You’d think it would be hard to stick your foot in your mouth when writing an innocent article on hummus. But this is Food Babe (Vani Hari), so you’d be thinking incorrectly.
She says this about packaged hummus:1
If you’ve been following my series on debunking Food Babe then you know the yellow highlighting is a clue she’s said something she’s going to regret.
For those of you taking notes at home, write this down: Vani claims that (1) potassium sorbate causes skin allergies and (2) sodium benzoate combined with vitamin C can cause leukemia.
Let’s flash back to August, 2011, where the Babe goes into excruciating detail about her daily routine–including her nightly face cleaning regimen:4
Note that I’ve highlighted the Amazon.com affiliate ID embedded in Food Babe’s web page. She cashes in every time you buy via her site.
Let’s put on our official Food Babe Product Investigator HatsTM and see what’s in this facial repair milk:
Unfortunately Avalon Organics doesn’t list the ingredients on Amazon.com,2 but they do on their own web site.3 You can click on the following image to enlarge the list of ingredients, or I’ll zoom in for you in a moment.
Here’s a closer look:
Wake the kids and phone the neighbors! Potassium Sorbate? Sodium Benzoate?
Vani said they caused eczema and leukemia!1
Here’s the gem on potassium sorbate:
“[…] This ingredient has been known to cause skin allergies with prolonged use. Ever wonder why you can’t get rid of that eczema? This could be the culprit.” –Food Babe 1
But she puts it on her face every night? And she earns a sales commission when you buy it via her web site!
But it gets worse. Much, much worse.
Remember that chemistry expert Hari says the following about sodium benzoate (please note the vitamin C combo warning and brace yourself):
“[…] when combined with Vitamin C this can produce benzene that has been known to cause Leukemia and other cancers.” 1
But… but… there’s sodium benzoate in the cleansing milk she’s selling–and guess what else is in there?
Food Babe, did you study grade school biology and chemistry like the rest of us, or were you absent the [expletive deleted]ing day we learned that lemon and other citrus fruits are rich sources of vitamin C?5,6
So let’s review… Vani says:
“I ALWAYS wash my face before going to bed. I use Avalon Organics CoQ10 Facial Cleaning Milk” 1
… and she says:
“Sodium benzoate […] when combined with Vitamin C this can produce benzene that has been known to cause Leukemia and other cancers.”4
… and CoQ10 Facial Cleansing Milk contains sodium benzoate and Vitamin C. Oh! And Food Babe earns a sales commission when you buy this cleansing milk via her web site.
When you make extraordinary claims you need to bring extraordinary evidence to the table. Food Babe disappoints in a major way, never listing a single source to back up her asinine comments on sodium benzoate and leukemia. As far as potassium sorbate… there are a few reports of contact dermatitis.8 But if it’s so bad, why is this woman washing her face in it every night and earning a sales commission in the act?
In science, the burden of proof lies upon the person making the claim. If Vani Hari believes these ingredients are dangerous, it’s up to her to prove they are. The fact that she makes money selling items with those same ingredients is unconscionable.
If you’d like to read more about the non-dangers of sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, you might start with the toxicity summaries in the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubChem database entries for these two compounds.7,8 If you’re a Food Babe Army member looking for gloom and doom, you’re going to be very disappointed.
Here’s what you’ll find… nothing about Avalon Organics Facial Cleansing Milk appears dangerous in any way, despite what Vani Hari claims about its ingredients.
Buy it by the gallon.
Use it on body parts that would make your grandmother blush.
Just please don’t buy via the affiliate links on Food Babe’s web site.
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The Food Babe Ban List
Amazon.com and Tarte product, and Food Babe screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.
Lemon peel nutritional/chemical breakdown courtesy USDA. Image is in the public domain as a work of the U.S. government.
“The Scream” by Edvard Munch. This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: Public domain. The author died in 1944, so this work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or less.
Please note: To prevent increasing search engine exposure for objectionable web sites, I use the DoNotLink service to obfuscate their URLs. I promise you are not being redirected to porn.
(1) Food Babe: “Why Aren’t You Making Your Own Hummus?”
(2) Avalon Organics on Amazon.com
(3) Ingredients: COQ10 Repair Facial Cleansing Milk (AvalonOrganics.com)
(4) Food Babe: “So Fresh and So Clean–Skin Care Tips”
(5) USDA Basic Report: Lemons (whole)
(6) USDA Basic Report: Lemons (peel)
(7) PubChem Compound ID CID #517055 (sodium benzoate)
(8) PubChem Compound ID CID #23676745 (potassium sorbate)