Food is bad for you; stay away from it

so somebody on IRC said that rich-chocolate Ovaltine causes pancreatic cancer. this was news to me, and rather important news, as my dad likes Ovaltine.

so I Googled. this was the first hit for 'ovaltine cancer':

DoctorYourself.com - Stealth Foods

run by a man named Dr. Andrew Saul.

the first and most obvious warning sign is the text 'World's Largest HEALTH HOMESTEADING Site' under the banner. this bears several red flags:

but wait, there's more…

the first 'past winner' is:


more caps.

You’d expect Food, Drug and Cosmetic Blue #1 to be an ingredient in marshmallows, right?

actually, I wouldn't... marshmallows are white, last I checked. (maybe they do contain Blue #1, but I wouldn't expect it. [this is actually his point, but, whatever.])

…And "Quaker’s Life" cereal contains artificial Yellow color. Do we dare ask what real Quakers would think of putting yellow paint in little Mikey’s breakfast bowl?

'It's Latex-Licious!'

But the Doctor Yourself Tarnished Silver Award for this month’s STEALTH FOOD goes to OVALTINE! Yes, "Ovaltine," the health food of my youth, can no longer be trusted: "Rich Chocolate Ovaltine" in fact contains not one but all THREE chemical colors: Yellow #6, Red #40, and Blue #1!

Y6! R40! B1! BINGO!

When I called them up (you can too: 1-800-442-0099) —

this is the phone number for a pizza parlour in the Bronx. (just kidding.)

— to say that it is just a tad inappropriate for a product with a long reputation for quality to have THREE artificial colors on it …

if it had no reputation for quality, this would be all right.

… The only part of "Rich Chocolate Ovaltine" that is “rich” —

if you're paying attention, you noticed that he mixes smart quotes and dumb quotes.

— is the profit that Himmel Nutrition is making at the expense of consumers that don’t read the fine print on the label.

if they weren't making a profit from it, this would be all right.

Give ‘em a call and tell them you will not buy it until they drop the food paint.

do you imagine some factory worker dipping paintbrushes into all the cans of Ovaltine?

also, wouldn't dropping paint just make a mess everywhere? certainly bad for sanitation.



Children who eat hot dogs once a week double their risk of a brain tumor.

who were they comparing against?

Youngsters eating other cured meats, such as ham, sausage and bacon, had an 80 percent higher risk of brain cancer. This study was done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

he doesn't really cite it properly. this article by Ralph Moss covers it better.

… But here is the very important good news: Children who ate hot dogs and other cured meats, but who also took supplemental vitamins, had reduced cancer risk.

doesn't this suggest that the problem is not with too much cured meat, but with not enough vitamin intake?

(Jean Carper’s syndicated column in Lancaster, PA Intelligencer-Journal, Weds., June 22, 1994.)

Do you recall ever hearing anything in the media about this?

well, it was in the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal in 1994.


'AHHH! he knows what my kids are brushing with! RUN, CHILDREN! RUN FROM THE EVIL DR. SAUL!'


hey! your caps lock is still on!

— and —

there you go.

— it has been bought off, all right.

any proof for that statement?

A substance that can cause cancer has no business being allowed, ever, in the food supply.

that would be a 'no' then?

If you question this, ask yourself: How many drops of rat urine would you accept in your next glass of lemonade? Twelve? Five? Two? Even half a drop of rat urine? Yet no case whatsoever can be made that rat urine causes cancer.

so, um, what's your point?



Any dentist will tell you that saccharin chemically does nothing to prevent tooth decay.

why is the word 'chemically' in here? because saccharin replaces sugar, which causes tooth decay. so preventing tooth decay is not a chemical action of saccharin, it's an effect of replacing sugar with it.

(I agree with his point, but he's basing it on faulty logic.)

If they brush every day, that’s 365 small doses of a carcinogen a year.

worse, children who brush during leap years have a higher risk of cancer than those who don't!


at first I thought this was supposed to say 'DIY'. then I realised: DoctorYourself.com. oh well.

Those little candy hearts with “I LUV U” and “BE MINE” on them have a special, super secret: they make great children”s paints!

I wonder what gave him the idea to try this.

… Grind them up, combine equal parts water and powdered candy, and stir. Get out a model-sized paintbrush and white paper and have the children write their names in food paint. It works all too well. Then ask the kids what it does to their stomachs. Listen carefully to their answers and insights.

probably something along the lines of 'I dunno. it's candy, it's good, right?'. I don't think you should be relying on children for information pertaining to biochemical action.

But I am not convinced that we should voluntarily EAT paint.

why not? 'It's Latex-Licious!'

So read every label and vote with your dollars.

I tried this in the last election. they kicked me out. 'legal tender', my foot.


right. it's not like they're FDA-approved or anything.


Okay, nobody is likely to consider a frozen pepperoni pizza to be a health food, —

no kidding? wow.

— but even junk food eaters deserve simple honesty in packaging, just as cigarette smokers deserve an ingredients list on a pack of smokes.

try some variety at your next dinner. smoke a pizza.

… Only problem is, the fine print on the side of the box very quietly tells us that the number two ingredient in the pizza’s topping is “cheese substitute.” You have to read very carefully to find this statement, and even then, many folks do not realize that ingredients are listed by weight, largest to smallest. So the second ingredient is a huge one.

Dr. Saul fails at statistics.

the fact that it is ranked second means nothing as to its proportion of the product, except relative to the other ingredients. the fact that it is second means only that it accounts for the second-highest amount of the product — nothing else.

here's an example. let's say that the first ingredient is 90% of the product. (this is unlikely, but I'm being dramatic.) so it cannot possibly be more than 10% of the product — already far below my definition of 'huge'. if there are a total of 11 ingredients (for the sake of arithmetical simplicity), and the last ten are equally divided, that's 1% of the product for each of those last ten. definitely not huge.

… And while you are at it, you might want to read up on each of the no fewer than SEVEN artificial preservatives in this “Pizza for One (TM).”

fine, what are they?


Hens by the thousands raised in such claustrophobic, crowded cages that the birds will literally peck each other to death. To reduce prison-yard aggression in chickens, red tinted contact lenses are now marketed for poultry workers to slip into the birdy’s eyes. It takes a trained operator just a few seconds per bird, the manufacturer claims. I do believe I have my nomination for the World’s Worst Job.

uh… what does any of this have to do with food safety?

The Doctor Yourself Award for STEALTH FOOD Manufacturer of the Decade goes to GENERAL MILLS, INC.

I wonder if he shouts every brand name he says aloud. imagine him in a supermarket.

… FLEA POWDER CHEERIOS are the flavor you probably have not heard about… even though you may have already tasted them back in 1994.

it was a limited edition.


shout it again. I didn't hear it the last two times you said it.

… The chemical chloro-pyrifos-ethyl (which also kills ticks and termites) was sprayed on oats used to make no less than 16 different General Mills, Inc. cereals. Not 16 boxes, but 16 varieties, amounting to 160 MILLION BOXES, …

if you shout the word 'million', it sounds like even more!

… and LUCKY CHARMS (“Ooh, now look at what they ‘ave in wit’ me Lucky Charms: pink dead fleas, yellow dead ticks, and blue dead termites!”)

hey, not everybody can pull off cereal with meat in it.

Of course there are precious few insects in General Mills’ cereals, because they check for them.

so then that last statement of yours was just hyperbole.

But in 1994 General Mills (with annual sales of about 9 BILLION dollars) …

if you shout the word 'billion', it sounds like even more!

who cares how much revenue they make?

… said, “One of the things bothering us about the General Mills incident is it went on for an extended period of time, and they didn’t know. …”

so, uh… they didn't know about the residue? why are you blaming them, then?

So what happened next? A massive product recall? … No such luck. “We didn’t want to raise an alarm for no good reason and scare people, but we didn’t want to fail to warn them either.” said Dr. Lynn Goodman, assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances at the Environmental Protection Agency.

OK. so General Mills didn't recall the pest-killing cereals. but the government also didn't push them to do it — if this was a real public-safety issue (and if it was, how come there wasn't a rash of child deaths from it?), the government must share in the blame for not pushing a recall.

UPDATE, 2005-12-25 5:17 AM: I decided to Google this too, and found an Environmental Working Group article that mentions the Cheerios incident. the whole article (which covers a lot of things, not just the Cheerios matter) is highly critical of FDA, but praises General Mills for (a) stopping sale of the tainted cereal (though it doesn't say that they recalled it) and (b) aggressively pursuing the people who contaminated the oats.

General Mills now checks for pesticides. Good. But who checks General Mills? If a company can sell 110 million boxes of contaminated cereal, and nothing at all happens, what does this say about our government’s real interest in food safety?

so you started out bashing General Mills, and now you've switched to the government. make up your mind, please?

and by the way, I didn't find anything suggesting that Ovaltine causes cancer. in fact, I found one webpage that suggests that Ovaltine is fine, and another that suggests that Ovaltine is good for cancer patients. so much for that.


at 1/19/2006 01:21:00 PM, Anonymous TheToothWhitner said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

at 1/23/2006 03:57:00 AM, Blogger Peter Hosey said...

spammers begone!

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