Why are so many of the snacks and drinks offered as safe for consumption in the United States wholly banned in other parts of the world? How bad could our favorite foodstuffs actually be?
Welcome to Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where Jordan and fact-checker, comedian, and podcast host David C. Smalley break down a topic that you may have never thought about, open things up, and debunk common misconceptions.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this show’s notes erroneously declared that aspartame was banned in the EU. We are in the process of correcting this and apologize for the error.
On This Week’s Skeptical Sunday, We Discuss:
- Coffee Mate’s liquid version is banned in Europe due to the presence of trans fats (found in hydrogenated vegetable oils) that can lead to heart disease. While the US requires warning labels for these foods, they are still available to consumers.
- Mexican and most European cola brands use cane sugar, while American Coke uses high fructose corn syrup, which is regulated in the EU. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to health issues such as insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular illnesses.
- Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener found in many US foods and drinks, including diet sodas and gum. It contains phenylalanine, which can cause problems for people with a rare genetic condition called PKU.
- While evidence is still being gathered, there have been concerns about the potential health effects of certain artificial food dyes, particularly their potential to cause hyperactivity in children. In the European Union, these dyes are banned from use in food products, while they are widely used in the United States.
- The EU has banned the use of growth hormones in cows due to concerns about potential health risks to humans and animals, as well as potential negative impacts on the environment. In the United States, however, they’re commonly used in the dairy and meat industries to promote faster growth and increase milk production in cows.
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. If you have something you’d like us to tackle here on Skeptical Sunday, drop Jordan a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know!
- Connect with David at his website, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, and make sure to check out The David C. Smalley Podcast here or wherever you enjoy listening to fine podcasts! If you like to get out of your house and catch live comedy, keep an eye on David’s tour dates here and text David directly at (424) 306-0798 for tickets when he comes to your town!
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider leaving your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
Peloton: Learn more at onepeloton.com
Miss our two-part conversation with Jack Garcia, the undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Gambino crime family of Cosa Nostra in New York for nearly three years? Catch up by starting with episode 392: Joaquin “Jack” Garcia | Undercover in the Mafia Part One here!
Resources from This Episode:
- American Foods Banned In Other Countries | Mashed
- Six Reasons Why High-Fructose Corn Syrup Is Bad for You | Healthline
- Food & Beverage: Top Contributors to Federal Candidates, Parties, and Outside Groups | OpenSecrets
- Foods Containing Potassium Bromate | Environmental Working Group
- Banned in 160 Nations, Why is Ractopamine in US Pork? | Live Science
- National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020 | CDC
- Percentage of Obesity by Country | World Obesity Federation Global Obesity Observatory
- Aging: US Lives: Longer But Sicker? | Environmental Health Perspectives
766: Banned Foods | Skeptical Sunday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:08] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger, and this is Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where fact-checker and comedian David C. Smalley and I break down a topic that you might never have thought about. We open things up and debunk common misconceptions — topics such as why the Olympics are kind of a sham, why expiration dates are a bunch of non-sense, why tipping makes absolutely no sense, recycling, banned foods, toothpaste, chemtrails, and a whole lot more. Normally, on The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people, and we turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of incredible people, from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers.
[00:00:53] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show around these festive holiday times, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show — topics like persuasion and Influence, negotiation and communication, China, North Korea, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start, or take a look in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:19] Now, we haven't done Skeptical Sunday in a while. I'm actually going to be doing these hopefully every week in 2023, toying with that idea, but we had to throw this one down this year. Now, banned foods, we know lots of foods, eh, they're not great for us, but how bad are the bad foods really? We see these YouTube videos comparing American products to similar items in the UK or other parts of the world, and they look so different. So what's going on there? Why are some foods allowed in the US but banned in other parts of the world? Comedian fact-checker David C. Smalley is here, so I assume he wants to take all the fun out of snack time. David—
[00:01:53] David C. Smalley: Yeah, I might surprise you this time, Jordan. I only want to ruin some of your snacks, but I might actually throw a couple of curve balls your way. So I've wanted to do this for a while because there are so many myths and so much misinformation about the food we eat. Warnings about things to avoid that are overblown and things that are said to be dangerous that no one wants to even talk about. So I'm just here to break it all down.
[00:02:17] Jordan Harbinger: All right. What's up first?
[00:02:19] David C. Smalley: I want to start in the morning where a lot of us would typically—
[00:02:22] Jordan Harbinger: Logical.
[00:02:22] David C. Smalley: —start. Yeah, let's start with Coffee Mate.
[00:02:25] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:02:26] David C. Smalley: So, in Europe, Coffee Mate is only allowed in powder form, so you'll see it on the shelves, but it's very different.
[00:02:33] Jordan Harbinger: This is that creamer stuff, right?
[00:02:34] David C. Smalley: Yeah, coffee creamer. They don't have it in liquid form in Europe, at least not the Coffee Mate brand, because the liquid version contains hydrogenated vegetable oil which makes it one of the few products that still remain on the planet with trans fat, which has been proven to lead to heart disease. So the EU has a hard no on that. You won't find it in Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, or Denmark. But in powder form, they can still get that creamer effect without the bad stuff. Yet in America, it's still approved for some reason.
[00:03:05] Jordan Harbinger: I had a friend from South Africa come to visit and he popped down to the shop to get, I don't know, like cigarettes and beer or whatever, and he wanted a drink. And he comes back up and he goes, "Oh man, this drink is disgusting." You know that's a terrible South African accent, but that's all I can muster right now. And I go, "What are you drinking?" And he holds up this bottle of Coffee Mate. And I'm like, "Dude, that is not a drink. That is not something you're supposed to take a big fat swig of and slosh around and swallow."
[00:03:32] David C. Smalley: Oh man.
[00:03:32] Jordan Harbinger: "Yeah. That's like what you put in an entire pot of coffee that golf you just took." And he is like, "Ah, it's so sweet, man. I can't even—" It was so gross looking at, so it's like watching someone just drink, you know, pure cream out of the creamer at a restaurant. Horrific.
[00:03:46] David C. Smalley: Oh, he probably thought the package was like, "Have a coffee, mate."
[00:03:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it was.
[00:03:49] David C. Smalley: Yeah, but it's not.
[00:03:50] Jordan Harbinger: Coffee, mate? Yeah. Don't mind if I do.
[00:03:54] David C. Smalley: Yeah, they're definitely not used to, in many parts of the world, they're not used to seeing that in liquid form. This next one may shock some people because this brand is so widely known around the world, but it's actually Coca-Cola, at least as we know it. So Mexican Coke, and most Cokes in the EU contain sugar or cane sugar, and American Coke contains high fructose corn syrup, which is regulated in the EU. So there aren't very many drinks in the EU that allow high fructose corn syrup. So the Coke in Europe contains real sugar because high fructose corn syrup, shocker, has been linked to issues like insulin resistance, diabetes, and multiple cardiovascular illnesses.
[00:04:31] Jordan Harbinger: You don't say. Really sugar is bad for you, or, sorry, high fructose corn syrup is bad for you? And sugar's also bad for you, by the way, so I guess it's like six of one-half dozen of the other, or maybe, in this case, it's seven of one and half dozen of the other. So slightly the same thing.
[00:04:45] David C. Smalley: Yeah. I'm seeing more and more people say that like the regular sugar, even though it's poison, we all know it's terrible.
[00:04:51] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:04:51] David C. Smalley: You take it in smaller doses, high fructose corn syrup is just so concentrated and so much worse for you than natural sugar.
[00:04:58] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, interesting. Right, because it's sweeter. And also, it's so cheap they can just dump it in there. I didn't think high fructose corn syrup was an issue when our parents were growing up, right?
[00:05:08] David C. Smalley: No, it wasn't. It was never part of their diet. So from the 1800s to like the mid-1970s, corn prices fluctuated so much that it was just completely unpredictable. We had farmers cranking out corn and not enough products being made with corn. So the value and the price of corn became almost worthless. And then, on top of that, the Great Depression only made things worse. In the '80s, our US government decided to start offering subsidies on corn products to the tune of like four and a half billion dollars a year.
[00:05:38] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[00:05:39] David C. Smalley: So that stabilized corn value. It encouraged manufacturers to use corn in their products. And it theoretically saved some farms from going under, so it could be a good thing, but I can come on and ruin farm subsidies on another episode because while it may sound like a good idea, it actually does a lot of harm for a lot of different reasons but that's for another episode. The point is, high fructose corn syrup is one of the worst things you could ever put in your body.
[00:06:05] According to Healthline, one study in men and women with excess weight showed that drinking sodas with high fructose corn syrup for just six months significantly increase liver fat compared to drinking milk, diet sodas, or water and liver fat accumulation leads to serious health problems like fatty liver disease, type two diabetes, things like that. It also causes inflammation in the body. It leads to gout, uric acid production, cell deterioration, cancer, and even heart disease, which of course is the number one killer in America. So no diet soda isn't necessarily great for you but those artificial sweeteners are not as bad as high fructose corn syrup. So yes, shocker. Sugar-filled sodas are still poison.
[00:06:48] Jordan Harbinger: While we're on artificial sweeteners, can you clear up some myths around that? Because now there's like 10 different kinds and I don't know if they're all bad for you or if it's fine.
[00:06:55] David C. Smalley: Yeah, so there's a lot of misinformation around diet sodas and aspartame in particular. So to start, I do want to clarify that the EU has banned aspartame, which is one of our primary sweeteners in like diet sodas and things.
[00:07:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:07:09] David C. Smalley: Because it contains phenylalanine. Now, phenylalanine has been linked to complications for people with a specific condition known as PKU, which the Mayo Clinic defines as a rare inherited disorder that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in the body. So it affects about one in 10,000 people. So naturally, I mean, if you're already having an excess amount of phenylalanine build up in your body, you don't want to add to the problem by drinking products containing aspartame because it's one of the primary ingredients. But is it bad for most of us is the real question. So aspartame is about 180 times sweeter than sugar, but it has the same amount of calories. So you can have less of it and still get your sweet tooth cured. That's why we use it in diet—
[00:07:53] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, interesting. So they just use way less of it. It's not that it's a — okay, that's interesting.
[00:07:58] David C. Smalley: Right, exactly.
[00:07:58] Jordan Harbinger: It's not calorie-free, it's just you only need like a drop instead of a handful, basically.
[00:08:02] David C. Smalley: Exactly. So you get a lot less calories, but you still get the sweetness. And so, the studies around the negative health effects have mostly been around massive doses of this stuff. So they're not doing minimal amounts in diet soda. So the three ingredients, the makeup aspartame are already found in most of the foods we eat, and two of the ingredients are actually made inside your body. So it's not like it's a completely foreign substance. There was a massive study done. It was literally a study of studies. It was done by the EFSA in the UK in 2013. They literally combined all of the data from all the studies all over the world about aspartame. And the findings were that essentially — and I encourage people to go find the study to look at—
[00:08:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's all linked in the show notes.
[00:08:44] David C. Smalley: It's all going to be linked.
[00:08:45] Jordan Harbinger: All the doubters can look up the sources that we used right in the show notes.
[00:08:48] David C. Smalley: Absolutely. So they, basically, say that humans have an acceptable daily intake of 40 milligrams per day, per kilogram of body weight. And I'm no fan of math or converting kilograms to pounds.
[00:09:00] Jordan Harbinger: That's a ton of aspartame though, man.
[00:09:03] David C. Smalley: Yeah, so it basically means that on average a person weighing 165 pounds would have to drink 16 diet sodas per day to exceed the recommended limit according to the American Cancer Society. And if you're drinking that much diet soda, you have way more issues than aspartame intake.
[00:09:20] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Right. Like your teeth are gone at that point.
[00:09:23] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:09:23] Jordan Harbinger: And your esophagus is coming up every time you sneeze. So don't worry about aspartame, like you're already dead. You're already a walking dead man at that point.
[00:09:32] David C. Smalley: Yeah, it's, it's terrible. Yeah.
[00:09:34] Jordan Harbinger: What about the claims that diet sodas or artificial sweeteners spike your blood sugar? They make you produce insulin and ultimately cause weight gain, right? Like it tricks your body into thinking you ingested sugar. How true is that?
[00:09:45] David C. Smalley: Yeah. I'm ashamed to admit I believed this for many, many years.
[00:09:48] Jordan Harbinger: I definitely did.
[00:09:49] David C. Smalley: Yeah. I stayed away from diet sodas. There were times where I was on, like I was getting ready for a role or I was like working out or about to do a like a TV thing or a movie thing, and I would avoid diet sodas and I would be so miserable because I'd be at dinner, I'd be having this healthy dinner, and I would want that sort of spiky cola taste. I absolutely hate sparkling water. It's just not something I can wrap my head around. It feels like I'm drinking static. I don't know why people do it.
[00:10:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I love it. I'm drinking it right now.
[00:10:15] David C. Smalley: I hate it.
[00:10:16] Jordan Harbinger: This is what I drink all day on the show. I just drink sparkling water.
[00:10:18] David C. Smalley: I'm trying to force myself to learn to like it. I think it would drastically reduce my craving for sodas.
[00:10:24] Jordan Harbinger: That's why I started, man. I moved to Europe when I was in high school as an exchange student, and this is so gross to admit, but I basically just didn't drink water. I was like, "I have Coca-Cola. Why would I drink water?" And then, I got to Europe and I was like, "Oh, okay, I can't just keep drinking this. It's not the same family," and everybody already drinks sparkling water because that's just a thing in Germany. You don't drink regular water most of the time. And I was like, "Oh, it's not bad." And then, I came back and I was like — we call it pop — "I don't need pop anymore. I got sparkling water," so I got a SodaStream. And I just don't use the soda packets. I just sparkle the water and I don't drink pop anymore. Like I don't even like it, really. Yeah.
[00:10:57] David C. Smalley: That's cool.
[00:10:57] Jordan Harbinger: It's just totally detonated.
[00:10:58] David C. Smalley: So I'm trying to wean myself onto it if that's a thing. I've been trying to make myself do it. I just think back to all the times I was miserable and all I wanted was just a diet soda or something that gave me that little sparkle, that cola feel.
[00:11:10] Jordan Harbinger: That sparkling water is the methadone for sodas — wait, I'm screwing this up.
[00:11:14] David C. Smalley: That's a great way to put it.
[00:11:15] Jordan Harbinger: You know what I mean? It's like, instead of — yeah, you're trying to get off soda, so you get on sparkling water, except for sparkling water, theoretically will not also kill you. It may rot your teeth. I don't know, different shows.
[00:11:24] David C. Smalley: So I've heard there's been — for years, they told us the, quote-unquote, "experts" would say, you know, "If you drink a diet soda, your body thinks it's sugar, so you overproduce insulin and you get fat, your blood sugar spikes and all this other." Well, there are multiple studies now and tests you can do at home. I don't know why I never even thought of this, but you can do tests at home to debunk this. So just if you want to experiment, and you can safely do it, don't say, "I tried it and died. It was just David Smalley's fault."
[00:11:51] Jordan Harbinger: I used a rusty spoon to take my blood sample.
[00:11:53] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:11:54] Jordan Harbinger: You believe I got an infection?
[00:11:55] David C. Smalley: So get a Coke and then get a Diet Coke and get a glucometer, right? One of those blood sugar things — and then you take a baseline reading of your blood in the morning, drink one of the sodas, like drink the regular Coke and then, test again in 20, I mean, I recommend doing the Diet Coke first.
[00:12:10] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:12:11] David C. Smalley: And then, test again, you know, test your blood sugars again 20 minutes after you drink the Diet Coke and see what happens. And then, a couple of days later, or the next day or in a few hours, wait that kind of flow through and try it again with the other. Listen, what you're going to find is the diet sodas have virtually no effect on blood sugar. And if you see a small rise, it could be that either the machine is cheap and weird, or that it could be linked to trace amounts of carbohydrates in instead of the artificial sweetener.
[00:12:38] So, I don't recommend drinking anywhere close to 16 diet sodas a day, or even four or three for that matter. If you want to have a diet drink with dinner, and you're not suffering with a medical condition or a PKU, relax and go for it. It's not going to spike your insulin levels. It's not going to make you fat. Now, it might make you bloated and not want to work out. It might give you a caffeine rush if you're not used to it but in moderation, diet drinks aren't all that bad. Just pay attention to your body. Eat healthy for the most part, and walk a few times a week. It's not that hard.
[00:13:08] Jordan Harbinger: All right, well, that's better news than expected. I do love me a little caffeine, free Diet Coke from time to time. Usually, you ruin everything for us. So that's good news. It's like a little hall pass there.
[00:13:18] David C. Smalley: Yeah. And now, it's time to ruin some things for you. So—
[00:13:21] Jordan Harbinger: That's why you're here.
[00:13:22] David C. Smalley: Here we go. Potassium bromate.
[00:13:25] Jordan Harbinger: Doesn't sound delicious at all.
[00:13:27] David C. Smalley: No, it sounds like someone that would hang out with Brendan Schaub. It's one of the lesser known ingredients that I'll be talking about today, but it's only really lesser known to Americans. It's banned in China. It's banned in Canada. It's banned in the European Union, Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, and many more. Why? Well, it's been shown to cause cancer in lab rats, but it's allowed in the food in the United States.
[00:13:53] Jordan Harbinger: Geez. When it's banned in China and it's not Twitter and it's not banned in the United States. That is bad news.
[00:13:58] David C. Smalley: It's scary.
[00:13:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's scary, man. Okay, so what are you about to destroy for me? Because I don't know, please tell me this isn't like, vegetables or something, right? Where's this is in?
[00:14:08] David C. Smalley: Yeah, sorry, man. This is in pizza, pastries, bread—
[00:14:12] Jordan Harbinger: Great
[00:14:13] David C. Smalley: —and breakfast sandwiches, so basically my entire diet.
[00:14:16] Jordan Harbinger: So is it in, what is it in flour, I guess, or what?
[00:14:18] David C. Smalley: Yeah, so most flours, specifically All Trump's flour — no relation.
[00:14:23] Jordan Harbinger: I was like, wait a minute. We don't have to make this political, man, come on.
[00:14:26] David C. Smalley: No. Yeah, he's got his own flour now. No, no, it's a type of flour. So according to livescience.com in 1982, researchers in Japan published these series of studies that showed potassium bromate causes cancer in the thyroids, kidneys, and other body parts of rats and mice. And as a result of those findings, countries all over the world started banning the additive. But the FDA held back in part because the amount of potassium bromate that's supposed to remain in the bread after baking, it is supposed to be negligible, which would be about less than 20 parts per billion.
[00:15:01] So according to the EWG or the Environmental Working Group, they say, quote, "Despite the significant evidence of potassium bromate's harmful health effects, the food industry has long argued that it is of no concern in baked product. The industry claims that potassium bromate is theoretically fully converted into potassium bromide, a similar yet non-carcinogenic chemical during baking."
[00:15:26] Jordan Harbinger: Ah-huh.
[00:15:27] David C. Smalley: —end quote. But testing in the UK revealed that potassium bromate still remains detectable after baking. With six out of six unwrapped breads and seven out of 22 packaged breads showing they contained measurable levels of potassium bromate. So this alone led the state of California to pass a law stating that any product that contains potassium bromate must put a store level cancer warning on it but it's still not banned.
[00:15:58] Jordan Harbinger: You know, what's actually fit for human consumption? Some of the products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:16:04] This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton. It's the time of year where we start thinking about what next year will bring. We make New Year's resolutions to exercise more, but let's face it, will you actually stick with it? It's been proven that you're more likely to stick to a routine if it's something you enjoy, which is why so many people stick with Peloton. The instructors are so fun. It's like working out with a friend. There's a very strong Peloton community. Also, I'm all about data, and Peloton tracks your metrics so you can keep tabs on your performance over time. And right now, Peloton's got a gift for you. Get up to 200 bucks off accessories like cycling shoes, heart rate monitors — both of which I have and use regularly — and more when you purchase a Peloton Bike, Bike+, or Tread, and up to a hundred dollars off accessories with the purchase of a Peloton Guide, which will turn your TV into an AI-powered personal trainer. Make this the first step toward achieving your fitness goals in the new year. Choose from Peloton's cycling to scenic runs, boot camps to power walks. A huge variety of classes that work for you, taught by world-class instructors who know exactly how to get the best out of you. So don't wait. Get this offer before it ends on December 25th. Visit onepeloton.com. All-access membership separate, offer ends December 25th, cannot be combined with other offers. See additional terms at onepeloton.com.
[00:17:11] Thank you so much for listening. Thank you for supporting the show, all of the deals and all of the URLs and discount codes. They're all in one place. jordanharbinger.com/deals. Also search for any sponsor using the search box on the website as well. Consider supporting those who support this show.
[00:17:26] Now, for the rest of Skeptical Sunday.
[00:17:30] Those cancer warnings though, the problem with those, and this is a tangent, they're on everything in California. Like I was in a parking structure today and it's like, "Hey, just so you know, prop 65 chemicals in this area can cause cancer." And I'm like, "What? Car exhaust?" Yeah, obviously. I mean—
[00:17:44] David C. Smalley: It's on every building.
[00:17:45] Jordan Harbinger: And then every restaurant has it. There may be chemicals in here and I open food and it's like there might be something in here that causes cancer. And I'm like, well, I can't even do anything about it now. This is on everything that I touch. In California, the warning has become completely meaningless, which is sort of like, this is what happens when maybe you overregulate a lot of stuff, but that's maybe a different show entirely. So it's hard to pay attention to that stuff because it's like a slip-and-fall sign on every floor. Like, yeah, I can potentially fall here. I get it, gravity. Thanks.
[00:18:12] David C. Smalley: Absolutely. And there are places that do that. They will literally leave the slip-and-fall sign in their main entrance at all times. In case anyone ever falls, it's like their little insurance policy. And that's a problem with, instead of just banning, putting it on labels under the guise of freedom, let the people decide, they won't because you get desensitized to the label and then people just keep shoving it in their faces without understanding exactly how bad it is.
[00:18:36] Jordan Harbinger: Guilty as charged. So are these pre-packaged frozen pizzas and desserts or what?
[00:18:41] David C. Smalley: Yeah, so I've provided a link to a list so that you guys can put it in the show notes. But to get an idea, the EWG says it's in Goya pastries, some Hormel breakfast sandwiches, some brands of pizza rolls, some frozen crab cakes, some golden crust products, wheat brand bread. There are over 60 items on the list. Probably the most ironic is one called Canadian Homestyle Pizza, but it has an ingredient that's literally banned in Canada. So it's definitely not Canadian style.
[00:19:13] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, sorry to hear that. What's that all about?
[00:19:15] David C. Smalley: So now to be a good skeptic, I fact-checked this entire list, so that was a whole ass Monday.
[00:19:23] Jordan Harbinger: That sounds like a miserable — I am sorry that I did that to you.
[00:19:26] David C. Smalley: Yeah. You know what? I wanted to be thorough and not only did I do it online where I could, I did it in person as well. I literally went grocery shopping without buying things, and I was flipping products over going, why is this different from the picture on the Internet?
[00:19:40] Jordan Harbinger: Sir, we're going to—
[00:19:41] David C. Smalley: I was like—
[00:19:41] Jordan Harbinger: —to ask you to leave Whole Foods.
[00:19:43] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:19:44] Jordan Harbinger: You can't handle all the food and then put it back.
[00:19:47] David C. Smalley: Yeah, I was tossed out of multiple Trader Joe's. They're like, "You cannot be here." You should see my wall. It looks like a serial killer with yarn linking products to parent companies. You're ruining my life, Jordan, I want you to know that.
[00:19:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's fine.
[00:19:59] David C. Smalley: I found something interesting through all this psychotic research. So a lot of the brands I listed will have their ingredients readily available on their websites for items that do not contain potassium bromate. And then, when I would start digging for specifics, like let's say specifically to make sure the Hormel breakfast sandwich actually has it, their ingredients in this sandwich just says like bagel, ham, cheese, et cetera, but they don't say what the bagel is made of or what kind of flour was used to make it. And then, when you click on the products list, sometimes they just don't have an ingredient tab. And in one instance, the ingredient link just goes to this page no longer exists. So they're not making it very easy to locate or to confirm or deny. And I've got one other suspicion here. I think this is not necessarily factual. This is my speculation.
[00:20:47] Jordan Harbinger: It's a breadspiracy.
[00:20:48] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:20:49] Jordan Harbinger: Coming soon on Netflix.
[00:20:50] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Breadspiracy with Jordan Harbinger and David C. Smalley, breadspiracy.
[00:20:55] I think sometimes they use generic pictures from other countries so that when you look at ingredients, they can kind of be slick — because you have to dig and dig and dig and then zoom in and then take a picture and zoom on your phone. Like they're not very forthright with the ingredients. So I think sometimes they're using images, willy-nilly shall we say. And then when you go to the supermarket and flip the package over, you'll see sometimes potassium bromate, sometimes it will not say that, it'll call it by a different name, but I'll get to that in a second.
[00:21:28] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Wow, different name. They have an alias for their poisonous chemicals.
[00:21:31] David C. Smalley: Yeah, they do. And I think sometimes they're using different images from different parts of the world and I would like to know the legalities on that.
[00:21:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's interesting because it's kind of like, well, the image may be different than package, which is fair. Like, oh, we changed the label from Green to Yellow. Okay. But not like, oh, we put different stuff in other countries because it's banned here because it's unhealthy, but hey, it's cheap. Yeah, food brands have always done a great job of hiding the ingredients or changing the names of ingredients. I mean, when you and I were growing up, nutrition labels, I don't even know if they were mandatory. I don't think they had to put that on the food or just had calories or something. This is all sort of new. So a lot of people that grew up that are 40-plus, we don't look at nutrition labels because we never really learned about it and we're not used to seeing them. So it's like, eh, I just buy the stuff that I've eaten for the last 30 years because of whatever.
[00:22:18] David C. Smalley: Right. So what's going on here is hiding the bad stuff under different names. So the key phrase I eventually found was bleached flour.
[00:22:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah, I've seen that. Hillbilly bread, man. Do you remember that?
[00:22:30] David C. Smalley: It's all over. No.
[00:22:31] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. It was called Hillbilly bread. My parents bought it all the time. I'm guaranteed listeners have heard of this and it was bleached flour, but it was like, I think they dyed it so that it looked like wheat bread, but it was just wheat bread. It's just nonsense crap junk bread. And I grew up on it.
[00:22:47] David C. Smalley: Most of the pastries that we eat. I know I mentioned some specific brands, but most of the stuff you eat, you flip it over, you'll see bleached flour. So I have to give the disclaimer that technically not all bleached flour contains potassium bromate, but almost all of it does. In fact, the non-bromate flour will typically say non-bleached, non-bromated white flour. Like, Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur, for example. They say unbleached all-purpose flour or unbleached white flour. Those brands do not contain bromate. In fact, both brands actually have sections on their website, like dedicated to addressing the dangers of bromate in flour.
[00:23:29] Jordan Harbinger: Must be a popular page on the site. Yeah.
[00:23:31] David C. Smalley: Oh, yeah. I'm sure tons of hits on that one. They should sponsor it. But almost every other major brand in your supermarket has it like Gold Medal, and I'm not throwing them under the bus. They're proud of it. They're like bromated white flour, bleached flour. That in turn includes most of the pastries you're buying, the bakery treats at the grocery store, most of the breads in the supermarket. And if you're reading your pastry ingredients and it says bleached flour or sometimes enriched flour, there's really a good chance it's been bromated, bro. So—
[00:24:02] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[00:24:03] David C. Smalley: Rather than getting into the weeds further, I just strongly recommend people do research on your products. Avoid potassium bromate every chance you get. You know, like most of the world is already doing.
[00:24:13] Jordan Harbinger: I want to get into food dyes. I don't know if you remember when we were little, like Red dye number four or something was turned out to be completely horrifically toxic and in a bunch of kid foods—
[00:24:21] David C. Smalley: It's three, it's Red dye three, I think.
[00:24:23] Jordan Harbinger: Three. Okay. I was closed off by one. Sorry, Red dye number four. I've slandered you here.
[00:24:28] David C. Smalley: I don't think there is a four.
[00:24:29] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, well, then, it doesn't exist. Therefore, I can slander it all I want.
[00:24:32] So there's things that don't have to be banned, but they would start looking a lot differently if we made some federal regulations to catch up with some of the healthier countries, right? You've talked before about controversial food dyes.
[00:24:44] David C. Smalley: Yeah. During one episode or maybe we were even like not recording yet or something, and I mentioned that I wanted to do banned foods. The food dyes were really the kind of driving force behind it. Like, because I was eating, I think a bag of Takis. My daughter loves those Taki chips, and I'm like, "How bad is this stuff?" And I flip them over and I see that there's like these food dyes in them. So, I've said on the show before that I'm vegan and then I say I cheat sometimes, which makes me a liar. But, it's most about being sustainable. It has a lot to do with food allergies. I said I have 29, you know, food allergies, so I'm always avoiding stuff. Eating vegan just tends to help me out.
[00:25:17] But the times where I've kind of been like on a seaside restaurant or something, and literally the only vegan option is a plate of french fries. I've gone the pescatarian route and been like, okay, I'll have fish this one time, I think maybe four or five times during the whole vegan stretch, I had a little bit of fish, but then I would still be like, well, I want to be sustainable. I'm going to be respectful to the environment and I know our seas and our lakes get overfished. So I would rather go with farm-raised salmon just as the ethical, because if they were literally born and raised specifically for food. That makes me feel better about the concept that we're not overfishing nature, right?
[00:25:53] Here's the problem with that. Organic.org notes this, they say wild salmon gets its bright pink color from natural foods in their diet, including a natural carcinoid called astaxanthin. Healthline says that a naturally sourced astaxanthin, which is in plants, wild fish, it's really good for you. It can help with heart health, it can help with joint pain, it can help your skin, and it's even an antioxidant that could potentially fight some cancers. So—
[00:26:21] Jordan Harbinger: Great.
[00:26:22] David C. Smalley: They argue that wild-caught salmon is actually very good for your diet. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are typically raised on an unnatural diet of grains and a concoction of antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals not shown to be safe for humans.
[00:26:36] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah. Surprise, surprise.
[00:26:37] David C. Smalley: And that diet leaves fish with this unappetizing like gray color. So to compensate, farm salmon are fed this synthetic astaxanthin that's made from petrochemicals.
[00:26:49] Jordan Harbinger: Stop. Petrochemicals? Is that what it sounds like? Like petroleum byproduct?
[00:26:53] David C. Smalley: Yes.
[00:26:54] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:26:54] David C. Smalley: Petroleum. So that's what gives it the bright pink color.
[00:26:58] Jordan Harbinger: Oh god.
[00:26:58] David C. Smalley: And that has not been approved for human consumption and has well-known toxicities. Some studies suggest it can potentially damage your eyesight. The Chicago Tribune reports that that's the reason it's banned for consumption in Australia and New Zealand, but for some reason, it's allowed to United States.
[00:27:15] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so we've all seen Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 in the ingredients. I'm looking at some stuff. What is that? Just tell me that's safe.
[00:27:24] David C. Smalley: So those three, the Red 40, the Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, the reason those are just at the tip of your tongue, those are three most common in the states. They're all over the place. They're in boxed mac and cheese. They're in cheddar-flavored crackers. They're in jello, kids' cereals, spicy chips. They contain Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and/or Blue 2, sometimes Blue 2 is a part of that thing and sometimes it's not, and they're the most popular dyes of the United States. They're in the most popular products.
[00:27:49] So this is a little bit controversial. I'm going to tell you what foodsafetynews.com claims about this. They say that these synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of the foods, which is true but they say that it can trigger behavior problems in children and possibly cancer in just about anybody. Now, that was from CSPI executive Director Michael F. Jacobson. James Huff, an associate at the National Toxicology Program, commented, quote, "Some dyes have caused cancer in animals contain cancer-causing contaminants," remember that for later, that's very important In a second, "Or they have been inadequately tested for cancer or other problems." So, by the way, CSPI is the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
[00:28:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I was going to ask, I was like not really familiar with CSPI. Okay.
[00:28:39] David C. Smalley: No. So that organization mailed a letter to the FDA in 2010 and they detailed a request that food dyes be banned in the United States to protect consumers. Their whole charge is that the FDA is failing to enforce already existing laws. They're like, this stuff is already banned if you pay attention to your own laws. So number one, that Red 3 and Citrus Red 2 should be banned under the Delaney Amendment because they cause cancer in rats. And that's been proven. And some of our dyes were banned in the '90s, but then they were un-banned. They were later allowed without really any explanation. As should Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6.
[00:29:16] Jordan Harbinger: So all the stuff we use all the time is tainted, potentially.
[00:29:21] David C. Smalley: Well, the Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, they say, it's important distinction, that it's tainted with cancer-causing contaminants. So I'm going to touch on that in just a second because I want to get through the other claim that the CSPI makes toward the FDA, and then I want to touch back on this, the difference between the dye and the contaminants in the dye, okay? So the second thing, the CSPI charges, when they write the FDA in 2010, they say that evidence suggests, although it doesn't conclusively prove it, but the evidence suggests that Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, and Red 40 and Yellow 6 cause cancer in animals. But even if it doesn't conclusively prove that it does, there is certainly not convincing evidence of safety. And that's another major point here when it comes to food, everything is guilty until proven innocent. You're supposed to conclusively prove food safety before it's allowed, not just ignore it and hope no one dies.
[00:30:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, ideally, right? I mean, it seems that what CSPI is saying is that even if we don't have conclusive proof of the danger, we definitely don't have conclusive proof of safety.
[00:30:26] David C. Smalley: Exactly. The only point of these dyes is to make food brighter and more attractive. Foodsafetynews.com shows that the differences in the UK and in America when it comes to the same products are striking. So back in 2010, they wrote this, they say in Britain, Fanta orange soda is dye with pumpkin and carrot extract. While the US version is dyed with Red 40 and Yellow 6. They say that Kellogg Strawberry Nutra-Grain bars are colored with Red 40, Yellow 6, and Blue 1 in the United States, but with beetroot and paprika extract in the UK. McDonald's strawberry sundaes, they're colored with strawberries in Britain—
[00:31:03] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:31:03] David C. Smalley: But with Red 40 in America.
[00:31:06] Jordan Harbinger: That explains so much.
[00:31:07] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:31:07] Jordan Harbinger: That's why it's a bright ass red. Yeah.
[00:31:10] David C. Smalley: Yeah. So I went to fact-check this myself. I literally went to a grocery store. I picked up a box of the Nutri-Grain bars at Target. The product here says vegetable juice for color. So it's possible that either the info online is outdated, it's possible that it's regional, or that California has some regulations, but because it's not banned in the US there's no way to know which products have it, which ones don't, which companies decide to stop using it when the controversy starts, and then start using them again. Or, which local stores around me import UK versions of the product, so read your labels carefully because the dyes aren't banned.
[00:31:48] I also fact-checked the cancer claims, and I found this on Healthline. They say that the safety of artificial food dyes is highly controversial. However, the studies that have evaluated the safety of food dyes are on long-term animal studies. So interestingly, studies using Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 found no evidence of cancer-causing effects.
[00:32:12] Jordan Harbinger: Great.
[00:32:12] David C. Smalley: But pause.
[00:32:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:32:14] David C. Smalley: An animal study on Blue 2 found a significant increase in brain tumors in the high dose group. Male rats given Red 3 had an increased risk of thyroid tumors. Then, after just saying that the dyes themselves don't necessarily cause cancer, they say this, quote, "While most food dyes did not cause any adverse effects in toxicity studies, there is some concern about possible contaminants inside the dyes."
[00:32:39] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man. Like an ingredient in the ingredient is the thing that's bad for you.
[00:32:42] David C. Smalley: Exactly. Just like with aspartame.
[00:32:44] Jordan Harbinger: Just like the bagels. Yeah.
[00:32:45] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Just like with aspartame, the phenylalanine is the issue, not the specific aspartame. So Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 may contain contaminants that are known cancer-causing substances. With the exception of Red 3, there is currently no convincing evidence that an artificial food dye specifically causes cancer. But you know, there's an asterisk there. So—
[00:33:05] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah.
[00:33:06] David C. Smalley: Red 3 is definitely the worst, but who the hell knows about the rest?
[00:33:09] Jordan Harbinger: That is scary. But also, you know, it makes me think, you know that race to make food sweeter. So like we go from sugar to cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup—
[00:33:17] David C. Smalley: High fructose, yeah.
[00:33:18] Jordan Harbinger: It's almost like, "Hey, this Red is not Red enough for people to go, 'Dang, that's red and I want to eat it.' So let's use the reddest thing we can find that contrasts against the ice cream in the sundae or whatever. We need the reddest of the red. In fact, even if we're going to have strawberries, I want Red syrup with Red 40 in there so that when people pour these out, they're like, 'These are the reddest strawberries I've ever seen in my life.'" You know, so we constantly kind of ratchet up our level of how salty, sweet, or Red or Blue or Green or whatever the hell that we require to make sure something looks fresh or appetizing, and that's a bad idea. That's a race to the bottom.
[00:33:53] David C. Smalley: So this is either, I want to blame one of two groups. It's either the fault of focus groups, because if we had never known how bright it was supposed to look, if the strawberry sundae was just that color of pink, we would've just rolled with it, right? But when they stick two of them in front of a focus group of 12 people and eight of the 12 go with the brighter color, they go, "Aha, we have to inject the food dyes." Like it's not really all that necessary. It's either their fault or amazing photographers who take these beautiful photos. Alter the colors and the lighting so that the reds pop and everything's amazing and it makes your mouth water. And then you go to the store, you go to the restaurant and you buy it and you're like, "This doesn't look like a picture." And then so they're like, "All right, we'll strap in, buddy. Here's a good shot of Red 3 in your face." And now it looks like the picture, you know? And so that can cause a lot of the issues. Yeah.
[00:34:45] Jordan Harbinger: We'll be right.
[00:34:46] This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton. It's the time of year where we start thinking about what next year will bring. We make New Year's resolutions to exercise more, but let's face it, will you actually stick with it? It's been proven that you're more likely to stick to a routine if it's something you enjoy, which is why so many people stick with Peloton. The instructors are so fun. It's like working out with a friend. There's a very strong Peloton community. Also, I'm all about data. And Peloton tracks your metrics so you can keep tabs on your performance over time. And right now, Peloton's got a gift for you. Get up to 200 bucks off accessories like cycling shoes, heart rate monitors — both of which I have and use regularly — and more when you purchase a Peloton Bike, Bike+, or Tread, and up to a hundred dollars off accessories with the purchase of a Peloton Guide, which will turn your TV into an AI-powered personal trainer. Make this the first step toward achieving your fitness goals in the new year. Choose from Peloton's cycling to scenic runs, boot camps to power walks. A huge variety of classes that work for you, taught by world-class instructors who know exactly how to get the best out of you. So don't wait. Get this offer before it ends on December 25th. Visit onepeloton.com. All-access membership separate offer ends December 25th, cannot be combined with other offers. See additional terms at onepeloton.com.
[00:35:52] If you like this episode of Feedback Friday and you found our advice valuable, I invite you to do what other smart and considerate listeners do, which is take a moment and support our amazing sponsors. To learn more and get links to all of the discounts and all the codes, they're all in one place, a very searchable place works on your phone. jordanharbinger.com/deals is the page. All of those codes are there, and you can also search for any sponsor using the search right there on the website as well at jordanharbinger.com. Thank you so much for supporting those who support us. It really does keep us going and makes it possible to continue creating these episodes week after week.
[00:36:27] Now for the rest of Skeptical Sunday.
[00:36:31] I went to go to the Great Barrier Reef half a decade ago in Australia, and I'm snorkeling around with the instructor or the guide. We got out of the boat and she goes, "Amazing, isn't it?" And I go, "Yeah, I just thought it would be like much more colorful. Is that because of coral bleaching?" And she's like, "No, you moron, it's because we're not on the Discovery channel. You can't see those colors underwater with your stupid goggles."
[00:36:51] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:36:51] Jordan Harbinger: "You know, they fine tune that after they film it. It's filmed on a hundred thousand dollars underwater camera. That's just not what it looks like in real life. It's what it looks like under ideal conditions after being retuned by a laboratory." And I was like, "Oh, so I've come here to expect the full technicolor or whatever experience and coral reef have never looked that way, ever to the human eye."
[00:37:13] David C. Smalley: You're swimming around going, "This sucks. It's not even in 4k."
[00:37:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I flew all the way out here. It's all like, there's salt in my mouth. How dare—? Where's my snack? Yeah. And she was just, she was offended by how—
[00:37:24] David C. Smalley: Oh.
[00:37:24] Jordan Harbinger: I was like, "Well it's a little disappointing because it's not bright." Meanwhile, I thought it was about environmental pollution, and she's like, You're a terrible person. Just get out of my reef."
[00:37:33] David C. Smalley: I love the response, "No, you moron, because we're not on the Discovery channel." That's the best.
[00:37:37] Jordan Harbinger: Totally.
[00:37:38] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:37:38] Jordan Harbinger: She was just like, "No, you watch too much TV." And I was like, "Okay, thanks for the tour, jerk.
[00:37:43] David C. Smalley: So this one's scary. I made an off-the-cuff mention about red meat at one point on the show. I think during our expiration dates episode, but this again from organic.org ractopamine, a re-partitioning agent that increases protein synthesis, which basically just means it makes animals more muscular and reduces fat. So organic.org estimates that ractopamine is currently used in about 45 percent of US pigs while live science.com estimates it's about 60 to 80. It's in about 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys are pumped full of this drug in the days leading up to slaughter. Here's the scary part. Up to 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket. According to veterinarian Michael W. Fox, it is banned in 160 countries, including all of the EU, Russia, China, and Taiwan. In fact, In 2013, Russia put a ban on US-imported meats until we are willing to certify it as ractopamine-free. But currently, we don't even test for it, let alone regulate or ban it.
[00:39:00] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Yikes. That's terrifying. It sounds like something bodybuilders would use before a contest, right? Just get leaner and more muscular but I get it, they want the animals leaner and to produce better meat, because pigs are supposed to be fat. But if you can make the denser, muscular part and it just has enough fat, then you're going to get a better price for the hog.
[00:39:18] David C. Smalley: So that's the purpose. But the drug itself was originally developed to treat asthma, so it's like a steroid to strengthen the patient. And it was only adapted for animal use when it was accidentally shown to boost growth rates. So livescience.com says that the FDA approved ractopamine for use on pigs — here's another scary piece of this, after just one human health study, and in the study, they only evaluated six people, and the six people were young, healthy men, one of whom dropped out because his heart started racing and pounding out normally.
[00:39:51] Jordan Harbinger: So don't worry, only 15 percent of the people almost died taking this.
[00:39:55] David C. Smalley: So three years later, the FDA sent, ractopamine sponsored this 14-page letter accusing the company of withholding information about the drug's, adverse animal effects and safety and effectiveness, and was really threatening. Shortly thereafter, the FDA then required drug manufacturers to add this warning. Here's the warning, ractopamine may increase the number of injured and/or fatigued pigs during marketing, not for use in breeding swine. But the warning only goes on pig and cow feed, not on the meat packaging for humans to consume.
[00:40:28] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man.
[00:40:29] David C. Smalley: So not only is ractopamine associated with major health problems in food-producing animals, such as Downer syndrome, which is essentially extreme fatigue, somewhat so to the point that they won't even stand up on their own as well as severe cardiovascular stress. It's also been linked to heart problems and even poisoning in humans. And after being banned in 160 countries, it's still allowed in the United States.
[00:40:54] Jordan Harbinger: How can this be possible? Why are there not federal regulations on this or any of the other chemicals that you've talked about so far? I mean, the FDA does a decent job with a lot of things. This seems to be completely under their radar for decades.
[00:41:09] David C. Smalley: You know, on my podcast when I bring on conspiracy theorists—
[00:41:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:41:12] David C. Smalley: —anytime they start to bring up some issues with our government or issues with secrets, I have to give them a little bit of leeway and go, "I know there's some issues, I have too. Not all the ones you have. I think whenever Johns Hopkins University and multiple different outlets are all confirming the same thing from different parts of the world, I tend to believe it more." But there are some issues politically within our government that should be addressed.
[00:41:36] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:41:36] David C. Smalley: So if you have a chance to pop by opensecrets.org, you're going to see that the food and beverage industry gave a total of 53 million to American politicians in 2020 alone. So when the government speaks about it, they acknowledge that like ractopamine exists, but then they'll just say something like, "It's not in big enough amounts to be of concern." That's their answer for just about anything.
[00:42:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I hate that answer. I mean, look, many times that answer is indeed true, but as we found out from our breadspiracy above, sometimes it's not true and it's like, oh yeah, well this is often true, but 30 percent of the time it is true. And good luck to you if you were raised on those brands because now you're taking in a crapload of it but hey, whatever.
[00:42:20] David C. Smalley: Yeah. And by the way, and speaking of the bread thing, it could be about the temperature to which you bake the bread.
[00:42:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:26] David C. Smalley: If it's baked at, you know, 160, you know, let's say 300 degrees for an hour, then, it might go away more. But if it's baked at 280 for 48 minutes, it might not be enough.
[00:42:40] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:42:40] David C. Smalley: So the bread is baked, but maybe the potassium bromine, you know, stays in your system.
[00:42:45] Jordan Harbinger: So like one batch has a crap load of it and one batch is fine. Or when they started testing it years ago, they're like, "We haven't changed a thing other than baking it for 10 fewer minutes, but whatever." And it's like, well, that made all the difference.
[00:42:55] David C. Smalley: Exactly.
[00:42:56] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh, scary.
[00:42:57] David C. Smalley: So I've got another one I want to jump into. This one is mostly being taken care of, it's known as BVO. So according to Mayo Clinic, bromine, which we're back on the same sort of potassium bromide, bromine situation, or bromate, which this one is found in BVO, which is called brominated vegetable oil. So just like in real life, this bro thing seems to make everything worse.
[00:43:20] Jordan Harbinger: I was going to say, bros are so bad for you.
[00:43:22] David C. Smalley: Bros are ruining all of this. So BVO can irritate the skin, irritate the mucous membrane, and while long-term exposure can cause neurologic symptoms like headache, memory loss, impaired balance, or loss of coordination, that's why it's banned in Japan. It's banned in the EU. So the primary use of this has been in drinks, specifically citrus-flavored sodas. So in 2014, Coca-Cola removed BVO from all of its products, but until 2020, BVO was found in Mountain Dew and some different flavors of Gatorade, both owned by PepsiCo, so they just announced two years ago that they were removing that toxic chemical from the drinks, but it's still not banned by the FDA. So pay close attention to your drinks. It's usually in citrus-based drinks because it's used as an emulsifier that helps to keep the citrus oils from just floating to the top so that every drink tastes the same. So many brands still use it, so just watch your labels closely.
[00:44:17] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so like Squirt. Remember that? That was so good, man. That's an underrated pot.
[00:44:22] David C. Smalley: Yeah, that was one of my favorites as a kid. It was one of my favorites and I don't know for sure if it has it.
[00:44:26] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:44:26] David C. Smalley: It sounds like it would. I didn't specifically check that one and I don't want anyone freaking out. But yes, that's sort of in line with the products that would use it.
[00:44:33] Jordan Harbinger: I could use a Diet Squirt right now.
[00:44:35] David C. Smalley: Yeah. And I don't know if you have any animals, but BHA and BHT are synthetic antioxidants that can be found in dog foods primarily, but it's also in breakfast cereal. It's in nut mixes. It's in chewing gum, butter, spread, some meats, dehydrated potatoes, and beer.
[00:44:52] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:44:52] David C. Smalley: That one broke my heart.
[00:44:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's not good.
[00:44:55] David C. Smalley: So BHA is known to cause cancer in rats, and it may be cancer causing in humans as well. In fact, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the National Toxicology Program's 2011 report on carcinogens says that BHA is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. BHA and BHT are both banned in parts of the EU and Japan.
[00:45:16] My mom is a certified vet tech and she refuses to give her dogs any food that contains BHA or BHT. If you look at the treats, the dog treats, the main brand of dog foods, it's in all of that stuff. So you got to dig to find stuff that doesn't have it.
[00:45:31] Jordan Harbinger: Man, yikes. I mean, luckily it seems like it's in a lot of pet foods, but chewing gum, I mean, there can't be that much in there, but I guess it depends on how much gum you chew. Beer seems like it could add up quick.
[00:45:41] David C. Smalley: I've got one more. So it's called Olestra. Have you heard of it?
[00:45:45] Jordan Harbinger: I feel like I have because it was in the news and it was, what is this? This was a potato chip thing or like a fat thing?
[00:45:52] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:45:52] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:45:52] David C. Smalley: So it's usually in french fries and fat-free potato chips. So whenever they started pushing for things to be like more fat-free or whatever.
[00:46:00] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:46:00] David C. Smalley: delish.com writes, low-calorie counts aren't always worth it when the product is made with cooking oil substitute, Olestra, which inhibits your body's ability to absorb vitamins, which is why it's banned in Canada and in the EU. So sometimes there's no way to tell if your product has been made with it, and until it's regulated or banned, you just really may never know, which is why it's just best to avoid those items to begin with, like fried things or whatever. Or at the very least, just keep it in moderation.
[00:46:28] Jordan Harbinger: So the running theme here is not only are these chemicals proven to be dangerous in some form or fashion, but they're either not fully tested or they are suspected to be harmful to humans and not fully studied.
[00:46:40] David C. Smalley: Right. And you'd think it would be enough that several other countries are banning the products, but America just doesn't seem to give a damn.
[00:46:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So, do we have an idea of how much this actually affects the health of Americans? Like is there impact that we can measure from this?
[00:46:54] David C. Smalley: Well, I'll put it like this. Out of roughly 195 countries in the world, America is number five for cancer rates per capita. We're number 14 in obesity. And according to the World Health Organization among OECD countries who participate in leading the world in economic development, the United States is the fattest country in the group with 36 percent of our population classified as obese. 34 million Americans are diabetic and one person in the United States dies from heart disease every 36 seconds.
[00:47:28] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. That sounds really bad any way you slice it.
[00:47:31] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Especially when Japan, Israel, and other parts of the EU ranked pretty low on the cancer scale, and Spain, who was, of course, part of the European Union and Japan, who banned most of the same foods as the EU are tied for the healthiest countries in the world while America ranks 35th overall with the score of like 75.
[00:47:50] The National Institute of Health released a report in 2010 showing that the United States lags behind many countries in increasing longevity ranking just 49th among world countries in life expectancy at birth. And this isn't just about death. The analysis showed that, for example, a man who was 20 years old in 1998 could expect to live about 55 additional years, spending about 10 of those years with serious disease and about 3.8 years with limited mobility. But in contrast, a man who was 20 years old in 2006 could expect to live about a little bit longer, about 56 years, but 56 more years, but spend more time with disease, 12.3 years instead of 10.
[00:48:34] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:48:34] David C. Smalley: And more years with a lack of mobility 5.8 years instead of 3.8.
[00:48:39] Jordan Harbinger: So you're living like one year longer, but spending two more of those years with serious disease and less mobility, that's terrible. That's going backwards. It really is.
[00:48:48] David C. Smalley: It's the new American dream.
[00:48:50] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[00:48:51] David C. Smalley: You know, everyone wants that easy-to-follow guide or that magic pill to answer all the health and weight loss. And I'm going to, I'm going to give it to you. I'm going to, I'm going to hand you what you've always, what you've always wanted.
[00:49:01] Jordan Harbinger: Move to Spain or Japan.
[00:49:03] David C. Smalley: Here we go. One other thing I found is that in Spain and Japan, those healthiest countries in the world, with all those banned additives, they also happen to have the highest amounts of people who walk to work. So there are no shadowy secrets here. Eat your vegetables, have the occasional snack, drink a Diet Cola with dinner if you want, but walk every single day and you'll increase your chances of not being a sickly American who dies too young. Also, look both ways, buses can really throw a wrench in that whole longevity thing.
[00:49:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, super healthy, but then he got hit by a beer truck. Who knows?
[00:49:37] David C. Smalley: Beer?
[00:49:38] Jordan Harbinger: Who knew? It must have been those bromides in the beer, man.
[00:49:42] David C. Smalley: Must be.
[00:49:43] Jordan Harbinger: David, thank you very much. Really enlightening. And now, I would say I'd go have a snack, but everything in my pantry has to go straight to the trash now.
[00:49:50] David C. Smalley: It's all disgusting.
[00:49:52] Jordan Harbinger: All right. Felt good to drop a Skeptical Sunday here to wrap up the year. Any feedback, any suggestions on topics for Skeptical Sunday, please do keep those coming. You can shoot 'em to me as a DM on Instagram. You can hit me on LinkedIn or just email me email@example.com.
[00:50:06] A link to the show notes for the episode can always be found on the firstname.lastname@example.org as well. Transcripts in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. Again, you can connect with me on LinkedIn. There's less crazies there, I've found. You can find David Smalley at @davidcsmalley on all social media platforms, at davidcmsmalley.com, or better yet, on his podcast, The David C. Smalley Show. Links to all that in the show notes as well.
[00:50:30] This show is created In association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogerty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer and you shouldn't trust my advice even if I were, so do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. Hey, if you found the episode useful, share it with somebody else who needs to hear it and enjoy your holiday, full of foods, banned or otherwise. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:51:06] Here's a preview with a former undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Gambino crime family in New York for nearly three years, resulting in the arrest and conviction of 35 mobsters and get this, he's not even Italian. Here's a bite.
[00:51:21] Jack Garcia: Jordan, I've done everything. I mean, I have posed as a money launderer. I've worked as a drug dealer. I have worked as a transporter for drug dealers. I have worked as a warehouse guy, the whole gamut. My career was 24 out of 26 years was solely dedicated working undercover. If I wasn't working for the FBI, I would've been investigated by the FBI.
[00:51:43] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. Yeah.
[00:51:44] Jack Garcia: I walk in, I'm in the bar, and there's a barmaid there, good-looking young lady. She's serving me. "What would you like? I usually, my drink was, "Give me a Ketel One martini with 3 olives, a glass of water on the side." I finished the drink. The guys come in, I'm going to go. Go in my pocket, take out the big wad of money, that knot with the rubber band on it. Bam! Give her a hundred dollars. You're not a guy who takes out a little leather wallet and he's going through the change, or he is that.
[00:52:13] Now, can you imagine four gangsters sitting around going, "Let's split it up. I had the soup, you had the sandwich, the french fries. Well, what about the tip?" Sometimes we get into bidding war that goes, "Hey, your money's no good here." "What are you doing? You're embarrassing me over here." "What do you mean? You paid a lot." "Let me get this. Forget about it." "You pay for it." If I would've gone in there and became a guy who had never a penny, never went into his wallet, never picked up a tab, never had a dime, never kicked up money, never gave tribute payment, I'd be on my ass. They throw me out.
[00:52:45] If you're with the mob, I say, "Hey, Jordan. You are on record with us." That means we protect you. Nobody could shake you down. We could shake you down, but you're on record with us.
[00:52:56] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including tricks wise guys use to know who's legit and who's not, mob culture, and the rules that govern the always upward flow of money, and how Jack became so trusted by the highest levels of the organization that they offered him the chance to become a made man, check out episode 392 of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Jack Garcia.
[00:53:18] Once again, special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. We really appreciate your support.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.