Another Reason to Eat Organic – Toxic Flame Retardants Found in Conventional Food

Written by Max Goldberg on June 5, 2012. Follow Max on Twitter: @livingmaxwell.

I almost fell over in my chair the other day when I read this one in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

In nearly half of the samples tested, researchers found traces of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) in peanut butter, cold cuts, turkey, beef, and other fatty foods.

So what is HBCD exactly?

It is a flame retardant commonly used in the foam insulation of building walls, upholstered furniture, automobile interior textiles, car cushions and electronic equipment.

How toxic is it and who is concerned about it?

- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that HBCD is “highly toxic to aquatic organisms. It also presents human health concerns based on animal test results indicating potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects.”

HBCD is also on the EPA’s List of Chemicals of Concern.

- As a result of its toxicity and harm to the environment, the European Chemicals Agency decided to include HBCD in its Substances of Very High Concern list within the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, the European Union’s framework to regulate chemicals.

- Because of its toxicity, a global ban on HBCD is currently being considered under the framework of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Of course, the chemical industry sees absolutely no reason to be alarmed at these test results.

Bryan Goodman, a spokesperson for the lobbying group North American Flame Retardant Alliance of the American Chemistry Council, has been quoted as saying “Based on these findings, the real story is that HBCD was not detected in the majority of the samples and in those where it was, it was well below levels where one might see adverse health effects. These results should not pose a concern for human health.”

Dr. Arnold Schecter, a public health physician at the University of Texas School of Public Health and an author of the study, said that all of the brands tested were “conventional” and none marketed themselves as organic.

MY TAKE

Based on this study, we know for sure that conventional food contains this toxic flame retardant.

We also know for sure that conventionally-grown food allows the use of highly toxic pesticides while organic food does not.

Since there is an abundance of chemicals everywhere – in our food, water, air, household products – and the majority of cancer is caused by environmental factors, we need to do whatever we can to keep dangerous toxins out of our bodies.

That means buying non-toxic cleaning products, organic/natural/eco-friendly personal care products, air purifiers for our homes, and ultra-purified water. It also means buying organic food.

The other thing that I want to address is something that came up the other day in the post I wrote about bluefin tuna containing radioactive material and it comes up again in this story – A consistent response that the amount of chemicals found in the food “does not cause harm” or “does not pose any risk to human health”.

I just shake my head in disbelief when I hear this.

Would the people making these statements put “small amounts” of this toxic material on a spoon and insert it into their mouths?

Never.

If we want to feed our families the safest and most nutritious food, organic food is the only option.

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