8 foods that aren't as frightening as Buzzfeed thinks they are

An actual chemist looks at claims made about "toxic foods" in a recent Buzzfeed linkbait post and calmly explains why the whole thing is ridiculous. Of the 8 foods (actually, mostly food additives) mentioned, one is hardly used anymore, another was withdrawn from the market two years ago, two only sound scary if you failed chemistry, and four have had their risks vastly overstated. It's the sort of situation where some studies show a risk, some studies don't, and there's good reasons to think the risk — if it exists — isn't that big, to begin with.


  1. I’m impressed that people have enough time to waste in their day that they click on Buzzfeed links at all, much less actually analyze them.

    1.  It appears that most commenters’ favorite thing to do is tell the editors of each post how stupid they are.

    1. Didn’t Kathy Griffin have a whole routine on Olestra? You’ll get the shits!

  2. Do they still make Olestra potato chips with warning labels about anal seepage?

    I always loved the idea of eating potato chips that might cause anal seepage.  Because anal seepage.

    1. I believe it was anal “leakage”, but I like “seepage” better. In that I don’t like the sound of that at all. Ha, and looking up the term, it looks like Frito-Lay’s internal study used the term “anal oil leakage”. And now I’m laughing at “internal study”.

      1. If I understand this correctly, Olestra consumption could cut out the middletopman in santorum production.

  3. OK, so bleached flour isn’t that bad. I’m still not using it. And who the hell thought of bleaching flour anyway? It’s pretty damn white already. 

    1. Its yellow. Its only white if you age it for months, which only the rich could afford to do, so ‘white’ bread was for high-class folks.

      1.  I’ve seen small lot fresh wheat flour. It is one of the shades of yellow I classify as white.

    2. And who the hell thought of bleaching flour anyway?

      Based on Gildor Inglorion’s bread surpassing the savour of a fair white loaf, it appears to go back at least to the last decades of the Third Age.

    3.  Prior to using chemical bleaching agents on flour, flour was typically aged in order to oxidize it.  The reason was aged flour has better baking qualities. Freshly ground flour is almost impossible to bake with., as the gluten doesn’t work right.  Bleaching makes much the same chemical changes in flour as aging it, but is
      more cost effective than storing flour for two months after milling.  A side effect of the aging or bleaching is that the yellow xanthophyll pigments present in freshly milled flour are destroyed, making the flour whiter. Unbleached white flour is simply flour that is stored long enough to oxidize naturally, and the cost of the storage is reflected in a somewhat higher price.

      1. So the purpose of bleaching flour isn’t to make it whiter, it’s to bring out the fluffy gluten goodness. This makes sense now. Tank you. 

        1. Yup. Most traditional foodways have an underlying rational even if they seem bizarre,  pointless, or unhealthy from our 21st century vantage point. Another flour related tidbit is that the bran and the germ have been traditionally removed from wheat flour, even though we all know that whole wheat is better for you now, because the oils in the bran and the germ go rancid fairly quickly after it is ground, spoiling the flour. In an era with no refrigeration,  whole wheat flour was worse for you, on balance, than white.

  4. I love stuff like this. Skeptical debunkings are among my favorite blog readings. 

  5. Funny. Because I recall BB going on about horrible additives in foods in a similar fashion.

    1. What gives you the impression there is an editorial policy toward content? That would be most un-boing

  6. I’m only dimly aware of Buzzfeed as the useless jerks who stick useless ads in the more idiotic parts of the internet.

    Like top 8 celebrities with the ugliest knees…

    Is it now a recognized journalistic entity?

  7. This would be a great response if you systemically called out each fabrication specifically. All your post says is, “Hey! They’re wrong! Because I said so!”

    1.  Uhhh, dood.. she is linking to an article that does just that. You know how the internet works, don’t you?

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