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Lice killer in your ice cream: Know what's in your food

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
The TV show "The Doctors' uncovers dangerous food additives

Thanks to caring doctors on television, we’re learning more about food additive ingredients that can harm health. Some additives that you might not know about include lice killer in your ice cream and potassium bromate in your bread that can induce asthma and is banned in Canada and Europe. Recent news coverage about ‘pink slime’ or mechanically separated meat used at McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King highlights the need to know what’ s really in your food. If you don’t know, don’t eat it.

On February 27, Chef Rocco DiSpirito will unveil some unhealthy food ingredients on the TV show, 'The Doctors'.

Sadly, despite exposure of the food industry by Food Inc., four years ago, food suppliers are still putting profit ahead of human health.

Lice killer in your vanilla ice cream

If you like vanilla ice cream, you may have noticed most of it doesn’t contain any vanilla bean. The reason is it’s too expensive. Food manufacturers add a synthetic flavoring called piperonal which is also an ingredient in lice killer.

Just so you’re clear, the National Library of Medicine HSDB Database lists piperonal - which you won’t know is in your ice cream because it’s not labeled – as “moderately toxic” and a “human skin irritant”.

Avoiding ice cream doesn’t mean you’re not exposed to the toxin, which is also used in candles and cosmetics. Even if you don’t ingest it, you could unknowingly inhale the lice killer ingredient that weakly resembles vanillan.

Your chicken meat may be loaded with chlorine

Included in the ‘in-depth’ investigation from ‘The Doctors’ is why chickens are dipped in chlorine, soaking up levels that are 50 times higher than you’ll get from your local swimming pool. You may be surprised to learn the reason it’s done, doesn’t even work for the intended purpose.

But in case you’re wondering why you can’t taste the chlorine in chickens, it’s because after being disinfected they’re injected with salt water to mask the taste and to plump them up. The end result is heavier weight and higher price, with a side of chlorine. The Doctors did a test to find out the chlorine baths don’t even work to fend off bacteria in the meat.

What’s in your bread products?

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Potassium bromate, or just bromate is added to some bread – and might be in some flour – to make it doughier and springy.

Potassium bromate, added to many types of bread, is banned in the UK and Canada. The chemical is considered carcinogenic by the EPA. In 1991, California declared bromate a carcinogen under the state’s Proposition 65.

‘The Doctors’ TV show also uncovers another bread ingredient, azodicarbonamide that can aggravate asthma and induce other respiratory symptoms in humans.

The chemical that’s put in hamburger buns and donuts is also in foamed plastics. So why is it in your food? There isn’t a good answer, but many fast food chains use it in breads, including McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King.

Consider the 12-year old burger photo accompanying this article, used by Dr. Jim Sears in his nutrition lectures. There isn’t even any mold because of all the additives - something to think about the next time you're craving 'fast-food'.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is “evidence that azodicarbonamide can induce asthma, other respiratory symptoms, and skin sensitization in exposed workers. Adverse effects on other systems have not been studied.”

What to look for

To avoid dangerous food additives, ‘The Doctors’ offer the following tips:

  • If your chicken has more than 50 to 75mg of sodium, it isn’t natural – it’s been ‘plumped up’ and you should avoid purchasing.
  • Buy foods with fewer ingredients and make sure you can pronounce them
  • Cook your own food. Avoid pre-packaged; pre-prepared meals whenever possible.
  • Stay away from foods that have ‘artificial flavors’ and dyes – especially Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellow 5 & 6

The take home message is that it’s important to know what’s in your food. Many food additives that are dangerous to health are approved by the FDA. Understanding what’s really in your food can lead to healthier eating and change your eating habits. Consider making your own ice cream to avoid lice killer added to some vanilla ice creams. Cook your own food fresh, check your bread and flour for potassium bromate, especially if you have asthma, and avoid artificial ingredients that you can't even pronounce.

‘The Doctors’ – PR Release
“What’s really in your Food?”

NLM HSDB database
Piperonal: Human Health Effects


Image credit: 'The Doctors" - Dr. Jim Sears



And the dumbing down of America continues. Piperonal is a natural component of natural vanilla. Piperonal in artificial flavors is no more or less dangerous or different than piperonal in your pure, 100% natural organic vanilla extract. The Doctore must be another show where no-one knows what they are talking about. Ratings before truth.
Dig a little deeper. It's processed. Nothing good has been found about consuming processed ingredients that aren't food - that's the point. Per the article "the National Library of Medicine HSDB Database lists piponeral.... as “moderately toxic” and a “human skin irritant”. Eating toxins doesn't seem smart to me. It doesn't naturally occur in vanilla beans, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ie50198a014
Thank you for the counterpoint on that. Our standards get diminished by submitting to business and government to tell us what is good for us. People don't care what they eat until they're getting treated for something and then often they still don't care. It's sad. I always say that if you put enough sugar and flavoring in rat poison it would taste great, nevermind that the FDA figured out how to mete it out in trace amounts so that it just kills you softly.
You're welcome. Another additive that scares me is cottonseed oil. We're consuming more than most realize.
Oh yes, indeed. It's in a lot of stuff, including cosmetics!
good job