Wednesday, May 20, 2009 by: Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
Key concepts: Hexane, Soy and Food
(NaturalNews) Virtually all "protein bars" on the market today are made with soy protein. Many infant formula products are also made with soy protein, and thousands of vegetarian products (veggie burgers, veggie cheese, "natural" food bars, etc.) are made with soy protein. That soy protein is almost always described as safe and "natural" by the companies using it. But there's a dirty little secret the soy product industry doesn't want you to know: Much of the "natural" soy protein used in foods today is bathed in a toxic, explosive chemical solvent known as hexane.
To determine the true extent of this hexane contamination, NaturalNews joined forces with the Cornucopia Institute (www.Cornucopia.org) to conduct testing of hexane residues in soy meal and soy grits using FDA-approved and USDA-approved laboratories. The Cornucopia Institute performed the bulk of this effort, and NaturalNews provided funding to help cover laboratory costs.
The results proved to be worrisome: Hexane residues of 21ppm were discovered in soy meal commonly used to produce soy protein for infant formula, protein bars and vegetarian food products.
These laboratory results appear to indicate that consumers who purchase common soy products might be exposing themselves (and their children) to residues of the toxic chemical HEXANE -- a neurotoxic substance produced as a byproduct of gasoline refining.
But how dangerous is hexane, exactly? Is it something that could be dangerous at a few parts per million? And which soy-based products on the market right now might be contaminated with hexane?
To answer these questions, NaturalNews looked into public documents surrounding Martek Biosciences Corporation, a company that manufactures DHA for infant formula, using hexane for extraction.
We found disturbing details about Martek, including a documented explosion in the wastewater treatment system downstream from the manufacturing plant. This explosion was caused by hexane pollution.
We also found documents revealing Martek's application for permission to pollute hexane into the environment, as well as a planned emission cap that would put the company just under the limit for being considered a "major polluter" of Hazardous Air Pollutants.
Additional documents reveal concerning information about the safety of Martek's oils used in infant formula. All this information is being released in tomorrow's feature story on NaturalNews, so be sure to check back to read that. The remainder of this story focuses on the use of hexane in soy products.
What you probably never knew about Hexane extraction
To learn more about the use of hexane in the health industry -- and in soy products in particular -- we turn to the Cornucopia Institute's recently-published report called Behind the Bean (http://www.cornucopia.org/2009/05/s...)
This report contains some of the most shocking information you've probably ever read about the possible dangers of this chemical solvent used in the processing of soy. Here are some highlights of what it explains about hexane: (Quotation marks indicate exact verbiage from the Behind the Bean report.)
• Hexane is a petroleum chemical produced as a by-product of gasoline refining.
• "Hexane is used to process nearly all conventional soy protein ingredients and edible oils and is prohibited when processing organic foods."
• Soybeans are bathed in hexane as part of their processing by food manufacturers.
• "Hexane is a neurotoxic chemical that poses serious occupational hazards to workers, is an environmental air pollutant, and can contaminate food."
• Hexane has been detected as a chemical contaminant in soy-based foods.
• There is no requirement that food companies test their products for hexane residues (including soy-based infant formula).
• Soy protein isolate and texturized soy protein (TVP) are made using hexane baths.
• "The soy protein ingredients in most nonorganic foods such as vegetarian burgers and nutrition bars are processed with the use of hexane."
• Shocker: "Products such as Clif Bars with the label "made with organic oats and soybeans" are required by law to have 70% organic ingredients -- the remaining 30%, however, can legally be hexane extracted."
Soybean processing releases hexane into the environment
Perhaps one of the most shocking realizations in all this is that soybean processing facilities release huge amounts of hexane chemicals into the environment. It is an unavoidable part of the hexane extraction process, and right now tens of millions of pounds of hexane are being released into the atmosphere each year by soy processing companies like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill.
Here are more startling facts about the release of hexane chemicals by soybean processing facilities: (cited from Behind the Bean by the Cornucopia Institute) (http://www.cornucopia.org/2009/05/s...) (Quotation marks indicate a direct quotation from the Cornucopia Institute's report. Non-quotation marks indicate paraphrasing of this source.)
• Soybean processing plants release hexane into both the air and water.
• Hexane is considered by the EPA to be a hazardous air pollutant. It defines this as airborne compounds "that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental and ecological effects."
• "In 2007, the last year for which data is available from the EPA Toxics Release Inventory, grain processors were responsible for more than two-thirds of all hexane emissions in the United States, releasing 21 million pounds of this hazardous air pollutants."
• A soy processing facility owned by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Decatur Illinois reportedly released almost 2 million pounds of hexane into the environment in a single year! Each year in Illinois, ADM, Cargill, Bunge and other companies release nearly 5 million pounds of hexane into the environment.
• "Solae, a major supplier of soy protein ingredients found in vegetarian burgers, energy bars, and other "all-natural" foods, emitted nearly one million pounds of hexane, as a pollutant, from its factories in Ohio and Illinois. Its plant in Bellevue, Ohio, is the nation's seventh largest emitter of hexane, releasing more of this hazardous air pollutant than other major sources such as Exxon Mobil's oil refinery plant in Baytow, Texas, and Firestone's tire factory in Orange, Texas."
• "On August 29, 2003, two workers died when hexane gas in a Sioux City, Iowa, soybean processing plant ignited."
• Hexane explosions have occurred in Italy, Mexico (200 dead) and South Africa, often killing or injuring chemical plant workers.
• In 2001, a truck carrying 4,500 gallons of hexane caught fire and exploded, injuring the truck driver and setting fire to nearby homes.
• Hexane also poses a serious health danger to workers: "Workers who come in dermal (skin) contact with hexane experience immediate irritation characterized by erythema and hyperemia, and they develop blisters after several hours."
• According to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the permissible exposure level of hexane is 500 parts per million (ppm) for workers with 8-hour exposures. Exposures of 800 ppm for 15 minutes can cause respiratory tract and eye irritation, as well as symptoms of carnosis. At higher exposure levels, workers can develop symptoms of nausea, vertigo and headaches.
• "Workers who are chronically exposed to hexane levels ranging from 400 to 600 ppm, with occasional exposures of up to 2,500 ppm, have developed polyneuropathy, a neurological disorder. In these cases, distal symmetrical muscle weakness is common, and nerve biopsies show nerve damage. A recently published peer-reviewed article in Environmental Health Perspectives hypothesizes that occupational exposure to hexane may contribute to the development of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy, a disease that causes loss of vision. Chronic exposure may also lead to blurred vision, restricted visual field, and optic nerve atrophy." (Read more details in Behind the Bean at http://www.cornucopia.org/2009/05/s...
• Almost no research has been done to test the toxicity of hexane residues in foods -- not on adults, nor infants.
• "According to EPA reports, small quantities of solvent (up to 0.2 percent by volume of oil) can be present in oil after extraction, even after solvent recovery by film evaporators and a distillation stripper. A Swiss team of scientists tested various oils and found hexane residues in some of the tested oils."
• Test results from the Cornucopia Institute's lab tests (funded in part by NaturalNews): < 10 ppm hexane residues in soy oil. Soy meal: 21 ppm hexane residues. Soy grits: 14 ppm hexane residues.
• "Most soy-based infant formulas contain ingredients that have been hexane extracted. In fact, nearly every major ingredient in conventional soy-based infant formula is hexane extracted."
How can you protect yourself and your children from hexane?
As these laboratory tests reveal, hexane residues may be alarmingly widespread across the "natural" foods industry. In fact, as the Cornucopia Institute reports:
"...hexane-extracted soy protein is found in the vast majority of nonorganic foods with soy ingredients that appeal to health-conscious, environmentally conscious, and vegetarian consumers. For example, Gardein™ is a Canadian company that produces meat analogs -- soy-based "chicken" and soy-based "beef" -- for brands and private labels including Yves Cuisine®, Morningstar Farms®, Trader Joe's, and It's All Good Foods®, and for grocery store prepared foods departments such as Whole Foods. While the company describe its process for making these meat analogs as "pure and simple," it does not mention that it starts with hexane-extracted soy protein."
In the United States, there is currently only one way of knowing for sure that the soy-based foods you purchase is free of hexane contaminants: Look for the green USDA Organic seal on the package:
• Beware of claims of "natural" soy -- Even hexane-extracted soy can be called "natural."
• Beware of claims of "made with organic soy" -- Such products may still contain non-organic soy-based ingredients extracted with hexane.
• Beware of "veggie" products containing texturized vegetable protein. Many of these products not only likely contain hexane chemical residues; they also are usually made with yeast extract, a flavoring ingredient that contains MSG, a neurotoxin. (Imagine the impact of these two neurotoxins in combination...)
• Don't feed your infant soy protein. Instead, opt for human breast milk (the best option), or goat's milk formulas such as Genesis Organics (www.GenesisOrganics.com).
The bottom line - the Health Ranger's opinion
From my point of view, these highly disturbing findings about hexane residues appearing in processed soy products just confirm what we've known about these food conglomerates for a long time: Big food companies are serving up poison to infants, teens, adults and senior citizens.
Not only are these food companies bathing their soy products in a neurotoxic chemical, the FDA is once again asleep at the wheel, allowing dangerous chemicals to remain prevalent in the food supply while doing virtually nothing to warn consumers or ban the toxic chemical from soy product processing.
Thus, We the People once again find ourselves in the position of being poisoned by the food companies and betrayed by the FDA. If that sounds familiar, it's because this has happened again and again with toxic ingredients ranging from monosodium glutamate and aspartame to sodium nitrite and petrochemical food colorings.
Big Food and the FDA, in fact, almost appear to be conspiring to poison the population... which just happens to create a windfall of profits for Big Pharma -- the other corporate master of the FDA.
It's a clever scam: Poison the people with hidden chemicals in the food supply, then when their organs start to fail, drug them on monopoly-priced pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, the FDA enforces the whole thing by outlawing real food (like raw almonds or raw organic cow's milk), thereby forcing people to eat chemically-contaminated processed food.
To put icing on the (processed) cake, the FDA allows these companies using toxic chemicals to claim their products are "natural." They even allow some health claims for companies using soy in their formulas -- even when that soy has been bathed in hexane!
Protect yourself from the toxicity of processed foods
There is no limit to the insanity of what goes into the food supply when profits are at stake, it seems. And this use of the toxic solvent hexane to process soy that's used in infant formula, protein bars and "veggie" products is yet another example of why it's smart to avoid nearly ALL factory-made foods, regardless of their health claims.
When you grow your own food (or just buy fresh produce and food staples) and prepare it in your own kitchen, you know what goes into it. You also know what's NOT in it (such as hexane or melamine). It's the only sure way to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of processed foods made by food commodity giants that are motivated by money, not concern for your health. In fact, the attitude about chemical contaminants by many U.S. food giants mirrors the attitude about melamine in infant formula as demonstrated by China's powdered milk manufacturers: "Ah, what's a little melamine gonna hurt anyway?"
But it does hurt. It hurts your health and harms your children. There are 10,000 children on dialysis machines in China who can prove it to you. And that's why, in my opinion, these companies using hexane-contaminated soy protein in their products deserve to be publicly exposed, heavily fined and perhaps even shut down and run out of business.
Why modern society looks the other way on chemical contamination of foods
Why are companies run out of business when salmonella is found in their peanut butter (for example), but when toxic chemical solvents are found in their soy proteins, the mainstream media says nothing, the FDA does nothing, and the whole world pretends it's all just business as usual?
I'll tell you why. There is an irrational, false belief that continues to permeate society today, and it's founded in the lies of Scientism and the reductionist approach to western thinking. That false belief is that chemicals are good for you, but bacteria are bad for you.
This is the whole thinking behind the widespread use of antibiotics (which actually promote hospital superbugs) and the mass fumigation of California almonds (just to make sure they're no longer RAW). It's the reason why raw milk is outlawed, but chemically-contaminated soy milk is legal. It's the reason why the FDA views the food supply as safe only if it's sterile. It's the big lie about food safety, and virtually every mainstream newspaper, TV station and journalist buys into it.
They think salmonella is deadly dangerous, but MSG, aspartame and sodium nitrite are just fine. They believe in the lie that chemicals are safe as long as the FDA doesn't say anything against them!
But it's hogwash. A sterile food supply is a dead food supply. And dead foods don't keep people alive for very long. Hence the slow, torturous death of our aging population. Our people are not living longer; they're dying longer!
I say this: We are headed for a disastrous collapse of public health stemming from the mass chemical contamination of the food supply and the genetic alteration of the human population. I've covered this in a video report called Genopocalypse which you can watch for free as a promo to TheBestDayEver.com. Check it out here: http://www.thebestdayever.com/healt...
In the mean time, avoid all soy products that are not labeled USDA Organic, and don't feed yourself or your babies processed soy protein bathed in toxic hexane.
Looking for a good soy product? Try Eden Foods' soy products. Other trusted soy products are named in the Cornucopia Institute's report here: http://www.cornucopia.org/2009/05/s...