Summertime is around the corner, and many of the city's vegetarians are gearing up for their rooftop BBQs with their soy burgers and tofu dogs, resting peacefully with the fact that no animals had to die so they could eat. But were other humans harmed in awful factory conditions that exposed them to deadly chemicals? Probably.
A new study shows that a number of popular soy products contain trace amounts of hexane, which listed as a "hazardous air pollutant" by the EPA and is known to cause nervous system failure and skin disorders in humans. It's unclear how much hexane you need to eat before getting side effects, but do you feel lucky, veggie?
The 37-page report [PDF] says that though the use of hexane is prohibited in "organic" food processing, it's widely used in the "natural" soy industry, and even by some companies that use the wording "made with organic ingredients." Mother Jones reports that since many fake meat producers aim to have as little fat as possible in their products, they will soak soybeans in a hexane bath to separate the oil from the protein. One researcher said, "If a non-organic product contains a soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, or texturized vegetable protein, you can be pretty sure it was made using soy beans that were made with hexane."
So what brands out there contain the hazardous chemical? Sadly, most of the good ones. Here's a little list:
- Amy's Kitchen
- Boca Burger, conventional
- Franklin Farms
- Garden Burger
- It’s All Good Lightlife
- Morningstar Farms
- President’s Choice
- Taste Above
- Trader Joe's
- Yves Veggie Cuisine
Below, the safe brands:
- Boca Burgers "Made with organic soy"
- Helen's Kitchen
- Morningstar "Made with organic"
- Superburgers by Turtle Island
The verdict is out on Whole Foods brands and Silk soymilk, as they did not participate in the project, but the Village Voice has the whole toxic list here. The worst part may be that many popular baby formulas also contain hexane! The report states, "Nearly every major ingredient in conventional soy-based infant formula is hexane extracted."