Beer McCarthyism - The Food Babe Goes After Breweries Again
    By Hank Campbell | June 12th 2014 01:08 PM | 13 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Vani Hari, an earnest unqualified pundit who sells a lot of stuff on her website, implies you will look like her if you don't eat foods she cannot pronounce. And now she has gone after pizza.

    No big deal. Whereas people who eat at Subway are easily duped and thus it was simple to get Subway to not use a completely harmless additive, the pizza market is another issue entirely.

    How does she get away with it? Well, she doesn't need to be accurate, she is pretty, and for the mindset she is catering to, that is what counts. She uses the science illiteracy of the nutritionist segment to full effect and conspiratorially declares that Little Caesars, California Pizza Kitchen and Mellow Mushroom must be hiding something if they refuse to answer her uninformed questions about ingredients.

    And it wouldn't matter if they did. ABC News, in its eternal quest to alternate Scare Journalism with its Miracle Vegetable stories, is giving her a national platform to make up stuff about beer, which also must be hiding something because they simply say they are not using the ingredients  she claims is common and won't print the recipe on the bottle.

    Why go after beer? Even anti-GMO people are smart enough to immediately declare they will exempt beer from any and all GMO labels in order to avoid that cultural buzzsaw. It seems Vani Hari treads where others fear to go because her husband drinks beer, and this Father's Day she wants to worry about his diet. He probably likes that. He married her, after all. My wife is happy to let me puree bacon and drink it at midnight as long as my life insurance policy is paid up. I like that about her too.

    How did The Food Babe determine beer is bad? Most of her 'research' involved getting bogus information from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is a modern day Food Temperance movement that has also been in a war on alcohol for decades and creates nonpartisan groups to give awards to any Democrat willing to put a warning label on genetically modified foods. Her contribution involved things like calling up a customer service person at a brewery and asking if they thought any of the ingredients were genetically modified. When the person said yes, boom, article written. Then when the brewery, in this instance Heineken, wrote to correct her, she said 'they regret their error'. Their error? You asked someone who knows the least about a product a science question and declared their answer authoritative. That is not 'research'

    Tom Cizauskas instead calls it Food McCarthyism - social authoritarianism using the same naturalistic fallacy we see embraced by many anti-science people. 

    She wants to create science policy by scare-mongering; basically the DDT playbook, though hopefully without killing millions of children. When it comes to beer, she wants her audience to look idiotic by asking questions like if their beer has MSG (answer: none of them), EDTA (none), sulfites (none) and even about propylene glycol – an ingredient in airplane deicing liquid (!!! OMG!!!!). Propylene Glycol is used in chilling systems in breweries, so at least she is in the building, it's just not in the beer. Why does she think it's in the beer? I don't think she does, I am not sure she does any thinking, she just reads something and repeats it. But it worked against Subway, by claiming their bread was yoga mats.

    Someone must have pointed out that organic wine contains sulfites because I can no longer find pictures of her drinking the stuff. Her Facebook page is all pictures like this now, food which is made of a bunch of chemicals she can't pronounce but somehow is still okay. Link: Food Babe

    She doesn't seem to understand how any food is actually made, including beer, she is just promoting let them eat kale idealism and progressive First World food entitlement. She tries to chide beer for using isinglass to clump yeast, for example.  What is isinglass? It is crushed up fish bladders. Ewwww, icky, to food elites. Except it has been used as a clarifier in beer for hundreds of years. It is as artisan, traditional and as organic as it gets.

    How much isinglass is in beer? Well, none, it literally sinks to the bottom of the tank. Everyone who knows anything about beer chemistry knows this.

    What about those beaver anal glands she claims beer makers use, the same way she claimed Subway bread was like eating yoga mats? Honestly, you don't think beaver anal glands in beer would cause sales to skyrocket? I bet even her husband would secretly buy it to share with his friends, if she can actually find a beer made with beaver anal glands. It would probably cost $100 a bottle because, outside Vermont, where the little pests are shutting down whole highways, beaver anal glands are hard to find.
    I know if I tried to get on ABC they would first say, 'you are not pretty enough to be an expert on food' and then they would have a fact checker substantiate everything I wrote. 

    They didn't fact check her at all, instead they tasked beer companies with refuting her claims. MillerCoors, does not, for obvious reasons, want to give out a proprietary recipe, other than to make obvious assurances about allergies. "We do not use nuts or dairy in the brewing process. And we don't use fish bladders either." Anheuser-Busch simply says that it uses none of the ingredients cited by Hari.

    Well, duh. That's because no one does.

    ABC gets to claim they are covering "the controversy" so fact-checking claims is unimportant but Science 2.0 is about science, and fact-checking is important. Maureen Ogle did just that when she read the Food Babe's claims last year. She wanted to know what was true and what was hype so rather than fall back on hysteria, she contacted a group of beer experts to separate the beer from the foam.

    Their answers were about what you expect. Many of them, biologists and brewers, including for the largest beer maker in the world, had never even heard of some of the things the Food Babe claims are a Big Beer conspiracy.


    Norm Benson
    Damn, I should have trademarked “Let Them Eat Kale.” :)

    According to Mitch Steele there are some sulfites in beer—yeast give it off as a by-product—red wine has much more than beer. “Yeast generally produce 3-5 ppm sulfite naturally during fermentation, so adding sulfite as a preservative is what will take you over 10 ppm. No brewery in the United States uses sulfites in beer. The practice is rare worldwide, and the beer would have to be labeled as “contains sulfites” if sold in the US.”

    Beaver Anal Glands
    Man, I have got to get my hands on some beaver anal glands. If Wynkoop can put bull nuts in their Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, you have to do something to top it. On second thought, those Scottish bastards at BrewDog have probably done it already. I mean anybody crazy enough to put a beer bottle up a squirrel’s butt (End of History beer) has probably already made a beer with beaver anal glands.

    Wait…you puree bacon? Awesome. You know if you add an ounce of kale you will make it healthy.
    Norm Questioning green dogma since 1972.
    Yes, I thought sulfites in beer were basically undetectable in any mode of action way. I never heard of anyone being allergic to it in beer the way some can be in wine. 

    Like a lot of her claims, I didn't know about the beaver anal glands until she brought it up. But I didn't know about MSG in beer either. I didn't know a lot of things that aren't true until I read her article.

    I've never actually pureed bacon, but I could. My wife apparently does not control love me as much as his does.

    Josh Bloom
    My wife apparently does not control love me as much as his does.

    Just. Plain. Hilarious.
    Josh Bloom
    Josh Bloom
    P.S.  Propylene glycol is quite safe. You can literally drink it. This is because it is converted to pyruvic acid—part of the Krebs cycle.Ethylene glycol is not safe. It is converted to oxalic acid (the same stuff many kidney stones are made from). You don't want this. They are both anti-freezes, but they are night and day.
    Josh Bloom
    Yes, I didn't want to get too bogged down in distinctions, since neither was is actually in the beer. I am surprised she didn't say electricity was dangerous to eat, since it powers the cooling systems that keep the beer cold.
    I think you missed the point here. If you prefer to eat crap that you don't know what is in it, I'd argue you are in the minority. Just because you think its safe or someone said they have proven you can eat it doesn't mean it shouldn't be labeled. Pretty simple who cares who requested it what she looks like or her background. It was necessary. Personally in drink beer that doesn't have filler ingredients or corn syrup. I want a beer with quality ingredients not what was the cheapest crap to make. Cheers to your coors light. I'll pass.

    Josh Bloom
    It all tastes like goose piss to me. 
    Josh Bloom
    Indeed, I am not a drinker so I fail to see the Anonymous point. Cheap beer and expensive beer both don't have the ingredients she claims they have so let's criticize all beer? That logic makes so little sense I assumed it would come from the Food Babe.
    Anonymous was quite clear. He or she wants to know what is in the food or beverage to be consumed rather than trust a manufacturer who states that everything is hunky dory, TRUST US. Food labeling for origin or ingredients help consumer knowledge.

    Not familiar with the woman raising the questions, but it seems she is raising the wrong ones; I'm not unfamiliar with beer production. Why do you label her "progressive?" Do you know how she feels on economic issues, women's rights, intervention into foreign lands, whether or not to lift the social security cap, free trade agreements, expanded Medicaid etc.?

    Norm Benson
    You haven't tried my goose piss.

    I make my beer with pretty good chemicals, and only the finest beaver anal glands.
    Norm Questioning green dogma since 1972.
    I can't see what her problem is then. She says only to consume stuff that she can pronounce. Surely she knows what beaver is. 

    They may be hard to catch, though. Some men spend their whole lives chasing the things.

    Josh Bloom
    Buddy- You don't know me.  And you have NO idea how many varieties of goose piss I've sampled, so be careful with your assumptions.    Somehow this turned into Junior High School.  And I think it's my fault.
    Josh Bloom
    I wonder if she knows that even the best organic beers contains alcohol?