Contamination Nation

Ubiquitous food chain pollution prompts Stealth Syndromes Human Study redesign to enable reproducibility

The American food chain is so thoroughly contaminated that it has introduced scores of confounding factors that have raised serious public health concerns and delayed the first human scientific trials of environmental chemicals. That contamination has also made it impossible for scientists to reproduce previously published studies. This is significant because reproducibility is the ultimate proof of a study’s validity.

More importantly, this document’s findings show that consumers currently have no way to source foods that are not contaminated with stealth chemicals that are aggravating and promoting the current stealth epidemics of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, reproductive disorders, cancers, cardiovascular disease, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Stealth chemicals are those, such as endocrine disruptors, whose effects are not immediately recognizable as poisoning or direct sickness, but show up as unrelated illnesses. This link has more details: What Is A Stealth Chemical?

Even the most scrupulous food producers who adhere to certified organic regulations are generally unaware of these stealth contamination sources, many of which which have been discovered while implementing the protocols for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study

Today’s stealth chemical sources come from:

  • synthetic and/or harmful chemicals currently allowed for organics by the USDA,
  • plastic-sourced hormone disruptors,
  • micro- and nano-plastics,
  • bacteria, pharmaceuticals, and hazardous chemical residues present in:
    • recycled municipal wastewater for irrigation and,
    • biosolids (human sewage sludge) used to fertilize food and landscape plants.

This pervasive contamination has made it almost impossible to create a diet regimen for test subjects that directly measures “gold standard” laboratory health effects as known sources of endocrine disruptors are eliminated from foods in a staged manner.

To phrase it another way, it is nearly impossible to measure the before-and-after health effects when the study cannot find uncontaminated foods for the “after” portion of the diet.

The study investigators have developed new, strict, and specific enhanced food sourcing rules. As a shorthand, those are sometimes referred to in this document as “enhanced organic.”

NOTE 1: This is a strategy document created to describe the reasons and science for the new path forward for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study. Chief among those reasons are numerous food contamination phenomena which have not previously been discussed in a comprehensive manner

NOTE 2: To facilitate instant access to citations for for both scientists and laypersons, we rely upon web hyperlinks rather than footnotes

Summary

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have found that Americans are widely and systematically contaminated by many environmental chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA), a wide range of phthalate plasticizers and other chemicals that can disrupt hormones and the normal functioning of genes..

This ubiquitous contamination has also caused a major revision in a new scientific investigation

— the Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) — the first study designed to measure the direct health effects in humans of environmental chemicals consumed in food and beverages.

As approved by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California San Francisco Medical School, the SSHS protocol requires test subjects to undergo a nine-week trial during which health effects would be measured as their diets consumed food with decreasing levels of specific environmental chemicals. Link: Study & Protocol As Approved

During that time participants would consume readily available supermarket food ingredients with known contamination levels that would be replaced on a weekly basis with foods that contained lower levels.

For example, test subjects would start the controlled trial by eating an “average” recipe for a menu item, such as lasagna using canned tomatoes. The lining of most canned foods is a notorious source of Bisphenol A (BPA).

The exact lasagna recipe would be served the next week at the same meal, but with tomatoes packed in glass. Fresh tomatoes would be used the third week, and organic tomatoes the fourth.

Other ingredients in other menu items would follow the same contamination reduction protocols.

The protocol, as approved, emphasized the role of plastic packaging and food preparation as a source of BPA, phthalates and other undesirable contaminants. However, as research continued into proper sourcing of foods for study participants, numerous other contamination sources were discovered. In fact, as detailed in this document, uncontaminated foods for the final week of the study are impossible to obtain in the ordinary commercials food supply chain regardless of whether those foods are certified organic or not.

This absence of uncontaminated foods in the U.S. supply chain mean that the final set of meals which are supposed to be as free as possible from contaminants, means that the overall menu choices in the test subjects diets would have to be extremely limited, would need to be sourced via enhanced organic methods not currently available to consumers.

In the end, the study protocol must make undesirable compromises in order for the investigation to proceed in a manner which can be reproducible by other investigators.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

Contamination is literally farm to table. Systematic contamination turns biomedical study protocol upside down. Contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable. Page 5

SECTION I: BACKGROUND MAJOR FACTORS AFFECTING ALL STUDY MENU CHOICES

1. Enhanced Food Sourcing – The Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet, Page 8

2. Guiding principles of the SSHS enhanced organic diet, Page 11

3. Why do BPA & phthalates (and other plasticizers) migrate, leach and flake from plastics? Page 17

4. Why food processing adds contamination, Page 20

Lipophilia: for the love of fat, Page 22

5. Water & fertilizers: Ubiquitous contamination sources, Page 24

SECTION II: SOURCING THE MENU – STANDARDS AND CHOICE LIMITATIONS

6. Meat the enemy, Page 30

7. Dairy: Milk & Cheese, Page 35

8. Fruit & veggies, Page 38

9. Going against the grain: Bread and cereal killers, Page 40

10. Edible Oils, Page 42

11. Spices, (covered under Lipophilia)

12. Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars Page 47

SECTION III: REPRODUCIBILITY – THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE NEED FOR ENHANCED SOURCING OF ORGANIC FOODS

14: Reproducibility + Confounding factors drive changes, increase complexity, & costs, Page 48

15: Roots of Non-Reproducibility: Farm-to-table contamination of the U.S. food chain, Page 50

SECTION IV: CONCLUSIONS & POSSIBLE FUTURE DIRECTIONS Page 55

  • All previous diet replacement studies are non-reproducible due to widespread contamination of the American food supply.
  • A publishable review paper should be written about the replication issues of diet replacement studies
  • The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) protocol will use a revised protocol with enhanced organic menu sourcing and a new testing regime to control costs and increase reproducibility.

Acknowledgements

This document is based on: “A New Path to Reproducibility”a position paper previously creates new strategies for conducting the Stealth Syndromes Human Study.

That position paper was prepared for, and approved by the board of the Center for Research on Environmental Chemicals in Humans (CRECH) – a 501(c)(3) IRS-approved non-profit which supports the Stealth Syndromes Human Study.

That paper and this current document was written by CRECH director Lewis Perdue ([email protected]) with editing and assistance from CRECH director and Rebecca Yeamans-Irwin.

Perdue and CRECH director Victor Reus, Distinguished Professor at the University of California San Francisco Medical School are co-investigators in the Stealth Syndromes Human Study along with collaborator Yeamans-Irwin.

This version is designed for a non-scientific audience. For that reason, references are most frequently formatted as hyperlinks rather than formal footnotes.

INTRODUCTION

Contamination is literally farm to table.

Newly published and discovered studies indicate that food contact materials such as plastic wrap and trays are only one of many contamination sources.

Instead, multiple contamination opportunities permeate the entire food chain, some beginning with food production, harvest and transport. There is little — if anything — available in the mainstream, or certified organic food supply that is not contaminated. For example, see: Why your ‘organic’ milk may not be organic.

Eliminating or substantially reducing chemical contaminates — especially plastic-borne endocrine disruptors like phthalates and Bisphenol A —  from the mainstream food supply is impossible under current agriculture, food production and processing conditions.

The current, published, peer-reviewed scientific literature make it clear that no class of food is exempt.

Regardless of whether food comes from a chain supermarket or directly from the farm, the contamination covers every class of consumable: animal, vegetable, fresh, frozen, organic, vegan, kosher, halal, gluten-free.

Systematic contamination turns biomedical study protocol upside down

This contamination reality has forced a bottoms-up rethink of the diet menu. This requires the diet to identify and obtain the most minimally contaminated foods available, then define recipes for the end point menu.

Because the availability of end-point ingredients will be far more limited, the full menu of recipes must be based on a limited number of items with the lowest possible contamination levels and then back-expanded to the beginning of the trial where the usual supermarket ingredients are used.

In addition, multiple and ubiquitous non-food sources of phthalate make it necessary that only enhanced food sourcing measures to obtain the least-contaminated foods will allow data resulting from the study to rise above a substantial noise level. Of the several diet replacement trials on this subject, all have suffered from unexplainable data points.

This 2013 paper is typical: Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposures.

One recent study published in The British Medical Journal concludes:

Our data suggest that in our study population, it is unlikely that participants could moderate their own BPA exposure in the long term by self-directed modification of diet in a ‘real-world’ setting, and furthermore, participants would have been reluctant to adopt such a lifestyle change in the longer term due to the restrictions in dietary choice and the effects on day-to-day life. Most of these barriers appear to arise from the pervasiveness of BPA in our food chain, and inadequate labelling of foods packaged in BPA-containing substances.

Contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable

This review of the data, studies, environment and possible solutions will demonstrate that substantial reductions in the chemicals are possible, but only through the most enhanced measures. Implementation of those measures will be used to revise the dietary regime of the study protocol approved by the UCSF Committee on Human Research in November 2014.

The contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable.

By pinpointing the numerous — and sometimes surprising — points of contamination, it is hoped that this review can offer starting points for consumers to encourage and pressure farmers, food processors and retailers into making healthy changes.

Food elimination targets for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study: Bisphenol A and phthalates

There are literally hundreds of environmental chemicals that plague us. But the most common ones that contaminate food and beverages are Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. These are often found in the company of other bad chemicals.

Because BPA and phthalates have well-established methods for qualitative and quantitative measurement, they can serve as indicators of overall contamination.

BPA: Strong

BPA is strong, durable and heat resistant. In the food chain you will find it in water and drinks bottles, Sodastream bottles and Keurigs, drip coffee makers, Cuisinarts, and in other food processing where strength and durability are required. BPA is also part of plastics used in machinery, vats, and pipes for transferring products from one stage of processing to another.

BPA can also be found in the packaging of olive oils, soft drinks, wine and spirits bottles, syrup and spice containers and more.

BPA — especially when used in warm or hot applications — can leach out of the plastic polymer in those products and contaminate food that comes in contact with it. BPA is “lipophilic” — meaning that it loves to dissolve in fats and oils.

Phthalates: Flexible

Phthalates are a category of different compounds that are also lipophilic. Like BPA, they easily dissolve in fats and oils but can also be found in smaller concentrations in other substances.

There are many different molecular variations of phthalates.

In general, phthalates with larger molecules are used to make plastic flexible in things like gaskets, bags, tubing and piping, conveyer belts and bins used in the processing and packaging of food and oils. Phthalates are also found in gloves used by food handlers as well as the printing ink an adhesives used in food packaging.

Plastics: Vital for modern life and public health

Ironically, the ubiquitous use of plastics which have contributed immensely to improving world health and quality of life have also unleashed or aggravated the modern-day plastic plagues in the environment and through the diseases and syndromes described above. Plastic is not evil and is a necessary part of modern life.

Non-contaminating plastics available, must be substituted for old

Significantly, non-contaminating plastics exist that can be substituted. Those safer plastics, however, are not in use because consumers, industry and food producers do not recognize the need. That must change for the sake of better public health.

The consuming public can encourage the use of non-contaminating plastics by patronizing companis and product who use them and avoiding those who do not.

Just as public demand has driven the acceptance and availability of organic-certified foods, consumers can cause a similar shift to non-contaminating plastics and other food production practices that this document will explore in detail.

Enhanced Food Sourcing, the Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet

The Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet begins with: fundamental food production and avoidance of harmful environmental chemical contamination from the farm to the consumer’s mouth.

In the original study protocol, this excluded (or minimizes by the use of the most enhanced measures practical), the use or contact with all plastics or substances that may have come in contact with plastics through farming practices, processing, packaging, meal preparation and ultimate consumption.

Further research revealed numerous additional food contamination sources which had to be properly controlled or eliminated in order for the study to be reproducible by other researchers. Reproducibility is the ultimate test of a properly conducted investigation.

The study requires enhanced food sourcing measures because of the almost complete lack of regulatory oversight.

Enhanced food sourcing includes the complete absence of testing for harmful environmental chemicals in foods and beverages offered for retail sale to consumers. By contrast, multiple published studies of selected foods have found Bisphenol A, phthalates, nonylphenols and scores of other harmful environmental chemicals.

Because of the lack of data, the absence of transparency, and the void in regulatory oversight, it is impossible for a consumer to make an informed choice. Adequate data is simply not available. This means that all foods must be considered guilty until proven innocent.

Realistically, complete innocence cannot be guaranteed for any food without testing.

However, based on the relative few studies measuring BPA, phthalates and other chemicals in food, it is possible to make informed choices on which foods are most likely to be contaminated. Because of widespread contamination, and the elimination of potentially guilty foods, the list of “likely innocent” foods that can be traced to the source is more limited than the average American diet.

Enhanced food sourcing methods will help the study data rise above the noise level.

Some food procurement sources developed for this study will be practical as will be many of the kitchen preparation techniques. Those procurement and preparation techniques will be detailed in sections for each of the food-types. Each of the procurement and preparation techniques will be supported by an extensive discussion of the background and reasoning.

Reducing non-food sources as data contamination factors

There are multiple, significant, non-food, environmental sources of the same chemical compounds that are the subject of the study’s human effects on their reduction in the diet.

To conduct a reproducible study with statistically significant data not complicated by those non-food sources, the environmental chemical reductions in the diet need to be the most rigorous possible in order to counter the overall contamination “noise level.”

This noise level is one of the plausible reasons that some diet-replacement studies have produced inconsistent result. Most notable is one published study where BPA levels in some test subjects were higher after the diet replacement than at the start.

Plastics represent tens of thousands of different formulations with varying mixtures of polymers, plasticizers, dyes and other property-enhancing chemicals. Those formulations are almost always trade secrets. Further, only a small percentage of the plastics and their chemicals have been properly tested and their effects published in peer-reviewed journals.

The unknowns about which plastics was used in a given product or process creates a vast universe of unknowns where all reputations have been soiled by known contamination. This means that the only prudent route is to avoid the unknowable whenever possible. Only proper regulation, testing and transparency can rehabilitate the reputation of plastic.

Sadly, plastic — while sometime safe — is untrustworthy as a category.

The art of the possible

This diet’s extension of what should be considered “organic” is founded on what is possible but not yet practical for the average consumer. It is possible because the organic food production movement began in the North Bay counties of Marin and Sonoma. They remain the epicenter of and have fostered a national recognition of environmental nutrition.

Because of that organic environmental orientation, the North Bay has become a growing epicenter of artisan farmers, bakers, ranchers, olive oil producers, cheesemakers and others striving to bring to market products that go beyond the organic certifications which have become increasingly diluted by federal regulators.

Many of those “enhanced organic” producers have already agreed to provide products for this study and to allow on-site inspections for compliance. Some have even agreed to change their procedures, at least for the duration of the food procurement.

Among the most significant of these alterations is one cheesemaker’s agreement to hand-milk her goats (without vinyl gloves) and make cheese without any contact with plastic. Another dairy which already uses milking machines with BPA- and phthalate-free tubing has agreed to custom filter and pasteurize milk with no plastic contact.

Two other examples are a bread bakery which grinds its own flour and uses no plastic, and an organic beef producer who rotates pastures to avoid any irrigation. She has agreed to have the slaughterhouse provide cut meats in glass containers, not plastic.

There are other “holes” to be filled in creating healthy, balanced menus that can be extrapolated “upward” to a beginning diet that reflects what average consumers eat.

From possible to practical

Buying organic foods at a supermarket was not possible 25 years ago.

However, an increasing number of informed consumers demanded organic and went to what were then impractical lengths to obtain foods that met their standards.

Retailers and producers realized there were profits to be made organically and the resulting field has grown, even as large special interests have diluted the organic brand with numerous exceptions to USDA regulations.

It is a desired outcome that the results of this study can advance the consumer availablity of even healthier foods.

Guiding principals for the study diet menu

NOTE: Additional information about specific menu choice details will be added in section II. While some information there may seem redundant, this document tries to avoid offering too much information, too early which can discourage overall readability and comprehension.

1. Do not consume any ingredient whose composition cannot be traced to, and inspected at its origin.

2. No plastic contact at any point.

Exceptions are not preferred, but may include BPA and phthalate-free nitrile gloves and tubing such as Tygon S3 B-44-3 Beverage Tubing or other manufacturer’s equivalent.

3. Any plastic product used must be tested to assure manufacturer claims because studies have shown that some manufacturer claims are false:

Preparation & cooking

The following are forbidden:

  • Sous vide
  • non-stick pans
  • most cooking oils
  • plastic utensils
  • plastic prep bowls
  • synthetic gloves
  • plastic bags
  • plastic wrap
  • Drip coffee makers
  • Sodastream
  • Keurig and other “pod” beverage makers
  • Beverages in cans, plastic bottles or glass.

Water

All water consumed and/or used for cooking, washing, drinking or used to irrigate self-grown plants will be obtained from a commercial device using a solid-block carbon filter and certified by NSF for reduction of BPA and phthalates. One such device is the Aquaversa filter from Multipure which uses a  carbon block filter that lists BPA among its contaminant reduction list. The list does not mention phthalates. However, the list does cover many chemical with similar phenolic structures.

If study funds are available, it would me valuable to  determine BPA and phthalate levels in the water water before the filter and afterwards.

In addition, independently published research indicates that other types of carbon filters are effective in reducing many harmful compounds including organic chemicals.

Beverages

Coffee

Only locally roasted and ground beans will be used.

Provider will be selected on the smallest amount of plastic involved. Beans and grounds will be handled with metal or glass only and packed in glass jars.

Beans will be ground in a mill with no plastic components.

The beans will be prepared using either an all glass and stainless steel French press or a stainless steel percolator with all metal parts.

Also acceptable is the Moka pot-style espresso maker or a pour-over, glass and metal coffee maker with water from an all metal tea kettle. All metal wire basket for grounds must be used, no filter paper.

If an automatic drip system can be located with no plastic ever touching the water or coffee stream, that will be obtained and used.

The weakest links in drip coffee makers that appear to be all glass and/or metal usually lies in plastic tubing that connects the heating element to the water reservoir, the hot water application tube, and the filter basket..

Tea

No tea will be allowed. Like spices, the extensive harvest, curing, processing, and packaging offers many contamination routes.

Also like spices, the tiny fragments that compose tea increase the surface area capable of acquiring chemical contamination.

Soft drinks

Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Fruit juice

No commercial juices allowed. Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Freshly prepares using no plastic contact. In general, whole fruits are a healthier alternative to juices.

Beer and wine

No commercial products allowed. All are extensively processed using plastic.

Sourcing ingredients

All food items will be sourced from the provider. All provider locations will be personally visited and inspections made of their premises, equipment and processes.

Beef, lamb, chicken, pork, fish

Minimum standards: Organic certification, no plastic in growing, harvesting, handling, or packaging. All animals must be free-range.

Even if allowed by exceptions to organic regulations: No commercial fertilizers,  no pesticides, no recycled wastewater irrigation. No irrigation of pasture and feeding areas is preferred. Drinking water from well or municipal water only. No PVC or other plastics.

Beef and lamb must be grass-fed and comply with AGA Statement of Best Practices.

Preference given to un-irrigated pasturing. For welfare of animals, supplemental hay is allowed but must come from un-irrigated pasture.

Possible source: Crowd Cow

Slaughter standards

Must be humane.

Solid cuts of meat only. No sausage or ground meat.

Slaughter to avoid all plastic contact unless absolutely vital for health and hygiene. Nitrile gloves.

Finished cuts to be placed in glass containers covered with aluminum foil (not in contact with meat) and finally sealed with a plastic lid.

Beef, lamb & goat

Lean cuts (minimum marbling) on beef and lamb. Lower fat content helps minimize lipophilic content.

Visible fat to be removed before cooking to minimize lipophilic concentration.

Chicken

Skin to remain on chicken, to be removed before cooking to minimize lipophilic concentration. Breasts only for chicken.

Pork, fish

Not included in the study diet.

Diet and subsequent flesh contamination are extremely hard to control or monitor.

Dairy

Same water, feed and pasturing requirements as beef, lamb and goat.

Udder and teat cleaning and treatments for animal welfare and human hygiene must be examined for plastic exposures and contamination minimized.

Milking must be done preferably by hand or using milk machines certified as BPA and phthalate-free. Nitrile gloves to be used.  All collected milk must be in stainless steel vessels.  Filtering stages cannot use polymer filters. Separation, homogenization (if any) and pasteurization must be plastic free. Glass containers must be used for bottling of milk.

Cream gathered during the separation process will either be used for cheese or discarded to minimize lipophilic contaminate concentration.

Cheese will be made using milk prepared as described above. Preference will be given to low- or moderate-butterfat cheeses.

The cheese process will use stainless steel in the initial heating processes. Curds will be gathered and drained in stainless-steel wire baskets. The whey will be discarded.

Drained curds will be pressed in stainless steel molds. Finished cheese will be packed in aluminum foil then placed in Ziploc-type airtight containers.

Note: Ziploc claims to be BPA free but has not addressed phthalates. It is also unknown whether “BPA free” means a switch to a Bisphenol analog such as BPS.

Fruits & vegetables

All vegetables and fruits must come fresh from an organically-certified source irrigated by well water or suitably filtered tap water.

Recycled municipal wastewater (increasingly used for food crops) is unacceptable.

All irrigation must also be done using metal containers. No plastic drip lines or emitters

No commercial fertilizer can be used.

No pesticide can be applied including substances that are approved for organic use unless they have been examined for — and free of — adjuvants, surfactants, and other auxiliary chemicals that may have endocrine-disrupting or other harmful effects.

The soil in which plants are grown cannot come from a source that uses commercial fertilizer amendments, or biosolids (sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants) which is also increasingly used on food crops.

The vegetables must be harvested and processed by hand without using polymer gloves other than nitrile. No conveyor belts, plastic tubs or containers are allowed.

Vegetables must be placed in a glass or steel container for delivery, not in a plastic bucket or in cardboard. Phthalates are commonly used in the inks on paper and cardboard and are found in recycled paper, cardboard, and packaging materials.

Salad dressings will be made with lemon or other citrus juices, not vinegar.

Bread and cereal

Bread will be sourced directly from a baker who has ground the grain without any plastic contact including utensils, dough rising pans or wrapping. Paper for wrapping cannot be recycled because of phthalate inks commonly used in packaging printing.

Plain bread without seeds, nut, spices, or other components such as raisins.

Corn-based foods must be from non-GMO corn raised organically and fried in oil which is similarly organic and non-GMO in origin. It is unknown at this time whether such healthier alternative is available.

Commercially produced cereals are not allowed on this diet due to extensive processing involved. Rolled oats may be allowed if as suitable source can be found.

Edible Oils

Given the lipophilic nature of BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals, finding an acceptable source of edible oils is one of the most difficult.

This is aggravated by the fact that producing edible oils requires many processing steps to separate the desired lipids from the pulp and aqueous portions of the source fruit, nut or seed.

Because of its local ready availability, this diet will use first cold press olive oil.

Locally produced olives will, ideally, be non-irrigated.

The Olive fruit fly is endemic in California and other wine producing regions around the world. There are a variety of methods for controlling infestations including baits, traps, attractant strips and certified organic pesticides such as Spinosad and Surround. (UC Pest Management Guidelines).

Despite their organic-certified status, both Surround and Spinosad contain toxic chemicals and proprietary chemicals whose identities are trade secrets and not disclosed. Because of this, olives treated with these are unacceptable.

Untreated olives or those produced in groves using baits, traps, or attractant strips are acceptable.

Olives undergo a washing process — a water rinse — before pressing.  There are many other stages, some of which commonly use plastic components in the process.

Visits will be made to determine which oil press minimizes the use of plastic components.

Nuts & Spices

Almonds will either be hand-shelled or obtained from a commercial processor directly from the shelling process before encountering plastic materials in the processing and packaging processes. Slight contact with plastic may be encountered as almond nuts exit the sheller into glass or metal containers.

We will grow our own spices except for whole black/green/red peppercorns which will be ground in a glass, ceramic, or metal peppermill.

Spices will be irrigated with carbon-filtered water.

Spices will be diced with a knife on a wooded cutting board or ground in a grinder without contact with plastic.

Sugar and sweeteners

No refined sugar or sugar substitutes will be allowed in this diet. Sugar undergoes extensive processing from harvest to store and has too many possible contamination sources to be allowable

If sweetening is required, it will be obtained by preparing a syrup from peeled, organically grown apples. Local, unprocessrd honey could be an alternative, but would need testing for the presence of pesticides which are ptresent in nectar and, thus, in honey.

Candy, snacks, protein- & meal-replacement bars

Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Why do BPA & phthalates (and other plasticizers) migrate, leach and flake from plastics?

BPA & phthalates migrate, leach and flake off of plastics primarily because they are not chemically bound to the plastic.

It’s important to understand that any specific plastic is a mixture of one or more polymers along with a variety of additives like BPA and phthalates that are added to provide desired characteristics such as color, strength, rigidity (or flexibility) and other qualities of the finished plastic.

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In some ways, polymers are like dry cement. Water can be added, and a hard substance results when it cures. Aggregates like sand and stone are mixed in to provide strength. Steel rebar is added for flexibility and tensile strength. Polymer fibers offer flexibility. Dyes are added for color.

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An exothermic chemical reaction takes place when water is added to cement. But the sand, stones and re-bar are not part of the chemical reaction.

Just like plasticizers added to plastics, the additives to cement and not covalently bound to the concrete. Instead, those additives — whether to concrete or a plastic — are physically confined when the mixture cures, but can separate under many circumstances.

Rebar, stones and even sand are massive compared with the tiny sizes of the plasticizer and additive molecules that give polymer chains the desired characteristics. Because of this, additives can migrate among the polymer chains and — when they reach the surface of the plastic — can easily leach or simply fall out of the plastic like pebbles from old concrete.

What helps additives escape from the plastic?

Additives escape from plastic and enter the food chain or directly into people’s bodies through a combination of actions that include:

Mechanical- Scraping, friction, bending, stretching, twisting or compressing plastic promotes microfractures that speed additive particles toward a surface. Friction between plastics or other components can create fine dust particles which accelerate the release of additives.

Mechanical stressors are particularly applicable to conveyor belts, squeezable condiment containers, plastic utensils in contact with plastic bowls or paper plates (most of which have a plastic coating), plastic gloves, and plastic beverage containers.

Children frequently treat their plastic toys and other objects with less than tender loving care.

Light – Degrades plastic and accelerates the release of plastic additives.

Chemical action – Acidic foods and beverages can react with a variety of additives because those are not chemically bound (covalently) to the polymers. Some polymers may also be subject to reacting with acids or other food and beverage compounds.

Lipophilia – Promotes absorption of chemicals in oil based foods. Studies show that people can absorb BPA from touching thermal paper cash receipts. What’s more, those who use hand moisturizers absorb far more BPA because of the increased lipids from the hand cream.

Heat – Adds energy to the migration process, speeds up chemical reactions that can loosen bonds.

Not all liberated additives head for food

According to the CDC, one of the most common and significant non-food exposures — especially to phthalates — is household dust. Phthalate dust is most likely produced by friction, scraping and the other “movement” sources listed above.

Harmful environmental chemical dust is particularly potent because the size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems.

Those particles in the “PM 2.5” category can be carried deep into the smallest regions of the lungs — the alveoli — where harmful chemicals (or even the particle itself) can directly enter the bloodstream. This article from the National Academy of Sciences explains more.

Why food processing adds contamination

Contamination of basic foods — even those that do not undergo extensive processing — comes from:

  • Contact with contaminated soil and water during planting, irrigation and growth.
  • Exposure to plastics during harvest from conveyor belts, chutes, pipes, baffles and other equipment.
  • Exposure to plastic in the washing process through the use of bins, tanks, implements and pipes.
  • Exposure to plastics during the drying and packing stages including the use of recycled or coated cardboard.

Contamination through processing

This article from the British Medical Journal offers a look at many of the substances added to highly processed foods: Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort

While the BMJ article focused on the nutritional downsides to processing, it’s vital to recognize that each processing operation and additive — regardless of nutritional value — brings with it its own unique contamination trail and chemical burdens that are incorporated into a highly processed food product for sale.

Specific contamination routes found in individual food groups are discussed elsewhere in this document.

Degree of food processing

We categorised all food and drink items of the NutriNet-Santé composition table into one of the four food groups in NOVA, a food classification system based on the extent and purpose of industrial food processing.

This study primarily focused on the “ultra-processed foods” NOVA group.

This group includes mass produced packaged breads and buns; sweet or savoury packaged snacks; industrialised confectionery and desserts; sodas and sweetened drinks; meat balls, poultry and fish nuggets, and other reconstituted meat products transformed with addition of preservatives other than salt (for example, nitrites); instant noodles and soups; frozen or shelf stable ready meals; and other food products made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats, and other substances not commonly used in culinary preparations such as hydrogenated oils, modified starches, and protein isolates.

Industrial processes notably include hydrogenation, hydrolysis, extruding, moulding, reshaping, and pre-processing by frying. Flavouring agents, colours, emulsifiers, humectants, non-sugar sweeteners, and other cosmetic additives are often added to these products to imitate sensorial properties of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.

The ultra-processed food group is defined by opposition to the other NOVA groups: “unprocessed or minimally processed foods” (fresh, dried, ground, chilled, frozen, pasteurised, or fermented staple foods such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, rice, pasta, eggs, meat, fish, or milk), “processed culinary ingredients” (salt, vegetable oils, butter, sugar, and other substances extracted from foods and used in kitchens to transform unprocessed or minimally processed foods into culinary preparations), and “processed foods” (canned vegetables with added salt, sugar coated dried fruits, meat products preserved only by salting, cheeses, freshly made unpackaged breads, and other products manufactured with the addition of salt, sugar, or other substances of the “processed culinary ingredients” group).

Lipophilia: for the love of fat

In the scientific world, fats and oils are known as lipids. Lipophilia means a “love of lipids.” Fats tend to be solid (or relatively so) at room temperature  and oils, liquid.

Significantly, BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals are “lipophilic” — they are easily dissolved in fats and oils.

This should not be surprising because most environmental chemicals — including endocrine disruptors and pesticides — are derived from petroleum. The same goes for artificial fragrances, flavor enhancers and food coloring as well as plastics in general, and the printing inks used on them.

What this means is that contact between plastic and any form of food-based oil or fat results in increased migration of BPA, phthalates and other from the plastic and into the edible portions of the food.

While there is no valid science yet, there is a logical possibility that the health stigma of fat in the diet and its role in obesity may be due more to the presence of harmful environmental chemicals in the fat, rather than its metabolism and actual calorie count.

Scores of well-designed, peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that BPA and phthalates act as “obesogens” — substances that disrupt the metabolic process and result in the preferential storage of fat rather than its use as energy.

Why does lipophilia matter?

The opposite of lipophilic is hydrophobic — the fear of water. This means that harmful environmental chemicals are somewhat less likely to leach into foods and beverages that are water based.

Despite that, BPA (hydrophobic) still leaches into the water of plastic bottles.

The migration of BPA, phthalates and other lipophilic chemicals is preferentially accelerated when placed in contact with lipids — fats and oils — whether from foods like bacon or cooking oils.

This means that even very heart-healthy foods like olive oil packed in plastic bottles will contain higher concentrations of BPA and phthalates than those in glass bottles.<<citation? is there a study using oil from the same source packed in different bottles? unknown>>>

Impacts cooking and processing

Lipophilia impacts both cooking and processing.

In cooking, the BPA and phthalates in plastic mixing bowls, utensils and other items can migration into the foods themselves.

Heat will further encourage migration of chemicals from plastics. This includes microwaving food in plastic, allowing warm or hot foods to come into contact with plastic bowls, dishes or cooking with plastic utensils.

The spice lipo-paradox

Spices have evolved over the centuries as effective ways to preserve foods from spoiling and to disguise the taste of items that have started to decompose.

By themselves, many spices also have beneficial health properties, as evidenced most recently by studies showing tumeric’s potential cancer-fighting properties. (Spices for Prevention and Treatment of Cancers).

On the other hand, a number of studies have found that spices often have very high and variable concentrations of phthalates. Those studies have posited that the contamination comes from extensive handling and processing.

While the flavor ingredients in spices are sometimes water-soluble, most spice flavors come from lipid soluble compounds. This is why cooks will often saute spices in oil before adding aqueous ingredients. This process, known as “blooming,” intensifies the flavor because the oil extracts the lipid components at a temperature hotter than that of the boiling point of water.

Blooming is useful when cooking at high altitudes where the boiling point of water is lower than at sea level. This means the extraction of spice flavors drops, resulting in blander foods. At Lake Tahoe, for example, water boils at 94°C, something that prevents full flavor extraction, even with longer cook times.

Water & fertilizers: Ubiquitous contamination sources

Irrigation water – farm ponds, biosolids and recycled municipal wastewater

With rare exceptions, irrigation involves plastic pipes, tanks, tubing, drip devices, and valves which leach varying amounts of plastic chemical contaminants.

Well water may be the purest source, but is less available as water tables drop from drought and over-pumping. The distribution lines of a well are usually plastic.

Municipal water may be the second best source depending upon the treatment methods, filtering and added chemicals. However, municipal water distribution is increasingly using plastic pipes for mains and secondary distribution lines.

Farm ponds are questionable for direct use because of wildlife, livestock and other uses in the upstream drainage area.

In addition to BPA and phthalates, recycled municipal wastewater contains scores of harmful chemicals including pharmaceuticals, illegal narcotics and other undesirable compounds that can find their way into animal flesh and meat.

Reviews of the use of recycled municipal wastewater indicate that contaminates remain in the water and can be absorbed the tissues of growing plants.

Significantly, commercial hay fields are frequently fertilized to increase production. That fertilizer may be a commercial product, or biosolids — sludge from sewage treatment plants which frequently contain heavy metals.

Assessment of endocrine disruption and oxidative potential of bisphenol-A, triclosan, nonylphenol, diethylhexyl phthalate, galaxolide, and carbamazepine, common contaminants of municipal biosolids

Highlights

•Relative potency determined for six individual contaminants in a suite of bioassays

•Multiple-modes of action of individual contaminants demonstrated in different in vitro assays

•Comprehensive assessment of potential in vitro effects associated with carbamazepine

Abstract

The use of biosolids as a soil conditioner and fertiliser is hindered by the limited knowledge on the risks of micro-contaminants they contain. This study investigated the binding of six organic contaminants commonly found in biosolids, to the estrogen (ER), androgen (AR), aryl hydrocarbon (AhR), and transthyretin (TTR) receptors and their redox activity. Triclosan (TCS), bisphenol-A (BPA), and technical nonylphenol (TNP) had affinity for the TTR with relative potencies of 0.3, 0.03, and 0.076 respectively. Further, binding to TTR was the only toxicological response observed for carbamazepine, which induced sub-maximal response and relative potency of 0.0017. Estrogenic activity was induced by BPA, galaxolide (HHCB), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and TNP with BPA having the strongest potency of 5.1 × 10−6 relative to estradiol. Only BPA showed androgenic activity but it was not quantifiable. BPA also showed anti-androgenic activity along with TCS, HHCB, and TNP in the order of TNP > HHCB > TCS ~ BPA (relative potencies 0.126, 0.042, 0.032, 0.03). No compounds exhibited anti-estrogenic or AhR activity, or were redox-active in the dithiothreitol assay. The results highlight the multiple modes of action through which these compounds may impact exposed organisms, and the concentrations at which effects may occur. This allows assessment of the likelihood of effects being observed at environmental concentrations, and the potential contribution of these compounds.

Biosolid Risks

Unfortunately, papers in the last couple of years are pointing toward biosolids as a source of microplastics, drug-resistant bacterial and genes, as well as artificial estrogens and other endocrine disuptors.

The safe and environmentally responsible use of biosolids is a goal worth striving for. However, biosolids are not — yet — ready for prime time. Below is a small sample of recent published studies which point to the need for more caution and the need for further research to protect the public health.

Contamination by E. Coli and other pathogens

Rainfall-runoff of anthropogenic waste indicators from agricultural fields applied with municipal biosolids

Highlights

•Biosolids-derived emerging contaminants found in simulated rainfall runoff

•Biosolids are a potential source of anthropogenic contaminants to surface waters

•Runoff contaminant concentrations relatively constant across multiple rain events

•Intense and frequent precipitation dramatically increases contaminant load

•Some contaminants undergo in situ attenuation unrelated to precipitation events

Abstract

The presence of anthropogenic contaminants such as antimicrobials, flame-retardants, and plasticizers in runoff from agricultural fields applied with municipal biosolids may pose a potential threat to the environment. This study assesses the potential for rainfall-induced runoff of 69 anthropogenic waste indicators (AWIs), widely found in household and industrial products, from biosolids amended field plots. The agricultural field containing the test plots was treated with biosolids for the first time immediately prior to this study. AWIs present in soil and biosolids were isolated by continuous liquid-liquid extraction and analyzed by full-scan gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Results for 18 AWIs were not evaluated due to their presence in field blank QC samples, and another 34 did not have sufficient detection frequency in samples to analyze trends in data. A total of 17 AWIs, including 4-nonylphenol, triclosan, and tris(2-butoxyethyl)phosphate, were present in runoff with acceptable data quality and frequency for subsequent interpretation. Runoff samples were collected 5 days prior to and 1, 9, and 35 days after biosolids application. Of the 17 AWIs considered, 14 were not detected in pre-application samples, or their concentrations were much smaller than in the sample collected one day after application. A range of trends was observed for individual AWI concentrations (typically from 0.1 to 10 μg/L) over the course of the study, depending on the combination of partitioning and degradation mechanisms affecting each compound most strongly. Overall, these results indicate that rainfall can mobilize anthropogenic contaminants from biosolids-amended agricultural fields, directly to surface waters and redistribute them to terrestrial sites away from the point of application via runoff. For 14 of 17 compounds examined, the potential for runoff remobilization during rainstorms persists even after three 100-year rainstorm-equivalent simulations and the passage of a month.

Antibiotic Resistance

Novel Antibiotic Resistance Determinants From Agricultural Soil Exposed To Antibiotics Widely Used In Human Medicine And Animal Farming

ABSTRACT

Antibiotic resistance has emerged globally as one of the biggest threats to human and animal health. Although the excessive use of antibiotics is recognized for accelerating the selection for resistance, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that natural environments are “hotspots” for the development of both ancient and contemporary resistance mechanisms. Given that pharmaceuticals can be entrained onto agricultural land through anthropogenic activities, this could be a potential driver for the emergence and dissemination of resistance in soil bacteria. Using functional metagenomics, we interrogated the “resistome” of bacterial communities found in a collection of Canadian agricultural soil, some of which had been receiving antibiotics widely used in human medicine (macrolides) or food animal production (sulfamethazine, chlortetracycline and tylosin) for up to 16 years. Of the 34 new antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) recovered, the majority were predicted to encode for (multi)drug efflux systems, while a few share little to no homology with established resistance determinants. We characterized several novel gene products, including putative enzymes that can confer high-level resistance against aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, and broad range of beta-lactams, with respect to their resistance mechanisms and clinical significance. By coupling high-resolution proteomics analysis with functional metagenomics, we discovered an unusual peptide, PPPAZI 4, encoded within an alternative open-reading frame not predicted by bioinformatics tools. Expression of the proline-rich PPPAZI 4 can promote resistance against different macrolides but not other ribosomal-targeting antibiotics, implicating a new macrolide-specific resistance mechanism that could be fundamentally linked to the evolutionary design of this peptide.

IMPORTANCE

Antibiotic resistance is a clinical phenomenon with an evolutionary link to the microbial pangenome. Genes and protogenes encoding for specialized and potential resistance mechanisms are abundant in natural environments, but understanding of their identity and genomic context remain limited. Our discovery of several previously-unknown antibiotic resistance genes from uncultured soil microorganisms indicates that soil is a significant reservoir of resistance determinants, which, once acquired and “re-purposed” by pathogenic bacteria, can have serious impacts on therapeutic outcomes. This study provides valuable insights into the diversity and identity of resistance within the soil microbiome. The finding of a novel peptide-mediated resistance mechanism involving an unpredicted gene product also highlights the usefulness of integrating proteomics analysis into metagenomics-driven gene discovery.

Plastic Pollution

The growing evidence of an environmental crisis caused by plastics in both fresh and seawater offers further reasons for concern.

While vast floating islands of plastic afflict parts of the oceans, the larger danger to humans may be due to the vast qualities of wastewater entering rivers, streams, and estuaries.

That wastewater carries significant concentrations of hundreds of dangerous chemicals, pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, BPA, phthalates, pesticides, household chemicals and more.

These are in addition to microfibers which are already building up on land irrigated with recycled wastewater.

Organic fertilizer as a vehicle for the entry of microplastic into the environment

Abstract

The contamination of the environment with microplastic, defined as particles smaller than 5 mm, has emerged as a global challenge because it may pose risks to biota and public health. Current research focuses predominantly on aquatic systems, whereas comparatively little is known regarding the sources, pathways, and possible accumulation of plastic particles in terrestrial ecosystems. We investigated the potential of organic fertilizers from biowaste fermentation and composting as an entry path for microplastic particles into the environment. Particles were classified by size and identified by attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. All fertilizer samples from plants converting biowaste contained plastic particles, but amounts differed significantly with substrate pretreatment, plant, and waste (for example, household versus commerce) type. In contrast, digestates from agricultural energy crop digesters tested for comparison contained only isolated particles, if any. Among the most abundant synthetic polymers observed were those used for common consumer products. Our results indicate that depending on pretreatment, organic fertilizers from biowaste fermentation and composting, as applied in agriculture and gardening worldwide, are a neglected source of microplastic in the environment.

Nano-Contamination

The increased use of nanoparticles in clothing, toothpaste, personal care products and other items are finding their way into the municipal wastewater stream. In addition to chemical leaching, some nanoparticles may be small enough to be absorbed directly into the blood streams of fish and other animals.

Whole Foods, in 2014, banned vegetables fertilized with biosolids, but the practice remains controversial:

SECTION II

Sourcing the Menu: Standards and Choice Limitations

Meat the enemy

Animal flesh presents an especially tough issue when it comes to systematic contamination by endocrine disruptors and other harmful environmental chemicals. Dairy (to be dealt with in the next section) presents even more opportunities for contamination.

While plastic food contact materials present one of the the most visible contamination sources, human contamination from consuming meat begins with animals consuming contaminated food and water.

The following emphasizes cattle, but the contamination sources are mostly analogous for sheep, poultry and pigs. Variations among species will be noted after common contamination pathways are described.

Commercial cattle and other farm animal feed suffers from the same plastic contamination as other highly processed products involving conveyor belts, plastic pipes, tubing and contact with other polymer-based machinery.

In addition, the “finishing” process by which cattle and livestock are fattened before slaughter involves numerous undesirable chemicals, but also involves grain which is another category of food with contamination problems from farm to table.

Cattle and livestock that forage in pastures or which are fed hay might seem to offer a lower burden of environmental chemicals. This would be the case if the fields from which the hay is harvested has not been irrigated.

Because of the expense of installing permanent irrigation sprinklers, pasture irrigation is often accomplished through the use of mobile sprinkler heads connected to a water source by means of plastic hoses that are frequently 100 yards long or greater.

(Example: K-Line irrigation)

Contaminates leaching from the long irrigation hoses are compounded if the water source is highly treated recycled municipal wastewater.

Cattle grazing on wastewater-irrigated fields contaminate themselves by eating moist, recently irrigated grass, or grass that is dry but which is coated with wastewater chemical residues.

Searches for studies on concentrations of chemicals of concern in livestock and their flesh could find little other than one which showed severe health effects in sheep that grazed on pasture fertilized with biosolids.

Grass-fed healthy alternative, but often abused

Grass-fed beef and other livestock offer relief from the excessive chemical, pharmaceutical and dietary practices used by industrial producers to produce maximum meat in minimum time and less money. Such factory farming has seen many health abuses in  both the livestock and meat consumers.

However, even the grrass-fed process has been abused (Grass-Fed Beef Loses Its Luster) by operators who employ factory-style, crowded feedlot practices.

An entire industry has developed where hay or other grass products are formed into feed pellets along with growth enhancers which are fed to cattle subsequently marketed as “grass-fed.”

From: Grass-Fed Beef Loses Its Luster

“A growing number of consumers began turning to grass-fed beef in order to avoid buying meat from feedlot cattle and factory farms. “But as grass-fed beef skyrocketed in popularity,” Lowry points out, “these same large producers have jumped on the bandwagon to offer a product that meets the letter of the law without a lot of respect for the spirit.”

Lowry explains that beef– technically grass-fed and grass-finished–is in fact coming from concentrated feedlots where the cattle are fed from troughs of manufactured grass pellets. “Large scale farms are talking about how to dope their grass with nitrogen,” Lowry says, and undernourished cattle are getting sold to the consumer at a premium because they have the “grass fed” label.

The American Grassfed Association has issued a set of guidelines outlawing the pellets, crowded conditions and other animal welfare abuses.

While true grass-fed beef offers a healthier alternative when done to standards, (Membership and Certification Submission Checklist), even those operations need to be certain that pastures and any supplemental hay and feedings done when pasturing is impossible, are free of irrigation and other harmful environmental chemical contamination.

This probably isn’t what most people think they’re signing up for. But if you’re buying “grass-fed” beef and you can’t name the farmer or locate the farm on a map, it’s a good bet you’re getting pellets, not pasture.”

Chicken & pork

Factory farming for chicken and pork have paralleled beef in intensity and opportunities for contamination in animal concentration, feeding for swift, maximum growth and processing after slaughter.

Organic regulations requiring space for animal welfare and feed ameliorate some of the contamination issues of mainstream husbandry. Potential issues remain with water sourcing as well as irrigation and growing conditions for feed which is seasonally required even for free-range animals.

The EU found environmental chemicals in feed and chicken coop construction materials in flesh and eggs. This was confirmed by a Belgian study  and others.

Sausage: the original processed food (Now in plastic casings!)

Sausage of various sorts has been used for centuries to stuff animal intestines with various bits and pieces of meat, organs and offal that are unsuitable, unpalatable, or impractical to serve in their natural state.

Over the centuries, various fillers, spices, preservatives, emulsifiers, and other substances have been added to the meat bits. Modern sausage — especially the ubiquitous hot dog — is more often than not in a manufactured synthetic casing usually made of polymers and packed with meat of various origins ground into a paste with fillers and binders.

Spices, which have a lipophilic effect in attracting BPA and phthalates, are often used to cover up the off-tastes in sausages and other manufactured foods.

Replicant meat

Frozen and pre-prepared meals as well as sliced cold-cuts are usually replicant meat — created from manufacturing processes designed to be made mostly of meat, binders and other substances which are then molded to look resemble the real thing.

The associated use of “mechanical fingers” and chemical solutions designed to strip every last shred of meat from bones have introduced a new category of semi-fake meat that is artificially formed from meat fragments, glued together with a host of mostly un-disclosed substances, and re-formed either into “nuggets” or shaped to look like a whole, natural piece of meat — sometimes with fake painted/printed-on  “grill” marks made of yet another chemical composition.

Many of the ingredients in these are not publicly available because the companies have classified them as trade secrets, something allowed by regulators.

Burgers

In their own way, burgers resemble sausage without a casing. And, like sausage, burgers — whether beef, chicken, fish, or veggie are fertile ground for undisclosed additives. One of the most notorious of the additives in hamburgers, as well as chicken nuggets, and manufactured meat designed to look like the real thing is the notorious “Pink Slime.

The chicken AND the egg? A fowl situation

Both the flesh and the eggs of chickens and other edible fowl have the same issues with opportunities for contamination from feed and water as other farm animals.

Fishy business

Fish contamination occurs in growth, harvest, processing, and sales. But because edible fish grow in polluted oceans and freshwater lakes, rivers and streams, they can accumulate contaminates from many sources in their natural environment.

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Because chemical contamination grows with time, this set of recommendations from the state of Washington recommends eating smaller, younger fish. It also recommends cutting away the fatty portions of fish such as salmon because some chemicals are lipophilic. Other contaminates such as methyl mercury, are water soluble.

Beware of farmed fish

Studies have determined that farmed fish are subject to contamination by multiple chemicals (Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Farmed Salmon). Feed is one suspect as are chemicals and pharmaceuticals added to keep fish as healthy as possible in crowded pens.

Plastic Pollution

The growing evidence of an environmental crisis caused by plastics in both fresh and seawater offers further reasons for concern.

While vast floating islands of plastic afflict parts of the oceans, the larger danger to humans may be due to vast qualities of wastewater entering rivers, streams, ans estuaries which are used for irrigation and other agricultural uses.

Dairy: Milk & Cheese

The contamination of the dairy chain starts with what the female mammal — aka “cow” — consumes. This is most often a bovine cow in America, but globally includes goats, sheep and other mammals. (see “Meat the enemy”)

The milk from cows — like its flesh and that of its male counterparts — can be contaminated with environmental chemicals from its food and water.

But the milk produced will be further contaminated by many additional processes before milk, cheese, yogurt and the whey for dietary supplements reaches a human consumer.

The introduction of plastic chemicals into the dairy food chain begins with the milking process and continues to increase at each step before reaching the consumer.

Milking machines

Other than the rare artisan-produced cheese, the hand-milking of cows, goats and other livestock has mostly vanished.  Milking machines make the first step of production more cost effective, time-efficient, and sanitary — all benefits to the consumer.

Before milking begins, the udder and teats undergo a number of hygiene steps that include cleaning with anti-bacterial solutions (Hygiene in milk production).

This helps insure the cleanliness of the milk and starts a process to extend the length of time before milk can sour. This also helps prevent injuries to the cow, including mastitis, a serious inflammation of the udder and mammary gland.

Another anti-bacterial cleaning occurs after milking. All of the cleaning and irritation from the milking machine results in the application of salves.

No research can be found so far on whether antibiotics, salves and cleaning agents may contaminate the collected milk.

It’s also notable that plastic gloves worn by handlers through the milking process can result in phthalate transfer to the teat. This extent of this transfer is unknown.

In addition, the phthalates and other EDCs in the gloves can leach out and be absorbed through the skin of the wearer. Th leaching and transfer is encouraged by people who use hand creams.

Plastic contamination and the milking machine

Milking machines use a pulsating vacuum to draw raw milk from the udder.

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The teatcup that attaches to each teat is lined with a flexible plastic (phthalate soft) that alternately compresses and relaxes as the vacuum pump operates.

The milk is drawn into a one-way plastic chamber (known as “the claw”) which allows the milk to be drawn off and transferred into a collection tank that is sometimes plastic, sometimes stainless steel. From the collection tank, milk flows to a bulk tank, frequently via plastic piping or tubing. (How the milking system works)

From the bulk tank at the dairy, milk is transferred via plastic hoses to a tanker truck which reverses the process through plastic hoses to larger tanks at the creamery. All of the processing involves plastic hoses, pipes, fixtures, pumps, valves, vats, vessels and other equipment that often contain or are made of plastic.

At the creamery, plastic hoses dominate the processes of separating cream from the whole milk. The skimmed milk and cream are usually pasteurized separately.

Some cream is returned to the skimmed milk to create a range of butterfat levels, some is made into butter. Cheese can be made from milk at a variety of stages in this process.

Lipophilia

Significantly, BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals are “lipophilic” — they are easily dissolved in fats.

This means that the cream  separation process creates a high-fat environment that encourages leaching of these environmental chemicals into dairy products.

Cheese & Whey

Cheese made from whole milk contains more fat. More fat offers contamination opportunities for lipophilic chemicals like BPA and phthalates.

The cheesemaking process can use plastics at various points, but most likely as utensils, filtering materials, molds for curds and the process for draining off whey. Further contamination can occur in the processing that cuts large blocks then wraps individual blocks, wheels and  other large shapes. Sliced and grated cheeses expose cheese to contamination as well as the plastic pouches and bags they are packed in.

Most organic cheeses use plastic in their final packaging. The most highly contaminated will be blocks which have been shrink-wrapped. This is because the film is warm/hot when it comes into contact with the cheese. The heat encourages migration of contamination from the plastic into the cheese.

Whey is a mostly water-loving substance left over from the cheesemaking process. However, studies have shown that many organic contaminates can be bound to the milk proteins.

Fruit & veggies

Vegetables in both the exposure and decontamination phases will be coordinated to accommodate seasonally available local products obtained from USDA-certified organic farms which do not use recycled wastewater for irrigation.

Most fruits and vegetables receive substantial exposure to plastics before they reach the supermarket. This contamination —  which also applies to grains for bread, cereal and pasta — results from the use of plastics during harvest, processing, and packaging for sale.

Most supermarket fruits and vegetables are grown with commercial fertilizers and an increasing percentage are fertilized with biosolids — a euphemism for the sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants.

Due to loosening standards and a lengthening list of “exceptions” to the USDA rules, even certified organic fruits and vegetables can be fertilized and treated with a growing number of commercial chemicals.

Exceptions to the regulations have been made by the USDA without extensive study of the substances involved. Also overlooked are additives, surfactants, and other auxiliary chemicals added to enhance the active ingredients. Those added substances often have endocrine-disrupting or other harmful effects.

From sewer to table

Most American supermarket produce aisles will feature fruits and vegetables irrigated with recycled municipal sewer and wastewater and fertilized with biosolids – sewage sludge.

Published scientific studies have demonstrated that chemicals in recycled wastewater can be absorbed by the edible portions of some fruits & vegetables or remain on the surface after water contact.

Tree-born fruit may have contact contamination, but the distance from the ground to the fruit makes it less likely that contamination will reach edible interior parts.

See: Recycled Wastewater In The Wine Vineyard for more.

Supermarkets okay with sewer-to-store veggies (all but one)

As far as can be determined, Whole Foods is the only grocery chain to ban fruits and vegetables fertilized with sewer sludge: Whole Foods Bans Sludge Fertilizer.

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Recycled municipal wastewater (increasingly used for food crops) is currently not prohibited by USDA Organic Standards and is not addressed even by Whole Foods.

Harvesting and processing involve extensive contact with conveyor belts containing phthalates for flexibility and hard plastic rollers whose durability usually results from BPA-containing polycarbonates.

Food contact materials also contribute to cobtamination since many whole fresh vegetable are wrapped in plastic for sale.

Frozen vegetables

Frozen vegetables receive additional plastic contact in processing, and are packaged in plastic.Some are packaged with directions for the contents to be heated or microwaved while in in the plastic  bags and containers. Heating in the bag increases the release of environmental chemicals into the food.

Fruit and vegetable juice

The commercial processing of fruit and vegetable juice offer numerous exposure opportunities for contamination. Plastics are extensively present in peeling, crushing, filtering, transport and in the plastic bottles, pouches, and epoxy can linings.

Going against the grain: Bread and cereal killers

The domestication of grains nearly 11,000 years ago accelerated civilization from hunter-gatherer to the agriculturally based world of today (Ancient Waves of (Wild) Grain).

While bread and cereal products are among the most basic and valuable foodstuffs modern commercial grains are subject to the same the irrigation and fertilization problems associated with fruits and vegetables.

This includes harvest and processing contamination occurrences including the use of questionable irrigation water, commercial fertilizer, and the use of recycled municipal wastewater and sewage sludge biosolids. In addition, wheat is extensively applied with glyphosate and other pesticides

The issue of irrigation is not as critical because a substantial portion of wheat matures during the winter when rains are more prevalent. A warming climate is expected to affect this.

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In addition, the transportation of wheat is a massive bulk operation using barges, ships and railroad bulk carriers all of which offer ample opportunities for plastic contact with conveyor belts, augers and other plastic apparatus, and storage. Because of the size of the operation, there is little oversight of transportation.

Flour production involves extensive contact with plastic-based apparatus, conveyor belts and transport.

Commercial baking: a wonder of automation and processing contamination

The actual making and baking of commercially produced bread, again, involves conveyor belts but also plastic bins used for ingredients,  mixing, and preparation for dough. Plastic loaf pans are used for dough in the rising stages.

The baking process usually employs metal conveyor surfaces with the warm loaves going into plastic bags when still warm.

This paper from the British Medical Journal defines commercial bread as a highly processed food: Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort

Small batch regional bakeries

Most small-batch regional bread bakeries still use commercially available flour with its inherent contamination opportunities.

However, some very small artisan operations — such as those associated with the California Grain Campaign — have reduced their dependence on plastics and pack their product in brown paper bags.

It’s important to recognize that recycled paper carries high concentrations of phthlates because a high percentage of ink used in packaging gets recycled along with the paper.

Corn-based breads and cooking ingredients

Corn is a basic ingredient in many favorite American ethnic foods such as tacos, enchiladas, tamales and more.

Unfortunately, most corn available in the U.S. comes from cultivars that are genetically modified to be resistant to pesticides like glyphosate which is extensively applied.

Cereals

Breakfast cereals are among the most extensively processed grain foods. Processing includes the shaping of flakes and other forms needed to satisfy marketing and consumer demands and expectations.

Preservatives, artificial colors, and other chemicals are added in addition to the conveyor, piping, tubing and other opportunities for contamination by BPA and phthalates.

Edible Oils

Edible oils are often chosen for their flavors (such as in salads), or their behavior in a frying pan, baking or other forms of cooking.

This article from a popular web site — Healthy Cooking Oils — outlines culinary uses and touches upon various health relationships. (While the article makes several over-generalized judgments regarding health, it is a good overall review for both cooking and health assessments and one of the better articles in this regard.)

Producing edible oils

The standard oil-producing processes involves plastic pipes, tubing, pump components, bins, tanks, conveyor belts and associated sources of contamination. Contamination increases with each additional processing step.

Producing edible oils from seeds, nuts and fruits begins with mechanical extraction by crushing or pressing the raw stock. That recovers a portion of the oil.

Once pressed or crushed, additional oil can be produced by heating the pomace.

In many cases heating is followed by solvent extraction using various petroleum distillates such as hexane to dissolve the remaining oil from the pomace.

Because the solvent has a much lower boiling point than the oil, most of the solvent is removed by a distillation process that recovers most of the solvent for reuse. Small but detectable amounts of the solvent are impossible to remove and will remain in the finished oil.

No government regulations exist to require disclosure of the process.

Harvest & Processing

High-production edible oils such as soy, canola and corn involve mechanical harvesting that involve the plastic contamination sources common to other fruits and vegetables: conveyor belts, plastic chutes, bins, gloves, processing vessels and associated components.

Olive Oil

First. avoid the “organic” pesticides.

The Olive fruit fly is endemic in California and other wine producing regions around the world. There are a variety of methods for controlling infestations including baits, traps, attractant strips and certified organic pesticides such as Spinosad and Surround. (UC Pest Management Guidelines).

Despite their organic-certified status, both Surround and Spinosad contain toxic chemicals and proprietary chemicals whose identities are trade secrets and not disclosed. Because of this, olives treated with these are unacceptable.

Untreated olives or those produced in groves using baits, traps, or attractant strips are acceptable.

Olives undergo a washing process — a water rinse — before pressing.  There are many other stages, some of which commonly use plastic components in the process.

Visits will be made to determine which oil press minimizes the use of plastic components.

Pressing

In the case of olive oil, the “first cold press” that takes place without heating produces maximum flavor.

Internationally, there is great confusion — and often scandal — over the regulation of grades and quality of olive oil that follow first cold press. Heating and solvent extraction are used in cheaper grades. Regulation is inconsistent and unreliable.

Significantly, heating drives off many of the aromatic compounds and reduces the healthy polyphenols in olive oil.

First cold press offers a consumer the best assurance of purchasing the healthiest edible oil product while minimizing plastic chemical contamination.

However, as healthy a first cold press is, harvest involves plastic bins, rakes and, synthetic fiber netting. What’s more, the production process involves plastic bins, conveyor belts, pipes, tubing, pump components, filters, and more.

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Edible oil & genetic engineering (Hard for some people to swallow)

At least half of all vegetable oil consumed in the United State comes from genetically engineered crops. The genetic modifications are usually made to make the crop plant resistant to herbicides which are copiously used. In addition to the controversy concerning effects of glyphosate and other active ingredients, no research is available on adjuvants and/or other chemicals that are undisclosed or are trade secrets.

The scientific evidence concerning the safety of GMO organisms is hotly disputed. We have no evidence that GMO foods would affect our test results in any way. However, out of an abundance of caution and for the sake of reproducibility, the study will not chose those foods for the diet.

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Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars (nope)

Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars are among the most extensively processed foods available.

Candy and snacks tend to be ultra-high fat and/or sugar products. The fat content offers a significant opportunity for the concentration of lipophilic chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.

Chips made from non-GMO corn raised organically and fried in oil which is similarly organic and non-GMO in origin would be acceptabe if available.

Nutrition bar contamination

Bodybuilders, people in a hurry and those who opt for a balanced nutrition bar instead of candy bar are, however, getting extra doses of harmful environmental chemicals because these are among the most highly processed foods available

In addition to the BPA and phthalate exposures inherent in the processing regime, the protein in these bars comes primarily from either soy or whey.

Soy presents a dual concern because it adds compounds that exert estrogen-like effects. I addition, almost all soybean crops are composed of genetically modified cultivars engineered to be immune to the application of pesticides including glyphosate.

Because of soy’s estrogenic effects, many people currently buy bars fortified with whey protein left over from cheesemaking. However, whey presents the same environmental chemical concerns as dairy.

SECTION III: REPRODUCIBILITY – THE SCIENTIFIC PROBLEM THAT DEMANDED ENHANCED SOURCING OF THE STUDY DIET

Reproducibility + Confounding factors drive changes, increase complexity, & costs

Reproducibility is the acid test of properly done studies that produce valid data. In the past couple of years, the “reproducibility crisis” has been the subject of numerous scholarly articles and comments.

The most data-based is this one from Nature (1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility Survey sheds light on the ‘crisis’ rocking research.).

That article found that: “More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.”

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While data do not indicate a substantial rise in irreproducible results, the persistence of non-replicable studies is unacceptable. We should not add to that phenomenon.

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See also:

Irreproducible results plague diet-replacement studies

Nowhere has reproducibility failure been more apparent than in meal-replacement studies involving BPA, phthalates and other environmental chemicals.

The current investigators of the Stealth Syndromes Human Study set out to avoid the non-reproducibility of all previous diet intervention studies. In doing so,  found that, while possible, conducting a study that could be replicated would be magnificently expensive and time-consuming.

Examining the five previous studies

<<Note: The following is a high-level view. There is a potentially publishable paper in a more detailed and rigorous review of the studies and the field especially as regards reproducibility>>

Dietary interventions involving BPA and phthalates are rare.

Five were discovered in the literature search. Only two of those were controlled diet replacement investigations.

Significantly, those two controlled investigations reported different results despite the fact that they used the same food replacement method.

In the first dietary intervention study in a search of the literature —  Influence of a five-day vegetarian diet on urinary levels of antibiotics and phthalate metabolites: A pilot study with “Temple Stay” participants<1> — 25 participants followed the daily routines of Buddhist monks and maintained a vegetarian diet.

Urinary levels of three antibiotics and their major metabolites, metabolites of four major phthalates, and malondialdehyde (MDA) as an oxidative stress biomarker all decreased by statistically significant amounts.

This was not a carefully controlled study given that food sourcing, preparation and other factors were not considered.

In a more controlled and expanded meal replacement study, Rudel et. al., 2011 — Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethyhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention<2> — found substantial reductions in BPA and DEHP exposures in 20 people in five families who underwent three days of a dietary replacement with catered meals using fresh foods designed to minimize plastic food packaging was associated with. Results were consistent among participants and correlated extremely well with experiment design expectations.

Different results were found in a 2013 diet-replacement study by Sathyanarayana et. al.  (designed to replicate Rudel) — Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposures<3>.

Unexpectedly, the diet replacement cohort actually had an increase in BPA and DEHP concentrations.

The extensive discussion concerning the results concluded that diet replacement could not work given the probability of widespread and inconsistent and unpredictable contamination of the food supply: “Federal or industry wide regulation aimed at reducing phthalate and BPA concentrations in foods may be the only effective mechanism to ensure the food supply is safe from contamination.”

This study also included a cohort given written advice on self-directed diets  designed to avoid BPA and phthalates.

The group given written instructions showed no change in BPA and DEHP concentrations before or after intervention. That led the investigators to conclude that advice on self-directed diets would not work.

A 2015 study — Life without plastic: A family experiment and biomonitoring study<4> — found equivocal results. Intervention results indicated decreases in BPA, but phthalates were a different matter: decreasing in some participants, increasing in another.

This study was somewhat an  outlier because it which was a self-directed dietary regime and was an n=5 following members of a single Austrian family whose reference levels of the relevant chemicals were already below population reference levels.

Another self-reported, self-directed study found similar results. An engaged research study to assess the effect of a ‘real-world’ dietary intervention on urinary bisphenol A (BPA) levels in teenagers<5>.

Reproducibility failure causes

Comparing Rudel with Sathyanarayana we find very similar subject selection criteria and foods which were fresh, organic, locally sourced, harvested, shipped and prepared without plastic. Study subjects and caterer in both cases were educated on the elimination of plastic contamination of all kinds.

In assessing the unexpected results, Sathyanarayana measured a variety of foods, beverages and spices and found unusually high concentrations of the subject chemicals. Dairy products were among items singled out as consistent culprits.

However, the study authors noted that, “It may be that our findings reflect an isolated rare contamination event because of unusual processing or a packaging abnormality. It also could be the case that the food supply is systematically contaminated with high phthalate concentrations, which are difficult to identify.

“In the absence of regulation to reduce phthalate and BPA concentrations in food production, it may be difficult to develop effective interventions that are feasible in the general population.”

As described farther along in this document, extreme variations exist in contamination exposures for any given food item.

Rinse water for vegetables will vary greatly according to source, pipe, hose and sprinkler head composition. The same goes for sourcing of vegetable fertilizers, irrigation water, piping or drip hose/tubing composition, machine versus hand harvesting etc. It would he highly unlikely, for example, to find fresh supermarket vegetables that were without substantial plastic contact.

Dairy, even those that are organic compliant and packed in glass will have almost constant plastic contact beginning at the dairy and continuing through separation, homogenization and bottling at a creamery.

The lengthy analysis that follows this introduction looks at contamination routes and sources for all food groups and subgroups.

Short history of SSHS reproducibility efforts

Two-and-a-half years after approval by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California, San Francisco medical School, the study still struggles to control a continuing series of confounding factors that would hinder statistically valid data and reproducibility.

The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS), as approved, was designed to build on Rudel with a complete diet replacement in  a 9-week controlled, step-wise,  protocol designed to decrease measured BPA and phthalate levels in urine and serum.

The blood draw for the serum levels would also be used to produce a blood panel of accepted potential health indicators for each participant. The thesis of the study is that decreasing the levels of these chemicals would result in favorable blood panel health indications.

By eliminating a class of foods and non-food exposures, the SSHS was designed to measure exposure effects as each source of contamination was eliminated, thus offering a finer resolution to the data. In addition, parallel measurements of serum and urine concentrations as well as blood panel results were designed to offer deeper data as well as potential diagnostic direction.

Nutritional metrics

The initial confounding factor addressed by the investigators was a method to assure identical nutritional metrics in the food and beverages consumed. This was addressed with the advice of a small company which makes organic foods who volunteered to offer advice to make sure calories as well as fat, protein, carbohydrate, fiber and other significant elements could be maintained in the diet.

Accomplishing this required all of the meals for study participants to be pre-prepared to eliminate variations in serving size and ingredients that would have plagued home preparation. Those confounding factors have been cited as responsible for some of the unexplained and sometimes unexpected results in previous diet-replacement studies.

This action increased study costs and need for support personnel.

Given the near-identical selection of subjects and experimental methods in food selection and preparation between Rudel and  Sathyanarayana, SSHS investigators realized the need to measure the precise levels and concentration of BPA and phthalates consumed by test subjects.

This required quantitative data on  each meal including concentrations of studied chemicals in each meal that could be used to calculate total BPA and phthalate intake. At the same time, it was recognized that a quantitative nutritional analysis of each meal was needed that included micronutrients such as folate and other vitamins.

This action more than quadrupled the expense needed and the investigators created a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt corporation followed by crowdfunding campaign in an effort to raise money. For the greatly increased costs.

Significantly, shortly after the crowdfunding campaign was launch, further research by investigators revealed a confusing interaction between BPA and folates/folic acid.

Published studies indicated that BPA showed a significant epigenetic impact in mice which were folate-deficient. The studies also confirmed that dietary methyl contributors other than folates (soy products and genistein for example) exhibited the same effects.

It is unknown at this point whether BPA (which has 2 methyl groups) is acting as a methyl donor via one-carbon metabolism, or in its capacity as an estrogenic substance. Or both. Some research indicates that folates can exert estrogenic-like activities. Also unknown is whether BPA analogs such as common substitute BPS also interact with folates.

This resulted in greater attention to methyl contributors and a need to assure no soy or similar foods entered the test subjects’ diet regime.

Almost simultaneously with this, new published research indicated that BPA and phthalate exposures were endemic in the food chain and not substantially due to food contact materials.

This resulted in a major re-evaluation of how zero- or minimally-contaminated foods for the test subjects’ diet could be sourced.

Reproducibility requirements further complicate food sourcing

After three additional months of research and footwork, investigators confirmed that suitable foods and beverages could be obtained for the study. However, the resulting diet would be far more restrictive overall, with some entire categories of food eliminated from the trial.

On the one hand this would require food directly from producers who have agreed to allow inspection of their entire food production and processing operation from farm to test subject table.

Sourcing and preparing the necessary zero- or minimally-contaminated food would add additional costs and personnel time to the increase factors cited above.

While possible, strict — enhanced organic — food sourcing is currently impractical for the average consumer. In addition, study reproducibility would be impractical for other investigating teams which would need to utilize the same strict farm-to-table food sourcing from the same sources. That would further complicate efforts to duplicate nutritional micro-analysis and specific mean-level diet content.

Further, the strict farm-to-table sourcing requirements are too complicated and would be impossible for current large-scale agriculture and food distribution to consumers.

What’s needed is a recognition of the contamination (and its health consequences), and a will to improve. It’s important to remember that eating a diet of entirely organic-certified food was impossible for the average consumer 25 years ago.

SECTION IV:

CONCLUSIONS & POSSIBLE FUTURE DIRECTIONS

Bottom line:

This document suggests that:

  • All previous diet replacement studies are non-reproducible due to widespread contamination of the American food supply.
  • A publishable review paper should be written about the replication issues of diet replacement studies
  • The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) protocol should be using a revised protocol with enhanced organic menu sourcing which should result in greater reductions of BPA and phthalate levels than Rudel.
  • A second study — which can readily be replicated — should be conducted to correlate BPA and phthalate concentrations to both urinary levels and to effects on a elements of a diagnostic blood panel.

Summary

A review of all of the published dietary efforts designed to reduce BPA and phthalates indicate that this type of study is inherently non-reproducible because of the widespread contamination of the American food supply by the subject chemicals.

What’s more, after two-and-a-half years of trying to reduce significant confounding factors that would affect replication, it is clear that the Stealth Syndromes Human Study as approved by CHR/UCSF would also not be reproducible except under the most intensive and expensive conditions: “enhanced organic”.

“Enhanced organic” includes obtaining each type of food from the same farms and/or original sources who have agreed to our specific, rigorous growing, harvesting, processing, and packaging procedures described in detail later in this document.

Significantly, the SSHS was designed to ascertain if measurable, diagnostic health effects in humans could be observed that were causally connected to dietary levels of the chemicals in question.

The current investigators of the Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) set out to avoid the non-reproducibility flaws of all previous diet intervention studies. That study also seeks to correlate accepted medical diagnostic tests with levels of the relevant chemicals.

In addressing the confounding factors — most of which have never been addressed in studies of this sort — investigators discovered that designing and conducting a study that could be replicated is possible but would be far more expensive and time-consuming than any previous study.

Accordingly, such a study — as was approved by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California San Francisco would not be feasible given existing financial and human resources.

Recommended as a replacement are two studies:

(1) A study involving 100 healthy blood bank donors who have consented to allow a small portion of their donation to be examined for BPA, phthalates and a select blood panel for comparison or correlation. Blood centers often participate in clinical studies as this published study — Genetic research in the blood bank: acceptability to Northern California donors and this web page from the New York Blood Center indicate.

Urine samples would also be obtained to establish ratios between serum and urine levels.

Such a study could offer the first direct human evidence for any possible health effects correlated with levels of BPA and phthalates.

All required IRB/CHR and subject protection precautions would be in place.

If valid relationships are established among BPA and phthalate levels with elements of the blood panel, the urine/serum ratio could be used to project health effects in the many studies using only urine concentrations. This would also apply to the NHANES data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control.

Because urine testing for BPA and phthalates is far less expensive than serum analysis, this would open up a vast new opportunity for direct health assessment studies.

This study would also accomplish the primary goal of the SSHS and eliminate the multitude of confounding factors that plagued the original study design.

It may also narrow the necessary choices of blood panel tests to those which show correlations with BPA and phthalate levels, if any.

(2) If statistically valid correlations are found in the blood bank study, that would provide a follow-up health assessment of our  three-day diet replacement study (based on Rudel) using directly sourced, farm-to-table methods with restrictions.

Based on the results, a recommended dietary reduction regime would be described which could be implemented by members of the general public.

The general public who wish to measure personal results and possible health effects can do so with the relatively inexpensive urine test provided by the by Silent Spring Institute.

Our three-day study would also use that test panel instead of the vastly more expensive serum analysis. This would also make it possible for us to enlarge the test cohort.

Contamination Nation

The vital need to redesign the Stealth Syndromes Human Study to aid reproducibility

The American food chain is so thoroughly contaminated that it has introduced scores of confounding factors that have raised serious public health concerns and delayed the first human scientific trials of environmental chemicals. That contamination has also made it impossible for scientists to reproduce previously published studies. This is significant because reproducibility is the ultimate proof of a study’s validity.

More importantly, this document’s findings show that consumers currently have no way to source foods that are not contaminated with stealth chemicals that are aggravating and promoting the current stealth epidemics of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, reproductive disorders, cancers, cardiovascular disease, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Stealth chemicals are those, such as endocrine disruptors, whose effects are not immediately recognizable as poisoning or direct sickness, but show up as unrelated illnesses. This link has more details: What Is A Stealth Chemical?

Even the most scrupulous food producers who adhere to certified organic regulations are generally unaware of these stealth contamination sources, many of which which have been discovered while implementing the protocols for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study

Today’s stealth chemical sources come from:

  • synthetic and/or harmful chemicals currently allowed for organics by the USDA,
  • plastic-sourced hormone disruptors,
  • micro- and nano-plastics,
  • bacteria, pharmaceuticals, and hazardous chemical residues present in:
    • recycled municipal wastewater for irrigation and,
    • biosolids (human sewage sludge) used to fertilize food and landscape plants.

This pervasive contamination has made it almost impossible to create a diet regimen for test subjects that directly measures “gold standard” laboratory health effects as known sources of endocrine disruptors are eliminated from foods in a staged manner.

To phrase it another way, it is nearly impossible to measure the before-and-after health effects when the study cannot find uncontaminated foods for the “after” portion of the diet.

The study investigators have developed new, strict, and specific enhanced food sourcing rules. As a shorthand, those are sometimes referred to in this document as “enhanced organic.”

NOTE 1: This is a strategy document created to describe the reasons and science for the new path forward for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study. Chief among those reasons are numerous food contamination phenomena which have not previously been discussed in a comprehensive manner

NOTE 2: To facilitate instant access to citations for for both scientists and laypersons, we rely upon web hyperlinks rather than footnotes

Summary

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have found that Americans are widely and systematically contaminated by many environmental chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA), a wide range of phthalate plasticizers and other chemicals that can disrupt hormones and the normal functioning of genes..

This ubiquitous contamination has also caused a major revision in a new scientific investigation

— the Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) — the first study designed to measure the direct health effects in humans of environmental chemicals consumed in food and beverages.

As approved by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California San Francisco Medical School, the SSHS protocol requires test subjects to undergo a nine-week trial during which health effects would be measured as their diets consumed food with decreasing levels of specific environmental chemicals. Link: Study & Protocol As Approved

During that time participants would consume readily available supermarket food ingredients with known contamination levels that would be replaced on a weekly basis with foods that contained lower levels.

For example, test subjects would start the controlled trial by eating an “average” recipe for a menu item, such as lasagna using canned tomatoes. The lining of most canned foods is a notorious source of Bisphenol A (BPA).

The exact lasagna recipe would be served the next week at the same meal, but with tomatoes packed in glass. Fresh tomatoes would be used the third week, and organic tomatoes the fourth.

Other ingredients in other menu items would follow the same contamination reduction protocols.

The protocol, as approved, emphasized the role of plastic packaging and food preparation as a source of BPA, phthalates and other undesirable contaminants. However, as research continued into proper sourcing of foods for study participants, numerous other contamination sources were discovered. In fact, as detailed in this document, uncontaminated foods for the final week of the study are impossible to obtain in the ordinary commercials food supply chain regardless of whether those foods are certified organic or not.

This absence of uncontaminated foods in the U.S. supply chain mean that the final set of meals which are supposed to be as free as possible from contaminants, means that the overall menu choices in the test subjects diets would have to be extremely limited, would need to be sourced via enhanced organic methods not currently available to consumers.

In the end, the study protocol must make undesirable compromises in order for the investigation to proceed in a manner which can be reproducible by other investigators.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

Contamination is literally farm to table. Systematic contamination turns biomedical study protocol upside down. Contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable. Page 5

SECTION I: BACKGROUND MAJOR FACTORS AFFECTING ALL STUDY MENU CHOICES

1. Enhanced Food Sourcing – The Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet, Page 8

2. Guiding principles of the SSHS enhanced organic diet, Page 11

3. Why do BPA & phthalates (and other plasticizers) migrate, leach and flake from plastics? Page 17

4. Why food processing adds contamination, Page 20

Lipophilia: for the love of fat, Page 22

5. Water & fertilizers: Ubiquitous contamination sources, Page 24

SECTION II: SOURCING THE MENU – STANDARDS AND CHOICE LIMITATIONS

6. Meat the enemy, Page 30

7. Dairy: Milk & Cheese, Page 35

8. Fruit & veggies, Page 38

9. Going against the grain: Bread and cereal killers, Page 40

10. Edible Oils, Page 42

11. Spices, (covered under Lipophilia)

12. Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars Page 47

SECTION III: REPRODUCIBILITY – THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE NEED FOR ENHANCED SOURCING OF ORGANIC FOODS

14: Reproducibility + Confounding factors drive changes, increase complexity, & costs, Page 48

15: Roots of Non-Reproducibility: Farm-to-table contamination of the U.S. food chain, Page 50

SECTION IV: CONCLUSIONS & POSSIBLE FUTURE DIRECTIONS Page 55

  • All previous diet replacement studies are non-reproducible due to widespread contamination of the American food supply.
  • A publishable review paper should be written about the replication issues of diet replacement studies
  • The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) protocol will use a revised protocol with enhanced organic menu sourcing and a new testing regime to control costs and increase reproducibility.

Acknowledgements

This document is based on: “A New Path to Reproducibility”a position paper previously creates new strategies for conducting the Stealth Syndromes Human Study.

That position paper was prepared for, and approved by the board of the Center for Research on Environmental Chemicals in Humans (CRECH) – a 501(c)(3) IRS-approved non-profit which supports the Stealth Syndromes Human Study.

That paper and this current document was written by CRECH director Lewis Perdue ([email protected]) with editing and assistance from CRECH director and Rebecca Yeamans-Irwin.

Perdue and CRECH director Victor Reus, Distinguished Professor at the University of California San Francisco Medical School are co-investigators in the Stealth Syndromes Human Study along with collaborator Yeamans-Irwin.

This version is designed for a non-scientific audience. For that reason, references are most frequently formatted as hyperlinks rather than formal footnotes.

INTRODUCTION

Contamination is literally farm to table.

Newly published and discovered studies indicate that food contact materials such as plastic wrap and trays are only one of many contamination sources.

Instead, multiple contamination opportunities permeate the entire food chain, some beginning with food production, harvest and transport. There is little — if anything — available in the mainstream, or certified organic food supply that is not contaminated. For example, see: Why your ‘organic’ milk may not be organic.

Eliminating or substantially reducing chemical contaminates — especially plastic-borne endocrine disruptors like phthalates and Bisphenol A —  from the mainstream food supply is impossible under current agriculture, food production and processing conditions.

The current, published, peer-reviewed scientific literature make it clear that no class of food is exempt.

Regardless of whether food comes from a chain supermarket or directly from the farm, the contamination covers every class of consumable: animal, vegetable, fresh, frozen, organic, vegan, kosher, halal, gluten-free.

Systematic contamination turns biomedical study protocol upside down

This contamination reality has forced a bottoms-up rethink of the diet menu. This requires the diet to identify and obtain the most minimally contaminated foods available, then define recipes for the end point menu.

Because the availability of end-point ingredients will be far more limited, the full menu of recipes must be based on a limited number of items with the lowest possible contamination levels and then back-expanded to the beginning of the trial where the usual supermarket ingredients are used.

In addition, multiple and ubiquitous non-food sources of phthalate make it necessary that only enhanced food sourcing measures to obtain the least-contaminated foods will allow data resulting from the study to rise above a substantial noise level. Of the several diet replacement trials on this subject, all have suffered from unexplainable data points.

This 2013 paper is typical: Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposures.

One recent study published in The British Medical Journal concludes:

Our data suggest that in our study population, it is unlikely that participants could moderate their own BPA exposure in the long term by self-directed modification of diet in a ‘real-world’ setting, and furthermore, participants would have been reluctant to adopt such a lifestyle change in the longer term due to the restrictions in dietary choice and the effects on day-to-day life. Most of these barriers appear to arise from the pervasiveness of BPA in our food chain, and inadequate labelling of foods packaged in BPA-containing substances.

Contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable

This review of the data, studies, environment and possible solutions will demonstrate that substantial reductions in the chemicals are possible, but only through the most enhanced measures. Implementation of those measures will be used to revise the dietary regime of the study protocol approved by the UCSF Committee on Human Research in November 2014.

The contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable.

By pinpointing the numerous — and sometimes surprising — points of contamination, it is hoped that this review can offer starting points for consumers to encourage and pressure farmers, food processors and retailers into making healthy changes.

Food elimination targets for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study: Bisphenol A and phthalates

There are literally hundreds of environmental chemicals that plague us. But the most common ones that contaminate food and beverages are Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. These are often found in the company of other bad chemicals.

Because BPA and phthalates have well-established methods for qualitative and quantitative measurement, they can serve as indicators of overall contamination.

BPA: Strong

BPA is strong, durable and heat resistant. In the food chain you will find it in water and drinks bottles, Sodastream bottles and Keurigs, drip coffee makers, Cuisinarts, and in other food processing where strength and durability are required. BPA is also part of plastics used in machinery, vats, and pipes for transferring products from one stage of processing to another.

BPA can also be found in the packaging of olive oils, soft drinks, wine and spirits bottles, syrup and spice containers and more.

BPA — especially when used in warm or hot applications — can leach out of the plastic polymer in those products and contaminate food that comes in contact with it. BPA is “lipophilic” — meaning that it loves to dissolve in fats and oils.

Phthalates: Flexible

Phthalates are a category of different compounds that are also lipophilic. Like BPA, they easily dissolve in fats and oils but can also be found in smaller concentrations in other substances.

There are many different molecular variations of phthalates.

In general, phthalates with larger molecules are used to make plastic flexible in things like gaskets, bags, tubing and piping, conveyer belts and bins used in the processing and packaging of food and oils. Phthalates are also found in gloves used by food handlers as well as the printing ink an adhesives used in food packaging.

Plastics: Vital for modern life and public health

Ironically, the ubiquitous use of plastics which have contributed immensely to improving world health and quality of life have also unleashed or aggravated the modern-day plastic plagues in the environment and through the diseases and syndromes described above. Plastic is not evil and is a necessary part of modern life.

Non-contaminating plastics available, must be substituted for old

Significantly, non-contaminating plastics exist that can be substituted. Those safer plastics, however, are not in use because consumers, industry and food producers do not recognize the need. That must change for the sake of better public health.

The consuming public can encourage the use of non-contaminating plastics by patronizing companis and product who use them and avoiding those who do not.

Just as public demand has driven the acceptance and availability of organic-certified foods, consumers can cause a similar shift to non-contaminating plastics and other food production practices that this document will explore in detail.

Enhanced Food Sourcing, the Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet

The Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet begins with: fundamental food production and avoidance of harmful environmental chemical contamination from the farm to the consumer’s mouth.

In the original study protocol, this excluded (or minimizes by the use of the most enhanced measures practical), the use or contact with all plastics or substances that may have come in contact with plastics through farming practices, processing, packaging, meal preparation and ultimate consumption.

Further research revealed numerous additional food contamination sources which had to be properly controlled or eliminated in order for the study to be reproducible by other researchers. Reproducibility is the ultimate test of a properly conducted investigation.

The study requires enhanced food sourcing measures because of the almost complete lack of regulatory oversight.

Enhanced food sourcing includes the complete absence of testing for harmful environmental chemicals in foods and beverages offered for retail sale to consumers. By contrast, multiple published studies of selected foods have found Bisphenol A, phthalates, nonylphenols and scores of other harmful environmental chemicals.

Because of the lack of data, the absence of transparency, and the void in regulatory oversight, it is impossible for a consumer to make an informed choice. Adequate data is simply not available. This means that all foods must be considered guilty until proven innocent.

Realistically, complete innocence cannot be guaranteed for any food without testing.

However, based on the relative few studies measuring BPA, phthalates and other chemicals in food, it is possible to make informed choices on which foods are most likely to be contaminated. Because of widespread contamination, and the elimination of potentially guilty foods, the list of “likely innocent” foods that can be traced to the source is more limited than the average American diet.

Enhanced food sourcing methods will help the study data rise above the noise level.

Some food procurement sources developed for this study will be practical as will be many of the kitchen preparation techniques. Those procurement and preparation techniques will be detailed in sections for each of the food-types. Each of the procurement and preparation techniques will be supported by an extensive discussion of the background and reasoning.

Reducing non-food sources as data contamination factors

There are multiple, significant, non-food, environmental sources of the same chemical compounds that are the subject of the study’s human effects on their reduction in the diet.

To conduct a reproducible study with statistically significant data not complicated by those non-food sources, the environmental chemical reductions in the diet need to be the most rigorous possible in order to counter the overall contamination “noise level.”

This noise level is one of the plausible reasons that some diet-replacement studies have produced inconsistent result. Most notable is one published study where BPA levels in some test subjects were higher after the diet replacement than at the start.

Plastics represent tens of thousands of different formulations with varying mixtures of polymers, plasticizers, dyes and other property-enhancing chemicals. Those formulations are almost always trade secrets. Further, only a small percentage of the plastics and their chemicals have been properly tested and their effects published in peer-reviewed journals.

The unknowns about which plastics was used in a given product or process creates a vast universe of unknowns where all reputations have been soiled by known contamination. This means that the only prudent route is to avoid the unknowable whenever possible. Only proper regulation, testing and transparency can rehabilitate the reputation of plastic.

Sadly, plastic — while sometime safe — is untrustworthy as a category.

The art of the possible

This diet’s extension of what should be considered “organic” is founded on what is possible but not yet practical for the average consumer. It is possible because the organic food production movement began in the North Bay counties of Marin and Sonoma. They remain the epicenter of and have fostered a national recognition of environmental nutrition.

Because of that organic environmental orientation, the North Bay has become a growing epicenter of artisan farmers, bakers, ranchers, olive oil producers, cheesemakers and others striving to bring to market products that go beyond the organic certifications which have become increasingly diluted by federal regulators.

Many of those “enhanced organic” producers have already agreed to provide products for this study and to allow on-site inspections for compliance. Some have even agreed to change their procedures, at least for the duration of the food procurement.

Among the most significant of these alterations is one cheesemaker’s agreement to hand-milk her goats (without vinyl gloves) and make cheese without any contact with plastic. Another dairy which already uses milking machines with BPA- and phthalate-free tubing has agreed to custom filter and pasteurize milk with no plastic contact.

Two other examples are a bread bakery which grinds its own flour and uses no plastic, and an organic beef producer who rotates pastures to avoid any irrigation. She has agreed to have the slaughterhouse provide cut meats in glass containers, not plastic.

There are other “holes” to be filled in creating healthy, balanced menus that can be extrapolated “upward” to a beginning diet that reflects what average consumers eat.

From possible to practical

Buying organic foods at a supermarket was not possible 25 years ago.

However, an increasing number of informed consumers demanded organic and went to what were then impractical lengths to obtain foods that met their standards.

Retailers and producers realized there were profits to be made organically and the resulting field has grown, even as large special interests have diluted the organic brand with numerous exceptions to USDA regulations.

It is a desired outcome that the results of this study can advance the consumer availablity of even healthier foods.

Guiding principals for the study diet menu

NOTE: Additional information about specific menu choice details will be added in section II. While some information there may seem redundant, this document tries to avoid offering too much information, too early which can discourage overall readability and comprehension.

1. Do not consume any ingredient whose composition cannot be traced to, and inspected at its origin.

2. No plastic contact at any point.

Exceptions are not preferred, but may include BPA and phthalate-free nitrile gloves and tubing such as Tygon S3 B-44-3 Beverage Tubing or other manufacturer’s equivalent.

3. Any plastic product used must be tested to assure manufacturer claims because studies have shown that some manufacturer claims are false:

Preparation & cooking

The following are forbidden:

  • Sous vide
  • non-stick pans
  • most cooking oils
  • plastic utensils
  • plastic prep bowls
  • synthetic gloves
  • plastic bags
  • plastic wrap
  • Drip coffee makers
  • Sodastream
  • Keurig and other “pod” beverage makers
  • Beverages in cans, plastic bottles or glass.

Water

All water consumed and/or used for cooking, washing, drinking or used to irrigate self-grown plants will be obtained from a commercial device using a solid-block carbon filter and certified by NSF for reduction of BPA and phthalates. One such device is the Aquaversa filter from Multipure which uses a  carbon block filter that lists BPA among its contaminant reduction list. The list does not mention phthalates. However, the list does cover many chemical with similar phenolic structures.

If study funds are available, it would me valuable to  determine BPA and phthalate levels in the water water before the filter and afterwards.

In addition, independently published research indicates that other types of carbon filters are effective in reducing many harmful compounds including organic chemicals.

Beverages

Coffee

Only locally roasted and ground beans will be used.

Provider will be selected on the smallest amount of plastic involved. Beans and grounds will be handled with metal or glass only and packed in glass jars.

Beans will be ground in a mill with no plastic components.

The beans will be prepared using either an all glass and stainless steel French press or a stainless steel percolator with all metal parts.

Also acceptable is the Moka pot-style espresso maker or a pour-over, glass and metal coffee maker with water from an all metal tea kettle. All metal wire basket for grounds must be used, no filter paper.

If an automatic drip system can be located with no plastic ever touching the water or coffee stream, that will be obtained and used.

The weakest links in drip coffee makers that appear to be all glass and/or metal usually lies in plastic tubing that connects the heating element to the water reservoir, the hot water application tube, and the filter basket..

Tea

No tea will be allowed. Like spices, the extensive harvest, curing, processing, and packaging offers many contamination routes.

Also like spices, the tiny fragments that compose tea increase the surface area capable of acquiring chemical contamination.

Soft drinks

Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Fruit juice

No commercial juices allowed. Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Freshly prepares using no plastic contact. In general, whole fruits are a healthier alternative to juices.

Beer and wine

No commercial products allowed. All are extensively processed using plastic.

Sourcing ingredients

All food items will be sourced from the provider. All provider locations will be personally visited and inspections made of their premises, equipment and processes.

Beef, lamb, chicken, pork, fish

Minimum standards: Organic certification, no plastic in growing, harvesting, handling, or packaging. All animals must be free-range.

Even if allowed by exceptions to organic regulations: No commercial fertilizers,  no pesticides, no recycled wastewater irrigation. No irrigation of pasture and feeding areas is preferred. Drinking water from well or municipal water only. No PVC or other plastics.

Beef and lamb must be grass-fed and comply with AGA Statement of Best Practices.

Preference given to un-irrigated pasturing. For welfare of animals, supplemental hay is allowed but must come from un-irrigated pasture.

Possible source: Crowd Cow

Slaughter standards

Must be humane.

Solid cuts of meat only. No sausage or ground meat.

Slaughter to avoid all plastic contact unless absolutely vital for health and hygiene. Nitrile gloves.

Finished cuts to be placed in glass containers covered with aluminum foil (not in contact with meat) and finally sealed with a plastic lid.

Beef, lamb & goat

Lean cuts (minimum marbling) on beef and lamb. Lower fat content helps minimize lipophilic content.

Visible fat to be removed before cooking to minimize lipophilic concentration.

Chicken

Skin to remain on chicken, to be removed before cooking to minimize lipophilic concentration. Breasts only for chicken.

Pork, fish

Not included in the study diet.

Diet and subsequent flesh contamination are extremely hard to control or monitor.

Dairy

Same water, feed and pasturing requirements as beef, lamb and goat.

Udder and teat cleaning and treatments for animal welfare and human hygiene must be examined for plastic exposures and contamination minimized.

Milking must be done preferably by hand or using milk machines certified as BPA and phthalate-free. Nitrile gloves to be used.  All collected milk must be in stainless steel vessels.  Filtering stages cannot use polymer filters. Separation, homogenization (if any) and pasteurization must be plastic free. Glass containers must be used for bottling of milk.

Cream gathered during the separation process will either be used for cheese or discarded to minimize lipophilic contaminate concentration.

Cheese will be made using milk prepared as described above. Preference will be given to low- or moderate-butterfat cheeses.

The cheese process will use stainless steel in the initial heating processes. Curds will be gathered and drained in stainless-steel wire baskets. The whey will be discarded.

Drained curds will be pressed in stainless steel molds. Finished cheese will be packed in aluminum foil then placed in Ziploc-type airtight containers.

Note: Ziploc claims to be BPA free but has not addressed phthalates. It is also unknown whether “BPA free” means a switch to a Bisphenol analog such as BPS.

Fruits & vegetables

All vegetables and fruits must come fresh from an organically-certified source irrigated by well water or suitably filtered tap water.

Recycled municipal wastewater (increasingly used for food crops) is unacceptable.

All irrigation must also be done using metal containers. No plastic drip lines or emitters

No commercial fertilizer can be used.

No pesticide can be applied including substances that are approved for organic use unless they have been examined for — and free of — adjuvants, surfactants, and other auxiliary chemicals that may have endocrine-disrupting or other harmful effects.

The soil in which plants are grown cannot come from a source that uses commercial fertilizer amendments, or biosolids (sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants) which is also increasingly used on food crops.

The vegetables must be harvested and processed by hand without using polymer gloves other than nitrile. No conveyor belts, plastic tubs or containers are allowed.

Vegetables must be placed in a glass or steel container for delivery, not in a plastic bucket or in cardboard. Phthalates are commonly used in the inks on paper and cardboard and are found in recycled paper, cardboard, and packaging materials.

Salad dressings will be made with lemon or other citrus juices, not vinegar.

Bread and cereal

Bread will be sourced directly from a baker who has ground the grain without any plastic contact including utensils, dough rising pans or wrapping. Paper for wrapping cannot be recycled because of phthalate inks commonly used in packaging printing.

Plain bread without seeds, nut, spices, or other components such as raisins.

Corn-based foods must be from non-GMO corn raised organically and fried in oil which is similarly organic and non-GMO in origin. It is unknown at this time whether such healthier alternative is available.

Commercially produced cereals are not allowed on this diet due to extensive processing involved. Rolled oats may be allowed if as suitable source can be found.

Edible Oils

Given the lipophilic nature of BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals, finding an acceptable source of edible oils is one of the most difficult.

This is aggravated by the fact that producing edible oils requires many processing steps to separate the desired lipids from the pulp and aqueous portions of the source fruit, nut or seed.

Because of its local ready availability, this diet will use first cold press olive oil.

Locally produced olives will, ideally, be non-irrigated.

The Olive fruit fly is endemic in California and other wine producing regions around the world. There are a variety of methods for controlling infestations including baits, traps, attractant strips and certified organic pesticides such as Spinosad and Surround. (UC Pest Management Guidelines).

Despite their organic-certified status, both Surround and Spinosad contain toxic chemicals and proprietary chemicals whose identities are trade secrets and not disclosed. Because of this, olives treated with these are unacceptable.

Untreated olives or those produced in groves using baits, traps, or attractant strips are acceptable.

Olives undergo a washing process — a water rinse — before pressing.  There are many other stages, some of which commonly use plastic components in the process.

Visits will be made to determine which oil press minimizes the use of plastic components.

Nuts & Spices

Almonds will either be hand-shelled or obtained from a commercial processor directly from the shelling process before encountering plastic materials in the processing and packaging processes. Slight contact with plastic may be encountered as almond nuts exit the sheller into glass or metal containers.

We will grow our own spices except for whole black/green/red peppercorns which will be ground in a glass, ceramic, or metal peppermill.

Spices will be irrigated with carbon-filtered water.

Spices will be diced with a knife on a wooded cutting board or ground in a grinder without contact with plastic.

Sugar and sweeteners

No refined sugar or sugar substitutes will be allowed in this diet. Sugar undergoes extensive processing from harvest to store and has too many possible contamination sources to be allowable

If sweetening is required, it will be obtained by preparing a syrup from peeled, organically grown apples. Local, unprocessrd honey could be an alternative, but would need testing for the presence of pesticides which are ptresent in nectar and, thus, in honey.

Candy, snacks, protein- & meal-replacement bars

Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Why do BPA & phthalates (and other plasticizers) migrate, leach and flake from plastics?

BPA & phthalates migrate, leach and flake off of plastics primarily because they are not chemically bound to the plastic.

It’s important to understand that any specific plastic is a mixture of one or more polymers along with a variety of additives like BPA and phthalates that are added to provide desired characteristics such as color, strength, rigidity (or flexibility) and other qualities of the finished plastic.

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In some ways, polymers are like dry cement. Water can be added, and a hard substance results when it cures. Aggregates like sand and stone are mixed in to provide strength. Steel rebar is added for flexibility and tensile strength. Polymer fibers offer flexibility. Dyes are added for color.

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An exothermic chemical reaction takes place when water is added to cement. But the sand, stones and re-bar are not part of the chemical reaction.

Just like plasticizers added to plastics, the additives to cement and not covalently bound to the concrete. Instead, those additives — whether to concrete or a plastic — are physically confined when the mixture cures, but can separate under many circumstances.

Rebar, stones and even sand are massive compared with the tiny sizes of the plasticizer and additive molecules that give polymer chains the desired characteristics. Because of this, additives can migrate among the polymer chains and — when they reach the surface of the plastic — can easily leach or simply fall out of the plastic like pebbles from old concrete.

What helps additives escape from the plastic?

Additives escape from plastic and enter the food chain or directly into people’s bodies through a combination of actions that include:

Mechanical- Scraping, friction, bending, stretching, twisting or compressing plastic promotes microfractures that speed additive particles toward a surface. Friction between plastics or other components can create fine dust particles which accelerate the release of additives.

Mechanical stressors are particularly applicable to conveyor belts, squeezable condiment containers, plastic utensils in contact with plastic bowls or paper plates (most of which have a plastic coating), plastic gloves, and plastic beverage containers.

Children frequently treat their plastic toys and other objects with less than tender loving care.

Light – Degrades plastic and accelerates the release of plastic additives.

Chemical action – Acidic foods and beverages can react with a variety of additives because those are not chemically bound (covalently) to the polymers. Some polymers may also be subject to reacting with acids or other food and beverage compounds.

Lipophilia – Promotes absorption of chemicals in oil based foods. Studies show that people can absorb BPA from touching thermal paper cash receipts. What’s more, those who use hand moisturizers absorb far more BPA because of the increased lipids from the hand cream.

Heat – Adds energy to the migration process, speeds up chemical reactions that can loosen bonds.

Not all liberated additives head for food

According to the CDC, one of the most common and significant non-food exposures — especially to phthalates — is household dust. Phthalate dust is most likely produced by friction, scraping and the other “movement” sources listed above.

Harmful environmental chemical dust is particularly potent because the size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems.

Those particles in the “PM 2.5” category can be carried deep into the smallest regions of the lungs — the alveoli — where harmful chemicals (or even the particle itself) can directly enter the bloodstream. This article from the National Academy of Sciences explains more.

Why food processing adds contamination

Contamination of basic foods — even those that do not undergo extensive processing — comes from:

  • Contact with contaminated soil and water during planting, irrigation and growth.
  • Exposure to plastics during harvest from conveyor belts, chutes, pipes, baffles and other equipment.
  • Exposure to plastic in the washing process through the use of bins, tanks, implements and pipes.
  • Exposure to plastics during the drying and packing stages including the use of recycled or coated cardboard.

Contamination through processing

This article from the British Medical Journal offers a look at many of the substances added to highly processed foods: Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort

While the BMJ article focused on the nutritional downsides to processing, it’s vital to recognize that each processing operation and additive — regardless of nutritional value — brings with it its own unique contamination trail and chemical burdens that are incorporated into a highly processed food product for sale.

Specific contamination routes found in individual food groups are discussed elsewhere in this document.

Degree of food processing

We categorised all food and drink items of the NutriNet-Santé composition table into one of the four food groups in NOVA, a food classification system based on the extent and purpose of industrial food processing.

This study primarily focused on the “ultra-processed foods” NOVA group.

This group includes mass produced packaged breads and buns; sweet or savoury packaged snacks; industrialised confectionery and desserts; sodas and sweetened drinks; meat balls, poultry and fish nuggets, and other reconstituted meat products transformed with addition of preservatives other than salt (for example, nitrites); instant noodles and soups; frozen or shelf stable ready meals; and other food products made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats, and other substances not commonly used in culinary preparations such as hydrogenated oils, modified starches, and protein isolates.

Industrial processes notably include hydrogenation, hydrolysis, extruding, moulding, reshaping, and pre-processing by frying. Flavouring agents, colours, emulsifiers, humectants, non-sugar sweeteners, and other cosmetic additives are often added to these products to imitate sensorial properties of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.

The ultra-processed food group is defined by opposition to the other NOVA groups: “unprocessed or minimally processed foods” (fresh, dried, ground, chilled, frozen, pasteurised, or fermented staple foods such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, rice, pasta, eggs, meat, fish, or milk), “processed culinary ingredients” (salt, vegetable oils, butter, sugar, and other substances extracted from foods and used in kitchens to transform unprocessed or minimally processed foods into culinary preparations), and “processed foods” (canned vegetables with added salt, sugar coated dried fruits, meat products preserved only by salting, cheeses, freshly made unpackaged breads, and other products manufactured with the addition of salt, sugar, or other substances of the “processed culinary ingredients” group).

Lipophilia: for the love of fat

In the scientific world, fats and oils are known as lipids. Lipophilia means a “love of lipids.” Fats tend to be solid (or relatively so) at room temperature  and oils, liquid.

Significantly, BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals are “lipophilic” — they are easily dissolved in fats and oils.

This should not be surprising because most environmental chemicals — including endocrine disruptors and pesticides — are derived from petroleum. The same goes for artificial fragrances, flavor enhancers and food coloring as well as plastics in general, and the printing inks used on them.

What this means is that contact between plastic and any form of food-based oil or fat results in increased migration of BPA, phthalates and other from the plastic and into the edible portions of the food.

While there is no valid science yet, there is a logical possibility that the health stigma of fat in the diet and its role in obesity may be due more to the presence of harmful environmental chemicals in the fat, rather than its metabolism and actual calorie count.

Scores of well-designed, peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that BPA and phthalates act as “obesogens” — substances that disrupt the metabolic process and result in the preferential storage of fat rather than its use as energy.

Why does lipophilia matter?

The opposite of lipophilic is hydrophobic — the fear of water. This means that harmful environmental chemicals are somewhat less likely to leach into foods and beverages that are water based.

Despite that, BPA (hydrophobic) still leaches into the water of plastic bottles.

The migration of BPA, phthalates and other lipophilic chemicals is preferentially accelerated when placed in contact with lipids — fats and oils — whether from foods like bacon or cooking oils.

This means that even very heart-healthy foods like olive oil packed in plastic bottles will contain higher concentrations of BPA and phthalates than those in glass bottles.<<citation? is there a study using oil from the same source packed in different bottles? unknown>>>

Impacts cooking and processing

Lipophilia impacts both cooking and processing.

In cooking, the BPA and phthalates in plastic mixing bowls, utensils and other items can migration into the foods themselves.

Heat will further encourage migration of chemicals from plastics. This includes microwaving food in plastic, allowing warm or hot foods to come into contact with plastic bowls, dishes or cooking with plastic utensils.

The spice lipo-paradox

Spices have evolved over the centuries as effective ways to preserve foods from spoiling and to disguise the taste of items that have started to decompose.

By themselves, many spices also have beneficial health properties, as evidenced most recently by studies showing tumeric’s potential cancer-fighting properties. (Spices for Prevention and Treatment of Cancers).

On the other hand, a number of studies have found that spices often have very high and variable concentrations of phthalates. Those studies have posited that the contamination comes from extensive handling and processing.

While the flavor ingredients in spices are sometimes water-soluble, most spice flavors come from lipid soluble compounds. This is why cooks will often saute spices in oil before adding aqueous ingredients. This process, known as “blooming,” intensifies the flavor because the oil extracts the lipid components at a temperature hotter than that of the boiling point of water.

Blooming is useful when cooking at high altitudes where the boiling point of water is lower than at sea level. This means the extraction of spice flavors drops, resulting in blander foods. At Lake Tahoe, for example, water boils at 94°C, something that prevents full flavor extraction, even with longer cook times.

Water & fertilizers: Ubiquitous contamination sources

Irrigation water – farm ponds, biosolids and recycled municipal wastewater

With rare exceptions, irrigation involves plastic pipes, tanks, tubing, drip devices, and valves which leach varying amounts of plastic chemical contaminants.

Well water may be the purest source, but is less available as water tables drop from drought and over-pumping. The distribution lines of a well are usually plastic.

Municipal water may be the second best source depending upon the treatment methods, filtering and added chemicals. However, municipal water distribution is increasingly using plastic pipes for mains and secondary distribution lines.

Farm ponds are questionable for direct use because of wildlife, livestock and other uses in the upstream drainage area.

In addition to BPA and phthalates, recycled municipal wastewater contains scores of harmful chemicals including pharmaceuticals, illegal narcotics and other undesirable compounds that can find their way into animal flesh and meat.

Reviews of the use of recycled municipal wastewater indicate that contaminates remain in the water and can be absorbed the tissues of growing plants.

Significantly, commercial hay fields are frequently fertilized to increase production. That fertilizer may be a commercial product, or biosolids — sludge from sewage treatment plants which frequently contain heavy metals.

Assessment of endocrine disruption and oxidative potential of bisphenol-A, triclosan, nonylphenol, diethylhexyl phthalate, galaxolide, and carbamazepine, common contaminants of municipal biosolids

Highlights

•Relative potency determined for six individual contaminants in a suite of bioassays

•Multiple-modes of action of individual contaminants demonstrated in different in vitro assays

•Comprehensive assessment of potential in vitro effects associated with carbamazepine

Abstract

The use of biosolids as a soil conditioner and fertiliser is hindered by the limited knowledge on the risks of micro-contaminants they contain. This study investigated the binding of six organic contaminants commonly found in biosolids, to the estrogen (ER), androgen (AR), aryl hydrocarbon (AhR), and transthyretin (TTR) receptors and their redox activity. Triclosan (TCS), bisphenol-A (BPA), and technical nonylphenol (TNP) had affinity for the TTR with relative potencies of 0.3, 0.03, and 0.076 respectively. Further, binding to TTR was the only toxicological response observed for carbamazepine, which induced sub-maximal response and relative potency of 0.0017. Estrogenic activity was induced by BPA, galaxolide (HHCB), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and TNP with BPA having the strongest potency of 5.1 × 10−6 relative to estradiol. Only BPA showed androgenic activity but it was not quantifiable. BPA also showed anti-androgenic activity along with TCS, HHCB, and TNP in the order of TNP > HHCB > TCS ~ BPA (relative potencies 0.126, 0.042, 0.032, 0.03). No compounds exhibited anti-estrogenic or AhR activity, or were redox-active in the dithiothreitol assay. The results highlight the multiple modes of action through which these compounds may impact exposed organisms, and the concentrations at which effects may occur. This allows assessment of the likelihood of effects being observed at environmental concentrations, and the potential contribution of these compounds.

Biosolid Risks

Unfortunately, papers in the last couple of years are pointing toward biosolids as a source of microplastics, drug-resistant bacterial and genes, as well as artificial estrogens and other endocrine disuptors.

The safe and environmentally responsible use of biosolids is a goal worth striving for. However, biosolids are not — yet — ready for prime time. Below is a small sample of recent published studies which point to the need for more caution and the need for further research to protect the public health.

Contamination by E. Coli and other pathogens

Rainfall-runoff of anthropogenic waste indicators from agricultural fields applied with municipal biosolids

Highlights

•Biosolids-derived emerging contaminants found in simulated rainfall runoff

•Biosolids are a potential source of anthropogenic contaminants to surface waters

•Runoff contaminant concentrations relatively constant across multiple rain events

•Intense and frequent precipitation dramatically increases contaminant load

•Some contaminants undergo in situ attenuation unrelated to precipitation events

Abstract

The presence of anthropogenic contaminants such as antimicrobials, flame-retardants, and plasticizers in runoff from agricultural fields applied with municipal biosolids may pose a potential threat to the environment. This study assesses the potential for rainfall-induced runoff of 69 anthropogenic waste indicators (AWIs), widely found in household and industrial products, from biosolids amended field plots. The agricultural field containing the test plots was treated with biosolids for the first time immediately prior to this study. AWIs present in soil and biosolids were isolated by continuous liquid-liquid extraction and analyzed by full-scan gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Results for 18 AWIs were not evaluated due to their presence in field blank QC samples, and another 34 did not have sufficient detection frequency in samples to analyze trends in data. A total of 17 AWIs, including 4-nonylphenol, triclosan, and tris(2-butoxyethyl)phosphate, were present in runoff with acceptable data quality and frequency for subsequent interpretation. Runoff samples were collected 5 days prior to and 1, 9, and 35 days after biosolids application. Of the 17 AWIs considered, 14 were not detected in pre-application samples, or their concentrations were much smaller than in the sample collected one day after application. A range of trends was observed for individual AWI concentrations (typically from 0.1 to 10 μg/L) over the course of the study, depending on the combination of partitioning and degradation mechanisms affecting each compound most strongly. Overall, these results indicate that rainfall can mobilize anthropogenic contaminants from biosolids-amended agricultural fields, directly to surface waters and redistribute them to terrestrial sites away from the point of application via runoff. For 14 of 17 compounds examined, the potential for runoff remobilization during rainstorms persists even after three 100-year rainstorm-equivalent simulations and the passage of a month.

Antibiotic Resistance

Novel Antibiotic Resistance Determinants From Agricultural Soil Exposed To Antibiotics Widely Used In Human Medicine And Animal Farming

ABSTRACT

Antibiotic resistance has emerged globally as one of the biggest threats to human and animal health. Although the excessive use of antibiotics is recognized for accelerating the selection for resistance, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that natural environments are “hotspots” for the development of both ancient and contemporary resistance mechanisms. Given that pharmaceuticals can be entrained onto agricultural land through anthropogenic activities, this could be a potential driver for the emergence and dissemination of resistance in soil bacteria. Using functional metagenomics, we interrogated the “resistome” of bacterial communities found in a collection of Canadian agricultural soil, some of which had been receiving antibiotics widely used in human medicine (macrolides) or food animal production (sulfamethazine, chlortetracycline and tylosin) for up to 16 years. Of the 34 new antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) recovered, the majority were predicted to encode for (multi)drug efflux systems, while a few share little to no homology with established resistance determinants. We characterized several novel gene products, including putative enzymes that can confer high-level resistance against aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, and broad range of beta-lactams, with respect to their resistance mechanisms and clinical significance. By coupling high-resolution proteomics analysis with functional metagenomics, we discovered an unusual peptide, PPPAZI 4, encoded within an alternative open-reading frame not predicted by bioinformatics tools. Expression of the proline-rich PPPAZI 4 can promote resistance against different macrolides but not other ribosomal-targeting antibiotics, implicating a new macrolide-specific resistance mechanism that could be fundamentally linked to the evolutionary design of this peptide.

IMPORTANCE

Antibiotic resistance is a clinical phenomenon with an evolutionary link to the microbial pangenome. Genes and protogenes encoding for specialized and potential resistance mechanisms are abundant in natural environments, but understanding of their identity and genomic context remain limited. Our discovery of several previously-unknown antibiotic resistance genes from uncultured soil microorganisms indicates that soil is a significant reservoir of resistance determinants, which, once acquired and “re-purposed” by pathogenic bacteria, can have serious impacts on therapeutic outcomes. This study provides valuable insights into the diversity and identity of resistance within the soil microbiome. The finding of a novel peptide-mediated resistance mechanism involving an unpredicted gene product also highlights the usefulness of integrating proteomics analysis into metagenomics-driven gene discovery.

Plastic Pollution

The growing evidence of an environmental crisis caused by plastics in both fresh and seawater offers further reasons for concern.

While vast floating islands of plastic afflict parts of the oceans, the larger danger to humans may be due to the vast qualities of wastewater entering rivers, streams, and estuaries.

That wastewater carries significant concentrations of hundreds of dangerous chemicals, pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, BPA, phthalates, pesticides, household chemicals and more.

These are in addition to microfibers which are already building up on land irrigated with recycled wastewater.

Organic fertilizer as a vehicle for the entry of microplastic into the environment

Abstract

The contamination of the environment with microplastic, defined as particles smaller than 5 mm, has emerged as a global challenge because it may pose risks to biota and public health. Current research focuses predominantly on aquatic systems, whereas comparatively little is known regarding the sources, pathways, and possible accumulation of plastic particles in terrestrial ecosystems. We investigated the potential of organic fertilizers from biowaste fermentation and composting as an entry path for microplastic particles into the environment. Particles were classified by size and identified by attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. All fertilizer samples from plants converting biowaste contained plastic particles, but amounts differed significantly with substrate pretreatment, plant, and waste (for example, household versus commerce) type. In contrast, digestates from agricultural energy crop digesters tested for comparison contained only isolated particles, if any. Among the most abundant synthetic polymers observed were those used for common consumer products. Our results indicate that depending on pretreatment, organic fertilizers from biowaste fermentation and composting, as applied in agriculture and gardening worldwide, are a neglected source of microplastic in the environment.

Nano-Contamination

The increased use of nanoparticles in clothing, toothpaste, personal care products and other items are finding their way into the municipal wastewater stream. In addition to chemical leaching, some nanoparticles may be small enough to be absorbed directly into the blood streams of fish and other animals.

Whole Foods, in 2014, banned vegetables fertilized with biosolids, but the practice remains controversial:

SECTION II

Sourcing the Menu: Standards and Choice Limitations

Meat the enemy

Animal flesh presents an especially tough issue when it comes to systematic contamination by endocrine disruptors and other harmful environmental chemicals. Dairy (to be dealt with in the next section) presents even more opportunities for contamination.

While plastic food contact materials present one of the the most visible contamination sources, human contamination from consuming meat begins with animals consuming contaminated food and water.

The following emphasizes cattle, but the contamination sources are mostly analogous for sheep, poultry and pigs. Variations among species will be noted after common contamination pathways are described.

Commercial cattle and other farm animal feed suffers from the same plastic contamination as other highly processed products involving conveyor belts, plastic pipes, tubing and contact with other polymer-based machinery.

In addition, the “finishing” process by which cattle and livestock are fattened before slaughter involves numerous undesirable chemicals, but also involves grain which is another category of food with contamination problems from farm to table.

Cattle and livestock that forage in pastures or which are fed hay might seem to offer a lower burden of environmental chemicals. This would be the case if the fields from which the hay is harvested has not been irrigated.

Because of the expense of installing permanent irrigation sprinklers, pasture irrigation is often accomplished through the use of mobile sprinkler heads connected to a water source by means of plastic hoses that are frequently 100 yards long or greater.

(Example: K-Line irrigation)

Contaminates leaching from the long irrigation hoses are compounded if the water source is highly treated recycled municipal wastewater.

Cattle grazing on wastewater-irrigated fields contaminate themselves by eating moist, recently irrigated grass, or grass that is dry but which is coated with wastewater chemical residues.

Searches for studies on concentrations of chemicals of concern in livestock and their flesh could find little other than one which showed severe health effects in sheep that grazed on pasture fertilized with biosolids.

Grass-fed healthy alternative, but often abused

Grass-fed beef and other livestock offer relief from the excessive chemical, pharmaceutical and dietary practices used by industrial producers to produce maximum meat in minimum time and less money. Such factory farming has seen many health abuses in  both the livestock and meat consumers.

However, even the grrass-fed process has been abused (Grass-Fed Beef Loses Its Luster) by operators who employ factory-style, crowded feedlot practices.

An entire industry has developed where hay or other grass products are formed into feed pellets along with growth enhancers which are fed to cattle subsequently marketed as “grass-fed.”

From: Grass-Fed Beef Loses Its Luster

“A growing number of consumers began turning to grass-fed beef in order to avoid buying meat from feedlot cattle and factory farms. “But as grass-fed beef skyrocketed in popularity,” Lowry points out, “these same large producers have jumped on the bandwagon to offer a product that meets the letter of the law without a lot of respect for the spirit.”

Lowry explains that beef– technically grass-fed and grass-finished–is in fact coming from concentrated feedlots where the cattle are fed from troughs of manufactured grass pellets. “Large scale farms are talking about how to dope their grass with nitrogen,” Lowry says, and undernourished cattle are getting sold to the consumer at a premium because they have the “grass fed” label.

The American Grassfed Association has issued a set of guidelines outlawing the pellets, crowded conditions and other animal welfare abuses.

While true grass-fed beef offers a healthier alternative when done to standards, (Membership and Certification Submission Checklist), even those operations need to be certain that pastures and any supplemental hay and feedings done when pasturing is impossible, are free of irrigation and other harmful environmental chemical contamination.

This probably isn’t what most people think they’re signing up for. But if you’re buying “grass-fed” beef and you can’t name the farmer or locate the farm on a map, it’s a good bet you’re getting pellets, not pasture.”

Chicken & pork

Factory farming for chicken and pork have paralleled beef in intensity and opportunities for contamination in animal concentration, feeding for swift, maximum growth and processing after slaughter.

Organic regulations requiring space for animal welfare and feed ameliorate some of the contamination issues of mainstream husbandry. Potential issues remain with water sourcing as well as irrigation and growing conditions for feed which is seasonally required even for free-range animals.

The EU found environmental chemicals in feed and chicken coop construction materials in flesh and eggs. This was confirmed by a Belgian study  and others.

Sausage: the original processed food (Now in plastic casings!)

Sausage of various sorts has been used for centuries to stuff animal intestines with various bits and pieces of meat, organs and offal that are unsuitable, unpalatable, or impractical to serve in their natural state.

Over the centuries, various fillers, spices, preservatives, emulsifiers, and other substances have been added to the meat bits. Modern sausage — especially the ubiquitous hot dog — is more often than not in a manufactured synthetic casing usually made of polymers and packed with meat of various origins ground into a paste with fillers and binders.

Spices, which have a lipophilic effect in attracting BPA and phthalates, are often used to cover up the off-tastes in sausages and other manufactured foods.

Replicant meat

Frozen and pre-prepared meals as well as sliced cold-cuts are usually replicant meat — created from manufacturing processes designed to be made mostly of meat, binders and other substances which are then molded to look resemble the real thing.

The associated use of “mechanical fingers” and chemical solutions designed to strip every last shred of meat from bones have introduced a new category of semi-fake meat that is artificially formed from meat fragments, glued together with a host of mostly un-disclosed substances, and re-formed either into “nuggets” or shaped to look like a whole, natural piece of meat — sometimes with fake painted/printed-on  “grill” marks made of yet another chemical composition.

Many of the ingredients in these are not publicly available because the companies have classified them as trade secrets, something allowed by regulators.

Burgers

In their own way, burgers resemble sausage without a casing. And, like sausage, burgers — whether beef, chicken, fish, or veggie are fertile ground for undisclosed additives. One of the most notorious of the additives in hamburgers, as well as chicken nuggets, and manufactured meat designed to look like the real thing is the notorious “Pink Slime.

The chicken AND the egg? A fowl situation

Both the flesh and the eggs of chickens and other edible fowl have the same issues with opportunities for contamination from feed and water as other farm animals.

Fishy business

Fish contamination occurs in growth, harvest, processing, and sales. But because edible fish grow in polluted oceans and freshwater lakes, rivers and streams, they can accumulate contaminates from many sources in their natural environment.

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Because chemical contamination grows with time, this set of recommendations from the state of Washington recommends eating smaller, younger fish. It also recommends cutting away the fatty portions of fish such as salmon because some chemicals are lipophilic. Other contaminates such as methyl mercury, are water soluble.

Beware of farmed fish

Studies have determined that farmed fish are subject to contamination by multiple chemicals (Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Farmed Salmon). Feed is one suspect as are chemicals and pharmaceuticals added to keep fish as healthy as possible in crowded pens.

Plastic Pollution

The growing evidence of an environmental crisis caused by plastics in both fresh and seawater offers further reasons for concern.

While vast floating islands of plastic afflict parts of the oceans, the larger danger to humans may be due to vast qualities of wastewater entering rivers, streams, ans estuaries which are used for irrigation and other agricultural uses.

Dairy: Milk & Cheese

The contamination of the dairy chain starts with what the female mammal — aka “cow” — consumes. This is most often a bovine cow in America, but globally includes goats, sheep and other mammals. (see “Meat the enemy”)

The milk from cows — like its flesh and that of its male counterparts — can be contaminated with environmental chemicals from its food and water.

But the milk produced will be further contaminated by many additional processes before milk, cheese, yogurt and the whey for dietary supplements reaches a human consumer.

The introduction of plastic chemicals into the dairy food chain begins with the milking process and continues to increase at each step before reaching the consumer.

Milking machines

Other than the rare artisan-produced cheese, the hand-milking of cows, goats and other livestock has mostly vanished.  Milking machines make the first step of production more cost effective, time-efficient, and sanitary — all benefits to the consumer.

Before milking begins, the udder and teats undergo a number of hygiene steps that include cleaning with anti-bacterial solutions (Hygiene in milk production).

This helps insure the cleanliness of the milk and starts a process to extend the length of time before milk can sour. This also helps prevent injuries to the cow, including mastitis, a serious inflammation of the udder and mammary gland.

Another anti-bacterial cleaning occurs after milking. All of the cleaning and irritation from the milking machine results in the application of salves.

No research can be found so far on whether antibiotics, salves and cleaning agents may contaminate the collected milk.

It’s also notable that plastic gloves worn by handlers through the milking process can result in phthalate transfer to the teat. This extent of this transfer is unknown.

In addition, the phthalates and other EDCs in the gloves can leach out and be absorbed through the skin of the wearer. Th leaching and transfer is encouraged by people who use hand creams.

Plastic contamination and the milking machine

Milking machines use a pulsating vacuum to draw raw milk from the udder.

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The teatcup that attaches to each teat is lined with a flexible plastic (phthalate soft) that alternately compresses and relaxes as the vacuum pump operates.

The milk is drawn into a one-way plastic chamber (known as “the claw”) which allows the milk to be drawn off and transferred into a collection tank that is sometimes plastic, sometimes stainless steel. From the collection tank, milk flows to a bulk tank, frequently via plastic piping or tubing. (How the milking system works)

From the bulk tank at the dairy, milk is transferred via plastic hoses to a tanker truck which reverses the process through plastic hoses to larger tanks at the creamery. All of the processing involves plastic hoses, pipes, fixtures, pumps, valves, vats, vessels and other equipment that often contain or are made of plastic.

At the creamery, plastic hoses dominate the processes of separating cream from the whole milk. The skimmed milk and cream are usually pasteurized separately.

Some cream is returned to the skimmed milk to create a range of butterfat levels, some is made into butter. Cheese can be made from milk at a variety of stages in this process.

Lipophilia

Significantly, BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals are “lipophilic” — they are easily dissolved in fats.

This means that the cream  separation process creates a high-fat environment that encourages leaching of these environmental chemicals into dairy products.

Cheese & Whey

Cheese made from whole milk contains more fat. More fat offers contamination opportunities for lipophilic chemicals like BPA and phthalates.

The cheesemaking process can use plastics at various points, but most likely as utensils, filtering materials, molds for curds and the process for draining off whey. Further contamination can occur in the processing that cuts large blocks then wraps individual blocks, wheels and  other large shapes. Sliced and grated cheeses expose cheese to contamination as well as the plastic pouches and bags they are packed in.

Most organic cheeses use plastic in their final packaging. The most highly contaminated will be blocks which have been shrink-wrapped. This is because the film is warm/hot when it comes into contact with the cheese. The heat encourages migration of contamination from the plastic into the cheese.

Whey is a mostly water-loving substance left over from the cheesemaking process. However, studies have shown that many organic contaminates can be bound to the milk proteins.

Fruit & veggies

Vegetables in both the exposure and decontamination phases will be coordinated to accommodate seasonally available local products obtained from USDA-certified organic farms which do not use recycled wastewater for irrigation.

Most fruits and vegetables receive substantial exposure to plastics before they reach the supermarket. This contamination —  which also applies to grains for bread, cereal and pasta — results from the use of plastics during harvest, processing, and packaging for sale.

Most supermarket fruits and vegetables are grown with commercial fertilizers and an increasing percentage are fertilized with biosolids — a euphemism for the sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants.

Due to loosening standards and a lengthening list of “exceptions” to the USDA rules, even certified organic fruits and vegetables can be fertilized and treated with a growing number of commercial chemicals.

Exceptions to the regulations have been made by the USDA without extensive study of the substances involved. Also overlooked are additives, surfactants, and other auxiliary chemicals added to enhance the active ingredients. Those added substances often have endocrine-disrupting or other harmful effects.

From sewer to table

Most American supermarket produce aisles will feature fruits and vegetables irrigated with recycled municipal sewer and wastewater and fertilized with biosolids – sewage sludge.

Published scientific studies have demonstrated that chemicals in recycled wastewater can be absorbed by the edible portions of some fruits & vegetables or remain on the surface after water contact.

Tree-born fruit may have contact contamination, but the distance from the ground to the fruit makes it less likely that contamination will reach edible interior parts.

See: Recycled Wastewater In The Wine Vineyard for more.

Supermarkets okay with sewer-to-store veggies (all but one)

As far as can be determined, Whole Foods is the only grocery chain to ban fruits and vegetables fertilized with sewer sludge: Whole Foods Bans Sludge Fertilizer.

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Recycled municipal wastewater (increasingly used for food crops) is currently not prohibited by USDA Organic Standards and is not addressed even by Whole Foods.

Harvesting and processing involve extensive contact with conveyor belts containing phthalates for flexibility and hard plastic rollers whose durability usually results from BPA-containing polycarbonates.

Food contact materials also contribute to cobtamination since many whole fresh vegetable are wrapped in plastic for sale.

Frozen vegetables

Frozen vegetables receive additional plastic contact in processing, and are packaged in plastic.Some are packaged with directions for the contents to be heated or microwaved while in in the plastic  bags and containers. Heating in the bag increases the release of environmental chemicals into the food.

Fruit and vegetable juice

The commercial processing of fruit and vegetable juice offer numerous exposure opportunities for contamination. Plastics are extensively present in peeling, crushing, filtering, transport and in the plastic bottles, pouches, and epoxy can linings.

Going against the grain: Bread and cereal killers

The domestication of grains nearly 11,000 years ago accelerated civilization from hunter-gatherer to the agriculturally based world of today (Ancient Waves of (Wild) Grain).

While bread and cereal products are among the most basic and valuable foodstuffs modern commercial grains are subject to the same the irrigation and fertilization problems associated with fruits and vegetables.

This includes harvest and processing contamination occurrences including the use of questionable irrigation water, commercial fertilizer, and the use of recycled municipal wastewater and sewage sludge biosolids. In addition, wheat is extensively applied with glyphosate and other pesticides

The issue of irrigation is not as critical because a substantial portion of wheat matures during the winter when rains are more prevalent. A warming climate is expected to affect this.

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In addition, the transportation of wheat is a massive bulk operation using barges, ships and railroad bulk carriers all of which offer ample opportunities for plastic contact with conveyor belts, augers and other plastic apparatus, and storage. Because of the size of the operation, there is little oversight of transportation.

Flour production involves extensive contact with plastic-based apparatus, conveyor belts and transport.

Commercial baking: a wonder of automation and processing contamination

The actual making and baking of commercially produced bread, again, involves conveyor belts but also plastic bins used for ingredients,  mixing, and preparation for dough. Plastic loaf pans are used for dough in the rising stages.

The baking process usually employs metal conveyor surfaces with the warm loaves going into plastic bags when still warm.

This paper from the British Medical Journal defines commercial bread as a highly processed food: Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort

Small batch regional bakeries

Most small-batch regional bread bakeries still use commercially available flour with its inherent contamination opportunities.

However, some very small artisan operations — such as those associated with the California Grain Campaign — have reduced their dependence on plastics and pack their product in brown paper bags.

It’s important to recognize that recycled paper carries high concentrations of phthlates because a high percentage of ink used in packaging gets recycled along with the paper.

Corn-based breads and cooking ingredients

Corn is a basic ingredient in many favorite American ethnic foods such as tacos, enchiladas, tamales and more.

Unfortunately, most corn available in the U.S. comes from cultivars that are genetically modified to be resistant to pesticides like glyphosate which is extensively applied.

Cereals

Breakfast cereals are among the most extensively processed grain foods. Processing includes the shaping of flakes and other forms needed to satisfy marketing and consumer demands and expectations.

Preservatives, artificial colors, and other chemicals are added in addition to the conveyor, piping, tubing and other opportunities for contamination by BPA and phthalates.

Edible Oils

Edible oils are often chosen for their flavors (such as in salads), or their behavior in a frying pan, baking or other forms of cooking.

This article from a popular web site — Healthy Cooking Oils — outlines culinary uses and touches upon various health relationships. (While the article makes several over-generalized judgments regarding health, it is a good overall review for both cooking and health assessments and one of the better articles in this regard.)

Producing edible oils

The standard oil-producing processes involves plastic pipes, tubing, pump components, bins, tanks, conveyor belts and associated sources of contamination. Contamination increases with each additional processing step.

Producing edible oils from seeds, nuts and fruits begins with mechanical extraction by crushing or pressing the raw stock. That recovers a portion of the oil.

Once pressed or crushed, additional oil can be produced by heating the pomace.

In many cases heating is followed by solvent extraction using various petroleum distillates such as hexane to dissolve the remaining oil from the pomace.

Because the solvent has a much lower boiling point than the oil, most of the solvent is removed by a distillation process that recovers most of the solvent for reuse. Small but detectable amounts of the solvent are impossible to remove and will remain in the finished oil.

No government regulations exist to require disclosure of the process.

Harvest & Processing

High-production edible oils such as soy, canola and corn involve mechanical harvesting that involve the plastic contamination sources common to other fruits and vegetables: conveyor belts, plastic chutes, bins, gloves, processing vessels and associated components.

Olive Oil

First. avoid the “organic” pesticides.

The Olive fruit fly is endemic in California and other wine producing regions around the world. There are a variety of methods for controlling infestations including baits, traps, attractant strips and certified organic pesticides such as Spinosad and Surround. (UC Pest Management Guidelines).

Despite their organic-certified status, both Surround and Spinosad contain toxic chemicals and proprietary chemicals whose identities are trade secrets and not disclosed. Because of this, olives treated with these are unacceptable.

Untreated olives or those produced in groves using baits, traps, or attractant strips are acceptable.

Olives undergo a washing process — a water rinse — before pressing.  There are many other stages, some of which commonly use plastic components in the process.

Visits will be made to determine which oil press minimizes the use of plastic components.

Pressing

In the case of olive oil, the “first cold press” that takes place without heating produces maximum flavor.

Internationally, there is great confusion — and often scandal — over the regulation of grades and quality of olive oil that follow first cold press. Heating and solvent extraction are used in cheaper grades. Regulation is inconsistent and unreliable.

Significantly, heating drives off many of the aromatic compounds and reduces the healthy polyphenols in olive oil.

First cold press offers a consumer the best assurance of purchasing the healthiest edible oil product while minimizing plastic chemical contamination.

However, as healthy a first cold press is, harvest involves plastic bins, rakes and, synthetic fiber netting. What’s more, the production process involves plastic bins, conveyor belts, pipes, tubing, pump components, filters, and more.

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Edible oil & genetic engineering (Hard for some people to swallow)

At least half of all vegetable oil consumed in the United State comes from genetically engineered crops. The genetic modifications are usually made to make the crop plant resistant to herbicides which are copiously used. In addition to the controversy concerning effects of glyphosate and other active ingredients, no research is available on adjuvants and/or other chemicals that are undisclosed or are trade secrets.

The scientific evidence concerning the safety of GMO organisms is hotly disputed. We have no evidence that GMO foods would affect our test results in any way. However, out of an abundance of caution and for the sake of reproducibility, the study will not chose those foods for the diet.

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Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars (nope)

Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars are among the most extensively processed foods available.

Candy and snacks tend to be ultra-high fat and/or sugar products. The fat content offers a significant opportunity for the concentration of lipophilic chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.

Chips made from non-GMO corn raised organically and fried in oil which is similarly organic and non-GMO in origin would be acceptabe if available.

Nutrition bar contamination

Bodybuilders, people in a hurry and those who opt for a balanced nutrition bar instead of candy bar are, however, getting extra doses of harmful environmental chemicals because these are among the most highly processed foods available

In addition to the BPA and phthalate exposures inherent in the processing regime, the protein in these bars comes primarily from either soy or whey.

Soy presents a dual concern because it adds compounds that exert estrogen-like effects. I addition, almost all soybean crops are composed of genetically modified cultivars engineered to be immune to the application of pesticides including glyphosate.

Because of soy’s estrogenic effects, many people currently buy bars fortified with whey protein left over from cheesemaking. However, whey presents the same environmental chemical concerns as dairy.

SECTION III: REPRODUCIBILITY – THE SCIENTIFIC PROBLEM THAT DEMANDED ENHANCED SOURCING OF THE STUDY DIET

Reproducibility + Confounding factors drive changes, increase complexity, & costs

Reproducibility is the acid test of properly done studies that produce valid data. In the past couple of years, the “reproducibility crisis” has been the subject of numerous scholarly articles and comments.

The most data-based is this one from Nature (1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility Survey sheds light on the ‘crisis’ rocking research.).

That article found that: “More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.”

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While data do not indicate a substantial rise in irreproducible results, the persistence of non-replicable studies is unacceptable. We should not add to that phenomenon.

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See also:

Irreproducible results plague diet-replacement studies

Nowhere has reproducibility failure been more apparent than in meal-replacement studies involving BPA, phthalates and other environmental chemicals.

The current investigators of the Stealth Syndromes Human Study set out to avoid the non-reproducibility of all previous diet intervention studies. In doing so,  found that, while possible, conducting a study that could be replicated would be magnificently expensive and time-consuming.

Examining the five previous studies

<<Note: The following is a high-level view. There is a potentially publishable paper in a more detailed and rigorous review of the studies and the field especially as regards reproducibility>>

Dietary interventions involving BPA and phthalates are rare.

Five were discovered in the literature search. Only two of those were controlled diet replacement investigations.

Significantly, those two controlled investigations reported different results despite the fact that they used the same food replacement method.

In the first dietary intervention study in a search of the literature —  Influence of a five-day vegetarian diet on urinary levels of antibiotics and phthalate metabolites: A pilot study with “Temple Stay” participants<1> — 25 participants followed the daily routines of Buddhist monks and maintained a vegetarian diet.

Urinary levels of three antibiotics and their major metabolites, metabolites of four major phthalates, and malondialdehyde (MDA) as an oxidative stress biomarker all decreased by statistically significant amounts.

This was not a carefully controlled study given that food sourcing, preparation and other factors were not considered.

In a more controlled and expanded meal replacement study, Rudel et. al., 2011 — Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethyhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention<2> — found substantial reductions in BPA and DEHP exposures in 20 people in five families who underwent three days of a dietary replacement with catered meals using fresh foods designed to minimize plastic food packaging was associated with. Results were consistent among participants and correlated extremely well with experiment design expectations.

Different results were found in a 2013 diet-replacement study by Sathyanarayana et. al.  (designed to replicate Rudel) — Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposures<3>.

Unexpectedly, the diet replacement cohort actually had an increase in BPA and DEHP concentrations.

The extensive discussion concerning the results concluded that diet replacement could not work given the probability of widespread and inconsistent and unpredictable contamination of the food supply: “Federal or industry wide regulation aimed at reducing phthalate and BPA concentrations in foods may be the only effective mechanism to ensure the food supply is safe from contamination.”

This study also included a cohort given written advice on self-directed diets  designed to avoid BPA and phthalates.

The group given written instructions showed no change in BPA and DEHP concentrations before or after intervention. That led the investigators to conclude that advice on self-directed diets would not work.

A 2015 study — Life without plastic: A family experiment and biomonitoring study<4> — found equivocal results. Intervention results indicated decreases in BPA, but phthalates were a different matter: decreasing in some participants, increasing in another.

This study was somewhat an  outlier because it which was a self-directed dietary regime and was an n=5 following members of a single Austrian family whose reference levels of the relevant chemicals were already below population reference levels.

Another self-reported, self-directed study found similar results. An engaged research study to assess the effect of a ‘real-world’ dietary intervention on urinary bisphenol A (BPA) levels in teenagers<5>.

Reproducibility failure causes

Comparing Rudel with Sathyanarayana we find very similar subject selection criteria and foods which were fresh, organic, locally sourced, harvested, shipped and prepared without plastic. Study subjects and caterer in both cases were educated on the elimination of plastic contamination of all kinds.

In assessing the unexpected results, Sathyanarayana measured a variety of foods, beverages and spices and found unusually high concentrations of the subject chemicals. Dairy products were among items singled out as consistent culprits.

However, the study authors noted that, “It may be that our findings reflect an isolated rare contamination event because of unusual processing or a packaging abnormality. It also could be the case that the food supply is systematically contaminated with high phthalate concentrations, which are difficult to identify.

“In the absence of regulation to reduce phthalate and BPA concentrations in food production, it may be difficult to develop effective interventions that are feasible in the general population.”

As described farther along in this document, extreme variations exist in contamination exposures for any given food item.

Rinse water for vegetables will vary greatly according to source, pipe, hose and sprinkler head composition. The same goes for sourcing of vegetable fertilizers, irrigation water, piping or drip hose/tubing composition, machine versus hand harvesting etc. It would he highly unlikely, for example, to find fresh supermarket vegetables that were without substantial plastic contact.

Dairy, even those that are organic compliant and packed in glass will have almost constant plastic contact beginning at the dairy and continuing through separation, homogenization and bottling at a creamery.

The lengthy analysis that follows this introduction looks at contamination routes and sources for all food groups and subgroups.

Short history of SSHS reproducibility efforts

Two-and-a-half years after approval by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California, San Francisco medical School, the study still struggles to control a continuing series of confounding factors that would hinder statistically valid data and reproducibility.

The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS), as approved, was designed to build on Rudel with a complete diet replacement in  a 9-week controlled, step-wise,  protocol designed to decrease measured BPA and phthalate levels in urine and serum.

The blood draw for the serum levels would also be used to produce a blood panel of accepted potential health indicators for each participant. The thesis of the study is that decreasing the levels of these chemicals would result in favorable blood panel health indications.

By eliminating a class of foods and non-food exposures, the SSHS was designed to measure exposure effects as each source of contamination was eliminated, thus offering a finer resolution to the data. In addition, parallel measurements of serum and urine concentrations as well as blood panel results were designed to offer deeper data as well as potential diagnostic direction.

Nutritional metrics

The initial confounding factor addressed by the investigators was a method to assure identical nutritional metrics in the food and beverages consumed. This was addressed with the advice of a small company which makes organic foods who volunteered to offer advice to make sure calories as well as fat, protein, carbohydrate, fiber and other significant elements could be maintained in the diet.

Accomplishing this required all of the meals for study participants to be pre-prepared to eliminate variations in serving size and ingredients that would have plagued home preparation. Those confounding factors have been cited as responsible for some of the unexplained and sometimes unexpected results in previous diet-replacement studies.

This action increased study costs and need for support personnel.

Given the near-identical selection of subjects and experimental methods in food selection and preparation between Rudel and  Sathyanarayana, SSHS investigators realized the need to measure the precise levels and concentration of BPA and phthalates consumed by test subjects.

This required quantitative data on  each meal including concentrations of studied chemicals in each meal that could be used to calculate total BPA and phthalate intake. At the same time, it was recognized that a quantitative nutritional analysis of each meal was needed that included micronutrients such as folate and other vitamins.

This action more than quadrupled the expense needed and the investigators created a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt corporation followed by crowdfunding campaign in an effort to raise money. For the greatly increased costs.

Significantly, shortly after the crowdfunding campaign was launch, further research by investigators revealed a confusing interaction between BPA and folates/folic acid.

Published studies indicated that BPA showed a significant epigenetic impact in mice which were folate-deficient. The studies also confirmed that dietary methyl contributors other than folates (soy products and genistein for example) exhibited the same effects.

It is unknown at this point whether BPA (which has 2 methyl groups) is acting as a methyl donor via one-carbon metabolism, or in its capacity as an estrogenic substance. Or both. Some research indicates that folates can exert estrogenic-like activities. Also unknown is whether BPA analogs such as common substitute BPS also interact with folates.

This resulted in greater attention to methyl contributors and a need to assure no soy or similar foods entered the test subjects’ diet regime.

Almost simultaneously with this, new published research indicated that BPA and phthalate exposures were endemic in the food chain and not substantially due to food contact materials.

This resulted in a major re-evaluation of how zero- or minimally-contaminated foods for the test subjects’ diet could be sourced.

Reproducibility requirements further complicate food sourcing

After three additional months of research and footwork, investigators confirmed that suitable foods and beverages could be obtained for the study. However, the resulting diet would be far more restrictive overall, with some entire categories of food eliminated from the trial.

On the one hand this would require food directly from producers who have agreed to allow inspection of their entire food production and processing operation from farm to test subject table.

Sourcing and preparing the necessary zero- or minimally-contaminated food would add additional costs and personnel time to the increase factors cited above.

While possible, strict — enhanced organic — food sourcing is currently impractical for the average consumer. In addition, study reproducibility would be impractical for other investigating teams which would need to utilize the same strict farm-to-table food sourcing from the same sources. That would further complicate efforts to duplicate nutritional micro-analysis and specific mean-level diet content.

Further, the strict farm-to-table sourcing requirements are too complicated and would be impossible for current large-scale agriculture and food distribution to consumers.

What’s needed is a recognition of the contamination (and its health consequences), and a will to improve. It’s important to remember that eating a diet of entirely organic-certified food was impossible for the average consumer 25 years ago.

SECTION IV:

CONCLUSIONS & POSSIBLE FUTURE DIRECTIONS

Bottom line:

This document suggests that:

  • All previous diet replacement studies are non-reproducible due to widespread contamination of the American food supply.
  • A publishable review paper should be written about the replication issues of diet replacement studies
  • The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) protocol should be using a revised protocol with enhanced organic menu sourcing which should result in greater reductions of BPA and phthalate levels than Rudel.
  • A second study — which can readily be replicated — should be conducted to correlate BPA and phthalate concentrations to both urinary levels and to effects on a elements of a diagnostic blood panel.

Summary

A review of all of the published dietary efforts designed to reduce BPA and phthalates indicate that this type of study is inherently non-reproducible because of the widespread contamination of the American food supply by the subject chemicals.

What’s more, after two-and-a-half years of trying to reduce significant confounding factors that would affect replication, it is clear that the Stealth Syndromes Human Study as approved by CHR/UCSF would also not be reproducible except under the most intensive and expensive conditions: “enhanced organic”.

“Enhanced organic” includes obtaining each type of food from the same farms and/or original sources who have agreed to our specific, rigorous growing, harvesting, processing, and packaging procedures described in detail later in this document.

Significantly, the SSHS was designed to ascertain if measurable, diagnostic health effects in humans could be observed that were causally connected to dietary levels of the chemicals in question.

The current investigators of the Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) set out to avoid the non-reproducibility flaws of all previous diet intervention studies. That study also seeks to correlate accepted medical diagnostic tests with levels of the relevant chemicals.

In addressing the confounding factors — most of which have never been addressed in studies of this sort — investigators discovered that designing and conducting a study that could be replicated is possible but would be far more expensive and time-consuming than any previous study.

Accordingly, such a study — as was approved by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California San Francisco would not be feasible given existing financial and human resources.

Recommended as a replacement are two studies:

(1) A study involving 100 healthy blood bank donors who have consented to allow a small portion of their donation to be examined for BPA, phthalates and a select blood panel for comparison or correlation. Blood centers often participate in clinical studies as this published study — Genetic research in the blood bank: acceptability to Northern California donors and this web page from the New York Blood Center indicate.

Urine samples would also be obtained to establish ratios between serum and urine levels.

Such a study could offer the first direct human evidence for any possible health effects correlated with levels of BPA and phthalates.

All required IRB/CHR and subject protection precautions would be in place.

If valid relationships are established among BPA and phthalate levels with elements of the blood panel, the urine/serum ratio could be used to project health effects in the many studies using only urine concentrations. This would also apply to the NHANES data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control.

Because urine testing for BPA and phthalates is far less expensive than serum analysis, this would open up a vast new opportunity for direct health assessment studies.

This study would also accomplish the primary goal of the SSHS and eliminate the multitude of confounding factors that plagued the original study design.

It may also narrow the necessary choices of blood panel tests to those which show correlations with BPA and phthalate levels, if any.

(2) If statistically valid correlations are found in the blood bank study, that would provide a follow-up health assessment of our  three-day diet replacement study (based on Rudel) using directly sourced, farm-to-table methods with restrictions.

Based on the results, a recommended dietary reduction regime would be described which could be implemented by members of the general public.

The general public who wish to measure personal results and possible health effects can do so with the relatively inexpensive urine test provided by the by Silent Spring Institute.

Our three-day study would also use that test panel instead of the vastly more expensive serum analysis. This would also make it possible for us to enlarge the test cohort.

Contamination Nation

The vital need to redesign the Stealth Syndromes Human Study to aid reproducibility

The American food chain is so thoroughly contaminated that it has introduced scores of confounding factors that have raised serious public health concerns and delayed the first human scientific trials of environmental chemicals. That contamination has also made it impossible for scientists to reproduce previously published studies. This is significant because reproducibility is the ultimate proof of a study’s validity.

More importantly, this document’s findings show that consumers currently have no way to source foods that are not contaminated with stealth chemicals that are aggravating and promoting the current stealth epidemics of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, reproductive disorders, cancers, cardiovascular disease, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Stealth chemicals are those, such as endocrine disruptors, whose effects are not immediately recognizable as poisoning or direct sickness, but show up as unrelated illnesses. This link has more details: What Is A Stealth Chemical?

Even the most scrupulous food producers who adhere to certified organic regulations are generally unaware of these stealth contamination sources, many of which which have been discovered while implementing the protocols for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study

Today’s stealth chemical sources come from:

  • synthetic and/or harmful chemicals currently allowed for organics by the USDA,
  • plastic-sourced hormone disruptors,
  • micro- and nano-plastics,
  • bacteria, pharmaceuticals, and hazardous chemical residues present in:
    • recycled municipal wastewater for irrigation and,
    • biosolids (human sewage sludge) used to fertilize food and landscape plants.

This pervasive contamination has made it almost impossible to create a diet regimen for test subjects that directly measures “gold standard” laboratory health effects as known sources of endocrine disruptors are eliminated from foods in a staged manner.

To phrase it another way, it is nearly impossible to measure the before-and-after health effects when the study cannot find uncontaminated foods for the “after” portion of the diet.

The study investigators have developed new, strict, and specific enhanced food sourcing rules. As a shorthand, those are sometimes referred to in this document as “enhanced organic.”

NOTE 1: This is a strategy document created to describe the reasons and science for the new path forward for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study. Chief among those reasons are numerous food contamination phenomena which have not previously been discussed in a comprehensive manner

NOTE 2: To facilitate instant access to citations for for both scientists and laypersons, we rely upon web hyperlinks rather than footnotes

Summary

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have found that Americans are widely and systematically contaminated by many environmental chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA), a wide range of phthalate plasticizers and other chemicals that can disrupt hormones and the normal functioning of genes..

This ubiquitous contamination has also caused a major revision in a new scientific investigation

— the Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) — the first study designed to measure the direct health effects in humans of environmental chemicals consumed in food and beverages.

As approved by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California San Francisco Medical School, the SSHS protocol requires test subjects to undergo a nine-week trial during which health effects would be measured as their diets consumed food with decreasing levels of specific environmental chemicals. Link: Study & Protocol As Approved

During that time participants would consume readily available supermarket food ingredients with known contamination levels that would be replaced on a weekly basis with foods that contained lower levels.

For example, test subjects would start the controlled trial by eating an “average” recipe for a menu item, such as lasagna using canned tomatoes. The lining of most canned foods is a notorious source of Bisphenol A (BPA).

The exact lasagna recipe would be served the next week at the same meal, but with tomatoes packed in glass. Fresh tomatoes would be used the third week, and organic tomatoes the fourth.

Other ingredients in other menu items would follow the same contamination reduction protocols.

The protocol, as approved, emphasized the role of plastic packaging and food preparation as a source of BPA, phthalates and other undesirable contaminants. However, as research continued into proper sourcing of foods for study participants, numerous other contamination sources were discovered. In fact, as detailed in this document, uncontaminated foods for the final week of the study are impossible to obtain in the ordinary commercials food supply chain regardless of whether those foods are certified organic or not.

This absence of uncontaminated foods in the U.S. supply chain mean that the final set of meals which are supposed to be as free as possible from contaminants, means that the overall menu choices in the test subjects diets would have to be extremely limited, would need to be sourced via enhanced organic methods not currently available to consumers.

In the end, the study protocol must make undesirable compromises in order for the investigation to proceed in a manner which can be reproducible by other investigators.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

Contamination is literally farm to table. Systematic contamination turns biomedical study protocol upside down. Contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable. Page 5

SECTION I: BACKGROUND MAJOR FACTORS AFFECTING ALL STUDY MENU CHOICES

1. Enhanced Food Sourcing – The Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet, Page 8

2. Guiding principles of the SSHS enhanced organic diet, Page 11

3. Why do BPA & phthalates (and other plasticizers) migrate, leach and flake from plastics? Page 17

4. Why food processing adds contamination, Page 20

Lipophilia: for the love of fat, Page 22

5. Water & fertilizers: Ubiquitous contamination sources, Page 24

SECTION II: SOURCING THE MENU – STANDARDS AND CHOICE LIMITATIONS

6. Meat the enemy, Page 30

7. Dairy: Milk & Cheese, Page 35

8. Fruit & veggies, Page 38

9. Going against the grain: Bread and cereal killers, Page 40

10. Edible Oils, Page 42

11. Spices, (covered under Lipophilia)

12. Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars Page 47

SECTION III: REPRODUCIBILITY – THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE NEED FOR ENHANCED SOURCING OF ORGANIC FOODS

14: Reproducibility + Confounding factors drive changes, increase complexity, & costs, Page 48

15: Roots of Non-Reproducibility: Farm-to-table contamination of the U.S. food chain, Page 50

SECTION IV: CONCLUSIONS & POSSIBLE FUTURE DIRECTIONS Page 55

  • All previous diet replacement studies are non-reproducible due to widespread contamination of the American food supply.
  • A publishable review paper should be written about the replication issues of diet replacement studies
  • The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) protocol will use a revised protocol with enhanced organic menu sourcing and a new testing regime to control costs and increase reproducibility.

Acknowledgements

This document is based on: “A New Path to Reproducibility”a position paper previously creates new strategies for conducting the Stealth Syndromes Human Study.

That position paper was prepared for, and approved by the board of the Center for Research on Environmental Chemicals in Humans (CRECH) – a 501(c)(3) IRS-approved non-profit which supports the Stealth Syndromes Human Study.

That paper and this current document was written by CRECH director Lewis Perdue ([email protected]) with editing and assistance from CRECH director and Rebecca Yeamans-Irwin.

Perdue and CRECH director Victor Reus, Distinguished Professor at the University of California San Francisco Medical School are co-investigators in the Stealth Syndromes Human Study along with collaborator Yeamans-Irwin.

This version is designed for a non-scientific audience. For that reason, references are most frequently formatted as hyperlinks rather than formal footnotes.

INTRODUCTION

Contamination is literally farm to table.

Newly published and discovered studies indicate that food contact materials such as plastic wrap and trays are only one of many contamination sources.

Instead, multiple contamination opportunities permeate the entire food chain, some beginning with food production, harvest and transport. There is little — if anything — available in the mainstream, or certified organic food supply that is not contaminated. For example, see: Why your ‘organic’ milk may not be organic.

Eliminating or substantially reducing chemical contaminates — especially plastic-borne endocrine disruptors like phthalates and Bisphenol A —  from the mainstream food supply is impossible under current agriculture, food production and processing conditions.

The current, published, peer-reviewed scientific literature make it clear that no class of food is exempt.

Regardless of whether food comes from a chain supermarket or directly from the farm, the contamination covers every class of consumable: animal, vegetable, fresh, frozen, organic, vegan, kosher, halal, gluten-free.

Systematic contamination turns biomedical study protocol upside down

This contamination reality has forced a bottoms-up rethink of the diet menu. This requires the diet to identify and obtain the most minimally contaminated foods available, then define recipes for the end point menu.

Because the availability of end-point ingredients will be far more limited, the full menu of recipes must be based on a limited number of items with the lowest possible contamination levels and then back-expanded to the beginning of the trial where the usual supermarket ingredients are used.

In addition, multiple and ubiquitous non-food sources of phthalate make it necessary that only enhanced food sourcing measures to obtain the least-contaminated foods will allow data resulting from the study to rise above a substantial noise level. Of the several diet replacement trials on this subject, all have suffered from unexplainable data points.

This 2013 paper is typical: Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposures.

One recent study published in The British Medical Journal concludes:

Our data suggest that in our study population, it is unlikely that participants could moderate their own BPA exposure in the long term by self-directed modification of diet in a ‘real-world’ setting, and furthermore, participants would have been reluctant to adopt such a lifestyle change in the longer term due to the restrictions in dietary choice and the effects on day-to-day life. Most of these barriers appear to arise from the pervasiveness of BPA in our food chain, and inadequate labelling of foods packaged in BPA-containing substances.

Contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable

This review of the data, studies, environment and possible solutions will demonstrate that substantial reductions in the chemicals are possible, but only through the most enhanced measures. Implementation of those measures will be used to revise the dietary regime of the study protocol approved by the UCSF Committee on Human Research in November 2014.

The contamination is ubiquitous, but not inevitable.

By pinpointing the numerous — and sometimes surprising — points of contamination, it is hoped that this review can offer starting points for consumers to encourage and pressure farmers, food processors and retailers into making healthy changes.

Food elimination targets for the Stealth Syndromes Human Study: Bisphenol A and phthalates

There are literally hundreds of environmental chemicals that plague us. But the most common ones that contaminate food and beverages are Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. These are often found in the company of other bad chemicals.

Because BPA and phthalates have well-established methods for qualitative and quantitative measurement, they can serve as indicators of overall contamination.

BPA: Strong

BPA is strong, durable and heat resistant. In the food chain you will find it in water and drinks bottles, Sodastream bottles and Keurigs, drip coffee makers, Cuisinarts, and in other food processing where strength and durability are required. BPA is also part of plastics used in machinery, vats, and pipes for transferring products from one stage of processing to another.

BPA can also be found in the packaging of olive oils, soft drinks, wine and spirits bottles, syrup and spice containers and more.

BPA — especially when used in warm or hot applications — can leach out of the plastic polymer in those products and contaminate food that comes in contact with it. BPA is “lipophilic” — meaning that it loves to dissolve in fats and oils.

Phthalates: Flexible

Phthalates are a category of different compounds that are also lipophilic. Like BPA, they easily dissolve in fats and oils but can also be found in smaller concentrations in other substances.

There are many different molecular variations of phthalates.

In general, phthalates with larger molecules are used to make plastic flexible in things like gaskets, bags, tubing and piping, conveyer belts and bins used in the processing and packaging of food and oils. Phthalates are also found in gloves used by food handlers as well as the printing ink an adhesives used in food packaging.

Plastics: Vital for modern life and public health

Ironically, the ubiquitous use of plastics which have contributed immensely to improving world health and quality of life have also unleashed or aggravated the modern-day plastic plagues in the environment and through the diseases and syndromes described above. Plastic is not evil and is a necessary part of modern life.

Non-contaminating plastics available, must be substituted for old

Significantly, non-contaminating plastics exist that can be substituted. Those safer plastics, however, are not in use because consumers, industry and food producers do not recognize the need. That must change for the sake of better public health.

The consuming public can encourage the use of non-contaminating plastics by patronizing companis and product who use them and avoiding those who do not.

Just as public demand has driven the acceptance and availability of organic-certified foods, consumers can cause a similar shift to non-contaminating plastics and other food production practices that this document will explore in detail.

Enhanced Food Sourcing, the Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet

The Stealth Syndrome Human Study Diet begins with: fundamental food production and avoidance of harmful environmental chemical contamination from the farm to the consumer’s mouth.

In the original study protocol, this excluded (or minimizes by the use of the most enhanced measures practical), the use or contact with all plastics or substances that may have come in contact with plastics through farming practices, processing, packaging, meal preparation and ultimate consumption.

Further research revealed numerous additional food contamination sources which had to be properly controlled or eliminated in order for the study to be reproducible by other researchers. Reproducibility is the ultimate test of a properly conducted investigation.

The study requires enhanced food sourcing measures because of the almost complete lack of regulatory oversight.

Enhanced food sourcing includes the complete absence of testing for harmful environmental chemicals in foods and beverages offered for retail sale to consumers. By contrast, multiple published studies of selected foods have found Bisphenol A, phthalates, nonylphenols and scores of other harmful environmental chemicals.

Because of the lack of data, the absence of transparency, and the void in regulatory oversight, it is impossible for a consumer to make an informed choice. Adequate data is simply not available. This means that all foods must be considered guilty until proven innocent.

Realistically, complete innocence cannot be guaranteed for any food without testing.

However, based on the relative few studies measuring BPA, phthalates and other chemicals in food, it is possible to make informed choices on which foods are most likely to be contaminated. Because of widespread contamination, and the elimination of potentially guilty foods, the list of “likely innocent” foods that can be traced to the source is more limited than the average American diet.

Enhanced food sourcing methods will help the study data rise above the noise level.

Some food procurement sources developed for this study will be practical as will be many of the kitchen preparation techniques. Those procurement and preparation techniques will be detailed in sections for each of the food-types. Each of the procurement and preparation techniques will be supported by an extensive discussion of the background and reasoning.

Reducing non-food sources as data contamination factors

There are multiple, significant, non-food, environmental sources of the same chemical compounds that are the subject of the study’s human effects on their reduction in the diet.

To conduct a reproducible study with statistically significant data not complicated by those non-food sources, the environmental chemical reductions in the diet need to be the most rigorous possible in order to counter the overall contamination “noise level.”

This noise level is one of the plausible reasons that some diet-replacement studies have produced inconsistent result. Most notable is one published study where BPA levels in some test subjects were higher after the diet replacement than at the start.

Plastics represent tens of thousands of different formulations with varying mixtures of polymers, plasticizers, dyes and other property-enhancing chemicals. Those formulations are almost always trade secrets. Further, only a small percentage of the plastics and their chemicals have been properly tested and their effects published in peer-reviewed journals.

The unknowns about which plastics was used in a given product or process creates a vast universe of unknowns where all reputations have been soiled by known contamination. This means that the only prudent route is to avoid the unknowable whenever possible. Only proper regulation, testing and transparency can rehabilitate the reputation of plastic.

Sadly, plastic — while sometime safe — is untrustworthy as a category.

The art of the possible

This diet’s extension of what should be considered “organic” is founded on what is possible but not yet practical for the average consumer. It is possible because the organic food production movement began in the North Bay counties of Marin and Sonoma. They remain the epicenter of and have fostered a national recognition of environmental nutrition.

Because of that organic environmental orientation, the North Bay has become a growing epicenter of artisan farmers, bakers, ranchers, olive oil producers, cheesemakers and others striving to bring to market products that go beyond the organic certifications which have become increasingly diluted by federal regulators.

Many of those “enhanced organic” producers have already agreed to provide products for this study and to allow on-site inspections for compliance. Some have even agreed to change their procedures, at least for the duration of the food procurement.

Among the most significant of these alterations is one cheesemaker’s agreement to hand-milk her goats (without vinyl gloves) and make cheese without any contact with plastic. Another dairy which already uses milking machines with BPA- and phthalate-free tubing has agreed to custom filter and pasteurize milk with no plastic contact.

Two other examples are a bread bakery which grinds its own flour and uses no plastic, and an organic beef producer who rotates pastures to avoid any irrigation. She has agreed to have the slaughterhouse provide cut meats in glass containers, not plastic.

There are other “holes” to be filled in creating healthy, balanced menus that can be extrapolated “upward” to a beginning diet that reflects what average consumers eat.

From possible to practical

Buying organic foods at a supermarket was not possible 25 years ago.

However, an increasing number of informed consumers demanded organic and went to what were then impractical lengths to obtain foods that met their standards.

Retailers and producers realized there were profits to be made organically and the resulting field has grown, even as large special interests have diluted the organic brand with numerous exceptions to USDA regulations.

It is a desired outcome that the results of this study can advance the consumer availablity of even healthier foods.

Guiding principals for the study diet menu

NOTE: Additional information about specific menu choice details will be added in section II. While some information there may seem redundant, this document tries to avoid offering too much information, too early which can discourage overall readability and comprehension.

1. Do not consume any ingredient whose composition cannot be traced to, and inspected at its origin.

2. No plastic contact at any point.

Exceptions are not preferred, but may include BPA and phthalate-free nitrile gloves and tubing such as Tygon S3 B-44-3 Beverage Tubing or other manufacturer’s equivalent.

3. Any plastic product used must be tested to assure manufacturer claims because studies have shown that some manufacturer claims are false:

Preparation & cooking

The following are forbidden:

  • Sous vide
  • non-stick pans
  • most cooking oils
  • plastic utensils
  • plastic prep bowls
  • synthetic gloves
  • plastic bags
  • plastic wrap
  • Drip coffee makers
  • Sodastream
  • Keurig and other “pod” beverage makers
  • Beverages in cans, plastic bottles or glass.

Water

All water consumed and/or used for cooking, washing, drinking or used to irrigate self-grown plants will be obtained from a commercial device using a solid-block carbon filter and certified by NSF for reduction of BPA and phthalates. One such device is the Aquaversa filter from Multipure which uses a  carbon block filter that lists BPA among its contaminant reduction list. The list does not mention phthalates. However, the list does cover many chemical with similar phenolic structures.

If study funds are available, it would me valuable to  determine BPA and phthalate levels in the water water before the filter and afterwards.

In addition, independently published research indicates that other types of carbon filters are effective in reducing many harmful compounds including organic chemicals.

Beverages

Coffee

Only locally roasted and ground beans will be used.

Provider will be selected on the smallest amount of plastic involved. Beans and grounds will be handled with metal or glass only and packed in glass jars.

Beans will be ground in a mill with no plastic components.

The beans will be prepared using either an all glass and stainless steel French press or a stainless steel percolator with all metal parts.

Also acceptable is the Moka pot-style espresso maker or a pour-over, glass and metal coffee maker with water from an all metal tea kettle. All metal wire basket for grounds must be used, no filter paper.

If an automatic drip system can be located with no plastic ever touching the water or coffee stream, that will be obtained and used.

The weakest links in drip coffee makers that appear to be all glass and/or metal usually lies in plastic tubing that connects the heating element to the water reservoir, the hot water application tube, and the filter basket..

Tea

No tea will be allowed. Like spices, the extensive harvest, curing, processing, and packaging offers many contamination routes.

Also like spices, the tiny fragments that compose tea increase the surface area capable of acquiring chemical contamination.

Soft drinks

Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Fruit juice

No commercial juices allowed. Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Freshly prepares using no plastic contact. In general, whole fruits are a healthier alternative to juices.

Beer and wine

No commercial products allowed. All are extensively processed using plastic.

Sourcing ingredients

All food items will be sourced from the provider. All provider locations will be personally visited and inspections made of their premises, equipment and processes.

Beef, lamb, chicken, pork, fish

Minimum standards: Organic certification, no plastic in growing, harvesting, handling, or packaging. All animals must be free-range.

Even if allowed by exceptions to organic regulations: No commercial fertilizers,  no pesticides, no recycled wastewater irrigation. No irrigation of pasture and feeding areas is preferred. Drinking water from well or municipal water only. No PVC or other plastics.

Beef and lamb must be grass-fed and comply with AGA Statement of Best Practices.

Preference given to un-irrigated pasturing. For welfare of animals, supplemental hay is allowed but must come from un-irrigated pasture.

Possible source: Crowd Cow

Slaughter standards

Must be humane.

Solid cuts of meat only. No sausage or ground meat.

Slaughter to avoid all plastic contact unless absolutely vital for health and hygiene. Nitrile gloves.

Finished cuts to be placed in glass containers covered with aluminum foil (not in contact with meat) and finally sealed with a plastic lid.

Beef, lamb & goat

Lean cuts (minimum marbling) on beef and lamb. Lower fat content helps minimize lipophilic content.

Visible fat to be removed before cooking to minimize lipophilic concentration.

Chicken

Skin to remain on chicken, to be removed before cooking to minimize lipophilic concentration. Breasts only for chicken.

Pork, fish

Not included in the study diet.

Diet and subsequent flesh contamination are extremely hard to control or monitor.

Dairy

Same water, feed and pasturing requirements as beef, lamb and goat.

Udder and teat cleaning and treatments for animal welfare and human hygiene must be examined for plastic exposures and contamination minimized.

Milking must be done preferably by hand or using milk machines certified as BPA and phthalate-free. Nitrile gloves to be used.  All collected milk must be in stainless steel vessels.  Filtering stages cannot use polymer filters. Separation, homogenization (if any) and pasteurization must be plastic free. Glass containers must be used for bottling of milk.

Cream gathered during the separation process will either be used for cheese or discarded to minimize lipophilic contaminate concentration.

Cheese will be made using milk prepared as described above. Preference will be given to low- or moderate-butterfat cheeses.

The cheese process will use stainless steel in the initial heating processes. Curds will be gathered and drained in stainless-steel wire baskets. The whey will be discarded.

Drained curds will be pressed in stainless steel molds. Finished cheese will be packed in aluminum foil then placed in Ziploc-type airtight containers.

Note: Ziploc claims to be BPA free but has not addressed phthalates. It is also unknown whether “BPA free” means a switch to a Bisphenol analog such as BPS.

Fruits & vegetables

All vegetables and fruits must come fresh from an organically-certified source irrigated by well water or suitably filtered tap water.

Recycled municipal wastewater (increasingly used for food crops) is unacceptable.

All irrigation must also be done using metal containers. No plastic drip lines or emitters

No commercial fertilizer can be used.

No pesticide can be applied including substances that are approved for organic use unless they have been examined for — and free of — adjuvants, surfactants, and other auxiliary chemicals that may have endocrine-disrupting or other harmful effects.

The soil in which plants are grown cannot come from a source that uses commercial fertilizer amendments, or biosolids (sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants) which is also increasingly used on food crops.

The vegetables must be harvested and processed by hand without using polymer gloves other than nitrile. No conveyor belts, plastic tubs or containers are allowed.

Vegetables must be placed in a glass or steel container for delivery, not in a plastic bucket or in cardboard. Phthalates are commonly used in the inks on paper and cardboard and are found in recycled paper, cardboard, and packaging materials.

Salad dressings will be made with lemon or other citrus juices, not vinegar.

Bread and cereal

Bread will be sourced directly from a baker who has ground the grain without any plastic contact including utensils, dough rising pans or wrapping. Paper for wrapping cannot be recycled because of phthalate inks commonly used in packaging printing.

Plain bread without seeds, nut, spices, or other components such as raisins.

Corn-based foods must be from non-GMO corn raised organically and fried in oil which is similarly organic and non-GMO in origin. It is unknown at this time whether such healthier alternative is available.

Commercially produced cereals are not allowed on this diet due to extensive processing involved. Rolled oats may be allowed if as suitable source can be found.

Edible Oils

Given the lipophilic nature of BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals, finding an acceptable source of edible oils is one of the most difficult.

This is aggravated by the fact that producing edible oils requires many processing steps to separate the desired lipids from the pulp and aqueous portions of the source fruit, nut or seed.

Because of its local ready availability, this diet will use first cold press olive oil.

Locally produced olives will, ideally, be non-irrigated.

The Olive fruit fly is endemic in California and other wine producing regions around the world. There are a variety of methods for controlling infestations including baits, traps, attractant strips and certified organic pesticides such as Spinosad and Surround. (UC Pest Management Guidelines).

Despite their organic-certified status, both Surround and Spinosad contain toxic chemicals and proprietary chemicals whose identities are trade secrets and not disclosed. Because of this, olives treated with these are unacceptable.

Untreated olives or those produced in groves using baits, traps, or attractant strips are acceptable.

Olives undergo a washing process — a water rinse — before pressing.  There are many other stages, some of which commonly use plastic components in the process.

Visits will be made to determine which oil press minimizes the use of plastic components.

Nuts & Spices

Almonds will either be hand-shelled or obtained from a commercial processor directly from the shelling process before encountering plastic materials in the processing and packaging processes. Slight contact with plastic may be encountered as almond nuts exit the sheller into glass or metal containers.

We will grow our own spices except for whole black/green/red peppercorns which will be ground in a glass, ceramic, or metal peppermill.

Spices will be irrigated with carbon-filtered water.

Spices will be diced with a knife on a wooded cutting board or ground in a grinder without contact with plastic.

Sugar and sweeteners

No refined sugar or sugar substitutes will be allowed in this diet. Sugar undergoes extensive processing from harvest to store and has too many possible contamination sources to be allowable

If sweetening is required, it will be obtained by preparing a syrup from peeled, organically grown apples. Local, unprocessrd honey could be an alternative, but would need testing for the presence of pesticides which are ptresent in nectar and, thus, in honey.

Candy, snacks, protein- & meal-replacement bars

Highly processed. Not allowed in the study diet.

Why do BPA & phthalates (and other plasticizers) migrate, leach and flake from plastics?

BPA & phthalates migrate, leach and flake off of plastics primarily because they are not chemically bound to the plastic.

It’s important to understand that any specific plastic is a mixture of one or more polymers along with a variety of additives like BPA and phthalates that are added to provide desired characteristics such as color, strength, rigidity (or flexibility) and other qualities of the finished plastic.

creen Shot 2018-02-06 at 11.03.59 AM

In some ways, polymers are like dry cement. Water can be added, and a hard substance results when it cures. Aggregates like sand and stone are mixed in to provide strength. Steel rebar is added for flexibility and tensile strength. Polymer fibers offer flexibility. Dyes are added for color.

creen Shot 2018-02-06 at 11.13.47 AM

An exothermic chemical reaction takes place when water is added to cement. But the sand, stones and re-bar are not part of the chemical reaction.

Just like plasticizers added to plastics, the additives to cement and not covalently bound to the concrete. Instead, those additives — whether to concrete or a plastic — are physically confined when the mixture cures, but can separate under many circumstances.

Rebar, stones and even sand are massive compared with the tiny sizes of the plasticizer and additive molecules that give polymer chains the desired characteristics. Because of this, additives can migrate among the polymer chains and — when they reach the surface of the plastic — can easily leach or simply fall out of the plastic like pebbles from old concrete.

What helps additives escape from the plastic?

Additives escape from plastic and enter the food chain or directly into people’s bodies through a combination of actions that include:

Mechanical- Scraping, friction, bending, stretching, twisting or compressing plastic promotes microfractures that speed additive particles toward a surface. Friction between plastics or other components can create fine dust particles which accelerate the release of additives.

Mechanical stressors are particularly applicable to conveyor belts, squeezable condiment containers, plastic utensils in contact with plastic bowls or paper plates (most of which have a plastic coating), plastic gloves, and plastic beverage containers.

Children frequently treat their plastic toys and other objects with less than tender loving care.

Light – Degrades plastic and accelerates the release of plastic additives.

Chemical action – Acidic foods and beverages can react with a variety of additives because those are not chemically bound (covalently) to the polymers. Some polymers may also be subject to reacting with acids or other food and beverage compounds.

Lipophilia – Promotes absorption of chemicals in oil based foods. Studies show that people can absorb BPA from touching thermal paper cash receipts. What’s more, those who use hand moisturizers absorb far more BPA because of the increased lipids from the hand cream.

Heat – Adds energy to the migration process, speeds up chemical reactions that can loosen bonds.

Not all liberated additives head for food

According to the CDC, one of the most common and significant non-food exposures — especially to phthalates — is household dust. Phthalate dust is most likely produced by friction, scraping and the other “movement” sources listed above.

Harmful environmental chemical dust is particularly potent because the size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems.

Those particles in the “PM 2.5” category can be carried deep into the smallest regions of the lungs — the alveoli — where harmful chemicals (or even the particle itself) can directly enter the bloodstream. This article from the National Academy of Sciences explains more.

Why food processing adds contamination

Contamination of basic foods — even those that do not undergo extensive processing — comes from:

  • Contact with contaminated soil and water during planting, irrigation and growth.
  • Exposure to plastics during harvest from conveyor belts, chutes, pipes, baffles and other equipment.
  • Exposure to plastic in the washing process through the use of bins, tanks, implements and pipes.
  • Exposure to plastics during the drying and packing stages including the use of recycled or coated cardboard.

Contamination through processing

This article from the British Medical Journal offers a look at many of the substances added to highly processed foods: Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort

While the BMJ article focused on the nutritional downsides to processing, it’s vital to recognize that each processing operation and additive — regardless of nutritional value — brings with it its own unique contamination trail and chemical burdens that are incorporated into a highly processed food product for sale.

Specific contamination routes found in individual food groups are discussed elsewhere in this document.

Degree of food processing

We categorised all food and drink items of the NutriNet-Santé composition table into one of the four food groups in NOVA, a food classification system based on the extent and purpose of industrial food processing.

This study primarily focused on the “ultra-processed foods” NOVA group.

This group includes mass produced packaged breads and buns; sweet or savoury packaged snacks; industrialised confectionery and desserts; sodas and sweetened drinks; meat balls, poultry and fish nuggets, and other reconstituted meat products transformed with addition of preservatives other than salt (for example, nitrites); instant noodles and soups; frozen or shelf stable ready meals; and other food products made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats, and other substances not commonly used in culinary preparations such as hydrogenated oils, modified starches, and protein isolates.

Industrial processes notably include hydrogenation, hydrolysis, extruding, moulding, reshaping, and pre-processing by frying. Flavouring agents, colours, emulsifiers, humectants, non-sugar sweeteners, and other cosmetic additives are often added to these products to imitate sensorial properties of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.

The ultra-processed food group is defined by opposition to the other NOVA groups: “unprocessed or minimally processed foods” (fresh, dried, ground, chilled, frozen, pasteurised, or fermented staple foods such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, rice, pasta, eggs, meat, fish, or milk), “processed culinary ingredients” (salt, vegetable oils, butter, sugar, and other substances extracted from foods and used in kitchens to transform unprocessed or minimally processed foods into culinary preparations), and “processed foods” (canned vegetables with added salt, sugar coated dried fruits, meat products preserved only by salting, cheeses, freshly made unpackaged breads, and other products manufactured with the addition of salt, sugar, or other substances of the “processed culinary ingredients” group).

Lipophilia: for the love of fat

In the scientific world, fats and oils are known as lipids. Lipophilia means a “love of lipids.” Fats tend to be solid (or relatively so) at room temperature  and oils, liquid.

Significantly, BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals are “lipophilic” — they are easily dissolved in fats and oils.

This should not be surprising because most environmental chemicals — including endocrine disruptors and pesticides — are derived from petroleum. The same goes for artificial fragrances, flavor enhancers and food coloring as well as plastics in general, and the printing inks used on them.

What this means is that contact between plastic and any form of food-based oil or fat results in increased migration of BPA, phthalates and other from the plastic and into the edible portions of the food.

While there is no valid science yet, there is a logical possibility that the health stigma of fat in the diet and its role in obesity may be due more to the presence of harmful environmental chemicals in the fat, rather than its metabolism and actual calorie count.

Scores of well-designed, peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that BPA and phthalates act as “obesogens” — substances that disrupt the metabolic process and result in the preferential storage of fat rather than its use as energy.

Why does lipophilia matter?

The opposite of lipophilic is hydrophobic — the fear of water. This means that harmful environmental chemicals are somewhat less likely to leach into foods and beverages that are water based.

Despite that, BPA (hydrophobic) still leaches into the water of plastic bottles.

The migration of BPA, phthalates and other lipophilic chemicals is preferentially accelerated when placed in contact with lipids — fats and oils — whether from foods like bacon or cooking oils.

This means that even very heart-healthy foods like olive oil packed in plastic bottles will contain higher concentrations of BPA and phthalates than those in glass bottles.<<citation? is there a study using oil from the same source packed in different bottles? unknown>>>

Impacts cooking and processing

Lipophilia impacts both cooking and processing.

In cooking, the BPA and phthalates in plastic mixing bowls, utensils and other items can migration into the foods themselves.

Heat will further encourage migration of chemicals from plastics. This includes microwaving food in plastic, allowing warm or hot foods to come into contact with plastic bowls, dishes or cooking with plastic utensils.

The spice lipo-paradox

Spices have evolved over the centuries as effective ways to preserve foods from spoiling and to disguise the taste of items that have started to decompose.

By themselves, many spices also have beneficial health properties, as evidenced most recently by studies showing tumeric’s potential cancer-fighting properties. (Spices for Prevention and Treatment of Cancers).

On the other hand, a number of studies have found that spices often have very high and variable concentrations of phthalates. Those studies have posited that the contamination comes from extensive handling and processing.

While the flavor ingredients in spices are sometimes water-soluble, most spice flavors come from lipid soluble compounds. This is why cooks will often saute spices in oil before adding aqueous ingredients. This process, known as “blooming,” intensifies the flavor because the oil extracts the lipid components at a temperature hotter than that of the boiling point of water.

Blooming is useful when cooking at high altitudes where the boiling point of water is lower than at sea level. This means the extraction of spice flavors drops, resulting in blander foods. At Lake Tahoe, for example, water boils at 94°C, something that prevents full flavor extraction, even with longer cook times.

Water & fertilizers: Ubiquitous contamination sources

Irrigation water – farm ponds, biosolids and recycled municipal wastewater

With rare exceptions, irrigation involves plastic pipes, tanks, tubing, drip devices, and valves which leach varying amounts of plastic chemical contaminants.

Well water may be the purest source, but is less available as water tables drop from drought and over-pumping. The distribution lines of a well are usually plastic.

Municipal water may be the second best source depending upon the treatment methods, filtering and added chemicals. However, municipal water distribution is increasingly using plastic pipes for mains and secondary distribution lines.

Farm ponds are questionable for direct use because of wildlife, livestock and other uses in the upstream drainage area.

In addition to BPA and phthalates, recycled municipal wastewater contains scores of harmful chemicals including pharmaceuticals, illegal narcotics and other undesirable compounds that can find their way into animal flesh and meat.

Reviews of the use of recycled municipal wastewater indicate that contaminates remain in the water and can be absorbed the tissues of growing plants.

Significantly, commercial hay fields are frequently fertilized to increase production. That fertilizer may be a commercial product, or biosolids — sludge from sewage treatment plants which frequently contain heavy metals.

Assessment of endocrine disruption and oxidative potential of bisphenol-A, triclosan, nonylphenol, diethylhexyl phthalate, galaxolide, and carbamazepine, common contaminants of municipal biosolids

Highlights

•Relative potency determined for six individual contaminants in a suite of bioassays

•Multiple-modes of action of individual contaminants demonstrated in different in vitro assays

•Comprehensive assessment of potential in vitro effects associated with carbamazepine

Abstract

The use of biosolids as a soil conditioner and fertiliser is hindered by the limited knowledge on the risks of micro-contaminants they contain. This study investigated the binding of six organic contaminants commonly found in biosolids, to the estrogen (ER), androgen (AR), aryl hydrocarbon (AhR), and transthyretin (TTR) receptors and their redox activity. Triclosan (TCS), bisphenol-A (BPA), and technical nonylphenol (TNP) had affinity for the TTR with relative potencies of 0.3, 0.03, and 0.076 respectively. Further, binding to TTR was the only toxicological response observed for carbamazepine, which induced sub-maximal response and relative potency of 0.0017. Estrogenic activity was induced by BPA, galaxolide (HHCB), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and TNP with BPA having the strongest potency of 5.1 × 10−6 relative to estradiol. Only BPA showed androgenic activity but it was not quantifiable. BPA also showed anti-androgenic activity along with TCS, HHCB, and TNP in the order of TNP > HHCB > TCS ~ BPA (relative potencies 0.126, 0.042, 0.032, 0.03). No compounds exhibited anti-estrogenic or AhR activity, or were redox-active in the dithiothreitol assay. The results highlight the multiple modes of action through which these compounds may impact exposed organisms, and the concentrations at which effects may occur. This allows assessment of the likelihood of effects being observed at environmental concentrations, and the potential contribution of these compounds.

Biosolid Risks

Unfortunately, papers in the last couple of years are pointing toward biosolids as a source of microplastics, drug-resistant bacterial and genes, as well as artificial estrogens and other endocrine disuptors.

The safe and environmentally responsible use of biosolids is a goal worth striving for. However, biosolids are not — yet — ready for prime time. Below is a small sample of recent published studies which point to the need for more caution and the need for further research to protect the public health.

Contamination by E. Coli and other pathogens

Rainfall-runoff of anthropogenic waste indicators from agricultural fields applied with municipal biosolids

Highlights

•Biosolids-derived emerging contaminants found in simulated rainfall runoff

•Biosolids are a potential source of anthropogenic contaminants to surface waters

•Runoff contaminant concentrations relatively constant across multiple rain events

•Intense and frequent precipitation dramatically increases contaminant load

•Some contaminants undergo in situ attenuation unrelated to precipitation events

Abstract

The presence of anthropogenic contaminants such as antimicrobials, flame-retardants, and plasticizers in runoff from agricultural fields applied with municipal biosolids may pose a potential threat to the environment. This study assesses the potential for rainfall-induced runoff of 69 anthropogenic waste indicators (AWIs), widely found in household and industrial products, from biosolids amended field plots. The agricultural field containing the test plots was treated with biosolids for the first time immediately prior to this study. AWIs present in soil and biosolids were isolated by continuous liquid-liquid extraction and analyzed by full-scan gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Results for 18 AWIs were not evaluated due to their presence in field blank QC samples, and another 34 did not have sufficient detection frequency in samples to analyze trends in data. A total of 17 AWIs, including 4-nonylphenol, triclosan, and tris(2-butoxyethyl)phosphate, were present in runoff with acceptable data quality and frequency for subsequent interpretation. Runoff samples were collected 5 days prior to and 1, 9, and 35 days after biosolids application. Of the 17 AWIs considered, 14 were not detected in pre-application samples, or their concentrations were much smaller than in the sample collected one day after application. A range of trends was observed for individual AWI concentrations (typically from 0.1 to 10 μg/L) over the course of the study, depending on the combination of partitioning and degradation mechanisms affecting each compound most strongly. Overall, these results indicate that rainfall can mobilize anthropogenic contaminants from biosolids-amended agricultural fields, directly to surface waters and redistribute them to terrestrial sites away from the point of application via runoff. For 14 of 17 compounds examined, the potential for runoff remobilization during rainstorms persists even after three 100-year rainstorm-equivalent simulations and the passage of a month.

Antibiotic Resistance

Novel Antibiotic Resistance Determinants From Agricultural Soil Exposed To Antibiotics Widely Used In Human Medicine And Animal Farming

ABSTRACT

Antibiotic resistance has emerged globally as one of the biggest threats to human and animal health. Although the excessive use of antibiotics is recognized for accelerating the selection for resistance, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that natural environments are “hotspots” for the development of both ancient and contemporary resistance mechanisms. Given that pharmaceuticals can be entrained onto agricultural land through anthropogenic activities, this could be a potential driver for the emergence and dissemination of resistance in soil bacteria. Using functional metagenomics, we interrogated the “resistome” of bacterial communities found in a collection of Canadian agricultural soil, some of which had been receiving antibiotics widely used in human medicine (macrolides) or food animal production (sulfamethazine, chlortetracycline and tylosin) for up to 16 years. Of the 34 new antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) recovered, the majority were predicted to encode for (multi)drug efflux systems, while a few share little to no homology with established resistance determinants. We characterized several novel gene products, including putative enzymes that can confer high-level resistance against aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, and broad range of beta-lactams, with respect to their resistance mechanisms and clinical significance. By coupling high-resolution proteomics analysis with functional metagenomics, we discovered an unusual peptide, PPPAZI 4, encoded within an alternative open-reading frame not predicted by bioinformatics tools. Expression of the proline-rich PPPAZI 4 can promote resistance against different macrolides but not other ribosomal-targeting antibiotics, implicating a new macrolide-specific resistance mechanism that could be fundamentally linked to the evolutionary design of this peptide.

IMPORTANCE

Antibiotic resistance is a clinical phenomenon with an evolutionary link to the microbial pangenome. Genes and protogenes encoding for specialized and potential resistance mechanisms are abundant in natural environments, but understanding of their identity and genomic context remain limited. Our discovery of several previously-unknown antibiotic resistance genes from uncultured soil microorganisms indicates that soil is a significant reservoir of resistance determinants, which, once acquired and “re-purposed” by pathogenic bacteria, can have serious impacts on therapeutic outcomes. This study provides valuable insights into the diversity and identity of resistance within the soil microbiome. The finding of a novel peptide-mediated resistance mechanism involving an unpredicted gene product also highlights the usefulness of integrating proteomics analysis into metagenomics-driven gene discovery.

Plastic Pollution

The growing evidence of an environmental crisis caused by plastics in both fresh and seawater offers further reasons for concern.

While vast floating islands of plastic afflict parts of the oceans, the larger danger to humans may be due to the vast qualities of wastewater entering rivers, streams, and estuaries.

That wastewater carries significant concentrations of hundreds of dangerous chemicals, pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, BPA, phthalates, pesticides, household chemicals and more.

These are in addition to microfibers which are already building up on land irrigated with recycled wastewater.

Organic fertilizer as a vehicle for the entry of microplastic into the environment

Abstract

The contamination of the environment with microplastic, defined as particles smaller than 5 mm, has emerged as a global challenge because it may pose risks to biota and public health. Current research focuses predominantly on aquatic systems, whereas comparatively little is known regarding the sources, pathways, and possible accumulation of plastic particles in terrestrial ecosystems. We investigated the potential of organic fertilizers from biowaste fermentation and composting as an entry path for microplastic particles into the environment. Particles were classified by size and identified by attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. All fertilizer samples from plants converting biowaste contained plastic particles, but amounts differed significantly with substrate pretreatment, plant, and waste (for example, household versus commerce) type. In contrast, digestates from agricultural energy crop digesters tested for comparison contained only isolated particles, if any. Among the most abundant synthetic polymers observed were those used for common consumer products. Our results indicate that depending on pretreatment, organic fertilizers from biowaste fermentation and composting, as applied in agriculture and gardening worldwide, are a neglected source of microplastic in the environment.

Nano-Contamination

The increased use of nanoparticles in clothing, toothpaste, personal care products and other items are finding their way into the municipal wastewater stream. In addition to chemical leaching, some nanoparticles may be small enough to be absorbed directly into the blood streams of fish and other animals.

Whole Foods, in 2014, banned vegetables fertilized with biosolids, but the practice remains controversial:

SECTION II

Sourcing the Menu: Standards and Choice Limitations

Meat the enemy

Animal flesh presents an especially tough issue when it comes to systematic contamination by endocrine disruptors and other harmful environmental chemicals. Dairy (to be dealt with in the next section) presents even more opportunities for contamination.

While plastic food contact materials present one of the the most visible contamination sources, human contamination from consuming meat begins with animals consuming contaminated food and water.

The following emphasizes cattle, but the contamination sources are mostly analogous for sheep, poultry and pigs. Variations among species will be noted after common contamination pathways are described.

Commercial cattle and other farm animal feed suffers from the same plastic contamination as other highly processed products involving conveyor belts, plastic pipes, tubing and contact with other polymer-based machinery.

In addition, the “finishing” process by which cattle and livestock are fattened before slaughter involves numerous undesirable chemicals, but also involves grain which is another category of food with contamination problems from farm to table.

Cattle and livestock that forage in pastures or which are fed hay might seem to offer a lower burden of environmental chemicals. This would be the case if the fields from which the hay is harvested has not been irrigated.

Because of the expense of installing permanent irrigation sprinklers, pasture irrigation is often accomplished through the use of mobile sprinkler heads connected to a water source by means of plastic hoses that are frequently 100 yards long or greater.

(Example: K-Line irrigation)

Contaminates leaching from the long irrigation hoses are compounded if the water source is highly treated recycled municipal wastewater.

Cattle grazing on wastewater-irrigated fields contaminate themselves by eating moist, recently irrigated grass, or grass that is dry but which is coated with wastewater chemical residues.

Searches for studies on concentrations of chemicals of concern in livestock and their flesh could find little other than one which showed severe health effects in sheep that grazed on pasture fertilized with biosolids.

Grass-fed healthy alternative, but often abused

Grass-fed beef and other livestock offer relief from the excessive chemical, pharmaceutical and dietary practices used by industrial producers to produce maximum meat in minimum time and less money. Such factory farming has seen many health abuses in  both the livestock and meat consumers.

However, even the grrass-fed process has been abused (Grass-Fed Beef Loses Its Luster) by operators who employ factory-style, crowded feedlot practices.

An entire industry has developed where hay or other grass products are formed into feed pellets along with growth enhancers which are fed to cattle subsequently marketed as “grass-fed.”

From: Grass-Fed Beef Loses Its Luster

“A growing number of consumers began turning to grass-fed beef in order to avoid buying meat from feedlot cattle and factory farms. “But as grass-fed beef skyrocketed in popularity,” Lowry points out, “these same large producers have jumped on the bandwagon to offer a product that meets the letter of the law without a lot of respect for the spirit.”

Lowry explains that beef– technically grass-fed and grass-finished–is in fact coming from concentrated feedlots where the cattle are fed from troughs of manufactured grass pellets. “Large scale farms are talking about how to dope their grass with nitrogen,” Lowry says, and undernourished cattle are getting sold to the consumer at a premium because they have the “grass fed” label.

The American Grassfed Association has issued a set of guidelines outlawing the pellets, crowded conditions and other animal welfare abuses.

While true grass-fed beef offers a healthier alternative when done to standards, (Membership and Certification Submission Checklist), even those operations need to be certain that pastures and any supplemental hay and feedings done when pasturing is impossible, are free of irrigation and other harmful environmental chemical contamination.

This probably isn’t what most people think they’re signing up for. But if you’re buying “grass-fed” beef and you can’t name the farmer or locate the farm on a map, it’s a good bet you’re getting pellets, not pasture.”

Chicken & pork

Factory farming for chicken and pork have paralleled beef in intensity and opportunities for contamination in animal concentration, feeding for swift, maximum growth and processing after slaughter.

Organic regulations requiring space for animal welfare and feed ameliorate some of the contamination issues of mainstream husbandry. Potential issues remain with water sourcing as well as irrigation and growing conditions for feed which is seasonally required even for free-range animals.

The EU found environmental chemicals in feed and chicken coop construction materials in flesh and eggs. This was confirmed by a Belgian study  and others.

Sausage: the original processed food (Now in plastic casings!)

Sausage of various sorts has been used for centuries to stuff animal intestines with various bits and pieces of meat, organs and offal that are unsuitable, unpalatable, or impractical to serve in their natural state.

Over the centuries, various fillers, spices, preservatives, emulsifiers, and other substances have been added to the meat bits. Modern sausage — especially the ubiquitous hot dog — is more often than not in a manufactured synthetic casing usually made of polymers and packed with meat of various origins ground into a paste with fillers and binders.

Spices, which have a lipophilic effect in attracting BPA and phthalates, are often used to cover up the off-tastes in sausages and other manufactured foods.

Replicant meat

Frozen and pre-prepared meals as well as sliced cold-cuts are usually replicant meat — created from manufacturing processes designed to be made mostly of meat, binders and other substances which are then molded to look resemble the real thing.

The associated use of “mechanical fingers” and chemical solutions designed to strip every last shred of meat from bones have introduced a new category of semi-fake meat that is artificially formed from meat fragments, glued together with a host of mostly un-disclosed substances, and re-formed either into “nuggets” or shaped to look like a whole, natural piece of meat — sometimes with fake painted/printed-on  “grill” marks made of yet another chemical composition.

Many of the ingredients in these are not publicly available because the companies have classified them as trade secrets, something allowed by regulators.

Burgers

In their own way, burgers resemble sausage without a casing. And, like sausage, burgers — whether beef, chicken, fish, or veggie are fertile ground for undisclosed additives. One of the most notorious of the additives in hamburgers, as well as chicken nuggets, and manufactured meat designed to look like the real thing is the notorious “Pink Slime.

The chicken AND the egg? A fowl situation

Both the flesh and the eggs of chickens and other edible fowl have the same issues with opportunities for contamination from feed and water as other farm animals.

Fishy business

Fish contamination occurs in growth, harvest, processing, and sales. But because edible fish grow in polluted oceans and freshwater lakes, rivers and streams, they can accumulate contaminates from many sources in their natural environment.

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Because chemical contamination grows with time, this set of recommendations from the state of Washington recommends eating smaller, younger fish. It also recommends cutting away the fatty portions of fish such as salmon because some chemicals are lipophilic. Other contaminates such as methyl mercury, are water soluble.

Beware of farmed fish

Studies have determined that farmed fish are subject to contamination by multiple chemicals (Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Farmed Salmon). Feed is one suspect as are chemicals and pharmaceuticals added to keep fish as healthy as possible in crowded pens.

Plastic Pollution

The growing evidence of an environmental crisis caused by plastics in both fresh and seawater offers further reasons for concern.

While vast floating islands of plastic afflict parts of the oceans, the larger danger to humans may be due to vast qualities of wastewater entering rivers, streams, ans estuaries which are used for irrigation and other agricultural uses.

Dairy: Milk & Cheese

The contamination of the dairy chain starts with what the female mammal — aka “cow” — consumes. This is most often a bovine cow in America, but globally includes goats, sheep and other mammals. (see “Meat the enemy”)

The milk from cows — like its flesh and that of its male counterparts — can be contaminated with environmental chemicals from its food and water.

But the milk produced will be further contaminated by many additional processes before milk, cheese, yogurt and the whey for dietary supplements reaches a human consumer.

The introduction of plastic chemicals into the dairy food chain begins with the milking process and continues to increase at each step before reaching the consumer.

Milking machines

Other than the rare artisan-produced cheese, the hand-milking of cows, goats and other livestock has mostly vanished.  Milking machines make the first step of production more cost effective, time-efficient, and sanitary — all benefits to the consumer.

Before milking begins, the udder and teats undergo a number of hygiene steps that include cleaning with anti-bacterial solutions (Hygiene in milk production).

This helps insure the cleanliness of the milk and starts a process to extend the length of time before milk can sour. This also helps prevent injuries to the cow, including mastitis, a serious inflammation of the udder and mammary gland.

Another anti-bacterial cleaning occurs after milking. All of the cleaning and irritation from the milking machine results in the application of salves.

No research can be found so far on whether antibiotics, salves and cleaning agents may contaminate the collected milk.

It’s also notable that plastic gloves worn by handlers through the milking process can result in phthalate transfer to the teat. This extent of this transfer is unknown.

In addition, the phthalates and other EDCs in the gloves can leach out and be absorbed through the skin of the wearer. Th leaching and transfer is encouraged by people who use hand creams.

Plastic contamination and the milking machine

Milking machines use a pulsating vacuum to draw raw milk from the udder.

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The teatcup that attaches to each teat is lined with a flexible plastic (phthalate soft) that alternately compresses and relaxes as the vacuum pump operates.

The milk is drawn into a one-way plastic chamber (known as “the claw”) which allows the milk to be drawn off and transferred into a collection tank that is sometimes plastic, sometimes stainless steel. From the collection tank, milk flows to a bulk tank, frequently via plastic piping or tubing. (How the milking system works)

From the bulk tank at the dairy, milk is transferred via plastic hoses to a tanker truck which reverses the process through plastic hoses to larger tanks at the creamery. All of the processing involves plastic hoses, pipes, fixtures, pumps, valves, vats, vessels and other equipment that often contain or are made of plastic.

At the creamery, plastic hoses dominate the processes of separating cream from the whole milk. The skimmed milk and cream are usually pasteurized separately.

Some cream is returned to the skimmed milk to create a range of butterfat levels, some is made into butter. Cheese can be made from milk at a variety of stages in this process.

Lipophilia

Significantly, BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals are “lipophilic” — they are easily dissolved in fats.

This means that the cream  separation process creates a high-fat environment that encourages leaching of these environmental chemicals into dairy products.

Cheese & Whey

Cheese made from whole milk contains more fat. More fat offers contamination opportunities for lipophilic chemicals like BPA and phthalates.

The cheesemaking process can use plastics at various points, but most likely as utensils, filtering materials, molds for curds and the process for draining off whey. Further contamination can occur in the processing that cuts large blocks then wraps individual blocks, wheels and  other large shapes. Sliced and grated cheeses expose cheese to contamination as well as the plastic pouches and bags they are packed in.

Most organic cheeses use plastic in their final packaging. The most highly contaminated will be blocks which have been shrink-wrapped. This is because the film is warm/hot when it comes into contact with the cheese. The heat encourages migration of contamination from the plastic into the cheese.

Whey is a mostly water-loving substance left over from the cheesemaking process. However, studies have shown that many organic contaminates can be bound to the milk proteins.

Fruit & veggies

Vegetables in both the exposure and decontamination phases will be coordinated to accommodate seasonally available local products obtained from USDA-certified organic farms which do not use recycled wastewater for irrigation.

Most fruits and vegetables receive substantial exposure to plastics before they reach the supermarket. This contamination —  which also applies to grains for bread, cereal and pasta — results from the use of plastics during harvest, processing, and packaging for sale.

Most supermarket fruits and vegetables are grown with commercial fertilizers and an increasing percentage are fertilized with biosolids — a euphemism for the sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants.

Due to loosening standards and a lengthening list of “exceptions” to the USDA rules, even certified organic fruits and vegetables can be fertilized and treated with a growing number of commercial chemicals.

Exceptions to the regulations have been made by the USDA without extensive study of the substances involved. Also overlooked are additives, surfactants, and other auxiliary chemicals added to enhance the active ingredients. Those added substances often have endocrine-disrupting or other harmful effects.

From sewer to table

Most American supermarket produce aisles will feature fruits and vegetables irrigated with recycled municipal sewer and wastewater and fertilized with biosolids – sewage sludge.

Published scientific studies have demonstrated that chemicals in recycled wastewater can be absorbed by the edible portions of some fruits & vegetables or remain on the surface after water contact.

Tree-born fruit may have contact contamination, but the distance from the ground to the fruit makes it less likely that contamination will reach edible interior parts.

See: Recycled Wastewater In The Wine Vineyard for more.

Supermarkets okay with sewer-to-store veggies (all but one)

As far as can be determined, Whole Foods is the only grocery chain to ban fruits and vegetables fertilized with sewer sludge: Whole Foods Bans Sludge Fertilizer.

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Recycled municipal wastewater (increasingly used for food crops) is currently not prohibited by USDA Organic Standards and is not addressed even by Whole Foods.

Harvesting and processing involve extensive contact with conveyor belts containing phthalates for flexibility and hard plastic rollers whose durability usually results from BPA-containing polycarbonates.

Food contact materials also contribute to cobtamination since many whole fresh vegetable are wrapped in plastic for sale.

Frozen vegetables

Frozen vegetables receive additional plastic contact in processing, and are packaged in plastic.Some are packaged with directions for the contents to be heated or microwaved while in in the plastic  bags and containers. Heating in the bag increases the release of environmental chemicals into the food.

Fruit and vegetable juice

The commercial processing of fruit and vegetable juice offer numerous exposure opportunities for contamination. Plastics are extensively present in peeling, crushing, filtering, transport and in the plastic bottles, pouches, and epoxy can linings.

Going against the grain: Bread and cereal killers

The domestication of grains nearly 11,000 years ago accelerated civilization from hunter-gatherer to the agriculturally based world of today (Ancient Waves of (Wild) Grain).

While bread and cereal products are among the most basic and valuable foodstuffs modern commercial grains are subject to the same the irrigation and fertilization problems associated with fruits and vegetables.

This includes harvest and processing contamination occurrences including the use of questionable irrigation water, commercial fertilizer, and the use of recycled municipal wastewater and sewage sludge biosolids. In addition, wheat is extensively applied with glyphosate and other pesticides

The issue of irrigation is not as critical because a substantial portion of wheat matures during the winter when rains are more prevalent. A warming climate is expected to affect this.

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In addition, the transportation of wheat is a massive bulk operation using barges, ships and railroad bulk carriers all of which offer ample opportunities for plastic contact with conveyor belts, augers and other plastic apparatus, and storage. Because of the size of the operation, there is little oversight of transportation.

Flour production involves extensive contact with plastic-based apparatus, conveyor belts and transport.

Commercial baking: a wonder of automation and processing contamination

The actual making and baking of commercially produced bread, again, involves conveyor belts but also plastic bins used for ingredients,  mixing, and preparation for dough. Plastic loaf pans are used for dough in the rising stages.

The baking process usually employs metal conveyor surfaces with the warm loaves going into plastic bags when still warm.

This paper from the British Medical Journal defines commercial bread as a highly processed food: Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort

Small batch regional bakeries

Most small-batch regional bread bakeries still use commercially available flour with its inherent contamination opportunities.

However, some very small artisan operations — such as those associated with the California Grain Campaign — have reduced their dependence on plastics and pack their product in brown paper bags.

It’s important to recognize that recycled paper carries high concentrations of phthlates because a high percentage of ink used in packaging gets recycled along with the paper.

Corn-based breads and cooking ingredients

Corn is a basic ingredient in many favorite American ethnic foods such as tacos, enchiladas, tamales and more.

Unfortunately, most corn available in the U.S. comes from cultivars that are genetically modified to be resistant to pesticides like glyphosate which is extensively applied.

Cereals

Breakfast cereals are among the most extensively processed grain foods. Processing includes the shaping of flakes and other forms needed to satisfy marketing and consumer demands and expectations.

Preservatives, artificial colors, and other chemicals are added in addition to the conveyor, piping, tubing and other opportunities for contamination by BPA and phthalates.

Edible Oils

Edible oils are often chosen for their flavors (such as in salads), or their behavior in a frying pan, baking or other forms of cooking.

This article from a popular web site — Healthy Cooking Oils — outlines culinary uses and touches upon various health relationships. (While the article makes several over-generalized judgments regarding health, it is a good overall review for both cooking and health assessments and one of the better articles in this regard.)

Producing edible oils

The standard oil-producing processes involves plastic pipes, tubing, pump components, bins, tanks, conveyor belts and associated sources of contamination. Contamination increases with each additional processing step.

Producing edible oils from seeds, nuts and fruits begins with mechanical extraction by crushing or pressing the raw stock. That recovers a portion of the oil.

Once pressed or crushed, additional oil can be produced by heating the pomace.

In many cases heating is followed by solvent extraction using various petroleum distillates such as hexane to dissolve the remaining oil from the pomace.

Because the solvent has a much lower boiling point than the oil, most of the solvent is removed by a distillation process that recovers most of the solvent for reuse. Small but detectable amounts of the solvent are impossible to remove and will remain in the finished oil.

No government regulations exist to require disclosure of the process.

Harvest & Processing

High-production edible oils such as soy, canola and corn involve mechanical harvesting that involve the plastic contamination sources common to other fruits and vegetables: conveyor belts, plastic chutes, bins, gloves, processing vessels and associated components.

Olive Oil

First. avoid the “organic” pesticides.

The Olive fruit fly is endemic in California and other wine producing regions around the world. There are a variety of methods for controlling infestations including baits, traps, attractant strips and certified organic pesticides such as Spinosad and Surround. (UC Pest Management Guidelines).

Despite their organic-certified status, both Surround and Spinosad contain toxic chemicals and proprietary chemicals whose identities are trade secrets and not disclosed. Because of this, olives treated with these are unacceptable.

Untreated olives or those produced in groves using baits, traps, or attractant strips are acceptable.

Olives undergo a washing process — a water rinse — before pressing.  There are many other stages, some of which commonly use plastic components in the process.

Visits will be made to determine which oil press minimizes the use of plastic components.

Pressing

In the case of olive oil, the “first cold press” that takes place without heating produces maximum flavor.

Internationally, there is great confusion — and often scandal — over the regulation of grades and quality of olive oil that follow first cold press. Heating and solvent extraction are used in cheaper grades. Regulation is inconsistent and unreliable.

Significantly, heating drives off many of the aromatic compounds and reduces the healthy polyphenols in olive oil.

First cold press offers a consumer the best assurance of purchasing the healthiest edible oil product while minimizing plastic chemical contamination.

However, as healthy a first cold press is, harvest involves plastic bins, rakes and, synthetic fiber netting. What’s more, the production process involves plastic bins, conveyor belts, pipes, tubing, pump components, filters, and more.

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Edible oil & genetic engineering (Hard for some people to swallow)

At least half of all vegetable oil consumed in the United State comes from genetically engineered crops. The genetic modifications are usually made to make the crop plant resistant to herbicides which are copiously used. In addition to the controversy concerning effects of glyphosate and other active ingredients, no research is available on adjuvants and/or other chemicals that are undisclosed or are trade secrets.

The scientific evidence concerning the safety of GMO organisms is hotly disputed. We have no evidence that GMO foods would affect our test results in any way. However, out of an abundance of caution and for the sake of reproducibility, the study will not chose those foods for the diet.

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Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars (nope)

Candy, snacks, protein and meal-replacement bars are among the most extensively processed foods available.

Candy and snacks tend to be ultra-high fat and/or sugar products. The fat content offers a significant opportunity for the concentration of lipophilic chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.

Chips made from non-GMO corn raised organically and fried in oil which is similarly organic and non-GMO in origin would be acceptabe if available.

Nutrition bar contamination

Bodybuilders, people in a hurry and those who opt for a balanced nutrition bar instead of candy bar are, however, getting extra doses of harmful environmental chemicals because these are among the most highly processed foods available

In addition to the BPA and phthalate exposures inherent in the processing regime, the protein in these bars comes primarily from either soy or whey.

Soy presents a dual concern because it adds compounds that exert estrogen-like effects. I addition, almost all soybean crops are composed of genetically modified cultivars engineered to be immune to the application of pesticides including glyphosate.

Because of soy’s estrogenic effects, many people currently buy bars fortified with whey protein left over from cheesemaking. However, whey presents the same environmental chemical concerns as dairy.

SECTION III: REPRODUCIBILITY – THE SCIENTIFIC PROBLEM THAT DEMANDED ENHANCED SOURCING OF THE STUDY DIET

Reproducibility + Confounding factors drive changes, increase complexity, & costs

Reproducibility is the acid test of properly done studies that produce valid data. In the past couple of years, the “reproducibility crisis” has been the subject of numerous scholarly articles and comments.

The most data-based is this one from Nature (1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility Survey sheds light on the ‘crisis’ rocking research.).

That article found that: “More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.”

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While data do not indicate a substantial rise in irreproducible results, the persistence of non-replicable studies is unacceptable. We should not add to that phenomenon.

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See also:

Irreproducible results plague diet-replacement studies

Nowhere has reproducibility failure been more apparent than in meal-replacement studies involving BPA, phthalates and other environmental chemicals.

The current investigators of the Stealth Syndromes Human Study set out to avoid the non-reproducibility of all previous diet intervention studies. In doing so,  found that, while possible, conducting a study that could be replicated would be magnificently expensive and time-consuming.

Examining the five previous studies

<<Note: The following is a high-level view. There is a potentially publishable paper in a more detailed and rigorous review of the studies and the field especially as regards reproducibility>>

Dietary interventions involving BPA and phthalates are rare.

Five were discovered in the literature search. Only two of those were controlled diet replacement investigations.

Significantly, those two controlled investigations reported different results despite the fact that they used the same food replacement method.

In the first dietary intervention study in a search of the literature —  Influence of a five-day vegetarian diet on urinary levels of antibiotics and phthalate metabolites: A pilot study with “Temple Stay” participants<1> — 25 participants followed the daily routines of Buddhist monks and maintained a vegetarian diet.

Urinary levels of three antibiotics and their major metabolites, metabolites of four major phthalates, and malondialdehyde (MDA) as an oxidative stress biomarker all decreased by statistically significant amounts.

This was not a carefully controlled study given that food sourcing, preparation and other factors were not considered.

In a more controlled and expanded meal replacement study, Rudel et. al., 2011 — Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethyhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention<2> — found substantial reductions in BPA and DEHP exposures in 20 people in five families who underwent three days of a dietary replacement with catered meals using fresh foods designed to minimize plastic food packaging was associated with. Results were consistent among participants and correlated extremely well with experiment design expectations.

Different results were found in a 2013 diet-replacement study by Sathyanarayana et. al.  (designed to replicate Rudel) — Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposures<3>.

Unexpectedly, the diet replacement cohort actually had an increase in BPA and DEHP concentrations.

The extensive discussion concerning the results concluded that diet replacement could not work given the probability of widespread and inconsistent and unpredictable contamination of the food supply: “Federal or industry wide regulation aimed at reducing phthalate and BPA concentrations in foods may be the only effective mechanism to ensure the food supply is safe from contamination.”

This study also included a cohort given written advice on self-directed diets  designed to avoid BPA and phthalates.

The group given written instructions showed no change in BPA and DEHP concentrations before or after intervention. That led the investigators to conclude that advice on self-directed diets would not work.

A 2015 study — Life without plastic: A family experiment and biomonitoring study<4> — found equivocal results. Intervention results indicated decreases in BPA, but phthalates were a different matter: decreasing in some participants, increasing in another.

This study was somewhat an  outlier because it which was a self-directed dietary regime and was an n=5 following members of a single Austrian family whose reference levels of the relevant chemicals were already below population reference levels.

Another self-reported, self-directed study found similar results. An engaged research study to assess the effect of a ‘real-world’ dietary intervention on urinary bisphenol A (BPA) levels in teenagers<5>.

Reproducibility failure causes

Comparing Rudel with Sathyanarayana we find very similar subject selection criteria and foods which were fresh, organic, locally sourced, harvested, shipped and prepared without plastic. Study subjects and caterer in both cases were educated on the elimination of plastic contamination of all kinds.

In assessing the unexpected results, Sathyanarayana measured a variety of foods, beverages and spices and found unusually high concentrations of the subject chemicals. Dairy products were among items singled out as consistent culprits.

However, the study authors noted that, “It may be that our findings reflect an isolated rare contamination event because of unusual processing or a packaging abnormality. It also could be the case that the food supply is systematically contaminated with high phthalate concentrations, which are difficult to identify.

“In the absence of regulation to reduce phthalate and BPA concentrations in food production, it may be difficult to develop effective interventions that are feasible in the general population.”

As described farther along in this document, extreme variations exist in contamination exposures for any given food item.

Rinse water for vegetables will vary greatly according to source, pipe, hose and sprinkler head composition. The same goes for sourcing of vegetable fertilizers, irrigation water, piping or drip hose/tubing composition, machine versus hand harvesting etc. It would he highly unlikely, for example, to find fresh supermarket vegetables that were without substantial plastic contact.

Dairy, even those that are organic compliant and packed in glass will have almost constant plastic contact beginning at the dairy and continuing through separation, homogenization and bottling at a creamery.

The lengthy analysis that follows this introduction looks at contamination routes and sources for all food groups and subgroups.

Short history of SSHS reproducibility efforts

Two-and-a-half years after approval by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California, San Francisco medical School, the study still struggles to control a continuing series of confounding factors that would hinder statistically valid data and reproducibility.

The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS), as approved, was designed to build on Rudel with a complete diet replacement in  a 9-week controlled, step-wise,  protocol designed to decrease measured BPA and phthalate levels in urine and serum.

The blood draw for the serum levels would also be used to produce a blood panel of accepted potential health indicators for each participant. The thesis of the study is that decreasing the levels of these chemicals would result in favorable blood panel health indications.

By eliminating a class of foods and non-food exposures, the SSHS was designed to measure exposure effects as each source of contamination was eliminated, thus offering a finer resolution to the data. In addition, parallel measurements of serum and urine concentrations as well as blood panel results were designed to offer deeper data as well as potential diagnostic direction.

Nutritional metrics

The initial confounding factor addressed by the investigators was a method to assure identical nutritional metrics in the food and beverages consumed. This was addressed with the advice of a small company which makes organic foods who volunteered to offer advice to make sure calories as well as fat, protein, carbohydrate, fiber and other significant elements could be maintained in the diet.

Accomplishing this required all of the meals for study participants to be pre-prepared to eliminate variations in serving size and ingredients that would have plagued home preparation. Those confounding factors have been cited as responsible for some of the unexplained and sometimes unexpected results in previous diet-replacement studies.

This action increased study costs and need for support personnel.

Given the near-identical selection of subjects and experimental methods in food selection and preparation between Rudel and  Sathyanarayana, SSHS investigators realized the need to measure the precise levels and concentration of BPA and phthalates consumed by test subjects.

This required quantitative data on  each meal including concentrations of studied chemicals in each meal that could be used to calculate total BPA and phthalate intake. At the same time, it was recognized that a quantitative nutritional analysis of each meal was needed that included micronutrients such as folate and other vitamins.

This action more than quadrupled the expense needed and the investigators created a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt corporation followed by crowdfunding campaign in an effort to raise money. For the greatly increased costs.

Significantly, shortly after the crowdfunding campaign was launch, further research by investigators revealed a confusing interaction between BPA and folates/folic acid.

Published studies indicated that BPA showed a significant epigenetic impact in mice which were folate-deficient. The studies also confirmed that dietary methyl contributors other than folates (soy products and genistein for example) exhibited the same effects.

It is unknown at this point whether BPA (which has 2 methyl groups) is acting as a methyl donor via one-carbon metabolism, or in its capacity as an estrogenic substance. Or both. Some research indicates that folates can exert estrogenic-like activities. Also unknown is whether BPA analogs such as common substitute BPS also interact with folates.

This resulted in greater attention to methyl contributors and a need to assure no soy or similar foods entered the test subjects’ diet regime.

Almost simultaneously with this, new published research indicated that BPA and phthalate exposures were endemic in the food chain and not substantially due to food contact materials.

This resulted in a major re-evaluation of how zero- or minimally-contaminated foods for the test subjects’ diet could be sourced.

Reproducibility requirements further complicate food sourcing

After three additional months of research and footwork, investigators confirmed that suitable foods and beverages could be obtained for the study. However, the resulting diet would be far more restrictive overall, with some entire categories of food eliminated from the trial.

On the one hand this would require food directly from producers who have agreed to allow inspection of their entire food production and processing operation from farm to test subject table.

Sourcing and preparing the necessary zero- or minimally-contaminated food would add additional costs and personnel time to the increase factors cited above.

While possible, strict — enhanced organic — food sourcing is currently impractical for the average consumer. In addition, study reproducibility would be impractical for other investigating teams which would need to utilize the same strict farm-to-table food sourcing from the same sources. That would further complicate efforts to duplicate nutritional micro-analysis and specific mean-level diet content.

Further, the strict farm-to-table sourcing requirements are too complicated and would be impossible for current large-scale agriculture and food distribution to consumers.

What’s needed is a recognition of the contamination (and its health consequences), and a will to improve. It’s important to remember that eating a diet of entirely organic-certified food was impossible for the average consumer 25 years ago.

SECTION IV:

CONCLUSIONS & POSSIBLE FUTURE DIRECTIONS

Bottom line:

This document suggests that:

  • All previous diet replacement studies are non-reproducible due to widespread contamination of the American food supply.
  • A publishable review paper should be written about the replication issues of diet replacement studies
  • The Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) protocol should be using a revised protocol with enhanced organic menu sourcing which should result in greater reductions of BPA and phthalate levels than Rudel.
  • A second study — which can readily be replicated — should be conducted to correlate BPA and phthalate concentrations to both urinary levels and to effects on a elements of a diagnostic blood panel.

Summary

A review of all of the published dietary efforts designed to reduce BPA and phthalates indicate that this type of study is inherently non-reproducible because of the widespread contamination of the American food supply by the subject chemicals.

What’s more, after two-and-a-half years of trying to reduce significant confounding factors that would affect replication, it is clear that the Stealth Syndromes Human Study as approved by CHR/UCSF would also not be reproducible except under the most intensive and expensive conditions: “enhanced organic”.

“Enhanced organic” includes obtaining each type of food from the same farms and/or original sources who have agreed to our specific, rigorous growing, harvesting, processing, and packaging procedures described in detail later in this document.

Significantly, the SSHS was designed to ascertain if measurable, diagnostic health effects in humans could be observed that were causally connected to dietary levels of the chemicals in question.

The current investigators of the Stealth Syndromes Human Study (SSHS) set out to avoid the non-reproducibility flaws of all previous diet intervention studies. That study also seeks to correlate accepted medical diagnostic tests with levels of the relevant chemicals.

In addressing the confounding factors — most of which have never been addressed in studies of this sort — investigators discovered that designing and conducting a study that could be replicated is possible but would be far more expensive and time-consuming than any previous study.

Accordingly, such a study — as was approved by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California San Francisco would not be feasible given existing financial and human resources.

Recommended as a replacement are two studies:

(1) A study involving 100 healthy blood bank donors who have consented to allow a small portion of their donation to be examined for BPA, phthalates and a select blood panel for comparison or correlation. Blood centers often participate in clinical studies as this published study — Genetic research in the blood bank: acceptability to Northern California donors and this web page from the New York Blood Center indicate.

Urine samples would also be obtained to establish ratios between serum and urine levels.

Such a study could offer the first direct human evidence for any possible health effects correlated with levels of BPA and phthalates.

All required IRB/CHR and subject protection precautions would be in place.

If valid relationships are established among BPA and phthalate levels with elements of the blood panel, the urine/serum ratio could be used to project health effects in the many studies using only urine concentrations. This would also apply to the NHANES data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control.

Because urine testing for BPA and phthalates is far less expensive than serum analysis, this would open up a vast new opportunity for direct health assessment studies.

This study would also accomplish the primary goal of the SSHS and eliminate the multitude of confounding factors that plagued the original study design.

It may also narrow the necessary choices of blood panel tests to those which show correlations with BPA and phthalate levels, if any.

(2) If statistically valid correlations are found in the blood bank study, that would provide a follow-up health assessment of our  three-day diet replacement study (based on Rudel) using directly sourced, farm-to-table methods with restrictions.

Based on the results, a recommended dietary reduction regime would be described which could be implemented by members of the general public.

The general public who wish to measure personal results and possible health effects can do so with the relatively inexpensive urine test provided by the by Silent Spring Institute.

Our three-day study would also use that test panel instead of the vastly more expensive serum analysis. This would also make it possible for us to enlarge the test cohort.