Over the past several months, different news sources have been reporting on food products that claim to be 100% natural, but have many manufactured additives. Several of our patients have asked us about the products mentioned, so we decided to investigate.
After a review of a few of the additives, we have become very interested in the use of Propylene Glycol in consumer goods and food products. The FDA has classified this additive as generally safe, but we are increasingly suspect based on the growing number of our patients reporting symptoms related to kidney and blood pressure.
What is Propylene Glycol?
Propylene glycol is a synthetic food additive that belongs to the same chemical group as alcohol. It is commonly used to maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, fragrances, hair care products, cleansers, or food products. Beyond food, the substance is used to make polyester compounds, deicing solutions, and antifreeze. The widespread use of this synthetic compound in food and industrial liquids is concerning.
How Toxic is It?
Upon review we found studies that link Propylene Glycol to heart attacks, neurological issues, and kidney/liver failure. Most of these cases were only seen when someone was
exposed to the substance in high quantities. However, with Propylene Glycol commonly used in flavored water, hair care products, and common food - it would be easy to be exposed to large doses without knowing.
Propylene glycol is primarily metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase in liver into lactic acid. If exposed to large amounts, the body cannot naturally remove the acid fast enough and it begins to build in the blood. This leads to severe lactic acidosis and potential renal failure. This can be dangerous for a healthy individual, but if you have minimal kidney or liver issues, this will significantly increase your risk of negative outcomes.
What Foods and Products Contain It?
Unfortunately, there are quite a number of products that contain Propylene Glycol. We have created a list of items below, but this is by no means exhaustive. Make sure to always look at the labels of the products you use and be smart on the decisions you make. Unfortunately, it is not required to list the use of Propylene Glycol. It is often found in "natural flavors" and preservatives.
Here are a few of the items we have found that contain Propylene Glycol:
· Hint Fruit Infused Water
· Dunkin Donuts Flavored Iced Tea
· Blue Bunny Ice Cream Cones
· Cold Stone Creamery,17 of their flavors
· Betty Crocker Cake mix and Frosting
· Duncan Hines Cake Mix
· McCormick’s Assorted Food Dyes
· Kraft Greek Vinaigrette Dressing·
· Entenmann’s Baked Goods – Many items
It can also be found in liquids used for vaping and cosmetics.
What Does This Mean for Me?
Although the FDA considers Propylene Glycol “generally safe,” in large doses it can cause several issues. These include skin irritation, respiratory issues, kidney failure, heart attack, and even neurological issues.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, and do not know the cause, research the products that you use and eat daily. See your physician and discuss the potential that they are coming from over exposure to the chemical and follow their recommendations.