusade provokes. She thrives on victimhood. It’s how she rallies her troops. It’s what she did a a couple of months ago in response to the NPR article mentioned above. She spent a lot more verbiage claiming that her critics were all in the pay of pharmaceutical companies and agribusiness than she did actually trying to refute anything. Yes, there were some despicably misogynic comments directed at her, as, unfortunately, many women suffer online. (It always pisses me off to see such behavior from anyone on “our side.”) Unfortunately she wielded them like a shield and tried to use them to paint “our side” as nothing more than a bunch of misogynistic trolls, in the pay of Monsanto, of course.
Then there’s the issue of how she deals with reasonable criticism. Hamblin notes that Hari admits that her post about microwaving food and how it supposedly harms the food’s nutritional value (her post with the Masaro Emoto’s water woo in it). In response to some criticism, she has said:
Hari recently implemented an editorial policy on the site wherein any change or correction will be noted (“I make mistakes, I’m human.”). And she will be announcing an advisory board that will help to review her claims. She will continue to be, as she has already proven, relentless and purposeful and clearly effective. It may be too optimistic to think that both sides of these debates can grow together and learn from one another’s concerns and perspectives, but the opportunity is certainly there. Until then, the battle for moral high ground marches on.
Anyone want to guess who will be on this “advisory board”? Joel Kahn, perhaps, the woo-friendly cardiologist who gave Hari a publicity blurb for her book. Mark Hyman, the “functional medicine” guru who provided the foreword to her book? Dr. Oz? The possibilities are endless, unfortunately.
The passage by Hamblin above is another example of false equivalency. Hari’s just another party battling scientists for the moral high ground. Never mind that she peddles nothing but pseudoscience and food fear mongering and her scientist critics do their best to promote information well-grounded in science. Meanwhile, contrary to her promise, in November Hari actually began to use SEO tricks to actively thwart critics by making old posts that she now finds embarrassing disappear down the Internet memory hole by turning off archiving at Archive.org by changing the robots.txt file of her website and other tricks. Hamblin never mentions this, nor does he mention that there’s also no evidence that she’s ever made a substantive correction to something she’s said that was shown unequivocally to be wrong. Add that to the discovery that she sells products with some of the dreaded chemicals she demonizes in them (something Hamblin also fails to note), and I see no evidence that the Food Babe is ever likely to reform her pseudoscientific ways.
I have little doubt that Hari started out sincere and probably still is, mostly. Hers is a classic American “rags-to-riches” story, at least in the Internet era. Not so long ago, no one, including myself, had ever heard of Vani Hari. Now everyone knows who The Food Babe is. Unfortunately, the Internet and today’s media often don’t distinguish that much between science and pseudoscience when it comes to fame and influence.
198 replies on “The Food Babe: “There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever””
Would we find miss Hari (why is there suddenly another Hari popping in my mind?) on our side if it is about the use of MMS?
I mean, if we are talking about nasty chemicals…
Orac calls Hari the Jenny McCarthy of food. I’d change that to the Sarah Palin of food. No original thinking and nothing positive to say about anything.
I wish Miss Hari much luck on her journey to breathe vacuum!
Not only is she reluctant to acknowledge criticism, but more than once she’s tried technological tricks on her website thwart skeptics, which I documented in that blog post.
Another interesting post from this week – her current campaign is against BHT in breakfast cereals, but one skeptic blogger proved that sells products containing herself by actually buying said products through her online store.
James Hamblin’s inability to reliably call out actual BS while proudly wearing the “M.D.” after his name is rather infuriating.
Somewhat apropos of this discussion: a few years ago he had an article, “What We Eat Affects Everything,” where he interviewed a “forward-thinking gastroenterologist” whose book was coming out (bad sign #1). The book was called “Gutbliss” and included the word “toxin” in the title (bad signs #2 and #3).
Then, they get to the subject of gluten, and she pulls out an old standby of the gluten-is-evil crowd, that “part of the issue is that the wheat itself is not what it used to be. It’s been hybridized and had different things done to it to increase the crop yield and shorten how long it takes for the wheat to bear. ” Never mind that the various wheat varieties have been hybridized for millenia, and that today’s common bread wheat isn’t really all that different from what people have been using for a while. “Things done to it” also hints at GM hysteria while conveniently skirting the fact that there is no commercial GM wheat.
None of this got the slightest bit of skepticism from Mr. Hamblin.
“There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever”…
…with the small exception that they seem to be ok to use if Ms. Hari makes money off them.
There is currently an interesting list of posts on the blog “Bad Science Debunked” (https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/) where it is shown that Ms. Hari sells and personally recommends products through her website that contain the same evil chemicals that she denounced in her articles.
Pointing this out to her on her website led “surprisingly” to the deletion of the post and the ban of the author´s account.
She’s disappeared it from her site and google cache but she did not know the atmospheric content of the Earth’s atmosphere and actually thought pilots “control the amount of oxygen the passengers get in the cabin, so sit at the front of the plane.” Did not realize the Earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen.
So, best derisive nickname for her; Fraud Babe or FUD Babe? I’m partial to the latter myself, just because she’s done such an amazing job of monetizing FUD.
Indeed she did disappear that (in)famous “oxygen in airplanes” post down the old Internet memory hole:
Everytime I see this ‘no to chemicals’ argument, I always revisit this comic: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3324
There are screenshots of the infamous airline travel article (I have a partial SS of it). I suspect there are people SS’ing the inanity just in case she goes on another deleting blitz.
Misguided seems to me to be off the mark. Look at it from the perspective of Hari’s gig: Does this angle allow Vanna Hari to quit her day job with office hours, ugly co-workers, a boss and a fixed salary and attain fame, flexible hours and a whole lot mo’ money? If so then she’s hit the right mark.
There’s huge audience for this stuff, and when confronted with ugly, patriarchal capitalist stuff like science, logic and evidence they will harden their position. There’s a reason it took science thousands of years to arrive; most people are vehemently opposed to that manner of thinking, although they are happy to harvest its benefits they will still condemn those who create them.
Dave Ruddel @ #8
FUD is a real,and trademarked brand name.Of course it’s processed meat,loaded with chemicals,no self-respecting Food Babe would endorse.
Although I think we should agree with her when she says:
“The scientists who argue with me about this minute data, who keep saying ‘The dose makes the poison,’ Hari says, shaking her head.”
If we can get everyone to agree that dose is not important then our benign pharma overlords will be happy. We can do away with all those annoying worries about toxicity and dose escalation and bung in as much or as little as we want to all of our unnecessary and malevolent medications .
I may have to give up salt. The package said it contains not only salt, but silicon dioxide too. That’s a chemical used in the making of concrete!
Is nothing safe?
I hear salt is never organic, Old Rockin’ Dave. It’s so bad it’s INorganic. Chemicals, man.
We need to outlaw (2R,3R,4S,5S,6R)-2-[(2S,3S,4S,5R)-3,4-dihydroxy-2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)oxolan-2-yl]oxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxane-3,4,5-triol from our table sugar!
For those of you looking for screen shots and other copies of her “disappeared” articles, I have links to several copies of each one in my post about her technical shenanigans.
[…] the Food Babe: “There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever” Orac describes with “Respectful […]
Wimps! Real men swirl it straight from the beaver–just ask Chuck Norris.
A few things…
– Ms Hari is able to tap into consumers’ inner hopes, dreams and fears because she shares them which may ( like, I would venture, many of the woo-meisters’ thralls as well) centre around the thorny issue of weight.
When people hit a certain age ( over 20 or 40, as the case might be) they frequently begin to gain weight and often wish to return to the past to resemble their earlier, adolescent self- this ideal image is no doubt aided by advertising, fashion and the media and especially focuses upon women.
Hari does mention weight gain as being problematic. .I don’t know how tall she is or what she weighs but I imagine that she wears a rather small size in comparison to most women, including women her age- she’s more like an average model or actress. An ideal for many. I doubt that even her highest weight was dangerously high or obese.
Mike Adams’s bio ( health ranger.com) describes his weight gain and diabetes as his impetus for transformation ( He weighted 50 lbs more IIRC). Other woo-meisters, like Mercola, Null and Oz, exemplify the motto- ‘You can never be too thin or too rich’ extremely well.
She’s selling an image more than she’s selling ideas.
– Funny about those chemicals- when woo-meisters excitedly and habitually read off a list of arcane ingredients in their dried, powdered vegetable/ fruit brews and supplement formulae;
proanthocyanidins, ubiquinol, resveratrol, I3C, tocopherols,
beta glucans etc etc –
which are not chemical substances, I suppose.
They’re products of the earth.
– I am privy to quite a few of my cohorts dietary regimes- which vary from reasonable to slightly woo-tinged- and I notice that a few of them really try to avoid additives and processed products- this is a trend that earns lots of money for companies that supply the desired product.
Ooops! That was an unintentional- unfinished- posting.
At any rate, industry trends show that adding words like ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ to food products ( sold in stores or restaurants) is very smart business. They sell like the proverbial ( and unhealthy) hotcakes.
Whilst I scan through offerings at health food stores ( which I do regularly – believe it or not), the variety is staggering and it appears that Hari is savvy about what sells.
From what I can discern from my nearly daily immersion in woo is that they conceptualise vegetables, fruits and grains as being perfect, pure, nearly medicinal elixirs of life essence which can be degraded by the unwieldy and corrupting hand of man ( woman) who contaminate g0d’s handiwork with …
((( shudder ))) CHEMICALS.
Amongst these elite masters ,it is taught that the sublime essences within vegetables and fruits are healing and life affirming. Each type – usually identified by hue- serves a unique, divine purpose towards health and longevity. Greens de-toxify and reds rejuvenate. Purples are nearly ambrosia because blues are a stronger form of red which is then added to red. There is an entire mystical belief system that sounds a bit like aura/ chakra woo
I’m not making this up- I’m creative but not this time..
Dave @15: Salt is really nasty stuff. It’s made of sodium, which burns when you immerse it in water, and chlorine, which is an especially nasty toxic gas. And the salt you are looking at seems to be cut with sand, which has no nutritional value.
c0nc0rdance @17: That will be the next step, after we eliminate the scourge of dihydrogen monoxide from our food and beverages. I’m sure you are aware that DHMO is a leading constituent of cancer cells.
Eric, it’s only dangerous if you’re buying the wrong table salt. It has to be organic table salt.
Wait til it dawns on her that cooking is – GASP – a chemical reaction. Her skull may actually implode into its vacuous self trying to rationalise the paradox.
Well, if she ever figured that out, she’d probably go “raw.” Wouldn’t surprise me.
To figure out that cooking is a chemical reaction, though, she’d have to understand that things (including all the food) are, uh, made of chemicals, which honestly seems to be beyond her.
She sells beauty products on her site.
Chemical-free, I’m certain.
Salt is also a neurotoxin, and causes cardiovascular issues in some people. Beware! Beware!
What really irritates me about Hari’s lack of scientific backing for her crusades is that it is completely unnecessary. There are plenty of REAL problems she could go after, but instead chooses to waste her influence on nonsense.
@janerella and JP
Ah, but even if she goes with a raw diet, there are those chemical reactions that occur when the food interacts with saliva and digestive enzymes, among other chemicals that are in her body right now!
Kevin Folta is great. He’s also draw the ire of the foodies, as you might imagine. Did you see that he’s been FOIAed by activists? http://news.sciencemag.org/scientific-community/2015/02/agricultural-researchers-rattled-demands-documents-group-opposed-gm
Campaigning against BHT?
Someone needs to tell her it’s a powerful antioxidant.
That should convince her it’s “healthy”.
However, not using a microwave is an excellent suggestion when it comes to vegetables and fruits. As delightful as char is on meat, it is a poor idea (not terrible) when it comes to nasties that get produced. Just because an idea is abused by crazy people, does not mean the idea is completely crazy.
Yes, I know that when someone like Hari says “chemical,” she isn’t using the scientific definition of the word, which basically describes all matter cooler than plasma
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
The truly amazing thing about “natural” products, is that biologicals produce products of amazing purity. If I was designing a complex chemical conversion, I would account for by-products, co-products and waste at every step of the process. If I could find a biological that could perform the same conversion, I’d only have to worry about extraction. This isn’t to say that it makes all “naturals” automatically safer, sometimes the impurities from extraction are of more of a risk-amount than the impurities of synthesis. I did a review of a design near the end of my career where the pharmaceutical grade coating (aka caplets coating) was purified using benzene. While the ultimate amount of benzene in the final product was insignificant and below detection limits, I always had a little twinge when a pharmaceutical grade material was made with a known carcinogen. Which I know, is just my inherent prejudice, as that charred steak also contains suspected human carcinogens in risk-amounts that FAR exceed the risk-amounts in a caplet.
IIRC, the only difference between Ore-Ida’s “Simply” line of frozen french fries (presumably spurred by competition from Alexia) and the regular ones is the omission of disodium phospate. Well, that and the price per ounce.
poor Vani, she is no more. what she thought was H20, …..
Reminds me of Humphry Davy: “Hey, someone went blind trying to do this”….BOOM!
Not to be mistaken for Patterson who was a real badass.
Best thing I’ve seen written about her “here’s your problem…you have too much derpamine in your herpathalamus.”
I wonder if that’s all organic, gluten-free make-up she’s wearing?
So glad to see an article like this because it drives me spare when I see products described as having ‘no chemicals’. Sure, the marketing might not mean chemicals in the strict scientific sense but the marketers who put these things out aren’t ignorant and are well aware of the confusion they are contributing to, if not actively encouraging. The only issue I have with this article is with the line that says, “After all, pretty much everything is made up of chemicals.” Since all matter is comprised of chemical elements, show me something that isn’t chemical at its core. That message needs to be rammed home without equivocation so we can undermine the contingent BS purveyors of ‘natural’ products are exploiting. What is more natural than a chemical?
Kevin Folta is smart, personable, and seems to have a heart of gold, and is probably one hell of a molecular biologist, but he’s not a “food scientist”. http://www.ift.org/knowledge-center/learn-about-food-science.aspx He understands food science however, which is more than I can say about FUDBabe. Hmm, I wonder what that D in FUD stands for?
Does she have a position paper on gluons, quarks and dark matter?
@Spectator #12 – well said!
Her website reminds me of a ransom note.
It would also be fair to include her methods for attempting to crush descent on her social media platforms. She and/or her admins quickly remove any non-sycophantic Facebook comments, even simple questions asking her why she takes a certain position, and outright banning people for asking reasonable questions.
@Joseph Hertzlinger- It seems to be common among cranks. Tim Bolen’s website feels like an attempt to stab the user in the eyes:
c0nc0rdance, I only buy non-GMO, free range, fair-trade, gluten-free, shade grown, cruelty-free salt raised without antibiotics, hormones, or feedlotting, so you can imagine my horror.
I am recommending the following mostly all-natural recipe for Ms. Hari:
1. 532.35 mL gluten
2. 4.9 mL NaHCO3
3. 4.9 mL refined halite
4. 236.6 mL partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
5. 177.45 mL crystalline C12H22O11
6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
8. Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
9. 473.2 mL theobroma cacao
10. 236.6 mL de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)
To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat-transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr add one, two, and three with constant agitation.
In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm add four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogeneous.
To reactor #2 add eight followed by three equal portions of the homogeneous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add nine and ten slowly with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.
Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460°K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston’s first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown.
Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25°C heat-transfer table allowing the product to come to equilibrium.
This recipe appeared in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN, Jun 19, 1995, p. 100). (attributed to Jeannene Ackerman of Witco Corp)
Ingredient translations for non-chemists: 1. flour 2. baking powder 3. salt 4. butter/fat/lard 5. white sugar 6. brown sugar 7. vanilla essence 8. eggs 9. chocolate (chips presumably) 10. peanuts.
Actually, I sell free-range chicken eggs, from chickens that all have names, feed grain raised on the wife’s land (aka The Lot). I won’t swear that its GMO free, because they do have a bad habit of stealing cat food. I won’t swear that its cruelty free, as some of the chicken are right mean to their flock-sisters and in my opinion the roosters are right cruel when it comes to hen.
“Called castoreum, this secretion is used as a ‘natural flavor’ not only in vanilla ice cream but also in strawberry oatmeal and raspberry-flavored products.”
The unlikelihood of encountering beaver secretions in your double-cone makes sense if thought about for more than two seconds:
some of the chicken are right mean to their flock-sisters and in my opinion the roosters are right cruel when it comes to hen.
Chooks are small domestic dinosaurs and I am never surprised when they behave like velociraptors.
While I highly recommend chickens as pets, one must appreciate their non-human ethics. They do not morn the lost of a flock mate, rather they beg to be the first to get a tasty bite of the bits and pieces tossed during the cleaning for table.
I wonder how she feels about 1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione? Or even “worse”, 3,7-dimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione?
Well, actually, I do know. They’re fine by their usual names.
@Elliott – Fantastic! I declare you winner of the internet for today. I had mostly figured it out before the end, though I admit my collect chemistry is a bit rusty.
This woman upsets me because its all just fear mongering. I can’t tell you how many people I know (as a female mid-thirties) who are on ‘gluten-free’ diets because, well because. They are all convinced that it is ‘healthier’ they’ll lose weight, they won’t have fatigue, all these very vague GI symptoms they have will disappear. Really, to hear a lot of people talk its a panacea for whatever ails you. Mostly what ails them is being a mid-thirties female. Usually after having 1-2 children and realizing that their body doesn’t look like it did when they were 18. Carrying a child will do that to you. Its all a fad. I know a lot who won’t even consider anything not labeled organic. Even those with precious little income will still spend half again as much in the grocery store to have all organic produce. I won’t even get into how many people I know who have switched from sugar to agave nectar or other product because it’s more ‘natural’. It’s still sugar! I have been in more arguments over GMO and raw milk than I care to report. As an epi all the health claims surrounding raw milk really grind my gears. It’s great if you want your child to get E. coli and possibly HUS, and possibly die. Got several un-friends on facebook for that one. I didn’t shed any tears.
She touts her high school debating? That pretty much disqualifies her from…whatever. I was on our HS debate team, A level – won a trophy, blah blah. A salient aspect of HS debating was cynicism. I quit it in favor of the wrestling team.
1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione? Or even “worse”, 3,7-dimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione?
POISONS both of them; it follows that there is NO SAFE DOSAGE. If you find either of these substances in your kitchen, notify
methe authorities and someone will be sent to see to their proper disposal.
Science Babe does a great job demonstrating how close Hari’s recommendations come to those found on pro Anorexia Nervosa sites.
Couple this with her recommendations that pregnant women avoid taking glucola to test for diabetes and she is definitely a public health hazard.
The folks I lived with when I lived in Portland in between college and grad school had a small flock of hens in the back yard. (Please, for the love of God, no Portlandia jokes.)
Anyway, one of the chickens, Houdini, was significantly smaller than the other ones and was officially the “bottom chicken.” (There’s a reason why people use the term “pecking order.”) Anyway, Houdini eventually died, of old age, I think. So Kierkegaard became the new bottom chicken, and the hazing commenced – the other chickens pecked Kierkegaard to death.
You know you just might be correct about that –
if you never have children, while your body isn’t exactly the same but the proportions stay somewhat similar if you don’t gain weight.
I know, it’s shocking.
Especially with the latter, if you’re a dog. Thanks, herr doktor b for the castoreum low-down, Elliot for the scary recipe & Ahcuah for the toxins. This comment thread go go all day with IUPAC names.
Yes, what a horrible woman. She is trying to make companies accountable and consumers aware. Shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame. Good for her, she got your attention. I’m guessing most of you ding dongs work for Kraft or Kelloggs anyway.
my #61 was a comment on #57 & above
Regarding the 3,7-dimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione, and being a poison for dogs, I’ve fed it, in limited amounts, to all the dogs in my life and they’ve done just fine. As “they” say, the dose makes the poison. And as herr doktor bimler pointed out, they really are poisons. Plants make them to try to control insect predation on them.
To the best of my knowledge, Ding Dongs has always been a Hostess brand, with no connection to Kraft or Kellogs.
For her own ignorance?
#22 poses an interesting question: how the mass production and mass marketing of grocery store products under some kind of ‘natural’ ‘organic’ ‘GMO-free’ etc. rubric relate to someone like Food Babe? That is, if the illusion of ‘natural’ is all people are buying, they don’t even have to go to Whole Foods, much less Food Babe , they can get it at Target and Costco. This seems to reinforce Denice’s suggestion #21 that this isn’t what Hari is selling at all. She’s selling a symbolic means for customers to be her – a certain contemporary feminine ideal: the empowered all-conquering, Army-leading Babe. There’s two components, power and image, and they’re interrelated.
IMAGE pt. !
I submit this archetypal Food Babe video would have next to zero traction without the opening and closing shots of Hari on the yoga mat.
Note the opening shot uses a crane, and is a very complex camera move centering on her body and movement, visually dynamic itself, winding up with her smiling pretty face – biting the yoga mat. The shot (pause it at :16) is about her undeniable membership in the cultural category of ‘hottie’.
I wrote the opening question about the mass-market ‘natural’ before retrieving the URL for the classic yoga mat vid, and lo, she has a new vid on YT addressing exactly that question. Deceptively titled, “What I Used To Look Like Before The Food Babe Way,” (there are only brief, blurry glimpses), it’s a political manifesto damning Big Government and Big Food, presented as a promo for her book.
You NEED to watch this:
Once you get all the way through, go back and look at 1:27 to 1:38 again, and pause at the end where the word fills the screen. Let the opposition just framed sink in. Now play to 2:16. This section boils down to the last line, “Company after company has been forced to change as a result.”
That’s the appeal. ‘Artificial Ingedients’ is just a MacGuffin.
She describes the contents of the book then, which seem to have nothing to do with what she’s just been talking about, before returning to the main theme at 2:50 wrapping with a tight CU of Hari’s movie star visage, but framed with the camera way to low for convention thus emphasizing her neckline…
What you have just watched is as brilliant a piece of marketing as you will ever see. Vani Hari is a genius.
If you see the game, it makes perfect sense that she goes on vendettas against corporations for the totally bogus sins of using ‘chemicals’ that are in all kinds of food products, including the ones she sells herself. She’s not targeting the ‘chemicals’, she’s targeting companies with all but universal name recognition. And she knows that in the larger scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal for Subway to take azodicarbonamide out of their bread dough.
“Company after company has been forced to change.” That’s about power. ‘YOU can make The Man quake in his boots and do what you want him do.” That’s the promise. That’s something Jenny McCarthy can only dream about. Food Babe delivers it. The buyers don’t care if it’s trivial, so they don’t check to see if it is, and let themselves think azodicarbonamide is important. And if the buyers do know it’s hypocritical — that the ‘chemical’ brand name (X) has abandoned is still in tons of other stuff, including the Tazo Vani is drinking right now, that only makes the power display better.
Hari gets to play this as opposition to patriarchy, but it can be seen as a deeply patriarchal stereotype of ‘feminine wiles.’ She’s enacting on a mass public scale the stereotype of the high-school beauty who sends he legion of suitors off on quests for things she cares not-at-all about just to prove she can. To prove that she is in control. But Hari doesn’t have a bunch of schoolboys jumping when she says jump. She has Subway. McDonalds, Kraft, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and General Mills wrapped around her pretty little finger. Are we surprised lots of young woman find that appealing?
IMAGE pt. 2
But the genius doesn’t stop there. Food Babe knows that trick is historically wedded to Babe-itude, to male desire, to the special deference attractive women routinely receive in all sorts of social contexts. But her empowerment display scheme doesn’t depend on the Babe-itude her customers already have. She’s thoroughly blended it with an ugly-duckling transformation narrative. I was plain-and-weak. Now I am b!tch!n-and-strong. It’s a ‘holistic’ program. One feeds the other. Read my book. Follow my simple food rules. Sign my petitions. Make your voice roar! You will become me. The post powerful corporate executives in the U.S. will not just do whatever you tell them to do, fountains of uncontrollable drool will flow from their mouths whenever you walk in the room.
Unless she shoots herself in the foot in some way, Vani Hari is going to be huge.
GUYS DON’T GET THE STAKES
Look at this thread. There are only three people who clearly ‘get’ any fundamental aspect of Food Babe’s game: Denice, Kiiri, and sciencebabe. The dudes are clueless.
Read the Science Babe post. Now. Maybe you’ve as stupid as I was writing most of this comment. ‘Oh it’s scam, but she’s essentially harmless.’ No. A wish to return to the past body of the adolescent, an image ideal screaming out from advertising and fashion that it’s an illness to have the body of a typical 30-year old woman is not harmless. As Science Babe reminds us, it’s the root of “the deadliest psychiatric disorder known to man” with a fatality rate 4 times higher than major depression. But Science Babe clearly misses the irony in her own words. Very, very few men know this disorder, if you get my meaning.
And with that reference to psychiatry, we should all be reminded that body image issues are as old as civilization, and the mental mechanics involved have absolutely NOTHING to do with science, and tossing science at Vani Hari is just sprinkling water on a swan.
[The pond near my old house in CT was a regular home to swans. Though they were beautiful birds, the folks living by the water hated them. They were aggressive, eliminated habitat for a number of native fowl and aquatic species, and threatened endangered birds by trampling nests containing eggs and chicks.]
Actually, I am refusing to buy Hostess Ding Dongs because of the terrible Wall Street robbery that ripped the pension away from their employees, gave it to Wall Street.
Yes, swans are not that friendly.
Our favorite hen will sneak in the open garage through the laundry room to get to the kitchen. She’ll then hop on your lap so you can pet her. Its all fine and good until you are wearing shorts and those dinosaur attack feet dig cut into your flesh.
No. And no, again. She’s trying to play you for a fool. And doing a damn fine job.
I’m guessing most of you ding dongs
CDaven triggered me and now I am having Zippy-the-Pinhead flashbacks.
Kiiri–glad you liked the chocolate chip recipe. Let me know how it works.
Anyway, speaking of body images, I do wonder what Vani will do in the future when she is no longer so…. babe-like. Will she go the Botox route, like Jenny McCarthy? Botox (botulinum neurotoxin from clostridia bacteria) is one of the most toxic substances known to man, but that’s OK because it is natural. Somehow, I doubt that Vani would change her tune if she uses botox. Jenny didn’t.
I wonder if she has a problem with
sadmar discusses image as part of Food Babe’s woo.
Actually, image is an integral part of altie proselytisation in general- pure foods, supplements and exercise enables one to remain youthfully attractive far beyond what is usual. Weight control is a large part of the struggle.
Interestingly, Mikey used to present photos, posing like a body builder ( with blood chemistry figures and his weight listed) as proof of his remarkable transformation
( since disappeared from the health ranger site – probably because he looks older and heavier now- notice, the lab coat, which covers a multitude of sins)
Others display photos of their ‘agelessness’ or ( supposed) reverse aging. ( see Gary Null.com/ Mercola). They cite their excellent diet and pure life as the source of their eternal youthfulness. Dr Oz plays the role of matinee idol every day. And yes, these guys pose as much as Hari does.
If you want to be entertained, look at their photos on their websites. Tanning botox and hair dye seem likely to me.
Believe me, I know about this stuff.
Vani’s 34. Successful professional performers have personal trainers, dieticians, stylists — look at the body transformations professional actors do all the time, bulking up, thinning down, putting weight on, taking it off. They have whole crews helping them do that, and they don’t use surgery. Even the actresses who’ve had a couple kids have the resources to get their 20-something bods back. If Food Babe stays childless, hits the gym with Jillian Michaels, maintains a (non-woo) healthy lifestyle, she won’t need botox to be a billionaire Babe before retiring to upper management.
This as a photo of Mary Steenburgen. She’s 61.
ohhh…just give me 3,6,9,12,15,18,21,24-OCTAOXAHEXACOSAN-1-OL based beverage any days 😀
Compared to male celebrities, I find the hyper-meta-mega sexualisation of female celebrities, increasingly disturbing. At least Dr. Oz (I hope!) doesn’t feature videos performing yoga in a posing pouch – yet.
It’s only a matter of time before the next generation of Kardashian copycats is rolled down the street with their feet in stirrups and with a speculum inserted, so the world can inspect their freakishly surgically altered privates. I’m officially a cranky old lady, I suppose.
It is a ransom note. This is from the Science Babe in response to a question asking why the food babe bashes Panera.
At least they’re not calling us PharmaShills for a change.
HDB @51 I had always thought that a little castoreum would have to go an awful long way to in order to be economical.
She has fake boobs. I would think those would be way more hazardous than the “toxins” she talks about.
I mean, yeah, it’s pretty silly that she’s willing to be photographed wearing nail polish and drinking ethyl alcohol, given how she makes her living. But making snide comments about “fake boobs” just comes off kind of ad hominem and, like, misogynist-lite.
More like misogynist-heavy. And a major case of sour grapes.
To be fair, if you read TOFT’s entire comment it seems pretty clear that he’s pointing out the hypocrisy of having synthetic chemicals implanted in your chest while making a living fear-mongering about chemicals in foods, not simply disparaging her personal appearance. Whether it’s true or not I have no idea, but if it is then it seems just as legitimate a criticism as the frequently-pointed-out contradiction in Jenny McCarthy’s protesting “toxins” in vaccines while happily injecting botulism toxin into her face.
Sigh. I did read his/her entire comment – all two brilliant sentences of it. And I mentioned her hypocrisy about “toxins” quite explicitly in my own comment, using things she’s actually been photographed doing/using.
There is no evidence to support the veracity of the claim. I’m not on Food Babe’s side, not even a little, but making comments like “she has fake boobs” is unsupported, unsubstantive, and yeah, misogynist. It’s hardly the height of intelligent discourse.
sadmar, that is an excellent analysis. I was going to make a similar point–that what she is actually selling is herself and her “babeness,”–but I really like everything you had to say about power as well. I think you nailed it.
Ugh…I knew I was going to regret that comment as soon as I hit “submit.” To tell the truth, I was assuming that the only reason someone would flat-out state that a very public figure whose body is a major part of her celebrity has “fake boobs” was b/c she had mentioned it herself. I should have looked it up before I commented – I just get a little sensitive when people start throwing around words like “misogynist” because a lot of female promoters of pseudoscience (including Hari) use it to dismiss legitimate criticism, which needless to say has a major negative impact on how people perceive feminism in general. Anyways, long story short – my bad.
Sarah, don’t apologize. It’s men picking at this–men who just love fake boobs. It’s not sour grapes to bring it up and no one thinks you meant that you know this for certain. It is a shorthand for the entire image process that goes on with these public figure sorts. Can Sadmar PROVE that Mary Steenburgen is not simply aging nicely?
I’m confused. If I was to pool the opinions of our drive-by detractors, we are working for Monsanto, Merck and Kelloggs at the same time. Plus a few more on the side.
Where is my triple paycheck?
[…] [The Atlantic (“There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.”), Orac/Respectful Insolence, Advertising Age, earlier] If only the public health establishment worked as hard to counteract the […]
And if Vani does all the things you mention, and yet continues to market her ignorant vision of nutrition as the quick way to look as she does to the rest of the world, then isn’t she just as much of a hypocrite as she would have been had she taken the Botox/surgery route?
Watch out for bad vibes, dude!
And remember to stay away from dodecadesoxipropiluramine.
There is only one cure for Food Babes: mass reduction in scientific ignorance.
However, food business isn’t all sweetness and light. Well. It is sweetness. The link between packaged food and obesity and obesity related disease is scientifically established. Food Babe and her cohort do not have interests beyond their wallets in mind; but neither does food business. Low fat merchandise translates into high sugar merchandise. Denying the link between food company profits and poor health is ridiculous. The science is there. It’s just not as simple to tell food companies to cut back on unnecessary amounts of sweeteners and calorie-laden fillers when these things drive profits. The average person may be science ignorant, but they’re not ignorant enough to think Monsanto won’t put profit over people. This is why you will lose this argument; not because you’re wrong or because you are on any side other than science, but because Food Babe et al have made the basic debate framework, which is both a false binary and demonstrably true in a few ways, that you’re either for consumers or for the companies. What is not true is the binary. If your purpose is to educate rather than preach to the choir, you will have to dismantle the false binary first, meaning that you will have to prove, consistently, that you are not pro-profit, you are pro-science. This is basic rhetoric, where proof is not science based. I know that you’re right because I’ve read Bacon and Popper, but you come across as much a shill as Food Babe.
One thing this piece doesn’t touch on is Ms. Hari’s warnings about the dangers of fluoridated water. Maybe the blog author doesn’t care about foreign substances being introduced into our precious bodily fluids, but many patriotic Americans do. I, for one, and glad that Ms. Hari has taken a stand for the purity and essence of our natural fluids.
I also find it amusing that Ms. Hari has no problem wearing chemicals from her lipstick, eye shadow, and nail polish.
I need to get this off of my chest…
The issue of fake boobs is not as important as the fact that *whatever* they are ( real, fake or merely cleverly supported ) they are sometimes prominently displayed in her photos ( altho’ NOT always- to be truthful, a few photos appear quite covered up).
Personally, I don’t know if we should unanimously condemn anyone who doesn’t always cover-up or displays what she has. HOWEVER there is a trend towards overuse of female bodies in advertisement and entertainment..
I’ve been considering this dilemma for a while now:
should women reject presenting certain sexualised images because they are comercial boner bait or should women behave exactly as they please – regardless of the effect?
-btw- I think that most of her images is aimed at women- not men- who may want to attract… you know.
That should be COMMERCIAL boner bait.
Wasn’t that a band in the 1980s?
You know you can say “eat more real food” and educate rather than just play to people’s worst fears.
No science-based person is saying eat more junk food there is no down side to it.
The science says eat more real food that isn’t extruded out of some machine.
Why make up the fairy tales when you could go with reality and scientific evidence? Well, other than the fairy tales help you sell books and get attention and generally the sellers of fairy tales seem to make a lot more money than the scientists who never seem to be able to get enough funding.
‘extruded out of some machine’
That phrase evokes the beloved – and much discussed @ RI- television episode which portrayed just how difficult it is to mechanistically produce meat ( chicken?) pies efficiently, economically and neatly.
That’s a complex matter, and I have fallen to the over-condemning side occasionally, so I tend now to err on the cautious, silent side.
That being said, displaying some of one’s physical assets (native or augmented) is part of the trade of any PR/sale person. Suntan, sharp suit/dress, white teeth… In short, being well-groomed (or not-so-well, depending on the targeted audience). So I tend to consider it as part of the show.
Except for the little uncomfortable tendency, as you noted, of displaying more of the female body than of the male body. A successful man has a pressed suit, a successful woman is somewhat expected to appear sexy on top of the rest. Bit of a double standard.
Some of my favorite food (like sausages and pretzels) are extruded out of a machine.
Not to mention spritz cookies and frosting.
Fortunately ( or perhaps not) there may be a slight edging towards the babe-ification of ((GASP!) men as well. Of course, this is primarily centred in the entertainment sphere but still, it seeps downwards to everyday life. Sometimes I think that many young men are quite overly concerned about appearance .. altho’ this may be a more big-city phenomenon- the proverbial *metro* look.
For myself, I find that in the past few years, my clothes have become more and more fashionably menswear-ish. My closet looks like it could belong to a male youngster or hipster. At least 90 % I guess.
A recurring joke around here-
‘Is that shirt mine or yours?’
One of my gentlemen is not too much larger than I am and it may be hard to tell .
-btw- I don’t look masculine at all despite the threads..
Regarding the first sentence, I’ll go out on a limb here and say we should not.
First of all, the overuse of female bodies in advertisement and entertainment is hardly a recent phenomenon. It goes at least back to the beginning of the 20th century, and probably farther back than that. For the vast majority of that time, it hasn’t been women themselves going, “Hey, I think I’ll show off my bod to sell this car!” I mean, it should be rather obvious that it’s been male ad execs, almost entirely, behind this long-standing trend.
(As a brief aside, this trend is no longer limited to the decadent West. The billboards in Russia and Poland – well, Warsaw – have provided me with bountiful WTF? moments. Former Iron Curtain countries have a tendency to take the worst parts of “Western” culture and crank them up to 11, unfortunately…)
Of course, in this age of monetized blogs and so forth, things are a bit different. Food Babe is almost certainly and almost entirely in control of her own image. So, yeah, you could say she’s feeding into the objectification of women to a degree. On the other hand, she’s using a long-established and apparently successful PR/marketing strategy. I, for one, am not going to blame her for that personally, although I will blame her for her diet advice that, yes, does come close to promoting anorexia, and for her general idiocy and hypocrisy.
I mean, actually, Science Babe also posts some pretty babe-a-licious photos of herself, including one in particular that’s stuck in my memory of her lying across an armchair or something in a cute little red dress and looking smokily at the camera. It’s all rather tongue-and-cheek, but still pretty captivating.
Just a note:
I understand the misgiving with ‘the food babe’ and her advice, but when you make the statement that a chemical such as azodicarbonamide ‘disappears during baking’ there must be understanding of chemistry and chemical processes. A chemical doesn’t ‘disappear’ but is changed in to other forms, in fact using the word ‘disappear’ within this article shows me exactly how much you do know of the subject of which you are supposedly reporting on.
What would be interesting to know how does the chemical just ‘disappear’?? What are the resulting forms of chemicals produced?? To list of a bunch of functional properties the chemical gives to the dough, is not adequate information or understanding of the issue presented.
Also when you state the chemical is ‘safe’, where do you get this information, is it based on reals of scientific reporting? I’m sure you must have some reports which you state support this supposed claim, but where do those reports come from, who are they funded by? You can not and should not write a report, which you no doubt feel to be credible, yet omit some very important information.
Click on the link on on the “as I explained” part of the discussion of azodocarbamide. It links to a post that goes into the details, explaining how azodicarbonamide breaks down. That’s why I put the link there in the first place, as the post that link leads to provides the information you’re looking for in nauseating detail, complete with links to a couple of key studies that examined what happens to azodicarbonamide when bread is baked and support its safety as a leavening agent.
It’s not my fault if you didn’t bother to click on the link. I put them there for people interested in more information so that I don’t have to write a couple of paragraphs explaining something I explained on more than one occasion before.
Again, click the link. Then if the explanation in that link isn’t enough, click the links there, which go to various other sources, including scientific studies.
commercial boner bait
Booby traps, one might say.
Some of what she does is certainly her own choice and – if I may be so bold- is most likely vanity and self adulation as well as marketting- which is not entirely a bad thing-( as I know VERY well)- and NOT restricted to women-( I can tell you stories about concerning male family members and paramours) but I digress.
She uses her image for selling pseudoscience. Which is what’s wrong.
And again, I am bimler’s straight man.
[…] The Food Babe: “There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever”. Good article, and worthwhile comments too! (Science Blogs) […]
What about dihydrogen monoxide? I love this stuff!
It dawned on me, that perhaps this whole quote had more to do with looking at a list of ingredients on a food package, and if there was ingredient that is not a food, she is saying don’t buy it.
Obviously, that would only be a rule of thumb.
Yeah, which is what I said, in so many words – I don’t take particular umbrage with the way she sells what she sells, but I do take umbrage with what she sells.
This seems like a more general thought on showing skin, though:
To which my answer was no, I don’t think we should. I’m not sure we disagree.
I found this really interesting. Ms. Hari’s dietary advice is terrifyingly similar to encouraging anorexia. http://www.scibabe.com/foodbabeway/
I guess to put it another way, there are lots of other attention-grabbing ways to sell things or ideas or whatever – good graphic design, for instance. I don’t find good graphic design to be problematic, though I might find a well-designed pseudoscientific infographic to be very problematic.
Re: objectification of women, I actually had an interesting talk this afternoon with a grad student who pays me for translation on occasions, while I was giving her back two fat binders full of poorly organized Russian-language notes on Central Asian archeological digs that I’d slogged through and translated relevant bits of, and she was giving me some cold hard cash.
It started with a conversation about the status of women in Afghanistan, where she’s done field work, which drifted to the backlash against feminism in Russia, and the similar, if less intense, backlash in the US. She mentioned that she finds it really odd that when young women these days choose to objectify themselves, it somehow doesn’t count as objectification. I actually found myself agreeing with her at the moment, but, as she said, “Oh, what do I know? I’m just a fuddy-duddy old graduate student who spends all my time at home with my cats and my dissertation.” I’m pretty much in the same boat, but sans feline companions.
It’s the ingredients that are food that I have to watch out for. Neither I nor the people I am most often shopping for is sensitive to (for example) red #40, but one of them will be made sick by mushrooms, another by peppers of any sort, and a third by dairy products. Cream of mushroom soup, or a Chinese stir-fry of mushrooms and bell peppers, could be all natural etc. and make two or three of them sick.
I think of her as the Kim Kardashian of Food (relies on looks with no substance)
@ Mike #108
“What about dihydrogen monoxide? I love this stuff!”
Obviously you have developed an addiction, which is another reason this chemical is bad 😉
Oh the other foot, Trans fat. Interesting to count the death toll on that one, although number of deaths are not as important as years of life lost. You might also google about the original chemical used to make margarine yellow, p-Dimethylaminoazobenzene, real oppsie on that one.
@Vicki, Allergic to just peppers or everything in the nightshade family? Avoiding peppers must be hard, sympathy to that person as it would likely make eating at restaurants extremely difficult, and they certainly could’t have one of the excellent “vegetarian” sliders that White Castle is now offering. Amazingly good, but they need the “onions” added. FYI, Onions at White Castle are actually onion flavored cabbage.
Oh, FFS (note that this piece does err in the use of the term “grill”).
Aye, only the grilled onions are actually onion flavored bits of cabbage. The onion rings or onion chips are onions. I unfortunately subjected a sweet and innocent soul, who had an unfortunate allergy to cabbage, to some 4 am sliders. You’d think sharing a rescue inhaler and a trip to the emergency room would be a bonding experience, but alas no.
There’s no cabbage. Why the hell would somebody invent onion-flavored cabbage? Where does the “flavoring” come from? Have you noticed that cabbages aren’t uniform? Where is the patent on this process?
Do I have to call a friend who used to be a manager? Go buy some and take a freaking picture?
Ah, White Castle. I have some friends originally from the Midwest who feel about the place much as I do about certain bad beers (Rainier and Olympia): it’s objectively bad, but affords a certain nostalgic enjoyment…
And yeah, the onions – like, actual onions, if dehydrated – are a major part of the recipe, as I understand it.
After reading the following article, I have far more respect for Kim Kardashian than Food Babe: https://medium.com/the-magazine/celebrities-join-pro-vaccine-efforts-569de4bb88b8
During WWII, White Castle went to dehydrated vegetable matter instead of fresh onions. While you might believe all of the references that says there isn’t cabbage in the re-hydrated flavored vegetables, Marlene was deathly allergic to cabbage, Marlene was not deathly allergic to onions, White Castles put Marlene into distress to the point we did an emergency room at 5 in the morning.
@JP #121. I too have a dear friend from Ohio and she made me promise that while driving across the country that I would eat at White Castle and take a picture…I did do the latter 😉
It was just outside Chicago—there was a Denny’s across the street. I managed to get a shot of both. There’s something about their blue/white design and even the font that’s captivating.
Oh my. Rough times during the war. What comes up for me, in relation to Vani and even the anti-vaxers is the lack of exposure to shared sacrifice. WW2 folk know this in spades. There’s a subset of kids born in the 90s, during that period of the tech boom, that made lots of people millionaires, who built more mansions and more gated communities haven’t a clue about sharing. The concept of individual actions for the greater good.
Should say “don’t know the concept of individuals for the greater good.”
@Pragmatist They have some excellent fries and the best coffee available in a fast food restaurant. Their new vegetable patty is tasty and rather complex in its nature. Strangely, it actually is higher calorie than their hamburgers.
Unfortunately, I have decided to follow/believe the studies linking beef and their bacteria to coronary disease, and now abstain from such delight.
Not “believe” the studies, they are certainly not settled. Yet it hardly serves me to wait until further research is completed if I am already dead from a second coronary event.
I suspect there are, along with carrots, some chemicals in the veggie sliders.
@Pragmatist, “the greater good”, strangely that was greatly on my mind today as we drove to town through former farms and tenant house in what now was a sea of incredibly ugly McMansions sans style, gates and everything that offends me. My mind wandered back to training in the Aleutians for a war that never came, or training in the Rockies for a war that did come. My mind did fixated for a few miles that none of those in those McMansions would likely ever send their children to die in Bosnia or Ukraine or Yemen, yet they seem to have no problem sending the children of others.
There. Is. No. Cabbage.
Aside from being absurd on its face, anyone who has cooked a G-ddammed cabbage and spent any significant amount of time in a White Castle can tell you that the joints don’t smell like they’re cooking cabbage 24 hours a day (there is no “grill”; White Castles are steamed on a griddle). Are the cabbages also deodorized before being “flavored” with the onions that would need to be purchased in the first place?
What was the (deathly, mind you) distress that required presentation to an ED?
Coincidences are weird.
I was only vaguely aware of White Castle and assumed that they were just some sort of small hamburger chain. A friend explained to me just yesterday about the preparation of their sliders by steaming over onions. And here I find a discussion of White Castle on Respectful Insolence!
No chemicals ever?? Is she fucking stupid. There are over 40 chemicals making up the structure of a banana… How many dies she think makes up water? And air??? thick bitch
A few replies and general comments.
CDaven: Your comment is not only a cheap shot but it’s mentally lazy. You also need to go back to your elementary school and ask them for a redo of “reading for meaning”. I don’t know who you work for, but I guess they let you take home the day-old bread and brown lettuce in place of actual wages.
I-don’t-remember-who: Silicon dioxide (probably not in the form of beach sand) is sometimes added to salt or ground seasonings as an anti-caking agent.
Everyone: It’s time to retire the dihydrogen monoxide joke. It was funny when I heard it ordered as a placebo in 1982. We’re in another century now.
If there were cabbage in White Castle belly bombers they would have caused me severe cramping. They didn’t.
Grocery shopping and restaurant choice is hard in my house. My daughter is a hardcore vegan and just a little over the edge into woo (“superfoods”). My wife eats all no meat, but will eat eggs, seafoods, and dairy. I’m a flexitarian – generally little meat and only under defined circumstances: weekends and holidays, and chicken soup when I’m sick. My son eats as though “nutrition” was a vicious rumor.
My daughter brought home a package of quinoa that billed itself as “the superfood of the Inca warriors.” She had no answer when I asked her how 80,000 superfood-munching Inca warriors could be defeated by some 300 scurvy Spaniards.
Orac: Is there a way for us to contact each other off the blog without giving out our email addresses to everyone?
Constricted throat, distressed breathing, pupils dilated and all the rest. Because of her pregnancy, the E.R. treated her gingerly. Given the nature of their rehydrated vegetable matter, I know of no evidence to say exactly what it contains. If not for Marlene’s near death/child loss I might be swayed by your non-cabbage hypothesis.
My friend is fine with potatoes and eggplant, and dislikes tomatoes but I don’t know if that’s an allergy sort of issue, or if she just doesn’t like them. Yes, it makes eating out difficult. The problem isn’t avoiding the obvious things–no Mexican restaurants, for example–it’s the places that decide it would look nice to sprinkle paprika on something whose ingredients don’t mention it, or the caterer who slips thin bits of green pepper into sushi for a party. (Those two happened in my presence; at least she could see the paprika.)
@Vicki, I would think that it would be a major problem, pepper gets used as a minor ingredients in so much you almost could never be sure when you’d get exposed. At least mine, I almost always need to see visible amounts of aspergillous n. before I get affected, that or closed ventilation buildings.
” Others, including neurologist Steven Novella, have said that she is to food what Jenny McCarthy is to vaccines.”
She is also to food and food production what Senator Joe McCarthy was to witch hunts.
Coincidences are weird: I’ve been listening to NPR all day, and not only was White Castle mentioned, but so (just now) was Alexander Shulgin’s book PiHKAL, which I have been reading this week after Narad’s having referenced it a month or two ago on RI. What is the universe trying to tell me? 😉
My girlfriend has a very strange allergic reaction–15 or 20 minutes after eating certain things she’ll get a violent sneezing fit for a couple of minutes. After reading all the ingredients we could find of every item that seemed to cause this phenomenon, we finally settled on a culprit: Annatto.
It’s surprising how many things are colored with annatto nowadays. Apparently they gave up using beta-carotene in butter, and started coloring it with annatto (although to be fair, that’s not a large enough amount to trigger her allergy). “Cheddar” cheese is colored bright orange with it to make it look like the real thing, as is anything they want to look less stark-white than it naturally would, like vanilla ice cream.
It’s not a life-threatening thing, but it’s a weird phenomenon for sure.
What is the universe trying to tell me?
Suppose you’re thinkin’ about a plate o’ shrimp. Suddenly Ren will say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o’ frozen shrimp in his fridge out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin’ for one, either. It’s all part of a cosmic unconciousness.
Oh, man, I haven’t seen Repo Man in ages. I might have to rewatch it.
[…] the Food Babe. She truly presents an abundance of stupidity to debunk, and Orac does it well. Her newest, shockingly-stupid statement is just mind-blowing. She has apparently said, “There is […]
It’s hysterical to watch Major Tom and Norad and Practicalist ramble on about how foolish Foodbabe is, and yet… do they have books they’ve researched — on any level — which can be refuted with such dismissive alacrity as they dismiss Vani Hari? Would you take diet advice from Rosie O’Donnell? Of course not. So the fact that she’s attractive dismisses half the missives here. Good to all those whose arteries clog and who develop cancer because they were smart enough to ignore healthful eating habits.
and yet… do they have books they’ve researched — on any level — which can be refuted with such dismissive alacrity as they dismiss Vani Hari?
Wait…so you’d take them more seriously if they had written poorly researched, easily refuted books? I suppose I should be more shocked that you consider a woman’s attractiveness the primary criterion by which to judge her competence, but, sadly, that attitude isn’t all that uncommon, though seldom explicated as overtly as you have done.
Ahem, me? “Major Tom” is from a song.
I actually believe that I was the one that pointed out that it is possible that her “no chemicals” means that ingredients of a package should not contain listings of of a “chemical” as opposed to the extreme position that she does not know enough to know that biologicals contain chemicals.
Mr. Wilson: ” how foolish Foodbabe is,”
So? What is her training? How can we be sure her science is sound when she gets the basics wrong? Like her infamous article that air on airliners is mostly nitrogen like that was a bad thing.
Why should we take food advice from some random uneducated rube instead of your own doctor, who does recommend ways to lower cholesterol, prevent diabetes, etc. Also a real doctor will refer a patient to a registered dietician if they have real issues like a celiac who is a vegan (I know one, and her parents did take her to a dietician).
No, I never made a comment about her looks, nor would I care. Perhaps I should have spoken about this, but honestly the EuroAmerican insanity when it comes to physical appearance just drives me crazy any way, to distill a person into a couple of aspects of the physical when they are so much more than that.
I can understand the objection to isinglass for vegans since it means your beer isn’t “kosher.” Do we really need another unneeded animal product in our food or drink? I do think that you’re right on about her being the Jenny McCarthy of food though…………
Let’s see: (1) stupid attempt at insult with name change, (2) I’ve made exactly one brief remark about Hari, and (3) the comment is basically senseless.
I’ll put 10 quatloos on Philip Hills.
I mean, literally, people had to die so I would no longer be Major Tom.
If ‘Henry Wilson’s comment is a testimony to the results of healthful eating habits, I think I’ll take White Castle.
To spell it out for Henry:
1) Food Babe’s advice is foolish.
2) Food Babe is very smart.
3) It’s hysterical to watch people who have been fooled by Food Babe’s con show themselves to be fools by calling people who see through the con foolish.
But I don’t think a life of supplements led Henry to his sorry fate. I blame the Internet. The Internet made him what he is.
“The randomness of it all is quite appalling. It is, in fact, too random to be random.” – J. Frank Parnell
Like avoiding Hitler water?
refuted with such dismissive alacrity
I thought that alacrity and celerity were spices related to coriander, but I am open to correction.
[…] Vani Hari [The Atlantic (“There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.”), Orac/Respectful Insolence, Advertising Age, earlier] If only the public health establishment worked as hard to counteract the […]
Have any of you anti-the Food Babe critics, ever heard the slogan “I MUST BE A MUSHROOM…BECAUSE THEY KEEP ME IN THE DARK…AND FEED ME BULLSHIT”. Because I think that slogan was in direct reference to the FDA. This article was obviously written with almost palpable disdain, against a woman who is at least trying to notify the public about the toxic…yes, TOXIC, chemicals found in our food! TOXIC chemicals that have been banned in many countries, yet we continue to eat them and feed them to our children! This article states, and I’ll quote: “The first time I took any significant notice of her was about a year ago, when she was making news for lobbying Subway to remove the “yoga mat chemical” azodicarbonamide from its bread. Of course, as I explained, azodicarbonamide is a safe chemical that disappears during the baking. It’s a maturing agent that makes bread dough rise better and improves the handling properties of doughs, yielding drier, more cohesive doughs that are more pliable, hold together better during kneading, and machine better”. Allow me to quote from another article concerning Azodicarbonamide, one chemical this article toted as being perfectly safe:
“For numerous suspicious and disturbing reasons, the U.S. has allowed foods that are banned in many other developed countries into our food supply, says nutritionist Mira Calton who, together with her husband Jayson Calton, Ph.D., wrote the new book Rich Food, Poor Food due out this February.
Found in: Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods
Why the U.S. allows it: While most countries wait a week for flour to naturally whiten, the American food processors prefer to use this chemical to bleach the flour ASAP.
Health hazards: It’s not enough to just ban this product in Singapore. You can get up to 15 years in prison and be penalized nearly half a million dollars in fines for using this chemical that’s been linked to asthma and is primarily used in foamed plastics, like yoga mats and sneaker soles:”
So, to the ignoramus who wrote this article, I say, do you also want to discredit these authors; one a nutritionist and the other a PhD, as uneducated people who know nothing about science?
Get your heads out of the sand people! There are MANY more chemicals found in our foods that have been banned in MOST European countries, as well as numerous others. Don’t believe me? The “proof” is out there. All you have to do is use Google. How can we, as a nation, continue to believe in an agency, the FDA, as an organization looking out for the best interests of our citizens? Clearly, they are looking out for the best interests of the corporations who willingly add toxic chemicals to their products…until they are forced to eliminate them. And with our FDA, that doesn’t happen very often!
I love the rants with random capitalization…..
Ms. Leach: ” This article was obviously written with almost palpable disdain, against a woman who is at least trying to notify the public about the toxic…yes, TOXIC, chemicals found in our food!”
List those chemicals and explain how they are toxic. You can start with isinglass and continue on to the excess nitrogen in airliners.
By Mira Calton, CN, FAAIM, DCCN, CMS, CPFC, BCIH is a Licensed Certified Nutritionist is not a registered dietician, and all the initials behind her name are worthless.
From her husband’s Linkedin page:
College of Natural Health
Master of Science (MS)/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Human Nutrition, 4.0
Uh, huh. It is a mail order school of nonsense. So the initials behind his name are also worthless.
Ooh, look! You can buy a Doctor of Philosophy in Holistic Natural Health & Healing for only $4,490.
Wow, that is almost as much as the quarterly tuition at my daughters public university. This is one which includes real lab classes, and and actual science. In about a year when she starts for a Master’s the tuition will be over $5000 per quarter.
Ms. Leach, do not try to impress us with the silly people who have silly letters behind their names who from a cheap online correspondence course.
Pro tip: if one is “keeping” mushrooms in the dark, the use of bovine excrement is not typically indicated, at least as far as I know. I have a friend in Chicago who could tell you more.
So Ethyl carbamate is formed in a minor reaction from the decomposition of Azodicarbonamide. Ethyl carbamate is a Group 2A (“probably carcinogenic to humans”), which is pretty high up there in the classification of carcinogens. Ethyl Carbamate is also like under the Clean Air Act, FYI.
From a link in the above article:
If you’ll look up Orac’s credentials, you’ll find he’s an MD (University of Michigan Medical School) and a Ph.D. (Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine). I believe that compares favorably to a Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition from a distance learning college.
God forbid someone wants food to be natural and the way god intended. So sure they write a book and make money off of it. No matter what someone does in this life someone will find something to complain about it. Its like we all have a built in complaint button
almost palpable disdain
So the disdain was not actually palpable? It did not reach that threashold? Orac will be disappointed.
M O’B: “If you’ll look up Orac’s credentials,”
Also I think his undergraduate degree is in chemistry, and his PhD has something to do with biochemistry. A bit more qualified that someone who bought the bunches of letters behind their name.
Orac wrote, “azodicarbonamide is a safe chemical.” It’s not. It’s a safe chemical TO EAT. It’s banned in various places because it’ can cause respiratory problems if inhaled in powdered form in the quantities to which workers are exposed in manufacturing it. It’s a workplace safety issue, not a food health issue, and one that could be eliminated by instituting the proper precautions at the factory.
Azodicarbonamide in not added to dough as a bleaching agent, though it has that effect. It makes the bread rise. It’s a substitute for yeast. Air bubbles in yoga mats. Air bubbles in bread. Azodicarbonamide is the ‘wonder’ in Wonder Bread. It makes the small, regular bubbles in spongey bread, rather than the larger irregular bubbles created by yeast.
A toxin is a specific type of health threat, “a poisonous substance produced by a living organism.” If you receive a high enough dose of a toxin, it causes damage absolutely an immediately. Carcinogens are bad, of course, but they’re not toxins. Neither azodicarbonamide nor it by-products after baking are toxins.
Any trace azodicarbonamide left in bread after baking is LESS of a health threat than the chemical by-products created by the baking process. There are three: biurea (completely harmless), ethyl carbamate (a known moderate carcinogen) and semicarbazide, which only appears in trace amounts. There is some research suggesting massive amounts of semicarbazide might have a very small carcinogenic effect, but it’s not included in the exhaustive list of carcinogens kept by the ACS. In fact, semicarbazide is an anti-viral, so it would be good for you on balance if there was enough of it in bread to do anything, which there isn’t.
If anyone might be thinking, “But there IS a carcinogen in that bread! Food Babe is right! Ethyl carbamate! Bad!” they should know Food Babe is not worried about ethyl carbamate. Hari actually knows azodicarbonamide is only dangerous when inhaled, and breaks down in baking anyway. And she knows what it breaks down to as well. She demonizes the essentially benign semicarbazide as a dangerous carcinogen. She says NOTHING about ethyl carbamate.
As carcinogens go, ethyl carbamate isn’t that big of a deal. It’s a NATURAL substance. It shows up in lots of things we consume. As it happens, it’s a by-product of heating yeasts as well. There’s considerably MORE ethyl carbamate in bread baked with traditional-yeast-dough than in bread baked with azodicarbonamide-dough.
Has Food Babe just damaged the health of America by getting bakers to replace a less-carcinogenic ‘chemical’ recipe with a more-carcinogenic ‘natural’ recipe? No. There’s a commonly ingested product that contains up to 6,000 times as many ppb of ethyl carbamate as bread.
Beer. It comes from the yeast. Food Babe does not mention it in her attacks on beer. Because it’s natural, I suppose.
In case anyone is wondering, none of the bizarre demonization of azodicarbonamide as ‘the yoga mat chemical that’s banned in Europe and creates the awful carcinogen semicarbazide (but we’re ignoring the ethyl carbamate)’ is original to Food Babe. It had been circulating in the Web background noise for awhile, gaining mild nortoriety in 2011 when a food blogger for Time.com mentioned it more or less in passing in an article about McDonald’s re-introduction of the McRib sandwich in 2011.
A few other blogs echoed the story from Time.Com but putting the emphasis on the azodicarbonamide rather than the general crappiness of a McRib, probably as it made for better clickbait. One of these introduced the specific example of yoga mats as the kind of plastic that uses azodicarbonamide to create sponginess. Then the news cycle ran it’s course, and azodicarbonamide went back to the shadows. It had not been anything like a cause celebre, just a passing pop culture diversion.
Then Hari uncovered the old azodicarbonamide material somehow/somewhere, calculated she could use it to attack Subway, and launched her petition drive. It was, of course, a smashing success. Not only did Subway concede, but it brought Food Babe massive publicity, made her a star.
The irony: in running her con-game on Subway, Hari may have performed a net social good. Bread isn’t any healthier or significantly more expensive one way or the other in terms of azodicarbonamide vs. yeast. But with azodicarbonamide now being removed from dough to placate the mislead Food Babe army, workers in commercial bakeries should face fewer respiratory health issues.
That’s our culture. We’ll give people asthma to get spongey lunch-box bread, no problem, but lodge a completely false ‘chemical ingredient’ scare, and boom, things change. In the end, our problem is less misunderstand ‘chemicals’ than knowing how to use chemical science wisely in the first place.
@ Colonel Tom
Read my long comment above, and you’ll find the answer on ethyl carbamate.
It makes the bread rise. It’s a substitute for yeast.
At 45 parts per million, I doubt that the breakdown products of AZD are adding significantly to bread rise. The suppliers reckon that it “improves flour strength by oxidizing cysteine” (though they mention oxidising carotene, i.e. bleaching the flour, as a side-effect).
in Singapore. You can get up to 15 years in prison and be penalized nearly half a million dollars in fines for using this chemical
I see this appeal to Singapore law passed from hand to hand around food-hysteria circles in the manner of a well-sucked lollipop — 15 years in prison, a $450,000 fine — but even after following the trail back to 2008, there is never any source. Is there anyone out there with expertise in Singapore food-safety regulations?
sadmar, from the article I linked to: “That’s an argument that workers at plants synthesizing azodicarbonamide should wear masks and that asthmatics shouldn’t breathe it in, but it’s not an argument not to use it in food.”
Perhaps you should try reading the whole thing.
Ms. Leach, here is another article for you to read:
hdb: “Is there anyone out there with expertise in Singapore food-safety regulations?”
Not me, all I know is that they banned chewing gum. Though more over cleaning it up rather than for health.
The “15 years in prison + $450,000 fine” claim seems to have been
pulled out of his arseinvented by Mark Rubi (“Extreme Weight Loss Examiner”) in 2009 and has been recycling through the human centipede ever since.
Don’t look at me. I can tell you that it’s mentioned by name only as a flammable substance. It is not listed as permitted by the Sale of Food Act. The penalty specified for violations is “a fine not exceeding $1,000 and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000.”
Thank you for the scientific and logical analysis. I’m an Ag guy and Ag speaker. I use The Food Babe to illustrate to the people of food production the sort of media infused idiocy we battle daily. Dr. Oz, Vani Hari, etc… Unfortunately, science and logic have no place in an emotional argument with a scientifically ignorant populace.
I suspect you’d scarcely know how to feed yourself were you presented with food options consisting of nothing but G-d’s original designs.
Given that we’ve been modifying our food since the first farmer cultivated the first crop, oh, about 7 or 8 thousand years ago, I think your reasoning is completely full of crap.
@Sadmar, thank you, I have more than a few letters behind my name also. Some people like to spin b.s., and to say that “azodicarbonamide is a safe chemical” is b.s. A product of decomposition, urethane, is a Group 2A carcinogen by IARC. It is also a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, although I doubt most bakeries will produce 10 TPY.
This does not say that azodicarbonamide is the only source of urethane in making bread, fermented products may have higher levels, however the question then gets to the point of adding a substance that will produced a calculable increased risk. Heavy soy sauce usage would have a higher risk than a normal bread diet, but that still doesn’t make it “safe”
I don’t know this food babe, but I hardly find it shocking that anyone who would seek to bring the U.S. up to E.U. standards.
Narad: “Don’t look at me. I can tell you that it’s mentioned by name only as a flammable substance.”
Bread flour is also a flammable substance, as is cooking oil. Of course any type of organic dust is an explosion hazard.
They can also cause pulmonary irritation if inhaled. Heck, you know what’s really irritating to inhale? Yeast powder! Yes, I found that out in the molecular biology lab every time I had to make media to grow my bacterial cultures in. You need to wear a mask pouring that stuff or do it in the hood because the fine particles are easily inhaled and can be quite irritating.
Now you’re being silly. You don’t inhale urethane from bread, and the concentrations. Since no one seemed to bother to click on the link in which I explained the background behind azodicarbonamide, I’ll cite it myself and quote:
Are you familiar with the old adage that the “dose makes the poison”? That’s what’s going on here. If you have all those letters after your name in a relevant field, you should know that.
Oh, and Sadmar, when you said:
I couldn’t help but wonder: Isn’t that friggin’ what I said in the post to which I linked? Why, yes. Yes it is.
Perhaps you should try reading my comment.
Like the third sentence, “It’s a safe chemical TO EAT.”
Like the part that says if they take it out of food, fewer workers will have to worry about breathing it because there will be less of it being made.
Like the end of the first paragrah:
It’s a workplace safety issue, not a food health issue, and one that could be eliminated by instituting the proper precautions at the factory.‘
You see, Chris. I did not today read ANY of Orac’s article you linked above, because I read it a long time ago. I’ve been digging into this deeply since Orac wrote about Hari’s anti-beer campaign, and I went to the primary sources on the industrial issues, which Orac obviously did not have time to do writing a daily blog in his ‘spare’ time. Do you think Orac has a clue what kind of protective gear is required to keep workers safe from AZD inhalation, whether the industries involved have ever supplied that gear, or been willing to spend the money to do so?
It’s called “history”, Chris, and you might want to try it sometime. You see, temporal logic would suggest the health food nuts could only exploit the respiratory issues of AZD inhalation unscrupulously if they were already known. And, in fact, that’s the case. The WHO report on AZD was issued in 1999. The EU banned it in 2005, the only food angle being it was in the rubber rings used to seal baby-food containers. The earliest mention of AZD linking bread with rubber products occurred in 2010 on an entertainingly insane fanatical religion-conspiracy blog (Illuminati, aliens, and the antichrist instituting the New World Order at the 2012 Olympics).
Get off your high horse before you fall and break something.
My mistake. AZD doesn’t make dough rise, it makes “bread doughs rise better.” It is also responsible for the texture: the size and distribution of the bubbles, and the bread’s ability to retain sponginess. It improves “gas-retention properties” resulting in “increased loaf volume” as well as, “finer grain, softer texture, and thinner cell walls.” Compared to other “unconditioned” dough, the loaf-volume of AZD dough showed “dramatic” and “marked” increases.
The point, however, is the only thing that can be considered remotely unhealthful in the bread is the ethyl carbamate — and there’s just as much or more of that in regular bread without azodicarbonamide, and a sh!t-ton more of it in a can of beer. So until someone comes up with a definitive beer-cancer link in humans, i wouldn’t worry about the bread.
Orac: “I couldn’t help but wonder: Isn’t that friggin’ what I said in the post to which I linked? Why, yes. Yes it is.”
Which I linked to. And that Sadmar did not read except for a long time ago. As in “You see, Chris. I did not today read ANY of Orac’s article you linked above,”
Yeah, it showed. Which is why I quoted the relevant part of the article, that Orac just repeated. Also, I am not a fan of following EU standards because some are irrelevant.
Why, yes. Yes I do. I have to be aware of such things because there are a lot of pulmonary irritants that we’ve used over the years in my lab and that I’ve used in other people’s labs during training. It’s part of being a PI of a molecular biology lab to know these things, and if I don’t know them my university will make damned sure that I do.
Why on earth would you think I’m not? Have you ever run a lab in which dangerous chemicals and biological agents are used?
“Dose makes the poison” is a cutsey and inaccurate statement when looking at carcinogens. I’m disappointed. Current risk analysis procedure do not assume any mystical “lower threshold” for carcinogens, and given an Inhalation RfC for ethyl carbarnate we could calculated an expected number of cancers from activities.
IRIS does not contain an RfC, so this a bit of a moot point. However, a 2a classification is one of the highest levels of certainty in modern risk procedures, the procedures need to move a chemical up to a 1 classification, a known human carcinogen, requires herculean amounts of evidence and only a small set of chemicals have ever had the widespread heavy exposure to prove a Class 1 designation.
It one of the 179 chemicals regulated under the 1990 CAA,.
Given the exposure pathway of inhalation in the vicinity of bakeries, it appears that localized exposure might be rather high.
BTW, Ethyl carbanate has only been identified as a carcinogens for inhalation exposure. Not ingestion. Therefore the fact beer contains urethane is rather moot, unless you plan to cook with beer and exposure your neighbour to the fumes. Best science has only identified inhalation. Now this does make it more of a OSHA localized air risk exposure issue, not really a food safety issue, but even a blind pig finds an acorn occasionally.
@ Orac #179
“Isn’t that friggin’ what I said in the post to which I linked?”
Not exactly. Ball park. You covered the issue well, all things considered.
Colonel Tom: ‘Urethane’ is a synonym for ‘ethyl carbamate’. It’s in all raised bread. If you want to lower your ‘ethyl carbamate’. intake, stop eating bread, because eliminating AZD is not going to reduce ethyl carbarmate in anything. Referring to ethyl carbarmate as “urethane”, while absolutely proper scientifically, is socially irresponsible because the public with confuse it with ‘Urethane’ resin finishes, such as those used on hardwood floors. The resin is actually polyurethane — a completely different unrelated substance. Paint manufacturers have shortened the generic trade name so they get the word printed on the can in a larger font size.
Given the likes of Food Babe spewing argumentum ad ickium all over, the last thing we need is people thinking their Minwax in their 100% Whole Wheat. One interesting thing about Food Babe is that she obviously knows that, could go there if she wanted to, but doesn’t. She knows:
1) It can be deunked in ine one simple declarative sentence.
2) It would blow her attacks on the big brewers out of the water.
Again, I note how brilliantly unscrupulous the demonization of semicarbizade is. You have to really dig to find out there’s nothing there. The research results are mushy, and you have to get the whole ‘only trace elements thing,’ which her Army obviously doesn’t.
She’s not a real natural food nut any more than Harold Hill was a real music teacher. She’s s foot-nut-ism profiteer.
I wonder what would happen if a team of investigate journalists showed up her door unannounced, and asked her to let them inventory the ingredients lists of every edible/drinkabe item in her home…
Did I ever mention what I did the last 10 years of my career, after the heart surgery required I find an organization dumb enough to give me health insurance?
However, to be far the title of this threat is “chemical to ingest” and I am looking at inhalation. I’ll check with one of my risk Ph.D’s tomorrow, find out why IRIS no longer has a RfC.
@Sadmar, Urethane was listed in the Clean Air Act, I am not responsible for mythical lay people that might accidentally be confused between Urethane the HAP and polyurethane.
“Why on earth would you think I’m not [aware what kind of protective gear is required to keep workers safe from AZD inhalation.] Have you ever run a lab in which dangerous chemicals and biological agents are used?”
Wrong question. Why one earth would you think workers in an AZD factory are even remotely analogous to pulmonary infants in university lab? Have you ever had a sh!t factory job where a company turned it’s back on even asking whether employees might be exposed to dangerous chemicals and biological agents, as the answer might lower their quarterly profits?
More to the point, why on earth would you think you can keep kvetching about commenters not going to every hyperlink in the OP, to read every word you have ever written on whatever, and then cherry-pick my comment at the first comma in a compound sentence?
Your writing is entertaining, and addresses important issues. You have very important professional work. We all appreciate you have limited time to provide us the service you do. If you have nothing better to do than participate in comment-thread flame-wars, at least bring some game, for crying’ out load.
Perfect non-response from Chris. Hypocritical ass-hat. Want to play skeptic, dude? Get a mirror.
” I am not responsible for mythical lay people that might accidentally be confused between Urethane the HAP and polyurethane..”
Oh yes you are. Unless you want to abandon all the Native Amrerican traditions you’ve been speaking to here for awhile.
Which is a straw man argument.
First, the “dose makes the poison” is an accurate statement of general pharmacology. Now the dose-response curve might not be linear, but there is a dose-response curve. As for carcinogens, seriously? No one said there is a “mystical threshold,” but even in the case of a linear dose-response, there will be a level of exposure at which any effect becomes indistinguishable from noise. It’s not unreasonable to view such a level as, in practice, a “threshold,” and there’s nothing mystical about that.
You do realize that I’m a cancer surgeon and researcher, don’t you? I’m hardly unknowledgeable about carcinogenesis.
I could equally say this: It’s my blog, not yours. If you’re going to blather on and on and on ad nauseam at near Orac-ian length until I, as blog owner, have to resist an overwhelming urge to shoot myself so as not to have to read your rambling, inane comments, the least you can do is not to insult the person who is responsible for the existence of this blog. I tolerate your antics and am well known for my ridiculous level of tolerance of all manner of highly annoying commenters, but my tolerance is not without limits.
Don’t like being on the receiving end, do you? Annoying, isn’t it?
Oh, and fuck you. Especially after your insulting Chris, too. If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s annoying newbie commenters like you attacking long time regulars.
Well, this has been depressing. There’s a song by The Dandy Warhols called The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone. Switch “The Dandy Warhols” for “JP” and you have the story of my life, though the “almost” isn’t trivial.
Colonel Tom wrote a silly thing about azodicarbonamide. Sadmar responded to that comment, making a couple mistakes, repeating a couple of things in the OP. He gets called out, gets pissed, things escalate. We get to here:
I’m sure you’re joking, but don’t do that. I’m projecting, I know.
Sadmar: what you said to Chris was puzzlingly rude and awful. She strikes me as an incredibly smart, interesting, and nice person. And given that you read and comment over at the not-so-super-secret other blog, you might be aware that she’s going through a particularly stressful and unpleasant time lately. Seriously, dude. That was beyond the pale.
For completely unrelated reasons, I am now off to cry in the bathroom and, later, attempt to get some sleep.
Yeah, I’m joking, but given sadmar’s behavior lately it didn’t seem inappropriate to me, along the lines of what Archie Bunker used to do in All in the Family when Edith got on his nerves.
These days, when I read sadmar, I hear his voice as Edith Bunker’s.
Yes, he just went a bit too far when he attacked me and a longtime (since 2005!) reader in the same comment (particularly Chris), and I was in a cranky mood.
I really thank my lucky stars for the day that Michael Devore took pity on me. (It appears that I need to update this a bit, as modern builds of FF+GM are registering mild complaints about lack of ‘@grant’.)
You make it sound as though this were some sort of linear relation.
JP, apologies that your dreams must be washed with tears. I hope there is someone you can talk to, someone to listen to your pain.
This isn’t pharmacology, this is standard methodology used by U.S. EPA. Being a cancer surgeon prepares one to handle environmental risk as much as mine prepares me to be a cancer surgeon.
I don’t feel like I really need to comment on the use of “Urethane”, it is the common chemical usage. Considering that urethane is a carcinogen and polyurethane is a benign I hardly see how that usage should be a concern. This is not to say that certain words don’t have an emotional baggage that a person should avoid, I just don’t see it in this particular usage.
JP: “She strikes me as an incredibly smart, interesting, and nice person.”
Thank you for your kind words. I hope you get a good night’s sleep. We all sometimes need to cry alone and cuddle up with something cozy. Mostly because we can’t choose our families. Question: people start to look stunned when I relate our extended family stories, don’t these wacky things happen to everyone?
Please be well, I have a tendency to worry about college students, especially since there is one with a cold coughing nearby. She did go to work today, and they sent her home. She was scaring the customers. It is a good thing tomorrow is a school holiday.
Though despite the issues we are dealing with, I have long learned to ignore lots of crud written by others on teh internets. You would not believe the nasty grams I got ten years ago from the Mercury Moms on a listserv I was on for my son’s disability when I posted an email titled “Bad Idea” on the dangers with chelation.
Oh, and then a few months later I quit the listserv, just a week before Roy Kerry executed a five year old by strapping him to a table and using an IV push to chelate the kid to death, just for the crime of being autistic. Orac wrote about it here. See if you can guess my former poisonous ‘nym (I used it on UseNet where I first “met” Orac).
I don’t block comments like Narad eluded to above, but I’ll skim some comments. I just happened to remember that Orac referred to the work place hazards of the chemical particles, noticed someone kvetching about it, and thought it might be good to mention it was mentioned.
@Narad. Point well taken. The E.U. environmental standards are often over-reaction and over-caution, while the U.S. standards are often held hostage to powerful vested interest for way too long. Honestly, I do not hold true the belief that E.U. regulation is absolute proof that a substance is in need for regulation. Conversely, I do consider it enough to do further investigation.
I do think the most germane point to this discussion is that the fresh bread in France is a small event of indescribable pleasure, and bread in the U.S. are tasteless piles of crap.
Except that I’m a not just a cancer surgeon. I’m a clinician/scientist with a PhD as well, a cancer researcher, and have been for nearly 20 years. Funny how you ignored that little bit of my background. Easier to dismiss me as “just a surgeon” that way, isn’t it? I’ve also blogged quite a bit over the years of environmental risks for various conditions, including cancer.
But, hey, standard EPA methodology has a lot of flaws.