Waiter…..Is That a Paraben in My Soup?


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The Good Human published a post back in 2007 explaining what parabens are and how to stay away from them.

We followed up yesterday by looking specifically at Parabens lurking in your cosmetics, how to identify and avoid them.

A study in the Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology stated that we eat ten times more parabens in foods than we apply topically. So, today we are looking at this potentially more worrying way that we can come into contact with parabens. We want to offer straightforward advice to help us to to keep ourselves safe, by knowing the impact of exposure to these chemicals and reducing the amount of them that we swallow!

Courtesy 101 Toxic
Courtesy 101 Toxic

Natural Parabens

Parabens do occur naturally in many plants including blueberries, mangos, barley, strawberries, carrots, onions, cocoa beans and vanilla. The problem seems to be with the synthetic parabens, labelled as certain E numbers that are added to our foods.

Why are Parabens Added to Our Food?

Courtesy All That is Interesting
Courtesy All That is Interesting

Parabens are added to food for exactly the same reasons that they are included in our cosmetics. They are used to preserve foods, preventing the growth of bacteria, yeast and mould. Consumers are becoming used to food lasting for unnaturally long periods of time. Past techniques of salting, smoking and freezing are taking the back seat when cheap chemical agents can be added easily.

The parabens most frequently found in food are methylparaben (E218) and ethylparaben (E214). An Acceptable Daily Intake of 0-10mg per kilogram of bodyweight per day for methyl- and ethylparaben has been set in some countries. Other parabens in food to be aware of are Propylparaben (E216), Heptylparaben (E209) and Butylparaben.

Liao at al

A recent study by Liao et al tested a number of prepackaged foods and beverages and found levels of parabens in an astonishing 90% of items tested. It is difficult to ensure that we are only ingesting the acceptable daily limit, therefore, when we are eating many foods containing these E numbers and concurrently using paraben filled cosmetics.

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  1. We don’t mind shopping more frequently (we belong to a food coop. Hurray!) since the food is local & organic and thank goodness Chocolate was spared. One more reason (as if I need more) to LUV chocolate. Thank you for this article. Will share.

  2. After a severe breakout, a dermatologist diagnosed me as being allergic to Parabens and Quarterminum-15 both formaldehyde based product. Over the last two years I’ve been able, through making my own products, to get them out of my hair, face, body and deodorant products.

    I have some internal health issues that I’ve wondered if these two additives were in food and contributing to the issue. Doctors have not been able to determine why my system reacts the way it has. I am now on a quest to severely reduce/eliminate the amount of parabens I consume. Keep the information coming.

    1. Hi Renee, thank you very much for commenting. It sounds like a real journey for you to live a life free of parabens. Making your own cosmetic products is a great step in the right direction! Good luck with further reducing your exposure.

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