Food Safety

There are many issues when it comes to the safety, not only cleanliness or the nutritional value, of the foods we eat. It not just about reading labels either. It is important to understand these topics so you can make the best decision regarding the type and quality of the foods you eat. There is also a lot of information about food quality and safety on the Important topics involving FOOD, EATING & HEALTH page on my site.




Although washing your food is extremely important, to assume that washing is a cure all may be naïve since some pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are injected directly into plants or even their root systems. This incorporates the chemicals into the actual flesh of the food, not just the skin, and thus can’t be washed away. Even some topically sprayed chemicals are designed to penetrate through the skin. This is why buying organic is still the best way to go. That having been said, you still need to wash what you have, organic or not. Even many organic products will be contaminated with bacteria and viruses as well as chemicals, mostly from cross contamination from adjacent non-organic fields, environmental pollution and/or handling.

Just water rinsing alone will remove about 75% of the topical chemicals. Brushing them with a vegetable brush helps as well. Some “recipes” call for soaking fruits or vegetables with salt or baking soda (usually a tsp of either) or vinegar (a tablespoon) for 10-20 minutes followed by a thorough water rinse. Some porous fruits like berries can incorporate the vinegar into the taste so this may not be practical.

There are also ultrasonic food cleaners. They vary in size and shape but are inexpensive ($25-$250) and very effective. They are reported to do a better cleaning, decontaminating and chemical destroying effect than conventional washing. They take a little longer as they have to sit in water with the device for 10 minutes, but if you aremeal prepping, throw all the veggies in together to save time.

Organically grown fruits and vegetables are definitely healthier, tastier and more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts, however, they are not perfect. Organic farmers are allowed to use some, almost exclusively non-synthetic, products to control pests and weeds. The difference is in synthetic vs non-synthetic and the number of products approved for use. 25 non-synthetic products for organic farmers vs more than 300 synthetic chemicals for conventional farmers. In some rare instances, organic farmers are allowed to use some chemicals under specific, controlled situations. There are also some unscrupulous farmers who will pay crop duster pilots under the table to do undocumented passes over their crops. They basically lie about how clean their products are. In addition, some antibiotics are permitted. Specifically with apples and pears, there is a devastating infection called Fire Blight which can destroy a crop in only one season. To prevent this, farmers are allowed to use certain antibiotics against this disease and can still claim the USDA Organic label. Another reason to wash all, even organic, produce.

Even with completely honest organic farmers, if their farms are located close to conventional farms, there is always some degree of cross contamination. Many chemical residues have been isolated on organic produce although levels are only a fraction of what is identified on conventionally grown produce. Assume that “organic” simply means 80% cleaner than conventional.

Although organic is still much better than conventionally produced products, the label doesn’t mean it’s 100% clean and safe. Some agricultural areas have been so contaminated over the years with pesticides and weed killers that 75% of water, rain and even air samples have measurable glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup) in them. That means that the rain falling on organic crops or the water supply used to water them is contaminated, transferring those chemicals onto the plants and crops. Some samples of organic food have shown close to 20% of the levels of chemical residues on them as those found on conventional crops. In addition, all food is mostly handled and packaged by humans. Organic does not mean E. Coli and virus free! The answer is WASH ALL PRODUCE.

The Environmental Working Group, a watchdog organization which investigates chemicals in, not only foods, but all commercial products, has an annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists of the most chemically laden and the safest foods to eat. Strawberries are always on the top of the list of must-buy-organically foods. One reason is MoCap. This is a commercially available insecticide and nematocide. It’s active ingredient is Ethoprop (O-Ethyl S, S-Dipropyl Phosphorodithioate). Although classified as a “restricted use” compound, you can easily buy it at home improvement stores and order it on Amazon in the US. Allowable amounts identified on strawberries sold commercially is 5ppm in Canada but 40ppm, 8x more, in the US. Mexico, a large strawberry importer, allows 100ppm. That is why strawberries are always one of the top produce items in the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” plants to only buy organically.

ALL that having been said, organic foods grown in healthy soil are covered with healthy, beneficial bacteria including those which produce Vitamin B12. When you wash produce too thoroughly, you eliminate these healthy gut promoting microbes. If you are pretty confident about the source of your food and that it is clean, certainly rinse but don’t go overboard with scrubbing. That’s another reason to go organic, chemical free and local.

PEELING. DON’T DO IT! The skins of many fruits and vegetables have a completely different nutrient profile than the flesh. In many varieties like carrots, grapes and apples, the skins are actually better for you than the flesh. There are many fruits and vegetables whose peels are also healthful like kiwi’s, potatoes, lemons, beets, as well as herbs like ginger and turmeric. Even banana peels have nutrients. Don’t obsess about peeling. Clean and brush the food but don’t overdo it. There are also healthy microbes on the plants. Closely related to peeling is removing the white pulp of many fruits like oranges, grapefruit or vegetables like peppers and tomatoes. DON’T remove these. They are edible and packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients as well, again, in many cases to a greater degree than the flesh. Lastly, the stems and leaves of many plants are also a surprising source of nutrients. These include things like beet greens and even carrot tops.

WASHING GRAINS. Most grains, especially if bought in bulk, should be at least rinsed. Bulk beans and grains like quinoa may contain dirt and/or little pebbles. Rinsing and soaking is especially important with rice because of arsenic contamination. One serving of rice can contain as much arsenic as is considered dangerous in an entire year of exposure. Even USDA organic rice is not safe, especially if grown in the southern states or Texas. Brown has significantly more arsenic than white rice. You can reduce arsenic levels however by soaking the rice, discarding the water and cooking the rice in a 5:1 ratio of water to rice and discarding the water. As rice softens and the kernels open, the arsenic is released and ends up in the water. If you cook using package directions with exact water to rice ratios, all the water is re-absorbed into the rice, along with the arsenic. Ideally, you would want to soak for up to 48 hours (not very practical) but at least a few hours. Cooking in a pressure cooker like and Instantpot also improves arsenic elimination.

WAX. Artificial fruit wax, are used first to preserve the produce, delaying shrinkage and spoilage and secondly, to make them more attractive to consumers. Although some waxes are made from made from sugar cane, beeswax, carnauba, and resins, some are made from petroleum-based compounds. Obviously these are not healthy to eat. Organically grown fruits and vegetables do not contain synthetic (petroleum-based) wax coatings. They might contain less harmful forms of wax coatings however. Non-organic waxes also contain fungicides to inhibit mold growth. Waxes also control fruit respiration to delay ripening, protects from bruising while the fruit travels, and includes tints and glossy shellac to enhance a fruit’s appearance. Commercial coatings extend the life of a fruit so it can be picked, packed, shipped, and sold weeks or months after it left the tree, while still looking good in the process.



“Chicken soup used to be recommended to treat the flu. Now it gives you the flu!” Jay Leno




All food-borne diseases are known as zoonotic infections which are those that transmitted from animals to humans. Most of the major lethal worldwide pandemics and infectious diseases we got from animals, primarily because of our domestication and butchering practices. Some examples are:

  • HIV – a retrovirus which we first became exposed to by eating infected chimpanzee meat. The first documented case actually dates back to 1908 in Cameroon. Since the start, 80 million have been infected and 40 million, nearly half, have died.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) – originally from goats and cattle, specifically milk and meat.
  • Cowpox – cows
  • Smallpox – camels and cattle in general
  • Influenza (the Flu) – Pigs and Birds like ducks and chickens. in 2017, 80,000 Americans alone died from the flu.
  • Whooping cough – Pigs and Dogs
  • Measles – Cows (bovine morbillivirus). Still kills 200,000 humans, mostly kids, per year.
  • Swine Flu – Pigs and birds. Killed more than 500,000 the first year (2009) alone.
  • Covid-19 – a “corona virus” named after it’s surface spike proteins which look like parts of a crown, came from bats.
  • SARS and MERS – exotic animal trade via bats.
  • Ebola – also a virus whose host is the bat. It was probably transmitted to local food supplies through their feces.
  • Leprosy – water buffalo
  • Typhoid – chickens
  • Mad Cow (Jacob Creutzfeldt) Disease (Bovine Encephalopathy) – obviously from cows, it developed when we started feeding them their own species, essentially turning them into carnivores and cannibals. It is cause by a non-living and indestructible microbe called a prion.

Although many of these diseases are dormant or not bothersome to the host animal, they can be lethal in humans. in fact, almost every pandemic we have faced, including the Covid-19 (SRS-2) pandemic, is associated with a zoonotic infection. Click here for more information about pandemics and animals. The term “vaccine” comes from the word “vacca” which means cow. The first vaccines were developed in cattle to treat smallpox.

Zoonotic diseases are transmitted through a variety of microbes including:

  • Bacteria – the most common, including Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria and E. Coli
  • Viruses – Hepatitis A, Ebola, Rabies, West Nile virus
  • Fungi – Ringworm, Trichinosis
  • Parasites – especially in fish – Toxoplasmosis (60 million Americans are chronically infected with toxoplasma gondii alone and don’t know it because the y are asymptomatic)
  • Prions – these are non-living protein particles which cannot be destroyed through cooking, freezing or even irradiating! It causes Mad Cow Disease (BSE – Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy).

They can be transmitted through a number of mechanisms and many, like the flu or tuberculosis can be transmitted through multiple ways like:

  • Air (breathing, sneezing, coughing…)
  • Secretions (blood, saliva, urine, stool, spinal fluid, semen, breast milk…)
  • Direct contact with live animals or their contaminated parts.
  • Vectors. Transporting mechanisms like mosquitoes which transmit malaria.
  • FOOD! This is solely through surface contamination from animal sources.

Food-borne diseases are caused by consuming food infected with one of the above microbes. There are over 250 different identified food-borne diseases however, the USDA routinely only tests for 4 which are drug resistant. These include Salmonella, E. Coli, Campylobacter and Listeria. There are approximately 75 million cases in the US annually causing over 350,000 hospitalizations and over 5000 deaths. Most serious infections occur in young kids, older people, immunocompromised people like those on chemotherapy, on immune modulating medications like for arthritis or those with HIV. They can also occur in otherwise healthy people who get significant load of microbes. The microbes or their toxins get ingested and wreak havoc on the GI tract usually causing bloating, cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and my other subsequent problems.

Although plants can become contaminated, the original source of the illness-causing microbes are animals, usually from their waste, which gets into irrigation waters or is used as fertilizer. Don’t blame the plants. Blame the contamination from the animals. This includes human animals since, as gross and unbelievable as it sounds, it is legal to use human waste to fertilize conventional crops! This is called “bio-waste” and includes material from hospitals, chock full of bio-hazardous stuff like human blood, feces urine and all the chemicals like drugs and even formaldehyde. The VAST majority of food-borne illnesses are from animal products, not plants.

According to the CDC, 90% of foodborne illnesses in the US are caused by contamination from food workers not washing their hands. As mentioned above, the vast majority of infections arise from meat and seafood packing plants.

The most common food-borne infection worldwide is not caused by salmonella (which is #2) but by a bacterium known as campylobacter. It lives in the intestinal tract of healthy birds, including chicken which is the #1 source of these infections. 88% of poultry overall in supermarkets are contaminated with this bug and organic chickens are actually more frequently affected. A study looking at broiler chickens from a variety of supermarkets revealed that 81% of the meat was contaminated with campylobacter, 15% with salmonella and 13% with both!

The second most common food-borne illness is caused by salmonella which resides in most birds, reptiles and mammals as well. It causes 40,000 deaths a year worldwide. #3 is E. Coli, specifically the strain E.Coli 0157-H7 and the main source of contamination is their waste. The flesh itself can be contaminated or it can become contaminated during processing.

Part of the problem is that many meats are processed and mixed together. All the mixing combines all the microbes, as well as other chemical contaminants together affecting ALL the material.

  • Butchered chickens are often bathed en mass in a single ice bath leading to near 100% contamination.
  • Ground beef and eggs are mixed together so a single burger or restaurant omelet might contain meat or eggs from hundreds of animals.
  • Because each cow produces milk with slightly different macro-nutrient amounts, milk is mixed in huge vats so a glass of milk or piece of cheese may contain milk pooled from 100’s of cows.

Tuberculosis. Although thought of as a respiratory condition which kills 2 million people annually, TB was first transmitted to humans through milk from cows! TB was identified in the 18,000 year-old bison carcass. Its been around for a while but was not transmitted to us until we started domesticating them.

Anthrax is another bacterial infection that can be transmitted through a variety of routes from cattle as well as sheep and goats. Ingestion is the first. Inhalation is the second and it can actually get absorbed trans-cutaneously. Almost all cases of anthrax are linked to animals. Veterinarians, slaughterhouse and  food processing plant workers and animal herders are most commonly affected through either direct infected animal contact or occupational exposure through contact with infected products, such as in Wool-Sorters Disease. It can also be food-born through contaminated meat or even milk. Respiratory anthrax is usually fatal. Ingestion is still lethal but most people just get really sick but survive.

Every year, the government tests thousands of meat samples for the presence of 4 strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria; Salmonella, E. Coli, Campylobacter and Listeria. Despite the fact that 100k Americans are sickened by this bug a year, Yersinia Enterocolitica is not one of them. Pigs are the main reservoir of this pathogen. 100% of yersinia infections in humans are caused by pork. 65% of pigs in the US are contaminated with this microbe and 90% of those are resistant to at least one antibiotic. Most infections just cause a mild food poisoning event with cramping, bloating and diarrhea, sometimes bloody diarrhea. Symptoms however can masquerade as appendicitis leading to unnecessary surgery. Long term consequences of infection include chronic inflammation of the kidneys, eyes, heart and joints. Within a year of yersinia infection, victims are 47x the risk of developing autoimmune arthritis. The bacteria is also linked to autoimmune thyroid disease, specifically Grave’s disease. The confinement of the pigs on hog farms is the major contributor to pig infections and the spread of this resistant bug, which do not harm or impact the pigs at all. Packing them in however increases profits! The amount of room for a 200-300 lb. pig is 2 feet by 3 feet! The costs of crowded confinement are passed on to the thousands of Americans sickened by these infections, estimated to cost $250 million annually. European pigs raised using organic and more humane methods have 50x less infection than American pigs. Gestation crates for pregnant pigs are banned in Europe. Not in the US. Closer contact and the stress of living under these conditions increases the infection rate. Sows then pass the microbe along to her piglets.

Yersinia from pork ranks only 16th in terms of the greatest in food-born disease burdens in the US. The worst in terms of societal costs and years of lives lost is poultry-born campylobacter bacteria which contaminates at least 38% of chicken breasts. Then comes the toxoplasma brain parasite from pork. Third is salmonella, again from poultry followed by E. Coli from a variety of sources, most commonly beef and unpasteurized dairy.


  1. With food outbreaks, follow the government guidelines.
  2. Keep your kitchen, cutting surfaces and utensils clean. You can use some bleach or a more natural way is to use vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. WASH YOUR HANDS. Don’t cook food after changing a baby’s diaper, changing the cats litter box or going to the bathroom.
  4. Don’t eat animal products. By far, the VAST majority of food-borne illnesses come from eating meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
  5. If you do choose to eat animal products, make sure they are cooked. Although not all toxins, like endotoxin, or microbes, like prions, are destroyed by cooking and you will still get sick, the majority of food-borne illnesses will be prevented by adequate cooking. Just remember that cooking animal products at high heat, like frying or barbecuing, generate many carcinogenic compounds. Be careful of commonly eaten raw foods such as:SushiOysters
    1. Raw milk
    2. Under-cooked eggs (soft boiled)
    3. Carpaccio
  6. Wash your produce. Just plain water and brushing will get rid of most contaminants but you can also soak the produce in some baking soda and/or vinegar for a few minutes. Also, some of the outer leaves of salad can be discarded. See the section above for more details about washing produce.
  7. Buy local. Although not guaranteed to be clean, when food travels shorter distances, there is less potential for contamination. Also, small scale production is much safer. PLUS, the food is fresher and better.
  8. Grow your own food and avoid manure. If you use manure, make sure it is composted and organic.
  9. Don’t take acid suppressing medications like H2 blockers (Pepcid, Axid, Zantac…) or Proton Pump Inhibitors (Omeprazole, Prevacid, Nexium…). One of the important roles of stomach acid is to destroy pathologic bacteria. They allow those bacteria to overgrow faster. A reduced acid environment also damages the intestinal microflora leading to impaired immunity.

PASTURIZATION or pasteurization (named after the father of modern bacteriology Louis Pasteur)is a process in which packaged and non-packaged foods (such as milk and fruit juices) are treated with mild heat, usually to less than 100 °C (212 °F), to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf life. However, by the time these products are consumed by the public, microbial levels are often the same, or even higher than they were before they were pasteurized!

Although vaccinations and genetic changes have resulted in good control of various diseases, the ONLY ones we have been able to cure, are the diseases which exclusively occur in humans. An example is smallpox. Otherwise, all the other infectious diseases come from animals and are in some cases controllable, but not curable.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. David Quammen.




Some of the following in formation is repeated from above, but a simple discussion of food poisoning is important to repeat and reinforce. Food poisoning, also called food-borne illness, is illness caused by eating food which is contaminated by some kind of microbe which our bodies can’t deal with. Infectious organisms, including bacteria, viruses and parasites, or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning. They can contaminate food at any point of processing or production. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or not fully cooked.

Food poisoning symptoms often include nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Most often, food poisoning is mild and resolves without treatment but some people need to go to the hospital and in some cases, can develop serious, even life-threatening complications. Symptoms can start within hours of eating contaminated food or can take days or even weeks. In most cases, symptoms last for a few hours or days but again, in more serious situation, problems can persist for weeks to months, even causing permanent organ problems and even failure.

SYMPTOMS. Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever

If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, seek medical attention ASAP:

  • Frequent episodes of vomiting and inability to keep liquids down
  • Bloody vomit or stools
  • Diarrhea for more than three days
  • Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping
  • An oral temperature higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Signs or symptoms of dehydration which include excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Neurological symptoms such as blurry vision, muscle weakness and tingling in the arms

CAUSES. The microbes which cause food contamination ultimately come from those which are in or on the animal sources or contamination from animal sources. Plants do not generate these microbes but can get contaminated from improper handling, contaminated water either above or below ground, the use of contaminated fertilizers.

Contamination of food can happen at any point of production: growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or preparing. Cross-contamination, the transfer of harmful organisms from one surface to another, is often the cause. This is especially troublesome for raw, ready-to-eat foods, such as salads or other produce. Because these foods aren’t cooked, harmful organisms aren’t destroyed before eating and can cause food poisoning.

Many bacterial, viral or parasitic agents cause food poisoning but all come from animal sources. The following show some of the possible contaminants, when you might start to feel symptoms and common ways the organism is spread.

  • CAMPYLOBACTER (2-5 days). Meat and poultry. Contamination occurs during processing if animal feces contact meat surfaces. This commonly occurs when internal organs are cut open which contaminate the meat and preparation surfaces. Other sources include unpasteurized milk and contaminated water.
  • CLOSTRIDIUM BOTULINUM (12-72 hours). This microbe creates a toxin which causes botulism. Home-canned foods with low acidity, improperly canned commercial foods, smoked or salted fish, potatoes baked in aluminum foil, and other foods kept at warm temperatures for too long.
  • CLOSTRIDIUM PERFRINGENS (8-16 hours). Meats, stews and gravies. Commonly spread when serving leftover dishes not heated enough or if they were chilled too slowly.
  • ESCHERICHIA COLI (E. coli) (1-8 days). Beef contaminated with feces during slaughter. Spread mainly by under-cooked ground beef. Other sources include unpasteurized milk and apple cider, alfalfa sprouts (contaminated by water or fertilizer), and contaminated water.
  • GIARDIA LAMBLIA (1-2 weeks). Raw, ready-to-eat produce and contaminated water.
  • HEPATITIS A (28 days). Raw, ready-to-eat produce and shellfish from contaminated water.
  • LISTERIA (9-48 hours). Hot dogs, luncheon meats, unpasteurized milk and cheeses, and unwashed raw produce. Can be spread through contaminated soil and water.
  • NOROVIRUSES (Norwalk-like viruses) (12-48 hours). Raw, ready-to-eat produce and shellfish from contaminated water.
  • ROTAVIRUS (1-3 days). Raw, ready-to-eat produce. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
  • SALMONELLA (1-3 days). Raw or contaminated meat, poultry, milk, or egg yolks. Survives inadequate cooking. Can spread by knives, cutting surfaces or infected food handlers.
  • SHIGELLA (24-48 hours). Seafood and raw, ready-to-eat produce. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
  • STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS (1-6 hours). Meats and prepared salads, cream sauces, and cream-filled pastries. Can be spread by hand contact, coughing and sneezing.
  • VIBRIO VULNIFICUS (1-7 days). Raw oysters and raw or under-cooked mussels, clams, and whole scallops. Can be spread through contaminated seawater.

There is a common theme here. Contamination comes either from a microbe from an animal, or through spread by an infected/contaminated food handler.

The most common serious complication of food poisoning is dehydration, a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals. If you’re a healthy adult and drink enough to replace fluids you lose from vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration shouldn’t be a problem.

Infants, older adults and people with suppressed immune systems or chronic illnesses may become severely dehydrated when they lose more fluids than they can replace. In that case, they may need to be hospitalized and receive intravenous fluids. In extreme cases, dehydration can be fatal.

To prevent food poisoning at home:

  1. Wash your hands, utensils and food surfaces often. Wash your hands well with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. Use hot, soapy water to wash utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces you use.
  2. Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. When shopping, preparing food or storing food, keep raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish away from other foods. This prevents cross-contamination.
  3. Cook foods to a safe temperature. The best way to tell if foods are cooked to a safe temperature is to use a food thermometer. You can kill harmful organisms in most foods by cooking them to the right temperature. Cook ground beef to 160 F (71.1 C); steaks, roasts and chops, such as lamb, pork and veal, to at least 145 F (62.8 C). Cook chicken and turkey to 165 F (73.9 C). Make sure fish and shellfish are cooked thoroughly.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly, within two hours of purchasing or preparing them. If the room temperature is above 90 F (32.2 C), refrigerate perishable foods within one hour.
  5. Defrost food safely. Don’t thaw food at room temperature. The safest way to thaw food is to defrost it in the refrigerator. If you microwave frozen food using the “defrost” or “50 percent power” setting, be sure to cook it immediately.
  6. Throw it out when in doubt. If you aren’t sure if a food has been prepared, served or stored safely, discard it. Food left at room temperature too long may contain bacteria or toxins that can’t be destroyed by cooking. Don’t taste food that you’re unsure about, just throw it out. Even if it looks and smells fine, it may not be safe to eat. HOWEVER, food waste is one of the biggest sources of global warming for a variety of reasons and constitutes the largest component of garbage dumps. Minimize waste by only buying what you need and be aware of the fact that “best-by” dates are not absolute rules. They are often even used in order for consumers to buy more of their products.

Food poisoning is especially serious and potentially life-threatening for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. These individuals should take extra precautions by avoiding the following foods:

  • Raw or rare meat and poultry.
  • Raw or under-cooked fish or shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels and scallops.
  • Raw or under-cooked eggs or foods that may contain them, such as cookie dough and homemade ice cream.
  • Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, bean, clover and radish sprouts. These are always contaminated from an outside source however.
  • Unpasteurized juices and ciders.
  • Unpasteurized milk and milk products.
  • Soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie and Camembert; blue-veined cheese; and unpasteurized cheese.
  • Refrigerated pates and meat spreads.
  • Uncooked hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats.

As mentioned above, PASTURIZATION or pasteurization (named after the father of modern bacteriology Louis Pasteur)is a process in which packaged and non-packaged foods (such as milk and fruit juices) are treated with mild heat, usually to less than 100 °C (212 °F), to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf life. However, by the time these products are consumed by the public, microbial levels are often the same, or even higher than they were before they were pasteurized!

Food poisoning is often diagnosed based on a detailed history, including how long you’ve been sick, your symptoms and specific foods you’ve eaten. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam, looking for signs of dehydration. Depending on your symptoms and health history, sometimes blood tests, stool cultures or examination for parasites is done, to identify the cause and confirm the diagnosis.

In many cases, the cause of food poisoning can’t be identified.

TREATMENT. Treatment for food poisoning typically depends on the source of the illness, if known, and the severity of your symptoms. For most people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days, though some types of food poisoning may last longer. Treatment may include:

  • Replacement of lost fluids. Although usually oral administration is enough, if you can’t keep anything down or are severely dehydrated, intravenous fluids may be necessary.
  • Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning and your symptoms are severe. Food poisoning caused by listeria needs to be treated with intravenous antibiotics during hospitalization. Antibiotics will not help food poisoning caused by viruses. Antibiotics may actually worsen symptoms in certain kinds of viral or bacterial food poisoning. Talk to your doctor about your options.
  • Imodium (loperamide). This slows down the gut and can help with diarrhea but should only be taken if there is no blood or significant dehydration.
  • Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate). This essentially coats and soothes the stomach and intestinal lining. it also reduces some of the acids relieving symptoms.




There are nearly 1 million salmonella and campylobacter infections in children 10 and younger each year in the United States. Some of these infections are severe, causing meningitis and death. All requiring treatment with antibiotics however there’s an increasing problem of antibiotic resistance among these bugs that threatens our ability to treat them. Part of the problem is that the same lifesaving miracle drug antibiotics are being squandered for use in food animals for things like growth promotion in such unhygienic, crowded conditions, which increases the likelihood that pathogens like salmonella or campylobacter will become resistant. It is well established that 70% of antibiotics manufactured go to treating/feeding animals.

For microbes to become resistant requires that there be a change in the genetic code, imparting some advantage to the bug. The genes that encode antibiotic resistance are transmitted from food animals to humans through the food supply. Most resistant bacteria have mobile genetic elements, little circles of DNA called plasmids, which carry the resistance genes that they can pass on to other bacteria, including those in our own gut.

Food animals are, therefore, a reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes, and a potential vector for transmission of antibiotic resistance genes to the human intestinal microbes. A study showed that transfer of an antibiotic resistance plasmid from an E. coli originating from a chicken raised for meat to human gut bugs happened within only 2 hours. This spread of antibiotic resistance genes presents an alarming scenario, a growing concern that antibiotic-resistant bacteria present on food can transfer their resistance genes to the inherent gut microbiota of the consumer.

A human study was done assessing antibiotic resistance gene loads in vegan vs. vegetarian vs. omnivore gut bacteria. You’d think the results might be obvious, with the meat eaters being exclusively affected, but antibiotic resistance genes are also spread due to manure application on agricultural fields of fruits and vegetables. Even USDA Organic farms are allowed to use untreated or un-composted animal manure as fertilizer. In fact, massive antibiotic use in animal farming is considered as the greatest contributor to the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) in food of animal origin: meats, eggs, and dairy. Nevertheless, sewage from treated animals may impact on vegetables grown on fertilized fields. 

Researchers looked for antibiotic-resistant genes against various antibiotics. Despite the fact that manure is used on almost all crops, vegans still fared much better. Both omnivores and vegetarians showed a significantly higher antibiotic-resistant gene load in their guts as compared with vegans. There actually wasn’t a significant difference between omnivores and vegetarians, revealing the significant contamination of eggs and dairy commonly consumed by vegetarians. But significantly lower loads were seen in vegans compared to both omnivores, and vegetarians. Vancomycin is one of our antibiotics of last resort, used to treat serious life-threatening strep and staph infections like MRSA and resistance to this bacterium was found quite regularly in the intestines of meat eaters and vegetarians, but much less commonly in vegan microbes. 

Despite the links to dairy and eggs, just cutting out meat has indeed been shown to offer an advantage in some studies, as bacteria obtained from meat-eater poop samples showed resistance to a greater number of antibiotics, and carried more tested antibiotic resistance genes compared to the vegan or vegetarian poop. 

But going completely plant-based is the safest option.




Hormones are naturally occurring in all animal products. In fact, dairy, even dairy which comes from “happy”, grass fed, chemical-free cows, has more than 60 different kinds of hormones. Growth hormones like Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IgF 1), as well as various forms of sex hormones like estrogen. In addition to the naturally occurring hormones in meat, 6 hormones are commonly used in cattle to increase the amount of meat they grow and to do so at a much faster rate. These are injected or, more commonly, implanted behind the ears in pellets: 

  • 3 are naturally occurring, but additional hormones are added:TestosteroneEstradiol
    • Progesterone
  • 3 are synthetic:ZeranolMelengestrol acetate
    • Trenbolone acetate
  • A 7th hormone Zearalenone, a relative of Zeranol, is generated by a fungus contaminating the feed, but it does end up in the meat and ends up in us. It has also been found in popcorn, contaminated by the same fungus in the corn.
  • An additional hormone used in the dairy industry is somatotropin. This genetically engineered growth hormone increases milk production  but injections of this cause mastitis, inflammation/infections of the udder. This is usually treated with antibiotics. Banned in many countries like Canada,, the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, it is still used in the US. Mastitis is so common that there is actually an “allowable” amount of pus cells in milk.

ZERANOL (Ralgro) is a potent synthetic estrogen which is fed to all conventionally grown livestock in the US and only cattle in Canada. It is the most potent growth hormone found in all food and its influence on estrogen is 100,000 times greater than BPA. In the lab, exposing normal breast cells to the substance for only 21 days causes them to transform into breast cancer cells. It is so frequently used that 100% of meat from conventionally raised beef, which accounts for 94% and some grass-fed beef as well since it’s allowed to be used with them also, is tainted. Only organically raised (and USDA Labelled) meat is free of this horrible chemical.

After a study was done in Italy revealing that Zeranol was the main contributor to abnormal breast tissue growth in both boys and girls, it, along with ALL other growth-promoting drugs, were banned in Europe. In 1989, they also banned all beef imports from Canada and the US and this ban still stands today because we continue to insist on using it!

In the US, a study of 163 girls, aged 9 and 10, identified zeranol in the urine of 78% of them. 100% of those girls ate meat the night before! None of the girls whose urine was negative for zeranol ate meat the night before. In addition, 55% of the girls, again the meat eaters, contained zearalenon. This is related to zeranol and is generated by a fungus contaminating the animal feed, but it does end up in the meat and ends up in us. It has also been found in popcorn, contaminated by the same fungus in the corn.

All of them were meat eaters, all had early menstruation and all were shorter than the girls who ate the least or no meat.

In the Boston-area Nurses Health Study, there was a 35% increased risk of premenopausal cancer if they regularly ate meat as kids and teenagers.

In 2019, Japanese researchers, concerned about rising levels of hormone-related cancers in both men and women, looked into the hormones in beef imported from the US. They noted an increase in the following cancers, just in the last 25 years (ever since they started importing our beef):

  • 4x increase in breast and ovarian cancers
  • 8x increase in endometrial cancer
  • 10x increase in prostate cancer
  • they also noted dramatic increases in acne, hair loss and infertility.

Cattle from the US are regularly implanted with not only estrogen-releasing implants, but testosterone-releasing ones as well. Estrogen increases milk production and testosterone bulks up the muscle (the meat). The cattle industry insists that there is no contamination of the meat since the ears are removed during slaughter but this is not what the Japanese researchers found. Compared with Japanese cattle, in whom hormones are illegal to use, American cattle had 600% higher levels of estrogen.

As far as the testosterone in meat is concerned, this is the same principle as weight lifters and body builders use. Anabolic (growth) steroids increase muscle mass. The amount of steroids in meat however has been found to be high enough to cause false-positive banned substance testing in otherwise clean athletes who eat meat.

There are over 60 different hormones in milk! And those are just the naturally occurring ones. Why so many hormones? Because it is breast milk from a cow meant to grow the baby cow into an adult! Duh!! Dairy labeled “hormone-free” still contains naturally occurring hormones like estrogen and growth hormones which can fluctuate greatly depending on the pregnant state or lactation state of the cow (as much as 17 times).

Another commonly occurring hormone in dairy in particular is 5 Alpha P. 5alpha-Pregnane-3,20-dione (5alpha P for short), is another potent sex hormone found in dairy. Just to be clear, dairy contains sex hormones like estrogen, estrone and 5alpha-P and growth hormones like IgF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). Both are not good to have additional amounts in your body.

5alpha P plays a significant role in producing testosterone. It is also a significant player in acne development. Some recent studies have linked acne to hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate. To be clear, acne does not cause cancer. Because of the strong link off hormones to acne as well as hormonal cancers, basically acne is visible marker for excess hormones and cellular growth.

In breast cancer specifically, 5alpha-p induces estrogen receptors on breast cancer cells to be more sensitive to estrogen, which fuels their growth.




The incidence of breast cancer is continuously increasing worldwide. In the U.S, there has been a 40% increase over the last few decades. Currently, the main approach is early detection and treatment. Overall, with only a few exceptions, our ability to cure cancer has really not changed significantly since President Nixon declared the “war on cancer” in the early 70’s. As far as early detection goes, there is a very solid argument that all we are doing is identifying it earlier and people are simply living with it longer, dying at the same time they would have anyway, or even earlier because of the treatments themselves. Why not pay more attention to primary prevention? In other words, protecting people from being exposed to risk factors for breast cancer so that they never develop breast cancer in the first place?

Overall, it is estimated that 20%of all human cancers have an infectious origin. Viruses can trigger cancer by turning on cancer genes or turning off cancer suppressing genes, but they can also contribute to tumor formation just by causing chronic inflammation. There are well established infections which directly cause cancer such as hepatitis C virus causing liver cancer , human papilloma virus (HPV) causing genital and oral cancers and the bacterium H. Pylori contributes significantly to stomach and esophageal cancer. Currently, cancer-causing viruses like bovine leukemia virus (BLV) are considered the major plausible hypothesis for a direct cause of human breast cancer. 

In the 1980’s, a professor of virology at UC Berkeley discovered a link between viruses and mammary (breast) tumors in mice. Scientists swapped baby mouse pups from mice with a high incidence of mammary cancer with pups from mouse strains with a low incidence, and found that the cancer incidence matched the foster mothers, showing it wasn’t genetic. It occurred to them that humans are foster-nursed on the cow.

Around the same time, BLV had just been identified as a cancer-causing cow virus. At the time only about 1 in 10 U.S. dairy cows were infected, but now it’s closer to 50%. We started out with 2/3s of herds affected. Then, it was more like 80%, based on their milk testing positive for the virus, and 100% of the herds in the larger industrial farms. And now, more than 90% of U.S. herds are affected, a continuation of the historical trend of the persistent proliferation of BLV within U.S. dairy herds.

We’ve long known that countries with the highest milk consumption also had the highest breast cancer incidence, in addition to the highest rates of osteoporosis. And it’s not just a matchup between dairy consumption and breast cancer incidence on the country level. Individual women who are lactose intolerant and consume less dairy also seem to have decreased risk of breast cancer. In addition to the saturated fat and the presence of cancer-promoting growth hormones, like IGF-1 present in dairy, it appears that BLV is also a significantly contributing factor.

Bovine leukemia virus is present in marketed beef and dairy products. About 50% of milk and meat samples turn up positive for the virus. In fact, you can sample the virus straight out of the air on dairy farms, on surfaces, and in the milk itself. Most milk is pasteurized, but many dairy products, like raw aged cheeses are not. And who hasn’t eaten a pink-in-the-middle hamburger at some point in their life?

We know that people are exposed to and are actively infected with BLV. It wasn’t until 2015 that it was discovered that rates were highest in cancerous breast tissue, so much so that as many as 37% of breast cancer cases may be attributable to exposure to the BLV. 

In 2015, researchers in California found bovine leukemia virus (BLV) incorporated into the DNA of human breast cancer tumors from mastectomies at such higher rates than was found in normal breast tissue taken from breast reduction surgery that they calculated that as many as 37%of breast cancer cases may be attributable to bovine leukemia virus exposure, likely through the consumption of milk or meat obtained from infected animals.

In response, the milk and meat industries seemed more concerned about consumer confidence than consumer cancer. The findings were replicated in many studies and in many countries. They were replicated among women in Iran. Replicated in Brazil. In Australia, the link was even stronger. In Texas, the same thing. Women diagnosed with breast cancer were found to be so much more likely to have bovine leukemia virus DNA in their breast tissue, compared with women without cancer, that the attributable risk was calculated at 51.82%,–indicating that this meat and dairy virus could be responsible for at least one-half of the breast cancer cases among the women in Texas.

Infection rates in cancerous tissue versus normal breast tissue found the odds of finding the virus in the tumors was, on average, 4x higher.

How does that compare to other breast cancer risk factors? If you go on hormone replacement for five years, you can bump up your breast cancer risk 30%. If you take the birth control pill for more than 12y years, your risk may go up 40%. If you’re obese when you’re older, your risk can go up 60%. Having a first-degree relative with breast cancer may double your risk. But having your breast infected with bovine leukemia virus may quadruple your risk. The only risk factors more potent than BLV infection were having the BRCA gene mutations like Angelina Jolie has, or a high dose of ionizing radiation.

Older patients had a greater likelihood of testing positive for BLV which makes sense, since the older we get, the more meals we’ve had, and the more opportunities to become infected over time.

Researchers also discovered that the virus is present in some breast tissues 3-10 years before cancer was diagnosed. This argues against the idea of viral invasion of already malignant cells, negating the theory that maybe the virus is somehow just attracted to the cancer after the fact. Could this explain the consistent findings that breast cancer tissue is more likely to harbor infection? Again, the data showed no. The virus appeared to come first. This review doesn’t provide absolute proof that BLV is a cause of breast cancer, but based on the best available balance of evidence, BLV infection does indeed appear to be a breast cancer risk factor.

BLV has also been found in human blood. This has a number of potential ramifications. Blood banks, for example, don’t screen for it. So, it’s possible you can get it from consuming meat or dairy, or getting blood from someone who consumed meat or dairy.

This could also mean that BLV could cause leukemia in people, too. It does in chimpanzees, one of our closest primate relatives.

This certainly suggests the possibility of transmission or induction of leukemia through the ingestion of milk from BLV-infected cows or that blood-borne spread could carry the virus to other organs. In cattle, the virus causes blood cancers, but this may be just because dairy cattle are slaughtered for meat when they are still so young, so maybe they don’t have time for tumors to grow in other organs.

21 nations have eradicated BLV from their dairy cattle using a variety of measures, including the use of vaccines. But in the U.S. the BLV prevalence just keeps going up. Although the vaccine is available here, the industry is not forced to use it so they won’t, since it costs money. If the industries are not going to step up and try to eliminate the disease, then the least they could do is eliminate some of the practices that spread the disease between animals.

BLV is spread via blood through contaminated needles, saw or gouge dehorners, tattoo pliers, ear taggers, hoof knives, nose tongs, and other tools of the agribusiness trade. Though in view of the emerging information about BLV in human breast cancer, it may be prudent to encourage the complete elimination of BLV in cattle, particularly in the dairy industry. The hope is that either way it may help reduce the scourge of breast cancer.




Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a compound originally developed in the 1920’s as a mimetic estrogen (estrogen imitator) to treat women with low levels of estrogen because of menopause or other conditions. It was never used for that purpose however. It was however used in the animal agriculture industry and was fed to animals since it was found to “fatten them up”. It was discovered that when altered, BPA actually formed a resilient polycarbonate plastic, now used in almost all plastics as well as liners of most food storage containers like bags and cans. There are also now over 300 version of bisphenol. It is well known that BPA still maintains it’s estrogen mimetic properties and is now more commonly is called a “hormone disruptor”. It has numerous dangerous effects on the body including causing cancer, autoimmune diseases, even raising blood pressure immediately after consuming canned beverages. Compared with drinking out of glass containers, drinking out of cans lined with BPA leads to a 1600% spike in blood levels of BPA. It should be avoided as much as possible. A short list of items which contain BPA include:

  • Food Containers including most cans.
  • Plastic containers for processed foods and even meat and vegetable wrappers.
  • Beverage cans including soda and beer cans.
  • Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups
  • Store Sales Receipts. BPA levels are measurable in the blood after handling them. 100x increase if your hands are wet or if you used hand sanitizers!
  • Protective and Corrective Eye-wear
  • Compact Discs and DVDs
  • Children’s (and Adult) Safety Equipment
  • Commercial and Industrial Products
  • Coatings of all kinds
  • Electronic Equipment

A few facts about BPA:

  • Even a single dose of BPA obtained from one bottle of water or from handling a cash register receipt with wet hands impairs insulin sensitivity.
  • BPA disrupts hormones and can impair fertility.
  • It leeches out much more from plastics when it’s heated by 55x.
  • BPS and some of the BPA replacements have been shown to also impair endocrine function. There are actually over 300 types of bisphenol.
  • We do metabolize it and it’s excreted through urine and sweat. Its half life is 5 hours however so it basically takes 1 day (24 hour) to clear one dose of it. If you use plastics continually, you are continuously trying to clear these chemicals.
  • BPA is inactivated by the liver however once it crosses the placenta in a pregnant woman it gets activated again which is why it’s more dangerous for the developing fetus.
  • As bottles age, more BPA gets leached out which is partly why you should not reuse plastic water bottles, even the “BPA-Free” bottles from companies like Nalgene.

A great resource for looking up if a product contains BPA is on the Environmental Working Groups database page found here. You will start noticing many items, especially cans have the statement “BPA-Free” on it. This does NOT mean it is safe. The BPA was probably replaced with a similar compound Bisphenol S (BPS) which has similar hormone disrupting effects. Use glass or stainless steel jars to store food and avoid as much plastic and aluminum cans as you can. Many products are available in glass jars.

We have used and released so much BPA into our environment, that BPA can be measured in the bodies of tiny ants deep in the Amazon rain forest. It is released into the air in microscopic amounts and the BPA makes its way into the clouds and the rain spreads is ALL over the world. EVERY human on the planet has measurable amounts of BPA, among other chemicals, in our bodies. Even DDT, banned more than 30 years ago, can be measured in newborn infants as it is passed along to them through their mothers milk.

As mentioned above, BPA was first developed before 1920 as a synthetic estrogen medication. In the 1950’s, industry realized that it could be made into polycarbonate plastic. Since that time, it has become the most widely used plastic worldwide. It is used almost universally to line bottles and cans, despite knowing its hormonal effects. In particular, cans of tuna, soups and acidic produce like tomatoes are affected. 

Our government says that exposure up to 50 micrograms per kilo a day is safe. This is a pretty small amount and it is very uncommon to get such exposure. In fact, even in the Chinese factories where BPA is made, workers get exposed to 70x lower doses than the US government allowance. Despite that, almost all men working in such plants have decreased sperm counts and motility, a clear sign of hormonal disruption. In the US, the general population gets less than 1000x the safety limit yet we have seen a significant rise in various hormone-related diseases. BPAs effects have been implicated in:

  • Thyroid diseases.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Weight control problems.
  • Diabetes.
  • Liver function.
  • Immune function.

The core assumption when determining toxic levels of drugs is that “the dose makes the poison”, meaning that the higher the dose of a toxin, the greater the damage. But this is NOT the case with hormone disrupting drugs like BPA. Determining toxicity usually involved animal testing. Animals are exposed to known toxic levels and the dose is decreased until no more side effects are noted. A safety buffer is added in and the “Safe” dose is set for humans. But with hormone-disrupting compounds, once the hormone receptors are bound, usually by tiny doses of chemicals, any additional hormone or chemicals do little more since no receptors are available. This is why extremely tiny doses of BPA can cause a lot of disruption. The actual safe exposure level is MUCH lower than what our government has set today. Why is BPA banned in baby bottles and sippy cups but nowhere else? There is a serious disconnect between what is safe and what is recommended. It’s the same philosophy of saying that pregnant women should not consume fish because of mercury contamination because of the developing fetus but it’s OK after the baby is born. It’s bad not only for the baby, but for ALL people.


An FDA study looked at the excretion of BPA in peoples urine. It was collected over 24 hours and levels were measured. It was determined that the amounts of BPA were minimal and not concerning. The problem is this: the average human produces 1-2 liters of urine a day. These participants were encouraged to drink as much writer as possible and on average produced 6 liters of urine, more than 3 times the normal amount. Of course levels would be small.




There is much more about this on my Environment page however FOOD WASTE is a tremendous problem, accounting for upwards of 20% of all greenhouse gasses. We throw out 50% of produce and 26% of meat. Consumers account for 40% of food waste overall and 80% of the meat. A major source of food waste is in our own homes and through our behaviors. There are many causes of this waste but 20% of individual food waste is caused by confusion over expiration date labels. This is not just a household issue, but one which affects restaurants, but to a lesser degree. Labels such as “Sell by”, “Best Before” and “Use by” are completely unregulated and most cases have nothing to do with spoiling or safety. They are provided by companies as suggestion as to when the food may be at its “peak quality” NOT when it is no longer safe to eat. Just because an item is past its “best by” date does not mean it is bad and rather than just throwing it out over misplaced concerns over spoilage, use your common sense. Literally your senses. Smell, taste and appearance. If it’s moldy, smells bad, is under pressure or has a sour taste, compost it (don’t just throw it out). If not, it’s most likely fine. Storage and temperature are the keys to keeping food safe and increasing their longevity. Keep your fridge below 40 degrees or below. Keep in appropriate containers, preferably glass or stainless steel rather than plastic which leaches chemicals. Things which should be in a sealed container, keep them sealed. If they need ventilation, use porous or paper bags. Use your fridge compartments appropriately. That’s why they are there.

This is a full report co-sponsored by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic about the problems with the food labeling system and its impact on the environment: The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America 

By the way, expiry dates on most products, including medications, don’t really mean anything. At worst, the medications might lose a bit of potency but they don’t go “bad”. Antibiotics lose the most potency but if you have antibiotics laying around the house, shame on you for not taking your medications appropriately or shame on the health care professional for unnecessarily prescribing it to you! If your prescribed medications are expiring, you are not taking them appropriately.




While many people have no idea what irradiation refers to, it’s actually a commonly practiced way of pasteurizing (sterilizing) food around the globe where bacteria and pathogens are huge problems. Whereas pasteurizing milk involves heating, it, along with many other foods, can be exposed to radiation to achieve the same effect.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food irradiation is the “application of ionizing radiation to food” and is said to “improve the safety and extend the shelf life of foods by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects.” Basically, to make food safe, companies must process it to a state of cleanliness using ionizing radiation. 

With that said, irradiated food is not a replacement for proper food handling practices by producers, processors, and consumers. This means that, even though the food item has been pasteurized via irradiation, it can still become contaminated with disease-causing organisms after irradiation if the food is not stored, handled, or cooked appropriately.

To begin, radiation exists in two forms, ionizing and non-ionizing. When it comes to irradiating food, ionizing radiation is used. It’s a form of energy that acts by removing electrons from atoms and molecules of materials that include air, water, and living tissue. This form of energy is used in x-rays, which penetrate our body and reveal pictures of our bones by removing electrons from atoms and molecules in the matter through which they pass. After a certain amount of exposure, this type of radiation can produce skin or tissue damage. With that said, ionizing radiation exists in both nature, cosmic, solar, terrestrial, and buildings, and is man-made like x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, fluoroscopy, and in nuclear medicine procedures like cardiac and brain angiography and thyroid scans. The FDA has approved this type of pasteurization with promises that the changes made by irradiation are so minimal that it is not easy to tell if a food has been irradiated. They insist that irradiation does not make foods radioactive, compromise nutritional quality, or noticeably change the taste, texture, or appearance of food.

Food irradiation can be done using three different types of ionizing radiation: 

  • gamma rays, emitted from radioactive forms of the element cobalt or of the element cesium, 
  • X-rays, produced by reflecting a high-energy stream of electrons off a target substance (usually one of the heavy metals) into food and 
  • electron beams, a stream of high-energy electrons propelled from an electron accelerator into food.

Food irradiation is meant to keep us safe in a world of mass-produced food where cleanliness is incredibly hard to guarantee. This type of pasteurization was developed to benefit the consumer and has been approved for safety by not only the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but also the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, approving irradiation just allows the companies to make up for unhygienic practices to begin with.

PROS. The FDA  lays out the case for pasteurization via irradiation with a list of benefits for both the consumer and the producer. 

  1. Prevents food-borne illnesses by effectively eliminating organisms that cause food-borne illness, including Salmonella and E. coli. 
  2. It  is also a highly effective form of preservation, reducing spoilage and decomposition and increasing shelf life. 
  3. It controls insects on imported fruits, destroys imported insects and reduces the need for other pest-control practices that may harm the fruit. 
  4. It also delays the sprouting and ripening of foods, increasing the longevity of the food product.
  5. It is also a useful form of sterilization. While thermal (heat processed) sterilization has been found to have many potential problems such as reducing the nutritional content of food and has been found to be ineffective against certain types of bacteria, irradiated sterilization (non-thermal processing) is considered an effective method that does not cause any deterioration of quality. Sterilized foods can be stored for years without refrigeration and are widely used in hospitals for patients with severely impaired immune systems. It’s important to note that foods that are sterilized by irradiation are exposed to substantially higher levels of treatment.

CONS. While there are quite a few benefits to irradiating food, there are also a few downsides. 

  1. Even though irradiation leaves macronutrients as well as minerals unaffected, the vitamin content of irradiated food is diminished. In particular, thiamine, vitamin E and C are reduced or even eliminated through irradiation.
  2. Another concern is in regards to microbial strains of harmful bacteria. If there are insufficient amounts of radiation, there is the possibility of mutations among microbial strains, which potentially could create even more dangerous strains of bacteria. This similar to what happens when you don;t complete a course of antibiotics for a legitimate
  3. It’s also possible that long-term use of irradiation may “cause bacteria and microbes to adapt, becoming resistant to the radiation and harder to kill.

As mentioned earlier, irradiation is not a substitute for safe handling practices. Just because a food is labeled as irradiated does not mean that it is safe to eat. Plus, irradiated food can be more expensive, due to the upfront costs of a food irradiation facility. You may be paying a higher price for a pasteurized food that has been handled and packed in unsanitary conditions.

Per FDA guidelines, companies must identify their product as irradiated, which is outlined in the next section. With that said, it’s important to know the most popularly irradiated foods, therefore you immediately know what to look out for. Although dairy and juices are most well known for being irradiated, other animal products are also irradiated like:

  • beef, 
  • pork, 
  • poultry, 
  • eggs, and 
  • Shellfish

Many plant-based food groups are also irradiated. Here are a few of the most commonly irradiated plant-based food groups:

  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
  • Lettuce and Spinach
  • Seeds for Sprouting (e.g., for alfalfa sprouts)
  • Spices and Seasonings

A large amount of the foods in your local grocery store have been irradiated, which means it may be difficult to completely cut out irradiated food. Also, after reviewing the information, you may have decided that there’s simply no need to cut out irradiated food. 

Radura radiation symbol

No matter where you land on the irradiated food consumption spectrum, it’s good to know if a food has been irradiated or not. The FDA requires that foods that have been irradiated must be labeled with the international symbol for radiation referred to as Radura. If you see this on a package, then the food has been irradiated. Companies must also include a statement notifying consumers of irradiation such as “Treated with/by radiation.” In addition, the PLU label found on most fruit and vegetables can also be  clue. In the same way that a 4 digit number means it is grown non-organically and a 5 digit number starting with 9 means it was grown organically, a 5 digit number starting with 3 means it has been irradiated.

What about bulk food bins of nuts, seeds, and grains? How about those bulk fruits and veggies? If your grocer is responsible and compliant, then they will have irradiated foods either individually labeled or have a label next to the sale container indicating if the bulk food item has been irradiated.

With all of these labeling practices, it’s important to note that the FDA does not require that individual ingredients in multi-ingredient foods (e.g. spices) be labeled, which means if you are trying to avoid very certain irradiated ingredients, this may be difficult to do with packaged foods.




Although plastics have revolutionized how we live, they have no place in eating, drinking, cooking and food preparation or even food and beverage storage. Plastics contain various chemicals which leach into what they contain. This tends to happen more when you cook or reheat in them however even dry storage leads to some contamination. Of particular concern are harmful compounds such BPA and BPS which are known as “endocrine disruptors” or endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Bisphenol A, or BPA is a compound originally developed in the 1930’s as a mimetic estrogen (estrogen imitator) to treat women with low levels of estrogen because of menopause or other conditions leading to low estrogen levels. It was never used for that purpose however. BPA was also fed to livestock to fatten them up. It was discovered that when altered, BPA actually formed a resilient polycarbonate plastic, now used in almost all plastics as well as liners of most food storage containers like bags and cans. It is well known that it still maintains it’s estrogen mimetic properties and is now more commonly called a hormone disruptor. It has numerous dangerous effects on the body including causing cancer, autoimmune diseases and it should be avoided as much as possible.

One of the significant hormonal effects has to do with their impact on weight and obesity. They are also called “obeisogens” since they cause weight gain.

These chemicals imitate our natural hormones, especially estrogen, and stimulate cell receptors leading to greater risk of various diseases from simple acne to cancer formation in addition to disrupting various hormonal pathways.

    • You should NEVER cook, reheat or microwave in plastic since this poses the greatest contamination risk. The amount of leaching of plastics increases by 55x, even if a water bottle sits in the sun and heats up.
    • Do not let Saran Wrap contact your food. You are better off using silicone covers or glass or ceramic plates. You can also use reusable beeswax wraps.
    • Do not drink beverages from plastic containers. Who know how long they have been sitting on a truck and under what conditions. The ALL leach chemicals. Use glass or stainless steel reusable containers.
    • If you do uses, do not refill them. In addition, they are incredibly wasteful and contaminate the environment.
    • Cans, including all beverage cans like beer and soda cans, are often lined with plastics especially BPA. The definitely contaminate the foods they contain. Although some think that acidic foods like tomatoes leach more chemicals, this is not true. All foods become equally contaminated. BPA-free cans are often lined with other versions of plastics including BPS, which has not only been shown to have the same hormonal effects, but has also shown to be present up to 40% higher levels than BPS. An then there is also BPF. Tritan, used in such water containers as Nalgene and Contugo, has also been shown to disrupt hormonal function in humans. It’s better to buy in bulk or fresh and cook things yourself. Avoid Styrofoam plates or cups. Bring your own portable ceramic or stainless steel coffee or beverage cup. Take away coffee cups are often lined with plastic or wax.
    • Studies show that food just wrapped in plastic transfers some of chemicals to the food. This includes packaged foods, meat and even vegetables.
    • Food packaging also contains BPA which transfers to the foods they contain.
    • 99% of human BPA contamination comes from food and beverages.

There are plenty of glass or stainless steel storage options which are healthier and more environmentally friendly.

The is a whole section on microplastic on my environment page (click here) but in a nutshell, we have used, and continue to use, so much plastic that it is now in everything we eat. Microplastics are found in things like fish, shellfish, alcohol, tap and bottled water, and even the air we breathe. Microplastics have been identified even in the remotest parts of our planet. It’s estimated that the average person in the U.S. is consuming more than 70,000 microplastic particles per year and even more for those who drink only bottled water instead of tap.

For more on BPA, check out my environmental page.



“Better Living Through Chemistry” was the DuPont slogan for over 50 years.




When the FDA was given authority over food additives in 1958, there were already 800 additives being used. In Britain, only ~2000 chemicals are allowedin foods. In the US, there are virtually no lomits. Today there are well over 10,000 and continuing to grow by about 100 a year. To review, test and monitor this number of chemicals is an impossible task. They essentially rely on the industry to self-regulate. All a food company is required to do is hire their own experts to review the drugs and claim “reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use”. If the manufacturer deems it “GRAS”, or “generally recognized as safe”, it’s apparently good enough for the FDA and they are allowed to put the additive in their food products. Many additives have been identified which have been added to foods without even going through even this unacceptably loose process.

The types of chemicals added to our foods is dizzying:

  • flavors, 
  • flavor enhancers, 
  • colors, 
  • emulsifiers, 
  • artificial sweeteners, 
  • thickeners, 
  • humectants, 
  • stabilizers, 
  • acidity regulators, 
  • preservatives, 
  • antioxidants, 
  • foaming agents, 
  • anti-foaming agents, 
  • bulking agents, 
  • carbonating agents, 
  • gelling agents, 
  • glazing agents, 
  • chelating agents, 
  • bleaching agents, 
  • leavening agents
  • clarifying agents and so on.

90% of a foods flavor can be attributed to its smell so it is no surprise that the synthetic food additive industry grew out of the perfume industry. Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor, enhance its taste, appearance, texture or other qualities. Some natural additives have been used for centuries. An example includes preserving food by pickling (with vinegar) or salting. With the development of processed foods in the second half of the twentieth century, many more additives have been introduced, of both natural and artificial origin. Food additives also include substances that may be introduced to food indirectly (called “indirect additives”) in the manufacturing process, through packaging, or during storage or transport. As mentioned above, there are over 10,000 known, untested yet FDA “approved” chemicals known to be added to our foods and the list grows by at least 100 per year. The European Union has banned many of these chemicals including all artificial food dyes which are linked to ADHD and many other health issues. Our own companies continue to use them because they are cheaper, more addicting and they are allowed to do so by our own government. The three most commonly used food additives are:

  1. MSG. Mono Sodium Glutamate is the synthetically produced form of glutamate, naturally found in kombu, a type of seaweed, and used for thousands of years by the Japanese. The synthetic form is toxic and is added to a lot more than just Chinese Food. “Natural Flavoring” or “Spices” probably means MSG. 
  2. Trans Fats. The CDC estimates that this extremely unhealthy fat is alone responsible for 50,000 fatal heart attacks a year. Not only does it raise bad cholesterol, it lowers good cholesterol. No other food does that! Sadly, the FDA allows companies to label their foods as containing 0% trans fat as long as the amount is less than 0.5mg per serving. They are also allowed to manipulate serving size to take advantage of this loophole. So you could be eating something you think has no trans fat meanwhile in reality , a normal serving might have a lot of trans fat in it.
  3. Artificial Sweeteners. See below for more on this poison.

There are a few different categories of additives.

PESTICIDES and HERBICIDES. There is a lot written on the site about the ill effects these have on our health so I won’t go into too much detail here but, since they are so ubiquitous in all of our foods, they should be considered an additive.

FOOD DYES. These are banned in most of the rest of the world. They are made from petroleum and coal tar. They are linked to a variety of issues including ADHD and have even been shown to be linked to simple temper tantrums. It takes about 50 mg of these chemicals to induce temper tantrums and your standard meal of Kraft Mac N’ Cheese (which had yellow #5 and #6), orange soda and Skittles for desert has well over 100 mg. Some of the dyes still used in the US include:

  1. Red No. 3 (Erythrosine): A cherry-red coloring commonly used in cherries, candy, popsicles and cake-decorating gels. Despite being definitively linked to cancer, it is still used. In 1990, the FDA banned the use of red #3 in topical applications because of this cancer link but still allows it’s use in foods, medicines and supplements. Red #1 was banned in 1961, #2 in 1976 and more recently #4, all because of cancer concerns. The food and drug industries have fought and won more than 23 times to continue to allow is use. It’s a known thyroid disrupter and causes ADHD.
  2. Red No. 40 (Allura Red): A dark red dye that is used in sports drinks, candy, condiments and cereals.
  3. Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine): A lemon-yellow dye that is found in candy, soft drinks, chips, popcorn and cereals.
  4. Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow): An orange-yellow dye that is used in candy, sauces, baked goods and preserved fruits.
  5. Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue): A greenish-blue dye used in ice cream, canned peas, packaged soups, popsicles and icings.
  6. Blue No. 2 (Indigo Carmine): A royal blue dye found in candy, ice cream, cereal and snacks.

CARAMEL COLORING. The most commonly used coloring agent overall. This stuff is poison. There are 4 classes of caramel coloring. A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has 2 different kinds. One dose in the syrup and one in the whipped cream. The one used by Starbucks (class 4) is manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under pressure which creates many known carcinogenic compounds including a particularly nasty one, 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), linked to developing lung cancer and leukemia. This is a link to an article about caramel coloring: Article bout Caramel Coloring

NATURAL and ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS. Before the development of artificial flavors, the more flavorful a food was, the more nutritious it probably was. Now, food “technology” has distorted this relationship. The difference between the terms “natural” and “artificial” is vague and often indistinguishable. In the Environmental Working Group‘s Food Scores database of over 80,000 foods, “natural flavor” is the fourth most common ingredient listed on labels. The only ingredients that outrank it are salt, water and sugar. There is rarely anything “natural” about them. They are all manufactured in labs and consist of chemicals that lead to a specific taste profile. Added flavoring, both natural and artificial, could contain anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients. They often have solvents and preservatives making up 80 to 90% of the volume. Jiffy Blueberry Muffin mix for example lists “artificial blueberries” as one of its ingredients. This consists of Blue #2, Blue #1 and Red #40 dyes along with partially hydrogenated oil (another name for trans fats!). There is nothing even remotely close to actual blueberries in it. Natural smoke, peppermint, vanilla… probably all chemicals.

Late in 2018, the FDA banned the use of 7  artificial flavors from food products. These include: Benzophenone, Ethyl Acrylate, Eugenyl Methyl Ether, Myrcene, Pulegone and Styrene. Why were such chemicals in our foods to begin with? This ban only occurred because they were sued and petitions with over 300,000 signatures were submitted. Although this is a positive thing, the companies have 2 years to comply and they do NOT have to reveal which of their products contain these carcinogenic compounds! So for the next 2 years, you may be unknowingly consuming banded cancer causing chemicals that are banned but the companies get away scot free because of a loophole. Nice. Seven is a good start, we just need to get the other 10,000 chemicals banned as well. Or, you can just not eat processed food. Which do you think is easier?

Why not use actual natural flavors? MONEY! It’s much cheaper to use chemicals. As an example, a pound of vanillin, from vanilla beans costs $1200 whereas industry can create the same flavor for $6 a pound.

An example of how food companies manipulate food is orange juice. The juice is often stored in massive vats filled with nitrogen. Thus removes the oxygen and improves shelf life (for up to a year), but it also removes all the color and flavor. The companies then add in artificial flavors and colors in a specific formula. This also allows for all their juice to look and taste the same. Even OJ labelled as “100% OJ” is treated this way.

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS. There are numerous artificial sweeteners allowed by the FDA. Some of the worst artificial sweeteners are:

  • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, NatraTaste Blue). It’s 200 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Sucralose (Splenda). It’s 600 times sweeter than sugar. It’s 700 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Acesulfame K (ACE K, Sunette, Equal Spoonful, Sweet One, Sweet ‘n Safe). 200 times sweeter.
  • Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin). It’s 500 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Xylitol, Sorbitol

Artificial sweeteners are linked with a number of health problems like ADHD, hyperactivity, diabetes and even some rare cancers. They also have been shown to destroy beneficial bacteria which help with fat metabolism. This actually leads to more weight gain, despite the lack of calories. They are found in many foods, some of which might surprise you. Here is a partial list:

  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Children’s chewable vitamins
  • Cough syrup and liquid medicines
  • Chewing gum
  • No-calorie waters and drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Salad dressings
  • Frozen yogurt and other frozen deserts
  • Baked goods
  • Yogurt
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Processed snack foods
  • “Lite” or diet fruit juices and beverages
  • Prepared meats

EMULSIFIERS. These chemicals stabilize emulsions. They help to keep processed food components mixed together and prevent them from separating. Think of organic vs conventional peanut butter (like Skippy). Organic peanut butter normally contains ONLY peanuts. When you look at it off the shelf, it usually has a layer of oil which separated out from the peanuts. Skippy NEVER separates. Do you think that is healthy? Emulsifiers also help to extend shelf-life.  Emulsifiers include compounds like:

  • Polysorbate 80
  • Carrageenan
  • Lecithin
  • Polyglycerols
  • Xanthan Gum
  • carboxymethylcellulose

Emulsifiers can alter the gut microbiome and break down the mucus layer covering the intestinal wall, making it more vulnerable. This is particularly true of polysorbate 80 which has been shown to increase gut permeability.

PRESERVATIVESFood preservatives are chemicals which help extend the shelf life of food in grocery stores but may have a detrimental effect on your health. Preservatives are a good thing for food manufacturers because products can be made, shipped and stored until purchase without going bad, meaning they don’t lose money from spoiled food. Preservatives are also beneficial to you in that you’re not eating food that has begun to decay. These chemical compounds, however, can have may undesirable side effects in your body.

  • Nitrates and Nitrites. Sodium nitrate and nitrite are food preservatives often used in meat products. They help to prevent oxidation of meats, keeping them red in color and preventing bacterial growth. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that consumption of nitrates may be linked to an increased risk of cancers, such as leukemia, brain tumors and nasopharyngeal tumors. They may also increase risk for diabetes, diarrhea and respiratory tract infections in children. Ingesting a large amount of these preservatives at one time may cause you to experiences abdominal pain, muscle weakness, bloody stools and fainting. You’ll find nitrates and nitrites in bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs, sausage, smoked fish, ham and corned beef.
      • Baked goods
      • Soup mixes
      • Jams
      • Canned vegetables
      • Pickled foods
      • Gravies
      • Dried fruit
      • Potato chips
      • Trail mix
      • Beer and wine, especially white wine.
      • Vegetable juices
      • Sparkling grape juice
      • Apple cider
      • Bottled lemon juice and lime juice (but not fresh squeezed juice)
      • Tea
      • Many condiments
      • Molasses
      • Fresh or frozen shrimp
      • Guacamole
      • Maraschino cherries
      • Dehydrated, pre-cut, or peeled potatoes
  • Sulfites

Sulfites aren’t used on most fresh foods, but they’re still in some cooked and processed ones. And they can also happen naturally in the process of making wine and beer.

If you’re sensitive to them, you need to avoid them. Always check labels on all food packages. When you eat out, ask your chef or server if sulfites are used or added to food before or during preparation.

  • Sodium Benzoate. Also known as benzoic acid, this form of salt preservative is used to prevent bacterial growth in foods. In addition to adding salt to your food affecting arterial function and contributing to heart disease, the Center for Science in the Public Interest notes that people who are sensitive to sodium benzoate may experience hives, asthma or allergic reactions after consuming it. When combined with vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, sodium benzoate may pose a small risk of cancer, including leukemia. According to the World Health Organization, animal studies reveal that high doses of the preservative may cause damage to the heart, spleen, liver, kidneys, brain and adrenal glands. But human studies and studies with lower consumption rates are limited. Although sodium benzoate is the most common, it’s certainly not the only one. Here are a few others
      • sodium acetate
      • sodium ascorbate
      • sodium lactate
      • sodium nitrate
      • sodium nitrite
      • sodium phosphate
      • sodium propionate
      • sodium sulfite
  • Antioxidant Preservatives
  • BHA and BHT. These preservatives are used in cereal plastic wrappers and are in various foods including chewing gum. They are banned in Europe and Japan but are freely used in the US.Calcium Propionate. This is a mold inhibitor commonly used in various breads and baked goods. It’s known to cause and worsen ADHD in rats.TBHQ. This preservative derived from butane causes a variety of physical symptoms, has been linked to ADHD in kids and various cancers in lab animals. It is found various products including Chick Fil’ A chicken sandwiches and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. It also has been shown to worsen allergic reactions by as much as 10x.
  • Citric Acid is a very common colorless and odorless additive. It’s in EVERYTHING from food, to cleaning products to nutritional supplements and even medications. It is a natural preservative and is also used to add an acidic (sour) taste to foods and beverages. It is found naturally in citrus fruits but also occurs naturally in our bodies as part of the Krebs (citric acid) cycle for energy creation. Known for its preservative and taste qualities since the 8th century, it was first isolated in 1784 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele from lemon juice. Industrial scale citric acid production from Italian lemons began in the late 1800’s. World War I interrupted this cycle until American food chemist James Currie discovered a process for making citric acid from mold in 1917. The drug company Pfizer started to produce citric acid from molds on a large scale in 1919. Today, the vast majority of citric acid is manufactured in China from mold, primarily Aspergillus niger, and is almost all genetically modified because producing this additive from citrus fruits is too expensive and the demand far exceeds the supply. The fungal components of the genetically modified citric acid is thought to be toxic in some people and have been strongly linked to citric acid. Migraines in particular are affected by this preservative. Examples of citrus fruits which contain citric acid include: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and tangerines. Other fruits like pineapple, berries, cherries and tomatoes also contain citric acid but in lesser amounts. While not naturally occurring, citric acid is also a byproduct of cheese, wine, and sourdough bread production. Food and beverages use an estimated 70% of manufactured citric acid, pharmaceutical and dietary supplements use 20%, and the remaining 10% goes into cleaning agents. Although in foods, supplements and medicine, it’s used to alter taste and as a preservative, citric acid is also a useful disinfectant against a variety of bacteria and viruses and is used in most cleaning agents.  A test-tube study showed that it may be effective in treating or preventing human norovirus, a leading cause of food-borne illness. It’s also commercially sold as a general disinfectant and cleaning agent for removing soap scum, hard water stains, lime, and rust. If it’s potent enough to be a disinfectant and lime and rust remover, think of what it is doing to the natural microbial population in your gut!
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) is also found in many natural sources like citrus fruits but just like citric acid, manufactured versions are cheaper and easier to use in food. It is used primarily as an antioxidant, which can provide multiple benefits to food products. Slowing the oxidation preserves color and freshness. The low pH of ascorbic acid can help prevent microbial growth, thereby preventing spoilage and preserving freshness. For these reasons, ascorbic acid is a popular natural ingredient preservative. It can be used as a preservative in a vast array of food products including bread, cured meats, jams and jellies, and other sauces and spreads. The majority of synthetic ascorbic acid is produced using fermented corn syrup which is imported from China and may or may not have been genetically modified. The corn syrup is then treated with chemical solvents such as acetone, sulfuric acid or sodium hydroxide to extract the ascorbic acid. The evidence for any human health effects is less clear than with citric acid but anything extracted with chemicals or made artificially can’t be good for you.


Some examples of the difference between products made for the American market and those altered for sale abroad include:

  • McDonald’s French fries. Fries in Europe have 4 ingredients: potatoes, salt, dextrose (sugar) and oil. The salt is also added only after frying so there is better control over how much salt is added, which is more than half of what is found in US French fries. In the US (home country of McDonald’s), French fries have 19 ingredients including emulsifiers, preservatives, flavorings, sugars… In the US, the chemical lubricant dimethylpolysiloxane is added to the oil as an anti-foaming agent. This is a chemical which is used in Silly Putty and is a known carcinogen and it is preserved in formaldehyde (which is what is put into dead bodies at the mortuary!)McDonald’s by the way has a version of its fast food chain in some European countries that has green signs (rather than the traditional yellow and red). Although this is still largely an attempt to improve their image because of extreme pressures from environmental and food safety groups, they are implementing environmental and social initiatives designed to prove they care. Also, they started initiatives to make the change to more sustainably grown ingredients and more eco-friendly production. If they can do that in foreign countries, why not in the United States where they are from?
  • MORE on McDonald’s French Fries. Regardless of where you go in the world, McDonald’s Food is exactly the same. As far as the French fries are concerned, they insist on using the same types of potatoes, the Russet Burbank potato, grown in Idaho. It is an unusually long potato creating the long bouquet of fries in the classic red French fry container. The company also insists that the fries be unblemished (no spots or streaks). The problem is that this type of potato is prone to  a process of decay called net necrosis, caused by the infestation with a particular kind of aphid. This bug is only killed by a particular pesticide called Methamidophos, trade name “Monitor,” which is an organophosphate insecticide. This compound is so toxic that potato farmers refuse to enter their tested fields for 5 days. At that point the potatoes are harvested and then stored in massive football field sized warehouses for 5 weeks to allow the toxic gasses from the chemicals to off-gas since they are too toxic to eat.
  • One last kick in the balls for McDonald’s French Fries: They are NOT vegan. In addition to all the crap added to them, beef flavoring and milk solids are added to enhance the flavor, making them more addictive. I researched many other fast food companies and brands and no other contain animal products.
  • McDonald’s strawberry sundae syrup. In Europe, they use real strawberries. In the US, we use Red #40 dye.
  • Continuing on the McDonald’s bandwagon is the McRib sandwich. Extremely popular, this “frankenfood” contains over 70 ingredients including azodicarbonamide, a flour bleaching agent most commonly used in the manufacture of foamed plastics like yoga mats and shoe soles. It’s been banned in most other places outside the US since it has been linked to asthma (at least).
  • Fanta Orange Soda is colored with pumpkin and carrot extract. In the US, we use Red #40 mixed with Yellow #6.
  • Subway removed a known cancer-causing agent, azodicarbonamide, from its bread. It was used to improve dough stability and maintain bread texture. It is still found in close to 500 food products, from Pillsbury Dinner Rolls to Little Debbie products to Wonder Bread. Subway removed this product “voluntarily” years after it was banned in Europe.
  • Both Japan and the EU have banned over 1400 chemicals from use in foods, clothing and personal care items. The US has only banned ~30! And it was only 11 up untill a few years ago. Our own standards withe regards to evaluating chemicals and additives has not changed significantly since 1915. A small revision was done in 1928 but it was stuck in congress until 2015 when the banned product list doubled from 15 to 30! There is your government looking out for your wellbeing!

Some US foods are outright banned in Europe and other countries outside the US. These include:

  1. Rice KrispiesMost of the cereals in US cereal aisles cannot be sold as they are in other countries because they contain the preservative Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT). Both BHT and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) are banned in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and much of Europe because they are thought to be carcinogenic.
  2. Kraft Mac and Cheese. The artificial colors yellow 5 and yellow 6 are found in tons of foods in the US, from mac and cheese, to crackers, chips, and even drinks. Foods containing these dyes are banned in Norway and Sweden. In the EU, they must be labeled with the phrase: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
  3. US Milk. The EU has banned milk that contains the growth hormone rBGH. Most conventionally raised (non-organic) cows in the US are given this drug. Unless your milk is organic or says “does not contain rBGH” you are drinking milk that would be banned throughout Europe.
  4. Tyson Chicken. The EU has had a long-standing ban on chicken that has been washed in chlorine. Many chicken companies in the US use chlorinated water baths, rinses, and mists as an antimicrobial treatment. Some chickens are “water chilled,” which means they are submerged in a chlorine bath. Others are “air-chilled” which means they could have been misted with chlorine.


Of the more than 10,000 food additives that are put in our foods, only 43% of them are recognized as GRAS, or “Generally Recognized As Safe” by the FDA. How that is determined is not clear since less than 5% have actually been tested for safety! The average American consumes between 3-5 pounds, including children in who these are even more dangerous because of their smaller proportional weight. Many of these additives are banned in Europe and the rest of the world. One in particular still used in the US is Azodicarbonamide, a compound used in yoga mats and made famous by Subway Subs since it was found to be a component of the breads, making them “fluffier”. If you are caught using this compound in Singapore, there is a $450,000 fine and 15 year jail term! 

2 other notorious preservative additives are BHA and BHT, which act as potent antioxidants, preserving foods for longer. Butylated Hydroxy Anisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxy Tolulene are compounds, not only used in lipstick, moisturizers and other cosmetics but they are also used in many processed foods like potato chips, baked goods, cereal, beer and also rubber, petroleum products and wax food packaging. The FDA considers this GRAS but the National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes this as “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen”. Another example of how our own governmental bodies do not communicate and are at odds. 

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a food additive sometimes used to keep citrus flavoring from separating out in sodas, sports drinks and other beverages. It is used as a flame retardant and is known to cause memory loss, nerve damage and skin and mucous membrane irritation. It’s banned as a food additive in Europe but not in the U.S.

Many drugs used in the animal agricultural industry in the US are also banned in Europe. Ractopamine is a feed additive, banned in many countries, to promote leanness in animals raised for their meat. It also increases protein synthesis, increasing muscle mass. As of 2014 the use of ractopamine was banned in 160 countries, including the European Union, China and even Russia while 27 other countries, such as Japan, the United States, South Korea, and New Zealand have deemed meat from livestock fed ractopamine safe for human consumption. It is clearly harmful to animals, causing at least 160,000 deaths annually in pigs. 80% of pigs are fed this chemical. Another example is BVGH, Bovine Growth Hormone, which is still commonly used in the US but banned in the EU since the 1980’s. In fact, imports of beef from the US have been banned in Europe since the 1980’s because of this hormone.




In addition to all the artificial coloring agents added to processed foods, banned in most countries except the US because of known health effects, there are plenty of examples of altering or enhancing the appearance of food. The fresher it “looks”, the more likely you are to buy it. There are also ways of raising animals to alter the appearance of their meat. Here are a few examples.

  1. MEAT. Hemoglobin is the molecule in red blood cells which carries oxygen molecules. When blood is well oxygenated after it passes through the lungs, it is bright red. When the blood passes through tissues, offloading its oxygen, it becomes darker until it passes back through the lungs picking up oxygen. When people suffer carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, their skin looks pink because CO binds more effectively to hemoglobin than oxygen does, giving it a cherry-red color. The meat industry takes advantage of that fact to colorize their food. They lose over $1 billion annually due to the meat turning a bit brown because the oxygen leaves the tissues and this looks unappetizing to the public. It turns out that meat color is the most significant appearance factor which determines whether they buy it or not. With approval from the FDA, food companies take advantage of that by vacuum sealing meat and fish with CO, a process they call “modified atmospheric packaging”. This makes meats, especially ground beef, and fish, especially tuna, look a brighter red color, and thus more vibrant and appealing to consumers. Although the CO is not particularly harmful to humans, it keeps the meat and fish looking fresh for much longer than it should. They regularly keep their “healthy and vibrant” pink color as long as 3 weeks after they are spoiled and one study showed that the color lasts for 2 years!
  2. VEAL. When dairy cows give birth to males, they are almost immediately removed from their mothers and put into the system to produce veal. When consumed, veal is very tender and white. It is made that way not because it is from a very young cow (they are usually killed by 5-6 months old). Their meat is tender because they confine the babys to such cramped cages that they can’t move or contract their muscles. Any muscle contraction makes the meat tougher. What makes the meat white, is partly the lack of movement, but mostly that they make the cows anemic, meaning they induce an artificial drop in red blood cells so there is less hemoglobin to give the meat it’s normal redder/darker color. To achieve this, they are fed a diet exclusively of milk (not their mothers milk) and no products which could potentially increase their red blood cell number which includes anything with iron, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. They are so deficient in iron that they lick even the iron nails making their crates so farmers now keep them confined in plastic crates, put together with plastic nails. Feel bad? Good! Stop eating baby cows.
  3. SALMON. While wild salmon get their color by eating shrimp and krill, farm-raised salmon generally have carotenoids added to their feed, either through natural ingredients like ground-up crustaceans or synthetic forms created in a lab.
  4. SHRIMP. Whether farmed or wild caught, the cheaper the shrimp, the more likely it is to have been treated with chemicals, particularly sodium tripolyphosphate and sodium bisulfite. Sodium bisulfite is used to keep shrimp shells from undergoing melanosis (also called black spot), which is a darkening of the head and shell after the shrimp are harvested and exposed to oxygen. This reaction is harmless. It’s the marine equivalent to the browning of apple flesh after you cut it. The chemical is part of the slushy brine mix used to store the shrimp on most fishing boats before they make it to shore for further processing. It may also be used on farmed shrimp when the processing facility is far from the farm.
  5. ORANGE JUICE. Orange juice is often stored, for up to a year in massive tanks. During that storage, their orange color changes to a brown color as oxidation occurs. The flavor doesn’t change, assuming it is stored properly. The vats are then mixed together to make them consistent from carton to carton. To further enhance color, manufacturers add up to 10% vividly colored mandarin orange juice as well as pigment from orange peels. The peels are where the various pesticide and herbicides are located which adds to the toxicity of juice.
  6. BROWN SUGAR. Although there is a prevailing belief that brown sugar is healthier than regular white table sugar, they are actually the same. The main difference between table sugar and brown sugar is the presence of molasses, which gives brown sugar its distinct color, flavor and moisture. The molasses used to make brown sugar comes from sugar cane, not sugar beets.

    Even fruits and vegetables can be altered to affect their color.
  7. SWEET POTATO. An industrial dye, Rhodamine B, which is not permitted to be added to food the world over except in the US, is sometimes used to get the sweet potato its color.
  8. GREEN VEGETABLES. Vegetables like lady’s finger, spinach, and even other greens can be laced with Malachite Green, which is an organic compound used as a dye. The toxicity of this dye increases with exposure time, temperature, and concentration. It has been reported to cause cancer and other ailments.
  9. WATERMELON. Watermelon could sometimes be adulterated with a compound called Erythrosine, which is a pink dye primarily used for food coloring. Consuming too much of this could cause a health hazard.
  10. GREEN EAS. Green peas could also be enhanced with artificial coloring.

The bottom line: consume the most local and/or organic foods you can. This does not guarantee that they are completely chemical-free, but there will certainly be much less than in conventionally grown or raised foods.




Why particularly Americans? Because in their wisdom, the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration), governmental institutions which are supposed to protect us and look out for our best interests, continue to allow thousands of chemicals to be used in the foods we consume daily that most of the rest of the world has banned because they are harmful. Many foods sold in the United States are banned or fiercely regulated in other countries due to harmful additives, growth promoters, genetically engineered ingredients, herbicides, or other dangerous practices. Companies like General Mills are allowed to produce cereals like Lucky charms loaded with chemicals for their own home US market, but are required to use completely natural components for markets in other countries. Why wouldn’t they produce the same healthier products here in the US? Because it is more expensive and the products become less addictive. Each country has its own standards for what ingredients and food production practices it considers safe. And some of what’s considered normal practice for the food industry in the United States is handled very differently in other countries.

It’s well known that rates of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are high in the U.S. We have one of the highest chronic disease rates of any country, let alone industrialized countries. And the country is also saturated with food allergies and behavioral disorders. In many cases, these conditions and diseases are highly preventable. It turns out that there are a number of ingredients and food additives that other countries have banned, but the U.S. still uses. Plenty of studies have linked many of these chemicals to various diseases and conditions. 

The Problem with FDA Regulation

The FDA states that food companies can market new chemicals and food additives WITHOUT FDA oversight or approval, so long as “the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe… ”. This is known as the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) system. But what makes someone a “qualified expert”, and how are they able to determine which chemicals food companies can add to the food we consume and feed our children? It turns out that these companies often convene their own “expert” panels to decide whether the ingredient will pose harm. These panels are stacked with scientists with financial ties to many industries. This includes former tobacco industry, “experts” who at one time stated that cigarettes were safe! Based on the panel’s recommendations, companies then decide whether or not to share the results of the assessment with the FDA. They don’t even have to do so! 

The vast majority of chemicals on the GRAS list have never had long-term testing on humans, and therefore can’t possibly be guaranteed safe. And some have clearly been shown to be harmful with prolonged exposure. For example, Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) is “generally recognized as safe” despite the fact that the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program concluded that BHA can be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” 

And then there are artificial trans fats, which have historically been on the GRAS list and added to foods like frozen pizza, peanut butter, packaged snack foods, vegetable shortenings, and ready-to-use frostings to improve their flavor, texture, and shelf life. Unfortunately, we later learned that trans fats were causing upwards of 500,000 deaths per year from associated heart disease. In 2015, the FDA finally decided that trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, were unsafe, giving food manufacturers a few years to remove them from the food supply. Since the ban took place, many food companies have replaced trans fats with ingredients like palm oil instead, which has its own set of concerns. In addition, many trans fat substitutes are eventually broken down and converted into trans fats, but these compounds are still allowed. Breakdown products do not need to be listed.

11 Banned Ingredients That Are STILL Widely Used in the U.S.

Below are some of the most commonly used food ingredients and practices that are allowed in the United States, but banned elsewhere.

  1. DOUGH CONDITIONERS. Dough conditioners, such as potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide are chemicals used to improve the strength and texture of bread dough. Dough conditioners are often found in white breads, rolls, and “egg breads.” They contribute to cancer (potassium bromate is classified as a category 2B carcinogen). Exposure to them is also known to cause respiratory issues like asthma. Potassium bromate is banned in China, India, Brazil, the European Union, and Canada. Azodicarbonamide is banned in Australia and Europe.
  2. BROMINATED VEGETABLE OIL (BVO). BVO was originally patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant! Today, BVO can be found in certain colorful sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas as an emulsifier (prevents solids and liquids from separating). Studies have shown that BVO accumulates in human tissue, as well as breast milk, and can cause memory loss over time. Bromine toxicity can lead to skin rashes, appetite loss, and heart problems, as well as major organ damage and birth defects. Bromine competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, which increases risks for iodine deficiency, autoimmune disease, and even certain cancers. BVO was approved by the FDA in 1977 and is still allowed to this day despite many other countries having banned it.
  3. PROPYLPARABEN. In the US, propylparaben is used as a preservative in tortillas, muffins, trail mix, pies, sausage rolls, and more. It is an endocrine-disrupting chemical linked to various hormone related cancers like breast and prostate cancer. It also contributes to obesity. In our food, it is GRAS by the FDA despite the proven health concerns. Propylparaben is totally legal in the U.S., but in 2006 the EU banned its use in food. In 2015, the EU went further, banning propylparaben from cosmetic products.
  4. BHA and BHT. These are popular man-made antioxidants used in dry mixes, cereals, and dehydrated potato products to preserve them and increase shelf life. They’re also found in product packaging and cosmetics. These are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors banned for use in food and beverages by the United Kingdom, EU, Japan, and other countries. But not here in the US.
  5. SYNTHETIC FOOD DYES. Food dyes, such as blue 2, yellow 5, and red 40, are used to enhance the coloring of certain foods and ingredients to make them more appealing to consumers. Some foods that contain food dyes include beverages (like juices, sports drinks, and sodas), candy, and glazes used in baked goods and sweets. They’re even used to make mustard more yellow, salmon more pink, jarred pickles the perfect shade of yellow-green and maraschino cherries brighter red!

    Research has linked consumption of synthetic dyes to an increased risk for numerous conditions, like tumors and hyperactivity in children. What’s even more infuriating is that the U.S. used to use natural food dyes until the mid-19th century. But then, food manufacturers realized it was much cheaper to use chemicals, which turned food even brighter colors.

    Synthetic food dyes are banned in Europe and Australia, where more natural coloring compounds are used. Another example of US food dye use is the soda Fanta which, in most of the world, contains actual fruit juice and is dyed naturally. But Americans enjoy Fanta colored with petroleum-derived artificial dyes like red 40 and yellow 6.
  6. GMOs. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been around since the 1980s. While they’re widespread in the U.S., with most U.S. soy, sugar beets, corn, canola, cotton, and alfalfa being GMO crops, many European countries have banned or regulated them due to public safety concerns. All EU countries have mandatory labeling of food if they contain GMOs.

    One common genetic manipulation involves altering DNA in certain crops to make them resistant to herbicides. One of the most common herbicides used in conjunction with these GMOs is glyphosate, the primary active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup. Glyphosate consumption is linked to cancer. Bayer, the manufacturer of Roundup, is currently fighting cancer lawsuits that involve over 13,000 people. As of June 2019, there were bans or major restrictions on use of glyphosate in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. In fact, Canadians often cross the border into the US to shop at Home Depot or Lowes, which promote and sell Roundup like it is spring water! Roundup is also sprayed on crops like wheat just before harvest to dry them out, making them easier to harvest. It is also sprayed on freshly picked oranges to “preserve freshness” since most oranges travel great distances over many days to reach your grocery store.
  7. ROXARSONE. The arsenic-based drug roxarsone, was routinely used in chicken in the U.S. until July 2011, when Pfizer decided to stop selling it. However, there is no actual ban on the use of arsenic in the raising of chickens for food. Roxarsone was used to increase the pink coloring of raw chicken meat, to speed the growth of the birds before slaughter, and to prevent parasites in the chicken’s stomach. Arsenic exposure leads to anemia, skin lesions and kidney damage. It also increases the risk for certain cancers, causes miscarriages, and results in birth defects. The European Union banned the use of arsenic-based drugs, while many chicken products in the U.S. still contain it.
  8. RACTOPAMINE. In the U.S., ractopamine is a muscle enhancer for pigs, cows, and turkeys. And, like other harmful substances used during the raising of animals, it doesn’t just go away when the animal is slaughtered. Some of it is still left in the meat you buy. Ractopamine is banned in 122 countries including Russia, mainland China, Taiwan, and many countries across Europe. This is because it’s been linked to reproductive and cardiovascular damage in humans, as well as chromosomal and behavioral changes. The EU in fact has had a ban on  imports of meat from these animals from the US and Canada for decades because of contamination from this, along with other banned hormone compounds.
  9. HERBICIDES, PESTICIDES and FUNGICIDES. The chemicals are widely used on crops in the U.S. food system to keep them free of bugs and diseases. Meanwhile, other countries see (and act on) the danger they pose to humans. Of the 374 active ingredients authorized for agricultural use in the U.S. in 2016, the European Union banned 72 of them. These compounds are also used as dessicants (drying agents) to make harvesting them easier and are sprayed after harvest to prevent microbes from making them rot during storage and transport.
  10. OLESTRA. Olestra, or Olean, is a cholesterol-free fat substitute created by Procter & Gamble. The FDA approved it for use in foods in the 1990’s and it’s still used in certain brands of potato chips and french fries. It can cause digestive reactions, like diarrhea and leaky bowels. Consuming a lot of it can also lead to deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, as well as carotenoids. Both Canada and the United Kingdom have banned the ingredient.
  11. SYNTHETIC HORMONES. Synthetic hormones, such as rBGH and rBST, are widely used in the U.S. dairy industry. The primary reason for this is to increase milk production in dairy cows. However, rBGH increases Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) levels in humans, increasing the risk of developing cancer and promoting its growth and spread. Additionally, cows treated with rBGH are more likely to develop mastitis, an udder infection, requiring treatment with antibiotics. Canada, the EU, and other countries have banned these compounds. Their continued approved use is the main reason the EU has banned meat and dairy imports from the US since the 1980’s.

While we can’t immediately control what food companies put in their products, we don’t have to eat them. And there are steps you can take to make healthier, safer food choices, wherever you live. Here are some things you can do to make sure the food you eat is as safe as possible:

  • Read all food labels carefully. Get familiar with these banned ingredients and their alternative names (see chart below), and look for them on packaged foods.
  • Eat minimally processed or, even better, whole, organic foods as much as possible. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains won’t have the long list of ingredients that packaged and processed foods often do.
  • Cook at home as much as you can. This way, you have more control over the food you’re eating. You know exactly what ingredients are being used, and can decide to eat foods that best align with your values as much as possible.
  • Avoid or eliminate GMOs and the products of factory farms.
  • Sign petitions. This is a great way to get involved in public policy, and you don’t even have to leave your house. One of my favorite places to find and sign petitions is the Center for Food Safety website.




In 2018, one of the best selling blood pressure drugs Diovan (valsartan) was found to be contaminated with the carcinogenic organic compound N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). About 20 million people worldwide were prescribed this contaminated version of the drug. Although the risks of cancer are 1:5000 for people taking this drug for more than 3 years, it is still not a pleasant thought. In 2020, NDMA was found in the popular diabetes drug Glucophage (metformin). NDMA was also found in Zantac (ranitidine), one of the most prescribed drugs on the planet, which is also available without a prescription. One single table raises levels of NDMA in the blood by 100x. Zantac was eventually pulled off the market since levels regularly were found to exceed the “acceptable” daily maximum intake of 90 ng/day.

The irony is that those levels are similar to the levels found in some grilled or smoked meats. NDMA is a byproduct of pesticide manufacturing, leather tanning and tire plants, amongst other sources. It is found in many foods including processed meats and beer. This carcinogen is highly toxic, especially to the developing brain in fetuses. Hot dog consumption during pregnancy, for example, increases pediatric brain tumor risk by 33%. Regular sausage consumption during pregnancy results in a 40% increased risk of childhood brain tumors and bacon, by as much as 70%. NDMA was also found in poultry, with 1 serving often having more than 100 ng/day, even exceeding what the FDA felt was the maximum (90 ng/day). It’s the cooking process which generates the NDMA, which is even measurable at significant levels in the grilling smoke. It is also found in tobacco smoke.

A billion dollar, best selling drug is pulled from the market because it may have levels of NDMA that exceed the FDAs limits, but chicken, which has even more NDMA with 1 serving (and most people eat way more than 1) is not even considered?


3 MCPH – Another reason to avoid Processed Foods

In 1978, chemical compounds known as chlorohydrins were discovered in protein hydrolysates, products which consist of proteins broken down into their individual amino acids by a process called hydrolysis. An example of a hydrolysate is glutamate, a free amino acid, which makes up monosodium glutamate, or MSG. These products have taste enhancing qualities. This is how they make cheap soy sauce and seasonings like Braggs Liquid Aminos, both hydrolysates. 

The process of hydrolysis requires high heat, high pressure and hydrochloric acid to break apart the protein. The problem is that any residual fat exposed to this process gets converted into the toxic compounds known as chlorohydrins. 3 MCPD (3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol or 3-chloropropane-1,2-diol) is a type of chlorohydrin. These compounds were investigated in animals for their potential use as contraceptives but they were found to cause kidney damage as well as neurological damage. No actual human studies have been done however. So how do you determine if it is safe in humans and what a safe amount to consume may be? You hedge.

You take the lowest observed level from animal studies shown to cause harm, then add a “fudge factor”. Europe has a regulatory limit of 30 ppb of 3 MCPD but in the US, rules are much more lax allowing a level 50x higher at 1000 ppb, although this is also product dependent.

In one study, 100% of people tested positive for levels of 3 MCPD excreted in their urine, even in those who did not consume a lot of soy sauce or liquid aminos. It is a widespread food contaminant.

The chemical is also a byproduct of a reaction which occurs when vegetable oils are processed, refined, deodorized or bleached. 

They have been detected in all processed foods which contain any refined oils or fats. Examples include potato chips, baked goods, salad dressing and even infant formula.

The USDA  levels allowed for the these compounds in some products are:

  • Soy Sauce – 1000 ppb
  • Doughnuts – 1200 ppb
  • Salami – 1500 ppb
  • Ham – 3000 ppb
  • French Fries – 6000 ppb – only 5 fries exceed the daily upper limit!

Palm oil is the most commonly used oil in the world today. It is packed with unhealthy saturated fat but also is contaminated with large amounts of 3 MCPD.

The highest levels of these compounds were found in Palm oil and the lowest in canola. Refined oils have 32x more 3MCPD than unrefined oils. Virgin oils are by definition unrefined since they are not processed in any way, other than being squeezed. However, there is a lot of fraud because of how popular EVOO is. In one test, of the 88 samples of Extra Virgin Olive Oil tested off the shelves, only 33 (37%) were authentic and clean. Of the top selling imported brands tested? 73% failed! And not a single brand had more than half their samples pass the test.




Acrylamide doesn’t sound like something edible. But nevertheless, the compound is in many of the most popular foods, especially baked goods, fried and roasted potatoes, and even coffee. Some evidence suggests that acrylamide can trigger cancer growth, at least in rodents. But is there a cancer risk to humans? And should we try to completely eliminate acrylamide from our diets, or are there ways to cut back on exposure that reduce any potential health effects?

Few foods generate as much controversy as the humble potato. Since its domestication around eight millennia ago in the Andean highlands of what is now Peru, this calorie-rich tuber has played a part in some of the most significant currents of human history. Its introduction to Europe in the 16th century helped save millions from recurrent famines that had plagued the northern part of that continent. It’s also said to have fueled European expansion, domination, and colonization around the globe.

These days, potato skirmishes mostly revolve around nutritional issues. Keto enthusiasts warn against its high carbohydrate content, while starch-loving vegans celebrate that same quality.

But one of the latest potato controversies relates to what happens when you cook potatoes at high, dry temperatures, typically in oil, and form the brown, crispy, crunchy texture that has made foods like chips and french fries some of the world’s most craved foods. While unquestionably adding to the potato’s mouth appeal, the chemical reaction behind this phenomenon produces a compound that may be carcinogenic: acrylamide.

But potatoes aren’t the only food where this chemical reaction may occur. Acrylamide forms in many other foods, including coffee, toast, and even prunes. Unsurprisingly, our principal dietary source of acrylamide is fast and processed foods, particularly those made from potatoes.

That’s unfortunate, given that for some people, potatoes are one of the only vegetables that routinely passes through their lips. The most commonly consumed vegetables in the US are potatoes, in the form of French Fries, and tomatoes, in the form of catsup!

But can we still have our tubers, or is the amount of acrylamide in them a serious source of danger? And what about other acrylamide-containing foods? Should we avoid coffee, prunes, and toast, or is the threat from this scary-sounding compound overblown?

In this article, we’ll explore the truth about acrylamide: if it really does cause cancer in humans, what foods contain it, and whether it’s something you actually need to worry about.

What Is Acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a chemical compound that forms at very high temperatures, usually as a result of a manufacturing process. Most of the acrylamide in our environment originates in manufacturing and water treatment, but it’s also present in cigarette smoke and some foods.

Your personal exposure to acrylamide is probably limited to secondhand smoke and the food you eat, unless you encounter it as an occupational hazard.

In food, acrylamide forms via a process called the Maillard reaction, where sugars react with proteins under dry high heat. This creates a browning effect that most people find appealing in flavor, smell, color, and texture. Acrylamide is just one of many compounds formed from the Maillard reaction, but it’s the one implicated in potentially damaging your health.

What Foods Are High in Acrylamide?

As we’ve seen, any food cooked at high, especially dry heat, containing carbohydrates and protein can form acrylamide. Cooking at 170°C (338°F) or higher is where acrylamides form. And the higher the temperature, the more acrylamide forms. Frying heats up food the most intensely, followed by air-frying, roasting, and lastly, baking. Steaming and boiling are fine since temperature doesn’t get that hot and the moisture helps limit acrylamide formation.

The major dietary sources of acrylamide include fast and processed foods, thanks to the high heat used in processing and frying them. Here’s a short list of the foods highest in acrylamide, with the amounts given in micrograms per kilogram (μg/kg), the equivalent of parts per billion (ppb):

  • Potato chips – 211–3515 μg/kg
  • French fries – 779–1299 μg/kg
  • Coffee beans – 135–1139 μg/kg
  • Coffee, brewed – 5.30–79.5 μg/kg
  • Prunes – 58–332 μg/kg
  • Prune juice – 186–916 μg/kg
  • Breakfast cereals <20–639 μg/kg
  • Toast – 31–454 μg/kg
  • Crackers – 205 µg/kg
  • Cookies – 115 µg/kg

Perhaps most puzzling is the high acrylamide concentration in prunes but the Maillard reaction isn’t the only pathway to acrylamide formation. In the case of prunes, the presence of sugars and the relatively high concentration of the amino acid asparagine is also an acrylamide recipe.

Asparagine appears to be a key contributor to acrylamide formation when it appears in a high-carbohydrate food, as it’s found in significant amounts in potatoes, as well as in whole grains, used to make toast and crackers, and some other foods that are high in acrylamide.

Does Acrylamide Cause Cancer?

We can measure acrylamide in parts per billion in many, if not most foods. Is acrylamide in food something to be concerned about? The answer is a bit confusing. Acrylamide is a “probable carcinogen” according to several authoritative sources, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). But these evaluations of carcinogenicity refer to the acrylamide from manufacturing, not the kind that occurs due to the Maillard reaction and other chemical reactions in food. And it’s unclear how transferable those evaluations are to food-based acrylamide.

Rat trials have shown that acrylamide exposure does increase their risk for several types of cancer. But that finding comes with two disclaimers.

First, the doses of acrylamide used in these studies are typically 1,000–100,000x higher than the usual amounts, on a weight basis, that humans get through dietary sources. The notion that something harmful at high doses is also harmful at lower ones (what scientists call “high-dose to low-dose interpolation”) basically just amounts to a guess. 

Second, nobody knows how animal cancer findings will translate into humans. A 2005 article in the prestigious scientific journal Nature makes the case that it’s foolish to extrapolate carcinogenicity from rodents to humans, for a number of reasons. Lots of things appear to cause cancer in rats and mice but don’t do the same in the human body, and vice versa. In fact, about half of the chemicals known to cause cancer in rats don’t even do so in mice, and they’re a lot more similar to each other than they are to us.

Human Studies on Dietary Acrylamide and Cancer

To be fair, there’s some evidence to suggest that acrylamide might be problematic for humans. Our bodies convert acrylamide into a compound called glycidamide, which is known to cause mutations and even DNA damage in humans. But studies have discerned differences in how rats and humans metabolize acrylamide into glycidamide, with humans experiencing a 2-4x decreased exposure to the latter.

To date, human studies have not revealed consistent evidence linking dietary acrylamide with cancer. Several studies report no significant association between acrylamide intake and pancreatic, prostate, breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer. Other studies have found possible links with malignant melanoma, multiple myeloma, follicular lymphoma, esophageal cancer, and breast cancer.

A 2018 study of almost 50,000 Japanese women similarly could find no link between dietary acrylamide and endometrial or ovarian cancer. Meanwhile, a similar 2020 study that followed over 85,000 Japanese men for around 15 years found no association between acrylamide and lung cancer. And researchers in 2022 conducted a meta-analysis that showed no association for a host of non-gynecological cancers in a variety of studies.

Acrylamide and Coffee

In 2018, a California judge ruled that coffee companies must include a cancer warning label on their products, due to the acrylamide that forms during the coffee roasting process. This decision was based on a California law called Proposition 65 which requires businesses to provide a “clear and reasonable” warning before exposing consumers to chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Acrylamide is on this list of Prop 65 chemicals, even though this is based on industrial exposure, not dietary.

In 2019, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ruled that chemicals in coffee created during roasting and brewing do not pose a significant risk of cancer, and the requirement for warning labels was lifted.

This “coffee-acrylamide apparent paradox,” as a 2020 research paper termed it, can serve as a cautionary tale of the danger of looking at compounds in isolation rather than factoring in the complex mixture of biological, dietary, and environmental factors that are always at play.

It seems that roasted coffee, which contains acrylamide, is actually associated with a reduced risk of multiple types of cancer.

How Much Acrylamide Is Safe to Consume? We don’t really know. Levels of acrylamide in water are regulated, as is environmental exposure, but dietary acrylamide levels mostly are not, with a couple of exceptions.

California’s Prop 65 has established the Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) to be 140 µg/day. The EU has created a much stricter benchmark for safe levels of acrylamide in food (at least related to the growth of tumors) at 0.17 µg/day per kilogram of body weight. Doing the math, a person weighing 154 lbs (70 kg) could safely consume 26 µg of acrylamide each day. To put these numbers in perspective, you’d consume around 150 µg of acrylamide in one large order of McDonald’s fries, or 27 µg in a bowl of processed breakfast cereal, so both would be considered above the safe threshold.

Indexed to that average body weight of 154 lbs (70 kg), data from various European, American, and Asian countries show that the daily intake of acrylamide is estimated to range from 14–70 µg/day for adults.

EU health officials have concluded that current levels of dietary exposure are not a health concern for adults, but may be problematic for toddlers and children. And given that acrylamide is in our water and environment, in addition to many of our favorite foods, it’s likely impossible to completely avoid it. In fact, CDC scientists have found measurable levels of acrylamide in the blood of 99.9% of the US population.

How to Reduce Acrylamide Exposure

Even though we don’t know for sure whether acrylamide in food contributes to cancer in humans, and if so, to what extent, it may still be prudent to exercise caution. For one thing, many of the foods high in dietary acrylamide are processed and fast foods, which can compromise your health for reasons that have nothing to do with acrylamide. The less junk processed food you eat, the better. 

And there are other simple things you can do to lower your acrylamide exposure from foods like potatoes, bread, and other carbohydrates.

Since acrylamide forms when these foods are cooked above 338°C, you can reduce your risk by cooking foods below that temperature. Even 350°F will generate less acrylamide than cooking at 450°F. Boiling and steaming occur at 212°F maximum, the boiling point of water, and a bit higher if you’re using a pressure cooker. Microwaving rarely heats food above 212°F, since it works by bombarding water molecules in food with energy to cook the food that contains them. But there’s evidence that despite the low-temperature cooking done in microwaves, this method can still produce large amounts of acrylamide, especially when on high-power modes.

If you will be cooking your potatoes in ways that trigger the Maillard reaction, especially frying, air-frying, or roasting, cut the raw potatoes into their final shape (cubes, wedges, rounds, or sticks) and then soak them in water for 15–30 minutes before cooking. This reduces their starch content. You’ll notice that the soaking water becomes cloudy from the starch. Less starch, essentially sugar, helps reduce acrylamide formation during subsequent cooking.

Another way to decrease acrylamide formation in potatoes is to store them in a cool, dark place like a cellar or cupboard, that is warmer than your refrigerator. At fridge temperatures, the starch in potatoes gets converted to sugar, which turbocharges the Maillard reaction when cooked.

If you’re a fan of toast, choose fermented (sourdough) or sprouted bread, which produces less acrylamide; and set your toaster to lightly brown your bread instead of turning it into something resembling charcoal.

Although coffee forms acrylamide during the roasting process, luckily most of it dissipates when brewing, depending on the process used. 




In 2009 it was estimated that there were 29 million pounds of antibiotics used in America in animals and humans. 24 million of those pounds (83%) were used in livestock to 1) treat but mostly prevent infections because of sick, immuno-suppressed animals living in overcrowded conditions, but more importantly 2) to promote growth. Antibiotics promote growth in animals and they do the same in humans by screwing up our microbiome. 10 years later, in 2019, that number grew to 56 million. In the US alone, we put 38 million lbs into animals as injected/implanted drugs or mostly, as a supplement added into the animal feed. We consume those antibiotics. About 8 million lbs., only 13%, are taken by humans as prescriptions for infections. However, 300 million lbs. are sprayed on our crops and on our lawns annually in the US alone as the weed killer Roundup. Its active ingredient is glyphosate, which is actually patented as an antibiotic and an antifungal, is water based. As a result, it’s in the air we breathe, the rainwater, the groundwater, is contaminated with glyphosate.

These antibiotics DO make their way into our meat. Studies show that that meat in US supermarkets have 4x the amount of antibiotics in them than in meat from Denmark.

Although the medical system overusing and inappropriately using antibiotics is contributing to the problem, the main cause of antibiotic resistance in humans is the overuse in the industrial and animal and agricultural industry. Antibiotic resistance contributes to over 700,000 deaths worldwide. In 2050, experts predict that more people will die from antibiotic resistance than cancer. Today, the World Health Organization states that a pandemic from an antibiotic resistant super-bug is the largest threat to humanity, not global warming. The cost of antibiotic resistance between 2020 and 2050 is estimated to be $124 trillion dollars, more than the entire global economy. In the US alone, the public health costs are $2 billion dollars a year.

How does resistance happen? In a nutshell, when a bug is exposed to antibiotics, bugs may mutate and develop resistance to that antibiotic. If enough of these resistant bacteria build up, it can lead to an infection. The more bugs are exposed to antibiotics, the greater the potential for a resistant form to develop. Resistance to the first antibiotic ever, penicillin, developed only within the first few years of its discovery, primarily because of how rampantly it was used during the World War. It saved a lot of lives, but it also led to super-bugs being formed.

Why is resistance so common now?

  1. Overuse and inappropriate use in the medical field. The AMA estimates that 70% of the prescribed courses of antibiotics in the US are done so inappropriately and/or unnecessarily. Although a significant issue, it however is just a minor contributor.
  2. Farmworkers are constantly exposed to these antibiotics by handling the feed, the animals and their manure. Approximately 30% of animal workers are colonized (the bug is constantly on their skin or in their noses) with MRSA, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, the “flesh eating bacteria”.
  3. The superbugs can be spread to the crops and groundwater through contaminated feed and manure as well. This groundwater makes it to the drinking water so you are drinking superbugs, not to mention the antibiotics the animals excrete.
  4. The manure and urine slurry, containing both the antibiotics and the resistant bugs, are spread onto the sil, killing the native soil microbiota. Just to understand, a tablespoon of healthy soil has more microbes than all the microbes we contain in our gut, trillions!. These all die as a result of the chemicals and medications we douse the soil with.
  5. Drug resistant bacteria can also spread throughout communities by the wind. In one study of communities around a Pennsylvania farm, had a 40% rate of MRSA infection.

Why does the FDA allow the food industry to do this? In 2013, they announced that they wanted drug companies to change the way veterinary antibiotics are sold and labelled. They asked drug companies to remove any indication for weight gain or growth promotion. The antibiotics were only to be prescribed with a veterinarians approval. In theory, the antibiotics would no longer be prescribed for prevention or growth promotion. But here is the catch! The recommendations were completely voluntary! The advice was ignored, not surprising given the fact that the former deputy commissioner for the FDA from 2010-2016, Mike Taylor was the former vice-president of public policy for Monsanto, the company principally responsible for poisoning us for the last 50 years!

There is no question that “modern” medicine is no longer health care, but sick care. We need to focus on preventing and reversing disease by promoting healthful lifestyle changes rather than just prescribing a pill for a symptom or condition. Most important among these health promoting lifestyle changes is improving our diet by limiting or eliminating consumption of animals or animal products as well as processed foods and focus on eating more plants. In addition the horrifically unhealthy way our agrochemical and factory farm systems function need to be changed.




The first recorded use of insecticides is about 4500 years ago by Sumerians who used sulphur compounds to control insects and mites. About 3200 years ago the Chinese were using mercury and arsenical compounds for controlling body lice. Writings from ancient Greece and Rome show that religion, folk magic and the use of plant, mineral or animal-derived compounds, “natural chemicals”, were tried for the control of plant diseases, weeds, insects and animal pests. For example, smokes are recorded as being used against mildew and blights. The principle was to burn some material such as straw, chaff, hedge clippings, crabs, fish, dung, ox or other animal horn to windward so that the smoke, preferably malodorous, would spread throughout the orchard, crop or vineyard. It was generally held that such smoke would dispel the blight or mildew. Smokes were also used against insects, as were various plant extracts such as bitter lupin or wild cucumber. Tar was also used on tree trunks to trap crawling insects. Weeds were controlled mainly by hand weeding but various “chemical” methods are also described such as the use of salt or sea water. Pyrethrum, which is derived from the dried flowers of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium, “Pyrethrum daisies”, has been used as an insecticide for over 2000 years. Persians used the powder to protect stored grain and later, Crusaders brought information back to Europe that dried round daisies controlled head lice. Many inorganic chemicals have been used since ancient times as pesticides, indeed Bordeaux Mixture, based on copper sulfate and lime, is still used against various fungal diseases.

And then there is what goes on today. A chemical horror show.

Modern chemicals should all be called BIOCIDES, since they kill life at many levels, not just their specific targets. In the 1950’s, farmers lost about 1/3rd of their crops each year due to a variety of causes including pests and weeds. Today, despite the use of over 2,100 varieties of chemicals available, at a cost exceeding $4 billion a year, farmers still lose 1/3rd of their crops! It is a myth that these chemicals have resulted in better yields. The opposite has occurred. The fact is that 70% of the worlds population is still fed by small, peasant farmers. We don’t need chemicals or GMOs. We have used pesticides and weed killers to the point where some of them are now measurable in the air from evaporation, rainwater, human urine and breast milk and 70% of municipal water supplies. Some food product studies have revealed 100% or near 100% contamination with various pesticides known to cause various diseases. A recent study of California wines revealed that 100% were contaminated with glyphosate (the chemical in Roundup). This included organic wines although levels were significantly lower than conventionally produced wines. Glyphosate, the ingredient in Roundup, is the most ubiquitous chemical on the planet. The World Health Organization has categorized glyphosate as category 2A, meaning that it is a probably human carcinogen. However, the most toxic pesticides, and also the most frequently detected in food, are organophosphate insecticides, nerve agents such as Chlorpyrifos, essentially a much weaker form of the infamous Novichok nerve agent used in the botched assassination attempt of a Russian spy. These are widely used in India, China and the US, rapidly killing many bees and insects. They also harm fish and other larger animals, particularly marine mammals such as dolphins and seals.

Humans are also affected: there are an estimated 10,000 deaths per year in sprayers and their families. In low levels, organophosphate insecticides may affect children’s brain development and be the cause of over twenty mysterious deaths of Western tourists staying in cheap hotels in Thailand from 2011 to 2015.One in seven farm workers in the US are poisoned by chemicals used on the farms leading to an estimated 1000 deaths annually.

This is a short list of some of the conditions caused by these chemicals:

  • ADHD and Autism
  • Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
  • Cancer (various blood and solid types)
  • Celiac disease and gluten intolerance
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease and Respiratory illnesses
  • Inflammatory Bowl Diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy problems (infertility, miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects)
  • Obesity and Hypothyroidism
  • Reproductive problems

The US is the most egregious user of chemicals worldwide. In fact, US farmers are still allowed to us more than 72 chemicals banned in the EU as well as many other parts of the world. One such chemical is Paraquat. This chemical is banned every else in the world. In addition to the chronic conditions it is associated with, it causes more than 110 deaths by poisoning annually.

The Environmental Working Group, a watchdog organization which investigates chemicals in, not only foods, but all commercial products, has an annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists of the most chemically laden and the safest foods to eat. Strawberries are always on the top of the list of must-buy-organically foods. One reason is MoCap. This is a commercially available insecticide and nematocide. It’s active ingredient is Ethoprop (O-Ethyl S, S-Dipropyl Phosphorodithioate). Although classified as a “restricted use” compound, you can easily buy it at home improvement stores and order it on Amazon in the US. Allowable amounts identified on strawberries sold commercially is 5ppm in Canada but 40ppm, 8x more, in the US. Mexico, a large strawberry importer, allows 100ppm. That is why strawberries are always one of the top produce items in the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” plants to only buy organically.

Here is a more detailed list also explaining the direct effect of glyphosate along with the history of the use of chemicals and soil depletion: History of Chemicals, Soil depletion and Disease Risk.

Even foods grown organically can have glyphosate contamination because of how much is in the rain that falls on these crops. It is more important than ever to try to buy products that are as clean as possible. Although some conventionally grown crops have only small amounts of these chemicals on them and a lot of it can be washed away, some still gets into your body. They do not clear so easily and slowly build up. These chemicals have been proven to be carcinogens (cancer causing) and contribute to many diseases but despite that our own USDA continues to allow their use. These chemicals have also been found to cause neurological damage especially in infants and young children. Most European countries banned them many years ago. Our own government condones poisoning its own citizens for the sake of profit (for more on that, see the section on Industry Influence at the bottom of the page).

Foods with highest glyphosate concentration are under the acronym “OWL”:

  • oats,
  • wheat,
  • lentils.

GMO and PET FOOD. We feed our pets the same garbage we often feed ourselves. Even more! Much of the pet food is basically soy, corn or wheat or products fed those grains. Pet foods have even a greater impact on pets than on humans. Of all domesticated animals, the highest concentration of glyphosate, the ingredient in Roundup, used extensively in GMO and Non-GMO alike, was found in the urine of dogs who had 50x the concentration of glyphosate as humans eating a conventional, non-organic diet. Dogs have the highest cancer rate of all domesticated pets. One veterinarian’s experience is that 70% of the pets with a number of different chronic issues improved or had resolution of symptoms by simply switching to a non-GMO, organic diet.

For more information on pets and contaminated pet food, click here.

DDT. This is one of the most controversial chemical compounds in recent history. Originally developed as an effective insecticide, its potent toxicity is unfortunately not limited to insects. Banned by many countries including the United States, DDT is nonetheless still used both legally and illegally in some places.

What Is DDT? Also known as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, DDT belongs to a class of pesticides known as organochlorides. It’s a solid, colorless, crystalline, synthetic chemical compound that can’t be dissolved in water. It is however easily dissolved in organic solvents, fats or oils. Because it is fat soluble, DDT can build up in the fatty tissues of animals that are exposed to it. This accumulated build-up is known as bioaccumulation. The EPA describes DDT as a “persistent, bio-accumulative toxin”. Because of this bioaccumulation, DDT remains in the food chain, moving from small animals like crayfish, frogs, and fish into the bodies of animals that eat them. As larger animals eat smaller animals, the DDT builds up. Therefore, DDT levels are often highest in the bodies of animals near the top of the food chain, notably in predatory birds like eagles, hawks, pelicans, condors and other meat-eating birds. It also accumulates in larger mammals like beef and pork partly because they are fed or consume contaminated grains and other feed “meal”, often made from the carcasses of other animals including seafood. Humans are at the top of the food chain in mammals and thus also accumulate the DDT they eat mostly from the animal products we consume. In fact, because DDT it is so fat-soluble, the only way humans can rid themselves of this toxin is through breast milk. This is why today, even almost 50 years after it was banned in the US, everyone, including newborn babies, has DDT in their bodies! It gets passed along when mothers breastfeed their children.

DDT has serious health effects on humans. According to the EPA, DDT can cause liver damage including liver cancer, nervous system damage, congenital disabilities and other reproductive harm.

For more information about DDT, click here. THE HISTORY OF DDT

The modern chemicals used as herbicides and pesticides had their origins as toxic agents produced to kill the enemy during wartime. Physogene, a substrate for many of today’s herbicides and pesticides, was originally developed for use in chemical warfare and was the gas responsible for the majority of deaths due to poison gas in World War 1. Zyklon-B, another modern pesticide, was used by the Nazis to produce cyanide gas which killed millions in the Holocaust gas chambers of Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps.

Melathione and parathione are pesticides which are incredibly toxic. In fact parathione is so lethal that a chemist who inadvertently swallowed an infinitesimal dose equivalent to 0.004 of an oz, died from instantaneous paralysis before he could give himself the antidote.

The pesticide dieldrin, one of the most potent carcinogens ever known, is 5x more poisonous than the more well known DDT when swallowed but 40x more potent when absorbed by the skin. By the time it was banned in 1974, the FDA found it in 96% of all meat, fish and poultry in the US as well as 85% of all dairy products. Sadly, it was also found in 99.5% of all Americans that were tested.

PARAQUAT. This is one of the most widely used herbicides in the US. I highlight it because at 30 countries, including even China, have banned its use. The US has not and is the largest user of this horrible chemical. It’s use increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease by 110x! Not only has the US not banned this toxic substance, its use had doubled in the last 10 years.

Because of how fat concentrates chemicals, meat contains at least 14x more pesticides than even conventionally, non-organically grown plant foods and dairy contains 5x as much.

The USDA tests only 1 out of every 250 million slaughtered animals for toxic residues and it only tests for 10% of the known toxins known to contaminate the country’s meat supply.

Although we usually link pesticide use with food, the most contaminated crop worldwide is actually cotton which accounts for 25% of worldwide pesticide use. In addition to getting rid of the formaldehyde sprayed onto clothing and bedding to keep moths away during transport, the pesticides are another reason you should always wash your clothing when you first buy it before wearing it. If you think that those chemicals don’t penetrate through the skin, think twice. Organically grown cotton also uses 90% less water to cultivate. Another reason to go organic.

Keep in mind that although chemicals are mostly on the surface of fruits and vegetables, some are actually designed to penetrate through the skin to reach the flesh inside. Some are actually injected into the root system of plants (like strawberries and potatoes) so it is definitely getting into the flesh and can’t be washed or peeled away. Washing helps, especially if you use a baking soda and water soak first, but avoiding them altogether, especially the “Dirty Dozen” listed below is still quite important.

1. Strawberries – a single sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides.
2. Apples – up to 50 different chemical residues have been identified on conventional apples.
3. Nectarines.
4. Peaches.
5. Celery.
6. Grapes.
7. Cherries.
8. Spinach – 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other food on the list.
9. Tomatoes – some samples revealed 35 separate chemicals on one tomato.
10. Sweet bell peppers.
11. Cherry tomatoes.
12. Cucumber.

Hot peppers are also pretty bad at number 13.

To this list we also must add peanuts, potatoes and coffee. These last three have the highest concentration of pesticides of any food.

  1. COFFEE: one of the most chemically treated food crops on the planet. If they are “shade-grown”, much less chemicals are required but organic is still the best choice.
  2. POTATOES: they are so contaminated that even after washing AND peeling, 81% of potatoes sampled still had chemical residues on or in them.
  3. PEANUTS and PEANUT BUTTER: more acres are devoted to growing peanuts in the US than any other fruit, vegetable or nut. More than 99% use conventional growing practices which include a lot of fungicides to treat mold. Most brands of peanut butter also have added high fructose corn syrup. Stick to organic.

For more information about chemicals used on our foods, visit the Environment page.

If you can, choose organic cotton products. Cotton is the most heavily sprayed commercial agricultural product, much more than even soy and wheat. In addition organically grown cotton uses 90% less water to grow than conventional, chemically sprayed cotton.

GMO Seeds. 70% of the seeds sold worldwide are controlled by 3 companies. 1) Bayer (new owners of Monsanto), 2) Dupont and 3) Chem China. All three companies started, and continue to function, primarily as chemical companies and not surprisingly, they also develop and sell the pesticides and herbicides which their seeds/plants are not affected by. Quite a monopoly.

MoCap is a commercially available insecticide and nematicide (kills nematodes). It’s active ingredient is Ethoprop (O-Ethyl S, S-Dipropyl Phosphorodithioate). Although classified as a “restricted use” compound, you can easily buy it at home improvement stores and order it on Amazon in the US. Allowable amounts identified on strawberries sold commercially is 5ppm in Canada but 40ppm, 8x more, in the US. Mexico, a large strawberry importer, allows 100ppm. That is why strawberries are always one of the top produce items in the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” plants to only buy organically.


The charts below show the amounts of glyphosate, the active chemical in Roundup, found in common foods. The graph below shows at what levels injury to human tissues occurs. It’s all BAD!!





The food we consume, plant or animal, is almost exclusively produced on a farm or in a facility which absolutely uses chemicals to produce those products. If you put it in your mouth, you are undoubtedly consuming chemicals, either synthetic or “natural”. Even organically grown produce and raised animals contain chemicals, there are just very loose rules managing their use. There is more about the issue of “organic” food in the next section.

Thousands of chemicals are used in the food industry and it is impossible to keep track of them. There are well over 200 “natural”, non-synthetic chemicals that are allowed to be used in the organic industry alone. 

The issue of the chemical used to grow animals is concerned, this a much more complex topic, involving additional compounds like antibiotics and hormones and is addressed in other sections. 

Chemicals used to grow food can be loosely divided into fertilizers and pesticides.

Fertilizers are amendments added to soils which enrich them since the plants get their nutrients from 3 things naturally: water, from rain, the sunlight, which allows them to produce energy and the soil, where they get most of their nutrients. As is commonly said, cows don’t make calcium, they get it from the grass they eat and the grass gets it from the soil. We have so depleted the nutritional value of soil to such a degree that it is nearly impossible to grow healthy, productive crops without adding some kind of soil amendments. For example, apples grown today have 75% less magnesium in them than they had in the 1950’s. NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) are the main ingredients in most fertilizers. Plants need other nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium and even chlorine, but N, P, and K are the big three. Interestingly, the fertilizer industry exploded after the end of World War 1 when companies which produced chemical weapons had nothing else to do and switched over from making weapons to fertilizers since significant components of these weapons were NPK. Many of these fertilizers are also laced with other types of chemicals to enhance absorption and retain moisture. Other types of fertilizer include manure, raw or composted, as well as composter organic material like kitchen scraps and leaves (small farm practices).

There are two types of fertilizers, inorganic(synthetic) and organic fertilizers. 

Organic fertilizers are intrinsic existing mineral sources that comprise a minimal amount of plant crucial nutrients. Organic fertilizers do not have adverse effects on the environment since their contents are inherently derived from plants and animals.

Inorganic fertilizers are made up of minerals and synthetic chemicals. Some of these fertilizers comprise nutrients absorbed instantly by the vegetables, while others contain nutrients with a controlled release.

However, caution should be taken not to apply excess fertilizers. Excess fertilizer can be lost to the environment via volatilization, percolation into groundwater, release from soil to air, and runoff into surface water. 

Pests are considered anything which attacks the growing crops. These include insects, which make up ¾ of all life on the planet, weeds, which compete with the crops for soil nutrients and contaminate harvest and fungal infections, which can grow on many plants and kill them or slow their growth. Other types of “infections” also occur involving bacteria and viruses and there are chemicals which are used for those specific pests. The 3 main types of chemicals to deal with these pests are:

  • Insecticides, which kill insects,
  • Herbicides, which kill competing plants and weeds and 
  • Fungicides, which kill fungi.
  • Other types of pesticides includeVirucides, which kill virusesAntibiotics against bacteria and
    • Rodenticides which kill rodents like rats and voles.

The most prevalent pesticides used to grow vegetables are the organophosphate (OP) pesticides like malathion and chlorpyrifos. Pyrethroids and carbamates are other types of chemical pesticides.

 Pesticides come in three categories, namely:

  1. Synthetic pesticides: They are human-made. They entail substances that are more like natural substances. They can be used in plants as a spray, a seed treatment, and others. 
  2. Natural pesticides applied to plants: These pesticides are naturally occurring. They include copper-based pesticides and pesticides found intrinsically in the soil and are highly toxic.  
  3. Natural, internal pesticides: These pesticides are produced by the plants from the inside. Their primary use is to shield the plants from diseases and pests that want to consume their tissues. 



There is much more detailed information on the “Important Topics Involving Food” page of the website. The benefits of limiting consuming “conventionally” grown foods, noted to have as many as 35 different artificial chemical compounds on one piece of fruit or vegetable, are clear. There is a class action suit against Bayer/Monsanto because the well established link between lymphoma, a blood cell cancer, and glyphosate, the chemical in Roundup. And there are many other well established links between chemicals and various diseases including obesity, heart disease, cancer, allergy and autoimmune disease.

When it comes to genetically modified organisms, plants and animals (GMO), the evidence is a little less clear but certainly extremely suspicious. There is no question that many illnesses and allergies improve when GMO foods are removed from the diet. There is a lot more to be said on the other page as well.

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