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Toxins in my veggie burger? No thanks.

As a vegetarian for over 20 years, I’m appalled to learn that vegetarian soy products and veggie burgers have been disguised as “natural” when in fact they are laced with a toxin called hexane according to a recent Cornucopia report.

What is hexane? It is a neurotoxin,  listed as a “hazardous air pollutant” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This report is full of disturbing information, including the lack of oversight by the FDA and EPA in these foods products.The long term effects of hexane have not yet been documented. According to the Cornucopia report, in conventional food processing, soybeans are immersed in what the industry calls a “hexane bath” before they are further processed into ingredients such as oil, soy protein isolate, or texturized soy protein (TVP). The soy protein ingredients in most nonorganic foods such as vegetarian burgers and nutrition bars are processed with the use of hexane. It is not used in organic food processing.

How do you know which products are hexane free? In general, organic tofu products do not have hexane. However, there are a few exceptions of organic soy products that do have hexane. Here is a comprehensive scorecard, and a short summary of conventional veggie burgers and soy meat like products:

Avoid these hexane-laced veggie burgers and soy products:

  • Amy’s Kitchen
  • Boca Burger, conventional
  • Franklin Farms
  • Garden Burger
  • It’s All Good Lightlife
  • Morningstar Farms
  • President’s Choice
  • Taste Above
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Yves Veggie Cuisine

Products that are hexane-free:

  • Boca Burgers “Made with organic soy”
  • Helen’s Kitchen
  • Morningstar “Made with organic”
  • Superburgers by Turtle Island
  • Tofurky
  • Wildwood

In a future blog post, we’ll evaluate energy bars and infant formula (unfortunately, infant food has hexane too). Ironically, the way I found out about this hexane problem was researching the best organic infant formula for my baby. Stay tuned.

2 comments

1 Nikki { 04.22.10 at 3:11 pm }

Scary! Thank you for sharing…

2 Jenn { 04.13.11 at 9:55 pm }

Thanks for your site and information listed. I’m on the hunt for good clean food in the Bay Area. One really has to be a sleuth to find good sources:) So, all the more info the better.
One question: doesn’t Amy’s have an organic veggie burger without hexane? I sure hope so; I was eating her Texas veggie burgers as a staple for years, and thought it was organic…
Thanks for your posts.

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