Trix Are For Food Babe

According to the old breakfast cereal slogan, “Trix are for kids.”

Vani Hari  (the “Food Babe”) has a new variation on this theme with her latest misinformation campaign: Tricks are for kids–and their gullible parents.

Let’s look at a Hari Facebook rant from October 2, accusing General Mills of targeting children with alleged carcinogenic compounds in General Mills’ Trix cereal.1  As we’ll see in a moment, Food Babe also targets children with products containing these very same chemicals, and has been doing so for at least six years:

food babe artificial colors targeting children

Food Babe sells the same falsely-labeled toxins in her Facebook post, ironically targeting children in the process.  (click/enlarge)

Hari asks if marketing artificial colors to children should be illegal.  An ironic question coming from a woman who markets products containing artificial colors to children herself.2  Not just any artificial colors, but the same “coal tar dyes” she rants about in her October 2 post.

Sherman, set the WayBack Machine to November, 2015, when I pointed out the (pink?) elephant in the room to Food Babe:

piggy paint sold by food babe contains artificial colors

Two years ago, it was clearly pointed out to Vani Hari that she’s selling to children the same class of “coal tar dyes”that she labels toxic.  From Bad Science Debunked, November 15, 2015.   (click/enlarge)

Yes, this children’s fingernail polish marketed by Vani Hari is made from the same artificial colors that are causing her Blue #1 sky to fall.  But the hypocrisy doesn’t end there.  Not that anyone in the #FoodBabeArmy seems scientifically literate enough to pick up on the fact, but this children’s product also contains an organic pesticide, neem oil.  Vani Hari is an outspoken opponent of pesticides, but apparently has no qualms about selling them to children.

Hari does not get a “get out of jail free card” because she’s lambasting a food product and here she’s hawking a cosmetic.  Thus sayeth the Food Babe:

“Your skin is your largest organ!  What you put on your skin, is absorbed into your blood.”–Vani Hari3

This is a common theme in the world of “all natural” product salespeople–it doesn’t matter if it comes from food or beauty products–it it’s a toxin, it’s gonna kill ya, whether you swallow it, inhale it, or get it on your skin.

But it gets worse for Ms. Hari.  Several of the dyes that she calls out by name, including Blue #1 and Yellow #6, were openly sold via her online “Food Babe Shop” for several years before being quietly pulled overnight when called out on her gaffe.4  These products were ingested by humans, as they included a dozen different shades of Tarte lipstick.  Placed on the lips, the very dyes Hari calls “neurotoxins” were happily and enthusiastically lapped up by every woman who licked her lips while wearing Food Babe-recommended cosmetics.

The third artificial color, Red #40, which Hari curiously links to hyperactivity?  It has been a mainstay in the Giovanni Hair Care products she’s been hyping on FoodBabe.com since 2011.7  You’re three-for-three Vani. Well done.  Well done, indeed.

Food Babe highly recommends Giovianni hair care products. There’s only one problem…

food babe red #40

Red #40, much maligned by Hari, is found in hair care products that she hawks in her blog. (click/enlarge)

Last but not least, Vani takes issue with the presence of genetically modified ingredients in Trix cereal.  Let’s rinse and repeat our investigative pattern for the #FoodBabeArmy crowd who are missing the obvious:  Food Babe has been selling you a product containing GMO corn long enough for Seralini to have faked a dozen more GMO cancer studies.6

food babe selling gmo corn

This product, featured on FoodBabe.com, is made from GMO corn. (click/enlarge)

As the commercial goes, Trix may be for kids, but Tricks are for Food Babe.

Let us then revisit the original, deceptive General Mills Trix cereal box graphic that Vani Hari presented in her October 2 Facebook post, and put it into proper context by comparing her alleged toxic ingredients with those she sells or has consistently sold for years:

food babe trix gmo food dye

Food Babe’s Babes “Box of Tricks” includes an online store pushing products containing every single ingredient she disparages in General Mills’ Trix cereal.  

Gentle reader, there’s nothing dangerous in Trix cereal, or, indeed, any of the products that Vani Hari “trix” her followers into buying by pretending that the alternatives are harmful.  Buy any of the products mentioned in this article with complete confidence they’re safe.  Just please… don’t buy them from FoodBabe.com.

 

References
(1) Food Babe Trix Post
https://www.facebook.com/thefoodbabe/posts/1696483297053041

(2) Food Babe Selling Pesticides, Coal Tar Dyes To Children
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/food-babe-selling-pesticide-coal-tar-dyes-to-children/

(3) So Fresh And So Clean–Skin Care Tips
http://foodbabe.com/2011/08/09/so-fresh-and-so-clean-skin-care-tips/

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

(6) Food Babe is Selling GMOs
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/food-babe-is-selling-gmos/

(7)  She Did It Again!
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/she-did-it-again-food-babe-linked-to-another-company-using-same-dyes-she-forbids/

Image Credits
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.

“American Pie” imagery photoshopped/produced by the author, used under the parody provisions of 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.

“Trix/Tricks” imagery photoshopped/produced by the author, used under the parody provisions of 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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“The Natural Society” Fails At Biology, Math

Slimfy Stage 1 from Natural Society

The Natural Society lambastes cellulose as cheap filler that can’t be digested. Perhaps that’s why they use it in their diet foods? (click/enlarge)

Hypocrisy, thy name is The Natural Society.

In the short time I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve caught some of the bigger names in woo in embarrassing acts, such as food/product safety “expert” The Food Babe selling pesticides and coal tar dyes to children.  But small-time player “The Natural Society”, with their “Slimfy Nature and Science” diet foods, takes the cake.  You just can’t get any more obvious than this:

“Fifteen Companies Whose Products Contain Wood Pulp”,1 penned by Natural Society co-founder Anthony Gucciardi, counts fifteen companies who use an ingredient that, according to Gucciardi, is “wood pulp”:  a useless filler that can’t be digested by humans.  Gucciardi’s shaky biology aside (cellulose is an important biological component found in plant cell walls), it’s obvious the man has trouble counting.  He missed the sixteenth company selling cellulose in its food products: his own.

Yes, like most pseudoscience sites, The Natural Society has an online store.  How better to market alternatives to the products they’re demonizing?  One of the offerings from these snake oil salesmen is “Slimfy”, a diet supplement.  Anyone care to guess what’s found in each and every bottle of Slimfy?  If you said “cellulose”, you’re correct.  Extra credit to those who answered “microcrystalline cellulose.”

What does Gucciardi himself say about the cellulose in his products?

“Cellulose can be found in products under ingredient listings such as cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, and more.” 1 (emphasis mine)

Yes, yes. We saw the Natural Society play the name game on its own labeling. Your point is, Mr. Gucciardi?

What many do not realize, however, is that cellulose is actually wood pulp. Unable to be digested by humans due to the lack of necessary enzymes needed to break the ingredient down, cellulose has been deemed ‘safe for consumption’ by the FDA.” 1

Ah… imply cellulose isn’t safe to eat by putting “safe for consumption” in quotes… clever!  So why are you selling it as an edible product then, Anthony? (May I call you Anthony?)

But what you really have to applaud is the cajones of a company that takes an ingredient they claim can’t be digested by humans, places it in a bottle, and sells it as a diet aid–for $37.50 per jar of 60 capsules ($225 for a buy 3, get 3 free deal)!

Well, that’s one way to lose weight.  Aye, carumba!

 

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

References
(1) Fifteen Companies Whose Products Contain Wood Pulp Cellulose
http://naturalsociety.com/15-companies-whose-products-contain-wood-pulp-cellulose/

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Dandelions

dandelionAh!  Spring is just 6 weeks away here in the Northern Hemisphere.  I can hardly wait for the warm weather.  And the Food Babe (Vani Hari) can’t wait to start digging weeds out of her yard and making juice out of them.

What the…?

Incredibly, in her article “Super Detox Juice”,1 Vani argues that the humble dandelion can be used to detoxify and beautify your body–inside and out.  Well!

The only problem is, by Food Babe’s own logic, drinking dandelion juice will also give you cancer!

How can this be?  Well, to explain, we’ve got to flash back to one of the Babe’s most notorious slander wars: the infamous Starbucks campaign.

Ms. Hari seems to be perpetually enraged–enraged I say (!)–that Starbucks pumpkin latte contains a coloring composed of 4-Methylimidazole (“4-Mel”).2  She uses the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as her source for the claim made in the following info-graphic:

food babe's 4-mel campaign

Screen capture from Food Babe’s Starbucks misinformation campaign.

 

The Babe grossly misrepresents the dangers of 4-Mel, which is only classified as a “group 2B” carcinogen by the IARC.  I’ll explain the group “2B designation” in more detail momentarily (don’t get scared), but for now please keep in mind these two very important points:

  1. Food Babe says the Starbucks latte is dangerous because it contains a group 2B carcinogen
  2. She clearly says her source is the IARC–just read her article.2

Here, let me show you 4-Mel, straight from Food Babe’s source (the IARC list):3

4-mel

 

OK, so what does this have to do with dandelions?

Thank you for asking!  Botanical experts who’ve analyzed dandelions have found that they contain a compound called caffeic acid.4,5,6

So let’s go to the same list from which Food Babe pulled her 4-Mel Starbucks reference and see what else we might find there (queue ominous sounds of thunder):

IARC caffeic acid

 

Caffeic acid?

homer simpsonCaffeic acid, a group 2B carcinogen, is found in dandelions!

Why oh why is it OK for Food Babe to wage a two-year social media, print, and television campaign against Starbucks because of a group 2B carcinogen in their pumpkin latte, but then recommend making a juice out of another group 2B carcinogen?  She has nearly a million followers on Facebook.  Does she care about their well being?  Does she ever actually investigate the food and products she pushes?  Or is she just trying to sell a book with recipes and health advice?

She asks this about a drink containing a group 2B carcinogen:

“Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a Starbucks and order a drink without potential cancer-causing additives and to know exactly what you are drinking?”2

So why is she saying this about a juice that contains a group 2B carcinogen:?

“[…] one of the most healing greens you can buy […] proven to reduce swelling, bloating and stimulate the digestive system to release toxins. You can say bye bye to water retention after travel, a heavily salted meal or eating too much.” 1

Could the answer be that she’s making money from the advice in the second paragraph?

 

I think the great Vince Lombardi said it best…

vince lombardi meme

I think Vince Lombardi would have had this to say about Food Babe’s investigative skills…

 

Conclusion
Group 2B carcinogens–by their very definition–have not been shown to cause cancer in humans.7,8  Group 2B carcinogens are:

“[…] agents for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. [the term] may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. ” –International Agency for Research on Cancer7,8

(Emphasis mine.)

I’m not a doctor or chemist but I’m not too worried about group 2B carcinogens, given that other items in this same group include coffee, pickled vegetables, talc body powder, and the professions of firefighting and carpentry.3

If you want to eat the weeds from your yard, be my guest.  Just remember that Vani says to chew your juice–don’t drink it. 😉

 

Image Credits
Dandelion image by Kate Jewell, from Wiki Commons.  Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.  The image creator does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by the author in this article.

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.

Homer Simpson image is used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Vince Lombardi/Green Bay Packers image is used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

 

References
Please note: I use the DoNotLink service to obfuscate links to questionable web sites and prevent increasing their search engine exposure. I promise you are not being redirected to porn. 🙂

(1) Food Babe: “Super Detox Juice”
http://foodbabe.com/2012/03/17/super-detox-juice/

(2) Food Babe: Drink Starbucks? Wake Up And Smell The Chemicals!
http://foodbabe.com/2014/09/02/drink-starbucks-wake-up-and-smell-the-chemicals/

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

(4) Yarnell, E. ND, RH and Abascal, K. JD, RH.  Integrative Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 2. Apr/May 2009
http://www.imjournal.com/resources/web_pdfs/0409_yarnell.pdf

(5) Li, Yan, Tan, et al. 2006. Qualitative fingerprint and quantitative determination of caffeic acid in compound dandelion enema.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17062364

(6) PubChem Summary for Compound ID #689043 (Caffeic Acid)
http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/689043

(7) IARC Monographs: Classification
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/

(8) IARC Monographs: Scientific Review and Evaluation
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Preamble/currentb6evalrationale0706.php