In 2005 Harry G Frankfurt released a tiny tome on the nature of truth and lies called, On Bullshit. This was a fascinating book in that it categorized speakers into three main categories; honest, dishonest, and bullshitters. The last category being a new classification for a new era of popularity of this disinterested in truth. Frankfurt argues that honest people are those who make statements they believe to be true, whether those statements happen to be true or not. He continues that dishonest people are the inverse, people who make statements they believe to be false, whether those statements happen to be true or not. His real contribution to understanding human communication was the additional category of the bullshit artist. This is a person who makes statements devoid of any interest in truth or not. They make statements that benefits themselves without regard to truthful intention.
While this may seem all very academic it is introduction to one of the most recent and most egregious examples of “the Bullshit Artist”, the blogger who calls herself the Food Babe. You may remember her from such horrible articles as The Shocking Ingredients In Beer that took social media by storm and was resoundedly shown to utter tripe in the conversation of ingredients of foods when it comes to beer. We took it upon ourselves to find an adequate response to her disingenuous, alarmist article to illustrate just how misleading it was.
I certainly don’t think that the Food Babe spent the time to adequately research her article that hyped that beer brewers were sneaking in secret ingredients like genetically modified corn and corn syrup or that they use food coloring, or use animal clarifying agents. All facts that do not affect the health of drinkers and more importantly * have been known to anyone educated about the brewing process* for decades, if not centuries.
“Ingredient labeling on food products and non-alcoholic beverages is required by the Food and Drug Administration. But a whole other federal agency regulates beer, and not very well. The Department of Treasury – the same folks who collect your taxes – oversees alcoholic beverages. That probably explains why we know more about what’s in a can of Coke than a can of Bud. You can also thank the alcohol industry, which has lobbied for years against efforts to require ingredient labeling.”
I figured if the beer companies aren’t required to tell us the exact list of ingredients, I needed to investigate this for myself and asked them the pointed questions until I got the truth.
This is before listing MSG and Propylene Glycol claiming the former is addictive and the latter is an ingredient found in antifreeze! Quick give up all your beers and switch to wine.
It is pretty obvious that while she did get her facts from the
Center of Science and Public Interest a known Prohibitionist organization who just had a list of things brewers are legally allowed to add to beers but did not illustrate if those ingredients were used.
What I do want to point out is that the Food Babe lied in the article that she wrote for her site. I contend that whether her “facts” were accurate was of secondary concern. What mattered was that she had a catchy headline that would drive traffic taking an American staple of sporting events, BBQs, and general socialization and claiming that this beverage was secretly full of harmful ingredients and toxins that the evil corporations were injecting into these beverages without you knowing.
It was the perfect link bait for the health food nut and conspiracy crazy and it did exactly what it was designed to do. It flew around the world in 80 links and scared a ton of people thinking their beer was slowly killing them.
To no one’s surprise she is at it again attempting to makes waves by tackling the “mystery ingredients in beer” complete with an open petition to Anheuser-Busch, Miller Coors, and Sam Adams to list all of their ingredients. Incredulously she got 40,000 well-meaning people to sign onto her petition on demand information that is already public. in 2012, Anheuser-Busch created the website tapintoyourbeer.com that lists nutritional facts for every one of its products. This includes ABV, Fat, calories (cleverly renamed to ‘energy’), carbs, protein, and even ingredients.
She is overwhelmingly stupid about all of this. She must know that the brewing process is complex but has gone on since the dawn of time. That modern, industrial brewing uses chemicals that do not end up in the final product but instead wants to galvanize her army to demand answers that are already common knowledge. These “chemicals” are also used in the making of wine, her alcohol of choice yet there is no similar campaign demanding vineyards to list their ingredients.
It is like demanding that a restaurant list the ingredients of the dish soap they use when washing their dishes or cleaning their kitchen. Sure, the cleaning chemicals can be some really toxic and noxious shit but that doesn’t mean your food is tainted with it. The cleaning chemicals are removed from eating and cooking surfaces, that is their point!
Incredibly AB and MillerCoors have responded to her crank demands. AB replied
We provide significant information about our beer and their nutritional content through both our consumer hotline (1-800-DIAL-BUD) and our global consumer-information website www.tapintoyourbeer.com, which we have expanded over the years. This exceeds what is required of alcohol producers and is beyond what many other beer, wine and hard liquor producers provide. However, as American consumer needs evolve, we want to meet their expectations. Therefore, we are working to list our beer ingredients on our website, just as you would see for other food and non-alcohol beverage producers. We are beginning immediately, having incorporated this information earlier today on www.tapintoyourbeer.com for our flagship brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, and will be listing this for our other brands in the coming days.
And the Food Babe claimed victory and moved onto her next target. She triumphed against the evil scourge of industrial brewing by demanding they release information that has been public for nearly two years. Next I’ll demand that Peter Jackson release the final installment of the Hobbit by year’s end and claim victory over the movie studio when I pay $16.00 to view it this December. Together we did it team. We got him to release the thing he was already planning to release. Go us!
I don’t want to harp on someone who isn’t really effecting beer sales or beer brewing in any way. In the grand scheme of things the Food Babe is a minor annoyance that shows that people are more willing to believe whatever best fits their view of the world rather than attempt to analyse new information and alter their world view when fact contradicts their narrative they have come to depend on. Then there are those who are content to flood popular media channels with the Frankfurt definition of Bullshit that fits that narrative. And they profit handsomely for producing that level of Bullshit.
I will leave you with this final example. The Food Babe lists that glycol is a toxic ingredient in beer. Glycol is a cooling agent used by larger breweries when needing to cool the beer after the boil. The glycol never touches the beer. While it is used in the process of helping make beer it is not an ingredient of the beer at any stage of brewing. The Food Babe listing this as an ingredient would be similar to her listing electricity as an ingredient.
This is a regulated market. The TTB requires that brewers submit a list of ingredients for each new beer they create. This list of ingredients is then checked against the list of improved ingredients for safety.
Most brewers will happily list their ingredient because when it comes to beer there are so few. They will list water, a collection of grains and hops, and their yeast. Perhaps an adjunct or two for flavor of cost saving. It isn’t a mystery. Brewers aren’t trying to sneak anything past anyone. The brewers that I’ve met and talked with are usually thrilled to talk about the high quality grains or hops they use and are more than willing to show you the brewing process.
The idea that even the largest brewers are using dangerous chemicals that may kill their customers is nothing short of Bullshit!
I should point out that the “Food Babe” has censored comments at her Facebook page. While filtering out offensive or spiteful replies from beer over-enthusiasts isn’t a surprise she has even gone to the extreme of censoring comments that just disagreed with her methodology or conclusions. Writer of the Science Corner was blocked when “[pointing] out her inconsistencies and lack of fact checking. As a scientist I reference my comments with actual facts taken from peer-reviewed scientific journals.”
Source: Brookston Beer Bulletin