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Dirty Little Secret in the Natural Foods Industry: Toxic Chemical Use

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Since 2009, when research by The Cornucopia Institute exposed "the dirty little secret" of the soyfoods industry, vocal concern from consumers over the use of the toxic solvent hexane has led several prominent food companies to switch to cleaner soy ingredients in their veggie burgers and nutrition bars.

The Cornucopia Institute has now released a new report to assist consumers and wholesale buyers in identifying brands that use hexane-extracted soy protein ingredients from those that have committed to cleaner sources. Toxic Chemicals: Banned In Organics But Common in Natural Food Production also contains an online guide for buyers who want hexane-free soy foods (viewable at http://www.cornucopia.org/2010/11/hexane-soy/).

"Many soy foods, thought of as 'healthy options' on grocery store shelves, contain ingredients that were processed with a neurotoxic and highly-polluting petrochemical compound called hexane," said Charlotte Vallaeys, Farm and Food Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based non-profit farm policy research group. "We are pleased to see that several industry leaders have responded to consumer concerns by switching to ingredients produced without the dangerous chemical."

To process common soy ingredients, such as soy protein isolate and soy protein concentrate, manufacturers immerse whole soybeans in a bath of synthetic, petroleum-based solvents. Hexane is classified as a neurotoxin by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a hazardous air pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency. 


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