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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

food babe facebook

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

 

food babe pinterest bht

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

 

ingredients

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authors note: after selling the product described here for nearly 3 years, Vani Hari quietly removed it from her web site after this information went public. For the most recent information, please see Food Babe’s BHT Denial Doesn’t Hold Water.

All of her denials aside, a product being sold by Vani Hari (the Food Babe) contains BHT, and she has apparently been associated with a company selling at least a dozen such products since the summer of 2012.  This despite the fact that she’s gone on record  saying BHT should be avoided in all beauty products, due to supposed toxicity.  Because Hari claims to personally use each and every product she sells, it’s troubling that she feigned ignorance of the product contents in a Chicago Business Journal interview yesterday, during which she offered a rebuttal of the article you’re now reading.

In a tweet last week, Hari called my proof of BHT in her product “bull****” and said the ingredients listed on the manufacturer’s web site (no BHT) were correct–despite being confronted with photos of product labels clearly showing the additive.

food babe tweet

Food Babe tweet. Click to enlarge.

I reached out to the manufacturer and received the following response today:

“Dear Mark,

Thank you for contacting us!

“Our apologies that our website incorrectly does not list BHT as an ingredient in Brown Sugar Body Polish.  The packaging picture you attached lists the correct ingredients included in the product.

Fresh uses BHT as an antioxidant to protect the ingredients against the risk of oxidation.  Our toxicologists certify that this use of BHT may be incorporated in our products according to the recommendation of the joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review expert panel which confirm that the use of BHT in cosmetics is safe.”

Here is the “packaging picture” referred to in the email (click to enlarge):

ingredients

Email attachment (click to enlarge)

Fresh is correct–according to experts, BHT is safe.  I appreciate the honesty of this company.  What I want to concentrate on here is the hypocrisy of Food Babe.  How is it possible that she has been selling this product for 2.5 years without ever reading the label?

To be absolutely certain of my claims, I placed an order for Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish via the FoodBabe.com shopping page on Friday, February 6.  Food Babe earned an affiliate sales commission from this purchase.

My order confirmation is shown below (click any image to enlarge).

food babe shopping

The Fresh Brown Sugar body polish available on FoodBabe.com on February 6, 2015.  Click image to enlarge.

amazon order details

I placed my order on February 6 via FoodBabe.com’s shopping page, which redirects to Amazon.com.  Click image to enlarge.

 

The order arrived today, February 9.  Let’s open the box:

food babe box

Box received from FoodBabe.com order. Click to enlarge.

ingredients

Snapshot of ingredients. Click to enlarge.

product

The product Food Babe is selling. Click to enlarge.

order confirmation

My order confirmation. Click to enlarge.

As you can see, the item I purchased from FoodBabe.com contains the same additive at the center of Hari’s campaign against General Mills and Kellogg’s.

Food Babe’s web site claimed she used this product personally.  If Vani Hari believed so strongly that this product didn’t contain BHT, why did she delete it from her web site after being confronted?

web site (after)

After photos were published showing that her product did in fact contain BHT, Food Babe quietly deleted the item from her web site.  Compare this image of her shopping page (February 9) to the one above, from which I placed my order (February 6).  Click image to enlarge.

 

Based on simple forensic work on her site, it’s apparent that Hari has been associated with Fresh since July, 2012.  The date of her association can easily be determined by examining the source code of her shopping page, which I saved before she had a chance to delete it:

bht markup

Markup from FoodBabe.com shopping page. Click to enlarge.

Here’s a closer look:

food babe bht snipNote the highlighted sections of the above images.  The year and month that Food Babe uploaded each product image is included as part of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator).  In this case, she uploaded the brown sugar body polish content in July, 2012.  (Similarly, she got started with Josie Maran “Eye Love You” in December 2013, and John Masters’ Shampoo in December, 2011.)

I think the Food Babe Army deserves an explanation as to how their leader could have been using this product for 2.5 years and not seen the BHT on the label.  Here’s what Hari said about the body polish in 2012.  I’m taking this quote directly from the HTML markup of her web page:

“This is quite an amazing scrub. I could use it everyday. Makes my skin baby smooth and the smell is so nice.”–Vani Hari

You have to ask: if she personally uses this product and it’s clearly labeled as containing BHT, how did she miss it?

food babe capture

Screen capture from FoodBabe.com.  “Approved and researched herself.”  Really?

Apparently, everyone else has known about the BHT all along.  Sephora’s question and answer page listed it as far back as 2011–a full year before FoodBabe.com put it on sale.  Amazon.com, the fulfillment source for Food Babe, lists BHT.  The product label lists BHT.

Does Food Babe actually use this product, or has she just been quoting the Fresh.com web site?

Fresh sells over a dozen products containing BHT.  Isn’t it hypocritical for a blogger to criticize companies for selling a product with a certain additive and yet have a commercial affiliation with one that does the same?  In July, 2011, she specifically said BHT in beauty products should be avoided.  In her Chicago Business Journal interview, Hari waffled, saying, in effect, that her BHT wasn’t as dangerous as the General Mills/Kellogg’s BHT.  A clever dodge, as the charge made against her is much more simple: she told her readers not to buy any beauty product with BHT, but sold that very thing for over 2 years and claimed to use it personally.

It’s important to stress yet again that Fresh is not the villain here.  Like Kellogg’s and General Mills, they are selling a product with an additive that is recognized as safe by experts.  On a personal note, my wife and I like Fresh products.  I hope they won’t be punished for this.

What really saddens me is the willingness of some news outlets to promote Ms. Hari as a hero campaigning against giants.  The fact that Food Babe has been “in bed with BHT” since 2012 has been made known to these publications and is now public knowledge.  Thankfully the Chicago Business Journal (and sister publications) did present my BHT charges to her.  Sadly, she sidestepped the issues.

food babe bht product

Product sold by FoodBabe.com.  Click to enlarge.

Edited for Clarity
11 Feb 2015–link to Hari’s statement that BHT in beauty products should be avoided has been emphasized in response to comments she’s only against BHT in food products.  Also added additional screen capture of Hari recommending the product in question.

12 Feb 2015–link to Chicago Business Journal added along with refutation of claims Hari made there.

 

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

 

References
Why Is Food Babe Selling A Product With BHT?
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/why-is-food-babe-selling-a-product-with-bht/

Food Babe Shopping (She deleted the body polish after being confronted–see screen snapshots in article)
http://foodbabe.com/shop/for-your-beauty/

Sephora Questions and Answers: Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish
http://answers.sephora.com/answers/8723/product/P7844/questions.htm

Food Babe on BHT in Beauty Products
http://foodbabe.com/2011/07/31/how-to-find-safe-beauty-products/

 

 

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Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Tarte Blush
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Why Is Food Babe Selling a Product With BHT?

Author’s note: after this article was written, Vani Hari initially (loudly) denied the BHT sales before quietly removing the featured product from her web site.  She sold a BHT-laden product for nearly 3 years, all the while telling her followers she used it daily (and urging them to read labels). A follow-up article detailing the purchase of the product from her web site is available here.  You can read a debunking of her denials here.

 

Why is Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) harassing Kellogg’s and General Mills because their cereals contain BHT, when she’s earning a sales commission on a product that contains BHT?  She specifically warns her readers to avoid BHT in beauty products!

I’ve been reporting for several months now on the hypocrisy and double standards of Food Babe, who sells a wide range of products that contain the very same ingredients she says are dangerous.  But this one takes the cake.  In a well-timed publicity stunt in preparation for the release of her new book in 4 days’ time, Hari has rallied her “Food Babe Army” against Kellogg’s and General Mills because their cereal contains Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT),1 a preservative considered safe by the FDA.

Well, guess what else contains BHT?  The Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish sold by Vani Hari on FoodBabe.com.  Here’s a screen snapshot from her web site:2

food babe shopping

Foodbabe.com shopping page featuring the BHT-laden Fresh “Brown Sugar Body Polish”.  Click image to enlarge.

Let’s put on our official Food Babe Investigator HatsTM and go over to Amazon.com and look at the ingredients of this body polish (click image to enlarge):3

brown sugar ingredients

Sugar Bath “Brown Sugar Body Bath” ingredients. Click to enlarge.

We can zoom in for emphasis:

bht zoom

It matters not that you’re putting this on your skin instead of eating it.  Hari specifically says to avoid BHT in all beauty products:4

“Next – do this crucial step to become educated about what is lurking in those beauty products. Check the list below to find out if any of your products contain these dirty dozen chemicals.

1. BHA and BHT. Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives.  Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.”

Hari did finally get something right–depending on the chemical characteristics of a compound, you’d be right to worry about absorption via the skin–but the fact she’s staging a publicity stunt over BHT without ever checking the ingredients of her own products… well… what was it you said, Vani?

“I shake my head in disbelief.”

Yes, that’s it.

After this article was published on February 6, Vani Hari tweeted the following denial.  She directs followers to the Fresh.com website for product information:

food babe tweet

Food Babe directs followers to Fresh.com for authoritative product information. I purchased this exact product and it does contain BHT.  Click image to enlarge.

 

So on February 7, in the interest of fairness,  I purchased the exact product displayed on Fresh.com, the authoritative source as per Food Babe’s tweet.5  The product is clearly labelled as containing BHT.  Images are below.  Click any photo to enlarge:

box1

Original box.

receipt

My receipt

ingredients

Ingredients. Note the BHT.

product

Contents. Compare to Fresh.com.

upc code

UPC code.

 

The Forgotten Part of This Discussion
Food Babe has attacked Kellogg’s and General Mills because they are companies selling products that contain BHT.  Yet you can’t swing a dead cat in a room full of “Fresh” products without hitting one that contains the additive.  I picked four items at random and hit three: the Soy Face Cleanser,6 Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream,7 and Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask.8  Alert readers have found at least 9, and I’ll be linking them all with screen snapshots in future updates.

Why is it OK for a self-styled activist to attack companies over a supposedly “dangerous” additive while at the same time openly earning sales commissions from a company selling at least ten products that contain that same additive?

It’s important to stress that Fresh.com is not the villain here, and I strongly urge readers to not behave in the manner of the “Food Babe Army”.  Please–no silly petition drives, spamming of an innocent company’s web site or Facebook page, etc.  We’re better than this.  According to the currently available science, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Fresh are using a safe ingredient in their products.

Finally, I’d like to mention that I left the following message on Food Babe’s web page with a link to this article, hoping for a clarification and giving her a chance to respond:

“May I respectfully ask why you are selling products that contain BHT when you say it is so dangerous?”

My post was deleted within 3 minutes and I was banned from posting on her page.

I don’t believe in censorship, and welcome debate and dialogue on the subject. Thanks for reading.

 

Edited for Clarity:
The initial article used Hari’s statements about putting any “toxic” chemical on your skin to assert that she would not support using a beauty product containing BHT.  It has been updated to include a specific statement from Hari stating that beauty products containing BHT should not be used.4

 

References
(1) “Kellogg’s & General Mills: Drop the BHT From Your Cereal”
http://foodbabe.com/cereal/

(2) Food Babe Shopping Page (“For Your Beauty”)
NOTE:  Ms. Hari deleted the Brown Sugar Polish from this page on the evening of Feb 7, 2015–Please see screen snapshots in article.
http://foodbabe.com/shop/for-your-beauty/

(3) Fresh “Brown Sugar Body Bath” on Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000Z5Y4S4

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

(5) Fresh BHT-Free Link
http://www.fresh.com/US/body-exfoliant/brown-sugar-body-polish/BrownSugarBodyPolish.html#q=brown%2Bsugar&start=1&cgid=null

(6) Soy Face Cleanser
http://www.fresh.com/US/cleansing/soy-face-cleanser/H00001408.html#start=5&cgid=cleanser

(7) Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream
http://www.fresh.com/US/rose/rose-hydrating-eye-gel-cream/H00003060.html#start=2&cgid=eyecare

(8) Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask
http://www.fresh.com/US/mask/black-tea-instant-perfecting-mask/H00001466.html#start=2&cgid=mask

(9) The Web Never Forgets: Sources for BHT in Fresh Brown Sugar
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s13/sh/091edc33-38b7-4fca-aba7-f4dde7d8a9b3/17da96036caaabfe

 

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

 

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Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Avalon Organics Repair Milk
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The Food Babe Ban List
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