Yum! Propylene Glycol in my Ice Cream...

wide angle view of multiple different ice cream flavors, separated scoops of ice cream in bowls

I consider myself a connoisseur of ice cream. One of my favorite treats. The fact that I tend to be a little lactose intolerant has never stopped me from accepting an invitation. In fact, I can turn down almost any dessert, but ice cream remains victorious in every case. Well… until yesterday. Of all treats I generally expected ice cream to be less tampered with. I mean really…. how hard is this; milk, cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla. Can you imagine my surprise when I read the back of an admittedly “less expensive” ice cream and saw Propylene Glycol listed as an ingredient.

My first thought was, why would they put antifreeze in a frozen dessert. Well as it turns out, antifreeze makes sense if you want a nice soft texture, without ice crystals. It might surprise you that many ice creams seem to now contain more chemicals than food.

So what is the deal with Propylene Glycol anyway? Propylene Glycol is one of the most common chemical additives you will find. It has become very popular and very controversial. Proponents say, “well at least it’s not as bad as ethylene glycol, …that was REALLY bad stuff”. Since when is not being as bad as something else, mean it is okay. My kids try to use this logic. “Why did you color on the wall?” “…well… Oliver colored all over his bed, AND the wall.” I certainly don’t expect this from adults.

Ethylene Glycol is the antifreeze we all associated with killing animals. It was sweet to the taste and very toxic. Propylene Glycol quickly replaced its popularity because it wasn’t AS toxic (still kills rabbits though). (MSDS for Propylene Glycol) Ethylene Glycol can kill you. However, Propylene Glycol must be safe because is only toxic to the central nervous system, irritating to the skin, does “fun” things like heart arrhythmia’s and cardiac arrest, seizures, and destruction of your white blood cells. On a popular website apologizing for the use of this product. They tell us not to over react, that the data on the MSDS is only relative to exposure of it in a concentrated form. That it is considered safe in the quantities utilized. I wonder what would happen if someone spilled a large concentration of pure H2O on me? Would it be dangerous to my nervous system? How about spilling a whole bunch of spinach? Or maybe watermelon juice. They mention Essential Oils have scary MSDS sheets too. I agree, an essential oil manufactured in a factory is dangerous, but completely different if produced by nature.

How could we possibly give up all those propylene glycol benefits? Such as, carrying things like cosmetics into our skin (It makes them more absorb-able, including itself) or keeping other chemicals neatly suspended in liquids. It has been mentioned that it is broken down into lactic acid, a safe natural substance your body makes. Although lactic acid is made by your muscles, it is a painful by-product of muscle contraction. It makes your muscles sore and you feel sick. Your body is constantly trying to get rid of it. We don’t need more lactic acid. But here is the real question. Since when is anything broken down to just one thing? Did you know that is also broken down to propionaldehyde, classified as toxic to humans?

We are told that propylene glycol is safe in the small quantities used, it is simply a question of how much. I AGREE! Almost in the same breath they brag about how it is in EVERYTHING! Let’s think about this. Is there any real difference between one large exposure and a constant low grade never ending assault? Its safety is somehow validated by the fact it is in your hair care products, toothpaste, makeup, ice cream, sodas, and a whole host of processed foods (you probably shouldn’t be eating anyway) and to top it all off, many manufacturers don’t even have to list it on the ingredients.

This type logic is the most frustrating for me. Why do we believe that just because it is prevalent, that is safe? Look at our national health statistics. Is cancer prevalent? Is heart disease prevalent? Is diabetes prevalent? Are auto-immunities prevalent? Are neurotoxic disorders prevalent? Is general toxicity prevalent? ARE ANY OF THESE becoming less prevalent?

With all the controversy “is it safe? is it not safe?”, I am a simple guy. Maybe we should just ask “is it food?”!!!!!

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