The New Yellow Journalism

yellow-journalism
While to a certain extent it’s easy to understand the reaction of the big brewers, it’s still just sad. It’s the equivalent of negotiating with terrorists, in this case the food terrorists, so to speak. If you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about yet, it’s the so-called Food Babe, and her weird crusade against beer, among many other foodstuffs. She’s the modern version of yellow journalism, all sensationalism and almost no substance. It’s described as “a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.”

Her first salvo was last year when she sensationally claimed to expose The Shocking Ingredients in Beer. Almost every one was as un-shocking as it gets, especially if you understand the brewing process. But that’s the new yellow journalism, and unfortunately you see it all over the internet. A provocative headline to grab page views, link bait or something just overly sensational is all you need. It’s happened so many times since I’ve been writing online that I’ve lost count. And it works. The beer community rushes in to correct egregious mistakes, faulty reasoning, uninformed opinion while the hit count spikes, advertisers smile and websites raise their advertising rates. It rarely matters that what’s written is often wrong, sometimes so utterly wrong that it should be embarrassing for not only the author, but the publication, too. And yet curiously, it’s not. And for me, that’s why it’s yellow journalism. It’s not intended to be factual, or well-researched or reasoned. It’s sole purpose is to get eyeballs on the page. And facts apparently are boring. The truth is somnambulistic. Controversy, even the manufactured kind, is what brings the traffic.

food-babe
The “Food Babe” with her comically large magnifying glass.

I don’t need to rehash all that was wrong with the original missive by the Food Babe, The Shocking Ingredients in Beer. Plenty of people dissected it at the time, though none better than Ambitious Brew author Maureen Ogle, who enlisted the help of several respected brewers in her lengthy, comprehensive denunciation What’s In YOUR Beer? Or, The Dangers of Dumbassery, which she later summarized in All About Beer Magazine as Don’t Be A Knee-Jerk, Research the Facts. As Ogle notes, the Food Babe started her “research” with a “baseline list of ‘legal’ additives allowed in beer from the book ‘Chemicals Additives in Beer’ by the Center of Science and Public Interest.” Despite its name, the CSPI is a prohibitionist organization that rarely has anything to do with actual science. It’s one of the most egregiously dishonest of the bunch, in my opinion, an opinion assembled from following them for many years. They’re hardly a good place to begin an honest attempt to look at the ingredients in beer. Plus she begins by stating she’s not even a beer drinker, but prefers wine, even though many of the process chemicals she accuses beer of being composed of are also used in making wine.

A close second, there was also Thomas Cizauskas’ take in Beer Wars: The Calumny of The Food Babe. But others, before and since, have noted that Vani Hari (the Food Babe’s given name) has zero credentials in food sciences, or any other science, apparently. See, for example the RationalWiki or Joe Schwarcz: The Food Babe is anything but an expert on GMOs, writing in the Montreal Gazette. There’s no shortage of people writing about what she’s saying — pro and con — and that, of course, is the point. She’s so out there that people can’t help it; the Ann Coulter of food punditry. Despite so many people crying foul, it’s had no effect whatsoever, which is exactly what you’d expect if truth was never really the goal.

So yesterday, she doubled down and penned an open letter and petition: Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors: Tell Us What’s In Your Beer! This, despite the fact that beer is hardly a mystery, and its ingredients and processes are not only well know, but readily available to anyone who wants to learn about them. But learning about what’s really in beer has apparently no interest to Hari whatsoever. There’s no angle she can sell in that. But ignorance is indeed blissful, and over 40,000 possibly well-meaning but similarly misguided people signed her petition, despite not really understanding the current law regarding alcohol is different for most other food products.

And she even contradicts herself with the basic premise. In her ridiculous graphic, she says that we know what’s in Coca-Cola and Windex, but not beer (even though she claimed to unearth what’s in beer last year) even though anyone paying attention already knows what’s in beer, how it’s made and the process chemicals that are not in the finished product. It’s hardly the #MysteryBeer she claims it to be. That’s a joke, a lie and a very effective way to drum up visitors. There’s no mystery to end, and she knows it. But it’s a fabulous way to get more attention for herself. And boy is it working.

But worst of all, earlier today ABI quickly caved. As a public company, I presume they concluded that the publicity was bad for their image, despite the absurdity of it. Of course, if she’d done even a modicum of actual research, she would have known that since at least 2012, ABI created a website (probably in response to the watering down claims) called tapintoyourbeer.com , which lists for every product they make, the ABV, fat, energy, carbohydrates and proteins. Now they’ve begun listing the primary ingredients for some of their products. For example, for Budweiser they list: “Water, Barley Malt, Rice, Yeast, Hops (ingredient listing is consistent with the FD&C Act).” In their official statement, they say they’ll be expanding that information with additional beer ingredients.

We provide significant information about our beer and their nutritional content through both our consumer hotline (1-800-DIAL-BUD) and our global consumer-information website www.tapintoyourbeer.com, which we have expanded over the years. This exceeds what is required of alcohol producers and is beyond what many other beer, wine and hard liquor producers provide. However, as American consumer needs evolve, we want to meet their expectations. Therefore, we are working to list our beer ingredients on our website, just as you would see for other food and non-alcohol beverage producers. We are beginning immediately, having incorporated this information earlier today on www.tapintoyourbeer.com for our flagship brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, and will be listing this for our other brands in the coming days.

To which, the Food Babe is claiming victory for her and her “Food Babe Army,” which is apparently what she calls her followers or fans, and states that they have “change[d] the policies of a multi-billion dollar company overnight.” But she’s not done, not until every brewery falls in line with her demands. She’s now posted a new graphic crowing about ABI caving in to her demands and asks what MillerCoors is hiding now that they’re “drinking in the dark,” whatever that means.

FB_AnheiserBuschHappyBeer
It’s curious how she had this photo of herself in front of a wall of beer cans all ready to go.

But according to Brewbound, MillerCoors also listed their primary ingredients on their Facebook page earlier today.

At MillerCoors, we put quality and safety above all else. Our beers are regulated by the TTB and every one of our products meets all federal and state regulatory requirements.

We’re proud of the care that goes into the production of all of our beers and have been brewing great-tasting beers with the highest quality ingredients for more than 440 combined years.

From the purity of the water we use to the highest-quality hops and malted barley, our brewmasters go to great lengths to ensure the quality and consistency of our beers.

We also value transparency and are happy to comply with the request for additional information. Earlier this year, we led all alcohol companies by voluntarily placing a nutritional label on our Miller64 brand and we will be putting more ingredient information online in the days ahead.

We will be including the ingredient list starting with our most popular brands, representing the overwhelming majority of our brand volume:

Coors Light, Miller Lite, Blue Moon Belgian White, Coors Banquet, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller High Life, Keystone Light and Miller Fortune.
Coors Light: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Lite: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller High Life: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Keystone Light: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Blue Moon Belgian White: Water, barley malt, wheat, oats, yeast, hops, orange peel and coriander
Coors Banquet: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Genuine Draft: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Fortune: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops

Maybe she didn’t have time to update her graphics again. Certainly she knows Miller Coors posted these, because she’s posted on their Facebook page, with this:

I have an email from you that says you use “corn syrup” and it’s a main ingredient in your beer – also – you said via email that bluemoon and banquet both have corn syrup. Where’s the full list of ingredients?

They replied, trying to explain that “the corn we use is a liquid corn brewing adjunct, but it is not high fructose corn syrup.” The ignorance about brewing displayed in the comments, presumably by her Food Babe Army, is as alarming as it is remarkable.

The problem is with the first expose, where the Food Babe brought up many different chemicals and items which are used in the brewing process but are not ingredients. Some are used to cool the beer through the process, some for cleaning, and some for other purposes that don’t end up in the beer you drink, some of which never touch the beer at all. For just one example, she claimed glycol was in beer. But that’s merely a coolant used to chill beer in the brewing process. It never touches the beer … ever. If it did, it would ruin the beer. But it’s still there in her list, displaying either a comic ignorance or a malicious intent to mislead. But that’s the irony. She’s claiming to be holding brewers’ feet to the fire to be truthful and transparent, while she herself is being completely dishonest. If her intent was honest, by now she would have modified her earlier attack to reflect the reality she would have, or should have, learned in the year since she first made her absurd claims about what’s in beer. If she was being honest, she’d admit some, if not all, of what she’d claimed was in beer, really wasn’t, for the simple fact that it’s not. That she appears to have learned nothing in the year since she first made her sensationalist claims, and stands by every one of her absurd statements, tells us everything we need to know about her veracity and her real intentions.

Most brewers I know don’t have a problem rattling off their beers’ ingredients nor would they probably mind listing them on the bottle or can, if they were required to do so. It’s not a conspiracy that they don’t have to currently. They do have to list them when they submit each beer for approval to the TTB, who regulate beer and other alcohol at the federal level. There’s already been discussions about listing nutritional information and/or alcohol and servings information. So nobody’s getting away with anything, or trying to poison you with chemicals, as the Food Babe suggests. That’s just bullshit. Whether or not you like the beers made by the big brewers, they’re very well made and modern breweries are industrial and technological marvels. For the most part, they’ve perfected the science of brewing. It’s too bad the fizzy yellow color of their beer is now the same color of the journalism attacking the beer industry.


UPDATE (6.13): To further prove my point, throughout the day, several people have commented that the Food Babe does not allow any dissenting opinions on her Facebook page, removing and banning anything challenging her point of view. And I’m not talking about anything insulting or harassing, I’m talking about science that refutes her. For example, the gentleman who writes the Facebook page Science Corner told me he was “blocked when I pointed out her inconsistencies and lack of fact checking. As a scientist I referenced my comments with actual facts taken from peer reviewed scientific journals.” Nothing says “honesty” like not allowing any debate. To makes matters worse, apparently her minions are now attacking me personally. Not my arguments, mind you, just my character. For example, one Food Babe Army soldier asked me if I was “bought & sold by Monsanto” or speculated that perhaps “Most of [my] investments [are] in big AG.” Hilarious, they really know me so well. I’m not exactly sure why dissent is so assiduously forbidden, if — as her followers insist — she’s just trying to get at the truth. As one commenter claims, “she’s trying to help WE THE PEOPLE make better decisions so we don’t become sick.” Apparently her plan to help these people with their decision-making will be accomplished by not allowing honest debate. Yet I’m the one who is “the YELLOW JOURNALIST,” as one of her wingnuts spat at me. It’s simply amazing.

Big Chin Superhero

UPDATE 2 (6.17): Several other rants about how dishonest Hari is being with her anti-beer campaign are worth taking a look at. First, Maureen Ogle wrote some new observations in Beware the Dangers of [Profit-Driven] Dumbassery. A couple more include Trevor Butterworth writing in Forbes, Quackmail: Why You Shouldn’t Fall For The Internet’s Newest Fool, The Food Babe, and Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe): The Jenny McCarthy of Food by David Gorski, writing in Science-Based Medicine. We’re all continuing to get trolled by the Food Babe Army, which is almost funny. One interesting troll tried to find fault with my take on glycol as a coolant, but mistook propylene glycol for another similar-sounding food safe compound used in salad dressing, among other things. For him it was a “gotcha” moment and (despite being wrong) he then declared (again) that I was “the yellow journalist.” This brings up two points in my mind. First, what the hell is wrong with these people? Why are they even using the term “the yellow journalist,” as if that’s a thing? They clearly don’t understand what yellow journalism is. I helpfully included a link to an overview of yellow journalism so that anyone unfamiliar with the more than 100-year-old term (almost everybody, one presumes) could see what I was talking about. The second point, and the more troubling of the two, is the idea that if Vani’s Army found one mistake in what I’ve written then that invalidates my entire argument and means that I’m the one engaging in yellow journalism. It’s a curious argument. They’re holding Vani’s critics to a standard of perfection that they’re not willing to impose on her. As far as I can tell, this has become about emotions and belief, and the facts no longer seem to matter, if indeed they ever did. That’s a scary prospect, but how else to explain why so many people seem to believe what she’s saying so uncritically and continue to do so when faced with numerous refutations disproving what she’s saying, and which are actually backed up with real science or expertise or experience. And speaking of being uncritical, it’s quite remarkable how many mainstream media outlets have given Hari a forum, and are passing on her misinformation without ever doing any fact-checking or maybe getting a second or contrary opinion. So much for being fair and balanced. But again it comes down to sensationalism, and the fact that controversy is what people what to see, the truth be damned.

UPDATE (7.14): Maureen Ogle today mentioned a new piece about the Food Babe in the Charlotte Observer, ostensibly the Food Babe’s home paper, Charlotte’s Food Babe has lots of fans – and some critics. Unsurprisingly, it’s mostly a fluff piece although at least it does address some of the criticisms leveled at Vani Hari. But it lets her get away with more than a few howlers, such as “Hari says she is simply trying to help people understand what’s in their food and hold companies accountable. She says she has researched her critics and that they attack anyone who opposes alternative nutrition.” Really, she’s “researched her critics?” I’d feel a lot better if she’d research their arguments and the science behind her original absurd claims.

Interestingly, the article mentions that she, and her husband, left lucrative “six-figure incomes” to run the website full-time, one that’s “packed with advertising and product endorsements. You can even buy an eating-plan subscription for $17.99 a month.” As someone who makes zero from writing this blog (and that’s on purpose I should add), I’d say you have to sell an awful lot of snake oil to make that work. Of course, the “babe” in food babe all but guarantees that she’ll get television time since we love people who are telegenic over substance so you’ll not be surprised in the least that she also has a “William Morris Endeavor agent to handle her TV appearances.” Frighteningly, a publisher is even putting out a book, “The Food Babe Way,” so that doesn’t sound like a cult or anything scary.

As to where she makes her money, something her “Army” loves to level at her critics (for example, commenters asked if I was being paid by Monsanto, oddly enough), it’s been revealed that she was a paid consultant to Chick-fil-A, but also claimed victory over the fast food chain when they announced they’d “use chicken that was free of antibiotics within five years,” posting “We Did It Again!” According to the Charlotte Observer, “Hari has confirmed that she was paid by Chick-fil-A for her work as a consultant on their ingredients, a fact she appears to have not mentioned on her website.” Yet none of her followers apparently have a problem with or see any contradiction in that.

Then there’s this headline: “Debate is her sport.” That’s almost funny, if it wasn’t so crucial to what’s wrong with someone like like Hari. She may claim to love debate, but she assiduously avoids it by banning anyone who questions her “findings,” even politely. The comments section of any piece written about her is rife with people telling tales of being banned, even this post.

Under “Science or silliness?,” the Observer brings up the nonsense about glycol, thusly:

Her claim about “an ingredient found in antifreeze” being added to beer also draws criticism. Actually, the ingredient used is propylene glycol alginate, a kelp derivative used to stabilize head foam, not propylene glycol, a coolant. She later clarified this on her website.

While she sort of updated information about her original claim, under Big Update: The Truth That Beer Companies Have Not Made Public Yet, under the subheading “‘Propylene Glycol Alginate’ is added to beer as a foam stabilizer,” she continues to mistake Propylene Glycol Alginate, or PGA, for “Propylene Glycol” that’s used in antifreeze, even though they’re two completely different animals. And in the original post, The Shocking Ingredients of Beer, still lists “Propylene Glycol (an ingredient found in anti-freeze)” exactly the same way as when it was first posted last fall. So the that misinformation is still being disseminated, despite her claim to have “clarified” it. Considering she keeps talking about “transparency,” why not update the original post? Well, the real reason is she’s still not even close to understanding what she’s talking about, and as far as I can tell she no intention of even trying to.

Comments

  1. says

    I am floored by this. Thank you. Thank you so much for writing this. I wish this would go as viral as TFB and her ridiculousness. But alas, I’m content to sit back with the knowledge that this exists.

      • says

        Wow, you really got me, huh? Except that’s not the glycol your Food Babe was complaining about. Check your sources. In “The Shocking Ingredients in Beer,” she lists “Propylene Glycol (an ingredient found in anti-freeze)” and just because “propylene glycol alginate” has the word glycol in it doesn’t make it the same thing. This is chemistry. It’s important to look at all of the words. PGA is derived from kelp or brown algae, and is found in many different foods, like salad dressing, for example. It’s recognized internationally as a food additive.

        The other glycol, the one both your Food Babe and I were talking about is not used in beer, but to cool the vessels that the beer is put in during the brewing process.

        • Scott says

          It might be worthy to point out that much of the “confusion” regarding these “chemicals” in food comes from a fundamental lack of knowledge about organic chemistry. (Personally, I’m of the school that if you have a fundamental lack of knowledge on a subject, you should never be confused about the statements you make, a simple “I don’t know” would suffice.) Clearly, at the level that FoodBabe and the CSPI and the anti-GMO folks are playing, there is no excuse for such a lack of knowledge. But the general public simply doesn’t understand organic chemistry, seemingly CAN’T wrap their brain around it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to debunk the basic “chemicals in food” BS, only to get mired in the weeds over the intricacies of poly-ethyl/propyl-ene glycol…the average American is just not intellectually suited to understand the topic. What’s more saddening is that most don’t care to know; though they sure do care to have an opinion. (Sweeteners are another great topic regarding “chemicals” in food. “All natural” must be OK, right, like rattlesnake venom?)

          Can’t wait until the day that FoodBabe chances upon a periodic table, oh wow.

  2. says

    Fantastic piece, Jay! This “Food Babe” is clearly just another internet conspiracy theorist who makes a living off fear mongering and propaganda (but then again, so do politicians and the mainstream media). REAL journalists need to keep exposing the lies and bringing the truth to the forefront, even if that means taking AB-InBev’s side.

    I’d love to re-blog this article on my blog on the Times Union. Let me know if that’s okay.

    • says

      I’ve been monitoring this ridiculous Food Babe for quite some time now. If you ask her what her credentials are, she blocks you from posting on her FB page. If you disagree with her, you get blocked. There is a parody page that was created called Chow Babe on FB. They make fun of Ms. Hari because she’s crazy.

  3. Chris Eyers says

    Jay, this is absolutely great work. You knocked it out of the park on this one. Every time I see someone talk about the Food Babe and her “campaign of secret beer ingredients” I want to scream. Thank you again for spreading the gospel.

  4. Emily says

    I have become increasingly disillusioned by this woman and her fact spinning, manipulation, and misinformation. Your comment about dishonesty on her part made me think about how she blocks people from commenting on her facebook page if you bring up anything contrary to her stance or questions the legitimacy of her claims. I completely understand doing that to people who are harassing her but and open and honest discussion is not allowed. She is all about honesty, transparency, getting answers but doesn’t practice what she preaches. I could go on and on about more frustrations about this whole Food Babe circus but I’ll stop.

    • says

      So true. I was blocked when I pointed out her inconsistencies and lack of fact checking. As a scientist I referenced my comments with actual facts taken from peer reviewed scientific journals. I was not surprised that I was soon blocked. And ironically only the products she promotes and gets a percentage from are good for us. How is that different than these food corporations she is fighting against.

  5. Winston Smith says

    Thank for shining the light of sanity and logic into this issue. We are becoming a very bizarre culture where a blog or social media post with no factual basis whatever becomes instant “fact”.

    If our society does not wake up to this foolishness, then every person and every business is a potential target. Reputations will continue to be destroyed and sensational lies will triumph over cold, hard facts.

    The real “evil” in this story is the FoodBabe and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. They are the ones that society should telling to shut up unless they can produce facts and research that validates their idiotic claims.

  6. says

    I love that you wrote this. I could not have said this better. I started Science Corner on Facebook precisely for this reason. Honesty in journalism no longer exists and when I pointed out her flawed science I was blocked from the food babe page. It is sad that the public now gets their scientific information from yellow journalism rather than reputable peer reviewed science journals.
    Thank you

  7. says

    Ten thousand thumbs up. I go back and forth about writing on this again because i don’t want to give this media whore any more undeserved attention (back in April I wrote a blog on her initial article at opernmarket.org) but I will share this as a succinct rejoinder to Vani Hari’s existence.

  8. Renee Michaels says

    Go ahead, bash the Food Babe! It will all backfire on you because she’s trying to help WE THE PEOPLE make better decisions so we don’t become sick. The days of food/beer industries doing whatever the hell they want, poisoning us and not caring are over. She’s amazing so shame on all of you for going along with the beer giants. If you really cared, you have listed everything on your bottles from the beginning. Money isn’t everything and you will soon find that out! We will vote with our dollars!! That should send our message loud and clear.

      • says

        @Renee Michaels: She makes me pretty sick. ZING! Seriously though, you are ignoring valid criticisms of the Food Babe’s argument that bring into question exactly what she *is* trying to accomplish. Instead of just saying we’re all against Vani because we must be brainwashed by big bad beer maybe you ought to do your own research about how beer is brewed and what the laws are with regards to what brewers are allowed to put on the labels (see TTB’s website). Then you can decide for yourself if The Food Babe’s “investigation” has any merit.

  9. dan says

    what’s really a shame is that all these other media outlets (tv news, newspapers, etc) are running stories about this without doing their own research. nowhere has she shown any data or numbers or even explanations of what any of these ingredients are for (obviously, as it is contrary to her agenda)….but yet these other organizations blindly publish it without any due diligence.whatsoever. what ever happened to reporters asking questions?

  10. annette says

    And who are YOU backed by sir?! THANK heavens for FoodBabe. Are you serious to call her a “yellow journalist”??? Who are you bought & sold by??? Monsanto? Most of your investments in big AG??? You ARE the YELLOW JOURNALIST…

    • says

      Silly Annette. Hilarious hysteria. I must have touched a nerve. Now the Food Babe’s minions are attacking me, and my character. I guess that does make me the Yellow Journalist! I hope I get to wear a cape. I’ve got to start working on my maniacal laugh.

      • Rachael says

        Perhaps we can work on our maniacal laugh together Jay. Keep exposing food babe for what she is, and keep up the good work. I’m on your side 100%

    • Ryan De Witt says

      Annette, the shill gambit, please….Why not post what is wrong in what he said instead of using the old “must work for Monsanto” line. It is a tired weak argument used by people like yourself when you have no way to defend your position by any kind of facts.

  11. annette says

    And lastly, you know damn well there are thousands of questionable ingredients put in beer… the blinders are coming off the American public’s eyes and you better start finding less toxic ingredients to put in beer…. if you want to ingest caramel coloring, all the dyes and the corn syrup, etc., then go ahead…. but I want to know all the ingredients in the beer I drink!!!! I have that right and I will decide what is good and not good for me!!!!

      • TheDarkSide says

        And the important thing to note here is that Jay isn’t deleting her comments but addressing them head on.

    • Also not Annette says

      Are you aware that the TTB provides a list of approved ingredients that may go in beer? Are you aware that any additions outside this list must be submitted with a detailed statement of process, for review and approval by the TTB? Are you aware that corn sugars are fermented out when they are used? Of course not, you’d rather get caught up in the sensationalist “big companies are trying to poison us” nonsense.

    • mark says

      “And lastly, you know damn well there are thousands of questionable ingredients put in beer”

      What ingredients would those be?

      Corn syrup? Corn syrup is nearly 100% fermentable, meaning it is a source of sugar that yeast consumes and converts to alcohol. Since the corn is being consumed and converted to alcohol, you are NOT drinking corn syrup. Corn has been used for brewing beer in America since the 1800s.

      It’s a sad day in craft beer land when craft beer lovers have to defend big beer, which most of us never drink and are even deplored with some of their business practices… but there is REALLY nothing to see here.

      • Beer Can for Glass says

        Yes, I find it interesting that people that regularly read Jay’s wonderful work don’t drink big beer. I like the flavor of craft beer that is often brewed with adjuncts such as rice and corn. At the end, I wonder if people really believe that drinking beer is worse than drinking soda pop or Kool Aid? I doubt I have met any of them at my local brewery.
        Cheers!

    • Heather says

      if it’s so questionable, why are you drinking it? i didn’t like the ingredients in pop, so I STOPPED DRINKING IT. I didn’t like the ingredients in some of the chips I used to buy so I STOPPED BUYING THEM. Why on earth are you wanting to “know what questionable ingredients” are in there? If you are so concerned, STOP DRINKING BEER. simple enough?

    • Takuie says

      I know EXACTLY what is in my beer, I make it myself in my garage. Remember years ago when due to plague, the water in most of Europe was undrinkable? Did you know it was beer that contributed in large to the cleaning up of the water systems? The sad thing about all these bandwagon Americans, instead of just not buying a product they do not “approve” of, they would rather muscle the rest of the world to abide by their standards. Remember french fries cooked in lard?

  12. Tim says

    If you are seriously that concerned about any “hidden” ingredients in your beer, you know what you have the perfectly legal and sensible choice to do? Not buy it. If you really think that the beer giants are out to get you, stop drinking beer. How can you guys seriously trust someone who calls herself the “Food Babe” and uses hashtags to propel her stories? How is that not sensationalizing and selling herself out for page views?

    • Rachael says

      I couldn’t get through 5 minutes of that video. Her voice makes me want to stick a knife through my brain.

  13. mark says

    I posted a quote from this to Food Babe’s facebook. It was removed and I was blocked from her page.

    That’s one way to squash the opposition.

  14. says

    You can’t even begin to realize how much I thank you for being the voice of reason. I, too, was blocked from Food Babe’s FB page and I was blocked because of something pertaining to a completely different subject. A lady had posted and said her infant was running a high temperature and wanted to know how Food Babe would remedy it. Are you freaking serious??? I waited and waited for Food Babe’s standard nonsensical “miso soup” answer…because miso soup cures everything, including cancer, according to this whack-job…and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I posted to the lady that rather than ask someone whose background is in computers about an infant’s high temperature, how about trying this solution: TAKE YOUR BABY TO THE DOCTOR! It warranted getting a ban on Food Babe’s page. Anyone who takes anything seriously that Vani Hari says needs to loosen their tin foil hats!

  15. Bryan the Lawyer says

    Jay:

    Darn you for making me so angry. But thank you for pointing out such terrible garbage/idiocy coming from the interwebs. As a home brewer and beer enthusiast, I understand how beer is made. I am troubled by a woman who calls herself a food “babe” trying to get large breweres to reveal their ingredients. I am not a fan of Miller/Coors and AB-Inbev, but their ingredients are the same as mine. Water, Barley Malt, Adjuncts (including corn/rice/and other sugars) yeast, and hops. That is beer. Period. I guess she knows best as a wine drinker.

    Well, thanks for making me angry at another internet phony. Keep up the good work.

    Bryan

  16. Karen says

    Thank you a 100 times over for exposing the truth on this crazyB. I can’t figure out why people are so willing to believe her. Why does the media give her attention? I’m sure the believers will say because she tells the truth. But then again chicken little thought the sky was falling too.

  17. Beerman49 says

    Jeezus, Jay, this is your biggest “hot button” ever! WELL DONE! I’ve never read anything that pretentious idiot ever posted, & never will. Kudos also to the attuned responders who put in their pints’ worth; Fickle FIngers of Fate to the Babe & her clueless supporters (& I’d guess that most of them wouldn’t know the origin of that term!).

  18. says

    I, too, am frustrated with her. She falls in line with HSUS, disguising themselves as wanting to help dogs and cats, when in fact less than 1% of their monies go there. They spread lies about the animal agriculture while they push their vegan agenda. We just need to keep exposing.

  19. charmcitycrab says

    The Food Babe’s general credibility or lack thereof is really beside the point.

    The essential question here is:

    Should breweries provide an easily accessible list of ingredients to their consumers so that consumers can be aware of what they are ingesting, if they so choose?

    The answer is yes. Ideally, we’d regulate beer like soda and put the ingredients and nutritional facts on every label, but, at minimum, easily accessible websites with that information straight from the brewers would be nice.

    I think the Food Babe is, perhaps inadvertently, doing a public service by putting pressure on brewers to disclose this information, and, if, as you say, they have nothing to hide, it won’t be a problem for them. They can just give their ingredients to a web guy who’ll take a few hours typing them up and putting them on their server, revise as recipes change, and that’ll be that.

    People have a basic right to know what they are drinking. People have allergies, special diets, or even things they want to avoid for philosophical reasons. That information should be out there for those people. And the folks who don’t care don’t have to look at it or pay it any mind.

    Basically, all this stuff about censorship on the Food Babe’s Facebook page and so on and so forth is beside the point and detracts from the central issue. It may be important it’s own way, but even if the Food Babe were the worst person on earth, it really wouldn’t change the completely valid point that a full ingredients list should be available for every beer sold to the public. Not a partial ingredient list, not vague assurances about what is and isn’t in the beer, not an 800 number to call with ingredient concerns- a full easy to read ingredient list that anyone can look at on the beer label (Ideally) or a website that’s fully accessible to the public (Better than the status quo, at least).

    • says

      I understand your point of view, but I think the fact that you’re able to express it here and we can discuss it is an important one. I generally have a visceral reaction to bullies, and that’s how I view Ms. Hari. What you’re saying seems to me a very “end justify the means” argument. I do not think that’s the way the world should work. To me it’s the equivalent of having the townspeople show up with their pitchforks to effect change. Whoever yells the loudest shouldn’t dictate how the world works. Add to that the fact that there’s so much misinformation and hysteria that it’s become almost entirely emotional, and to my way of thinking, counter-productive.

      A more reasonable response, with a back and forth, might have brought about a better result. But as far as I can tell, the Food Babe has absolutely no interest in debate, no interest in actually learning about what she’s saying. And shutting down any dissent further signals an unwillingness to be reasonable, and more importantly suggests that this is more about her personal agenda than food safety. To me, that DOES matter. It’s what makes her a bully.

      The fact is, nutritional labels on beer and other labeling has been debated and discussed throughout the industry and government agencies. There are brewers and advocates who are in favor of it, and some who are not. It’s still an open topic. But this is between people who understand how beer is made, and know the difference between actual ingredients and items used in the brewing process. If I’ve learned anything from this, is that’s most people don’t understand how beer is made. And that’s just fine under normal circumstances. Perhaps it’s a bit like sausage-making, where the less you know the better. Yet we still eat sausages, don’t we? I do. But not knowing and then screaming for changes with no desire to learn in the process in order to actually reach a reasonable and helpful result? To me, that makes no sense.

      • charmcitycrab says

        The Center for Science in the Public Interest claims to have petitioned and then sued the federal government to get ingredients listed on the labels of beer bottles 30 years ago, and, obviously (Since we can see that the labels aren’t there), lost. So, there is a long history of consumers and consumer interest groups lobbying to have these ingredient lists disclosed. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that there must have been at least some resistance to disclosing this information from the big beer companies, or they would have immediately released the ingredients to their brews upon seeing that petition thirty years ago, or filed friends of the court briefs registering their lack of objection to the government requiring ingredient labeling when the law suit occurred.

        I’ve got to think that there has been some dialogue between public interest groups and both brewers and the government in the several decades that have passed between then and now. Thirty years of dialogue, and in the end, based on the results prior to this whole “Food Babe” thing, no one could get a simple clear list of ingredients to beers publicly disclosed. The beer industry spends a lot on lobbying Capitol Hill, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the things they lobby against are regulatory requirements when it comes to labeling and disclosure.

        Now, I don’t think beers have poison in them or anything truly shocking as some have stated or implied that they believe. This recent disclosure was pleasantly surprising in that we see that a lot of the leading beers don’t seem to even have anything substantial in the way of chemicals or preservatives (Natural preservatives like hops and alcohol aside, of course). I also would have thought that for sure Blue Moon had some corn in it to bring down costs, and it doesn’t- it’s actually, ingredient wise, a craft beer in the sense of not even using natural adjuncts to bring down cost. So, this is actually turning out to be good publicity for the beer companies so far.

        My guess would be, however, as the brewers get down to their lower profile brands, we’ll start to see the occasional disclosure of a dye or a chemical or some sort. Is that going to keep me from drinking the beers? Nope, I drink all kinds of things with dyes and chemicals. However, if there are those who want to avoid those things, they should be able to access the information they need in order to do so- and probably all it’ll mean is that they buy beer “x” from the same company that they used to buy beer “y” from.

        In fact, as these disclosures continue, you might even see people pick back up beers that they’d previously stopped drinking. I bought a 12-pack of a beer that shall remain nameless once, that I’d never tried previously, and I broke out in blotchy rashes for a solid week or two- basically until I finished the twelve back and a let a couple days pass. Do I think it was the beer? No, not really. However, I haven’t had that beer since, just in case. When they get around to listing the ingredients of it, if I find that it’s just the usual beer stuff I always drink, they’ll get a customer back, and if I find there *is* something different in it, I’ll try other foods or drinks with that same ingredient to see whether that was an allergen for me or whether it was just a coincidence. The end result being- they could win back a sometimes customer for their product just by allowing me to allay my fears.

        Actually, this could be an advertising opportunity for some of these companies. They’ve been hammered for years as having mystery ingredients and chemicals in their brews. Remember that laboratory study that did that analysis in the 80s on Miller Lite that showed all those different chemicals? Well, apparently, Miller Lite is now just made up of water, barley malt, corn, yeast, and hops. I would guess that people didn’t know about that change, and now people will know, and it may help the brewery sell beers to people who were dubious before.

        In any event, getting back to what you were saying, I am not saying the ends justify the means here completely. What I am saying is that this blogger basically managed to deal what petitions, lawsuits, lobbying, and dialogue over the course of decades never could. There’s no reason to think that suddenly that stuff that hasn’t worked for thirty years or more would start to work today. A new approach was tried, and it looks like it’s starting to work, and the end results are going to be good for beer consumers who care about these things, neutral for beer consumers who don’t care about these things, and I think ultimately may not be as big of a blow for the breweries as I can only assume they suspect it will be, and could even have a neutral or positive effect.

        There’s an essential power disparity between big corporations that have money to make a ton of political contributions, do a lot of lobbying, sponsor advertising campaigns, and so forth relative to the average consumer looking for a beer, or even consumer organizations that rely on donations and have a lot less wealth and influence than corporations. It’s nice to have dialogue behind the scenes, but I think that approach had been tried and failed.

        So, I’ll break down specifically the means I agree with and the means I don’t. Making unfounded allegations bothers me, and there is an element of that with this thing that I do disagree with. However, just the idea of pointing out that we don’t know what’s in our beer, and that the industry generally doesn’t disclose information that is on every soda can or even industrial cleaner you can buy, and asking people to demand these lists if they feel so inclined, seems like fair game to me. Whenever a company won’t disclose something, one usually feels like there has got to be a reason there, right? It’s not wild speculation to say that there might be something there somewhere that they fear will reduce sales of specific beers if comes out. And if there isn’t, my lord, why have they spent so much time fighting this and setting up hot lines and other things that cost them so much more time and money than simply providing the lists of ingredients on a website would?

        Maybe, in a way, this lady is doing the beer industry a favor.

        And, you know, I like craft beer, so if there are fish additives in some regular beer, that might actually be a plus for me. ;) And, yes, I know, fish additives that are used in some beers are generally removed before bottling. That’s just an example. The breweries seem to assume they are going to lose customers over this, but it might actually not be so bad. It might actually improve their reputation relative to wine. Everyone thinks of wine as just grapes (Which my impression is that it actually isn’t, in many instances) and tends to think of beers as some random low end mix and questionable stuff. When it comes out that most beer is natural grains and leafy hops, that could make a lot of people who dismissed it rethink it introduce or reintroduce a glass here and there into their diets rather than drinking wine or hard liquor or whatever else they might drink instead.

        If we could just get a law passed, I’d be all for that. But the climate in Washington is very hostile to regulation these days, especially in the House of Representatives, so the only real answer is consumer pressure.

      • charmcitycrab says

        Oh, also, I am a strong free speech advocate and agree 100% that people should be allowed to post contrary opinions and comments on this lady’s Facebook page. Her behavior in deleting them is not something I agree with or endorse in any way except in such cases where they include personal insults or harassment.

        I appreciate that this website is providing a more open forum to all opinions.

        I do suspect that there is an element of astroturfing* going on with all the pro-beer industry comments that pop up arguing against disclosure. It doesn’t entirely make sense to me that so many people would take the tact of “How dare people ask beer companies to list the ingredients in their beer?”. One would think the leading reactions would be “Yeah, they really should list their ingredients.” and “What do I care?”. :) There are of course always a few people who will object to anything, so I think some of folks who object to asking breweries to list their ingredients are simply expressing their natural unsponsored opinions, but there are so many more of those type of comments than I’d expect that I do wonder if *some* of them might be astroturfers. I don’t think the proper response is to delete those comments, though- it’s kind of one of those things that it’s hard to tell a legitimate opinion from someone who’s astroturfing- and I’d rather see everything get posted than have things that are just from regular folks gets deleted because of some suspcion of astroturfing.

        *In case anyone isn’t aware of what astroturfing is in this context:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

      • charmcitycrab says

        Sorry for the third post in a row- it just occurred to me that, though I can’t remember if this is true of sausages, I do buy hot dogs regularly and they have extensive ingredient lists that tell me exactly what’s in them. I shrug and eat them anyway. :) But I’m glad the list is there.

  20. Carly says

    I had been a follower of hers when she was still a new blogger. She basically started out as a weight-loss blog, but got some attention when she began looking into ingredient lists. With what little fame has come from this for her, she’s now completely off her rocker. I had been disappointed in her for a long time, but then got banned from her FB page when I (politely!) questioned some of her “facts.”

    Basically, I don’t think she’s an idiot but I think she’s a fraud. If she could be famous in another way, she’d do it. This is all about clicks for her. And her lemmings eat it up. We need more pieces like this on the Internet, calling her out. I am an advocate for real food, but I’m getting tired of companies breaking under this faux pressure.

  21. Bob says

    The truth will set you free. If I was an big beer company, I’d send her a free case. She might not drink it, it might be a terrible waste, but you never know. Some soon summer day after mowing the lawn, all hot and sweaty, she could be tempted to crack a cold one. You never know. Soapboxers have often been found secretly bring hypocritical. She might even have two, or three! Get sick, and not be able to write for a while. It’s a start.

  22. Erik Bakker says

    I saw the vid on ingrediënts, surely : it was overacted. But to get to the core of the message : why shouldn’t you list your ingrediënts that are in your beer ? Especially if you are using additives ? Why be afraid ?

    If you are ‘brewing’ your beer without using fermentation : say so ! Be a man about it, or leave the business, and start a knitting company, for example.

    Be honest on your products. You owe that the very customers, that enable your business. Not the ‘legal kind of honesty’ that gets you an extra buck on the side, but the _human_ kind of honesty.

    And yes : I’m a home brewer about to go commercial in Holland.

    • says

      I don’t think it’s about fear, or “being a man.” In some states, it’s actually prohibited to list certain things on the beer package, including alcohol strength and ingredients, and that’s true at the federal level, too. What consumers here (and abroad, apparently, too) don’t realize is that they’re not currently allowed to list everything, by law. If consumers want that information, trying to shame the brewers won’t change the law that they are bound to follow. Insulting or bullying them won’t work. Only changing the law, through political channels, would change that.

      But beyond that, I really don’t think this is about truth or honesty. As I said in my closing paragraph, many brewers are more than willing to share what’s in their beer, and there have been ongoing discussions toward that end. What this is, I believe, is a person seeking to advance her own career, and bring attention to herself personally, by making unfounded attacks against an entire industry. When mistakes she’s made have been pointed out, she’s either ignored them or banned the people making them, if it was within her power (like on Facebook). It’s been almost one year since her initial attack on beer, and though many people have pointed out errors she’s made, she’s continued to make those same errors and has not corrected any of her mistaken statements or attacks. That’s no kind of honest, whether the human kind or any other. She threatened ABI and SABMiller, they released their ingredients, though never addressed the absurd claims about process or chemicals, and she’s claiming victory. She promptly set her sights on the next brewery by size, the Boston Beer Co. If they capitulate, she’ll no doubt work down the list and go after Yuengling, or Sierra Nevada or New Belgium. The choice should not have to be give in to the bully, or take up knitting.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The New Yellow Journalism By Jay Brooks Beware the Dangers of [Profit-Driven] Dumbassery by Maureen Ogle Beer McCarthyism – The Food Babe Goes After Breweries Again by Hank Campbell What’s In YOUR Beer? Or, The Dangers of Dumbassery by Maureen Ogle Beer Wars: The Calumny of The Food Babe by Tom Cizauskas (anyone who use “calumny” in a title has to be giving a smart take) […]

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