What child does not enjoy a brightly colored birthday cake on their special day? Mine certainly did, however, despite the fact that millions are sold every day, a store-bought birthday cake is one of most toxic treats that you can give a child.
After being alerted to the dangers, I decided to investigate to see what I could find out about this birthday tradition.
First, a Little History
Early birthday cakes were made of flour, yeast, nuts and honey and were eaten at weddings and at special birthdays in Ancient Rome. In Germany during the 15th century, bakers began to promote cakes with one layer to their customers to celebrate their birthdays. It wasn’t until the 17th century that cakes began to have multiple layers and bakers began to decorate them with icing and decorations for the aristocracy.
Over the years, as cakes became far easier to bake, the tradition of birthday cakes became more popular, and by the 19th century, bakers had begun to add the words “Happy Birthday” to the top of their cakes for decoration.
How Did this Humble Tradition Turn Toxic?
It is estimated that children’s birthday parties cost parents more than £19,000 over a lifetime, and with every birthday party comes a cake. Manufacturers picked up on this fact and to enable their cakes to appeal to both parents and children alike, cakes became more and more colorful and elaborate. Sadly, this comes with a downside, as manufacturers found they had to add artificial colorants, preservatives and additives to their products to preserve them. This has meant that far from being the tasty treat that they once were, today’s birthday cakes are full of toxic ingredients.
In fact, supermarket birthday cakes are becoming so toxic that, according to the website 100 Days of Real Food, many of the cakes that were investigated by organic living expert Vani Hari contained over 80 ingredients.
Ms. Hari wrote that:
“When you look into these three different cakes from three very different places – a regular grocery store vs. a huge wholesaler warehouse store vs. a specialty market – you don’t see much difference in the ingredients. They all resemble one big science experiment …”
To prove this was true, Ms. Hari provided photos of many of the labels that she had discovered during her investigations and concluded that:
“You make a decision to vote with your dollars’ every time you take out your wallet, whether you realize it or not. With the right information and enough conscious decision making about what we eat and how we spend our money, together we can make a change. They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too – but why not?”
Sadly, many parents are completely unaware that by buying toxic products, they are putting their children’s lives at risk.
The Dangerous Ingredients Used to Manufacture Birthday Cakes
To discover more about the dangerous ingredients hidden within our birthday cakes, I decided to investigate, and what I discovered is truly shocking.
According to the website Chi Machine International, many of the ingredients used in birthday cakes contain aluminum. In fact, they stated that aluminum can be found in all of the following food products:
Aluminum is added as an emulsifying agent in many processed cheeses, especially those which are single sliced. It is found in cake mixes, self-rising flour, prepared doughs, waffles, nondairy creamers, pickles and in some brands of baking powder.
Additives: The following additives contain aluminum compounds – E173, E520, E521, E523 E541, E545, E554, E555 E556, E559, bauxite (Aluminum dioxide)
Baking powder: Some brands contain aluminum.
Cake mixes can contain various forms of aluminum.
Cheese: Especially single sliced processed cheese which can contain aluminum as an emulsifier.
Chocolate Mixes: Highly absorbable aluminum maltol is used in instant chocolate mixes.
Coffee Whiteners: Like Coffee-mate – Sodium Aluminosilicate.
Doughs: Some ready-made doughs can contain it.
Flour: Self-rising flour may contain aluminum.
Pickles can contain aluminum.”
Despite its versatility, aluminum has become one of most negatively talked about products used today. In recent months, scientists have linked its use to autism, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, memory problems, speech impairments and aphasia, dementia, depression, muscle weakness, motor disturbances, and other neurological difficulties. See information by Dr. Mercola, Professor Christopher Shaw, Dr. Lucija Tomlejenovic and Professor Christopher Exley for details.
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One of the professionals exposing the dangers of aluminum is Dr. Mercola, who became so worried about the effects of aluminum that in March 2014, he wrote the article titled First Case Study to Show Direct Link Between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity.
After listing the foods containing aluminum, which once again included self-rising flour, baking powder and food colorants, he wrote:
“Aluminum is to your central nervous system as cigarette smoke is to your lungs. Scientists are clear that toxic metals damage brain tissue and lead to degenerative disease by producing oxidative stress—and aluminum is one of the worst offenders. With Alzheimer’s rates skyrocketing, today’s multiple avenues of aluminum exposure are of great concern. Just as with particles in the environment, once aluminum is in your tissues, your body has a difficult time releasing it. This toxic metal serves absolutely no biological purpose, so the less of it you ingest, the better.
Once in your body, it travels around easily, unimpeded, piggybacking on your iron transport system. It crosses biological barriers that normally keep other types of toxins out, such as your blood-brain barrier. Over time, aluminum can accumulate in your brain and do serious damage your neurological health—regardless of your age. Aluminum toxicity may be doing as much damage to our children as to our seniors.”
One Company Has Tackled the Problem of Aluminum Head-On
Known as a toxic metal, aluminum can enter the human body through our diet, tap water, cosmetics, medication, baby products and a growing number of vaccinations. Professor Christopher Exley, a scientist from Keele University, believes that we are under attack from this toxic metal and that this attack is causing us to become sick.
Professor Exley, who has been studying the dangers of aluminum for over 30 years, recently stated that:
“Living as we do in the ‘aluminium age,’ are we at risk of succumbing to an insidious attack on our health and mental faculties from a common substance that is invading our bodies by stealth? The ubiquitous substance in question is ALUMINIUM, which just happens to be the most abundant metal on the Earth’s crust.”
If he is correct, then this information is extremely worrying. During a recent presentation in London, he stated that there is currently no regulation on the amount of aluminum being added to our products. For this reason, we must reduce our body burden of aluminum in any way that we can.
Professor Exley has proven that by drinking a silicon-rich mineral water every day, we can remove the aluminum from the body.
Natural, silicon-rich mineral water differs significantly from many other alternative bottled waters, as it naturally contains more silicon in the soluble form (known as silica acid) than most. This is because silica is naturally occurring and not synthetically produced. What is even more interesting is the fact that silica acid is the only form of silicon that humans can effectively digest and absorb into the body’s system.
Whilst supermarkets now stock a wide range of bottled waters, only a few of them contain silica; the majority do not. Of the brands that do contain silica, only three of them can truly be classified as silicon-rich. This is because to be classified as silicon-rich they need to contain 30ppm of silica or above.
Up until recently, there have only been three main‘silicon-rich mineral waters’ available: Spritzer, Volvic and Fiji. However, this situation has now changed. On January 24, 2017, the Malaysian company Spritzer launched Acilis, a new silicon-rich mineral water to be sold in the UK. The launch of their new water, branded as Acilis for marketing reasons, took place in London and was hosted by Dr. Chuah Chaw Teo, Executive Director at Spritzer; Professor Christopher Exley, from Keele University; and Rex Garratt, Spritzer’s UK distributor and founder of SilicaWaters.com.
In the short time that Acilis by Spritzer has been available, the company has gone from strength to strength. During their research, they were shocked to discover that whilst the UK government had completely removed the tax from cakes, they had maintained a staggering 20% tax on bottled water.
Mr. Rex Garratt, the founder of Silicawaters.com, wrote that:
“In the current health crack down on sugary drinks in the fight against obesity, what is the sense of VAT at 20% on bottled water while conceding 0% VAT on cake?
“Silicawaters.com want VAT on bottled water zero rated in line with other EU countries like France which levies a rate of 5%.”
“The reason HMRC gives for imposing 20% VAT on bottled water is that it is a non-essential item, seeing as tap water in the UK is VAT free. While cake of course is essential eating!
But in the health war on obesity and the forthcoming sugar tax on drinks, might it not be an incentive for parents, instead of a pricey bottle of pop, to send their children out with a trendy bottle of water, sensibly lowered in price by a fifth for healthy living?”
Disgusted by their findings and being a proactive company, Silicawaters.com decided to do something about this issue and recently set up a petition to promote change.
For parents wishing to have more detailed information about the dangers of aluminum, we recommend that they read information listed on the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute website.
The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners
Many of the birthday cakes manufactured today include artificial sweeteners as one of their ingredients. However, far from being a safe alternative to sugar, studies have found that continual use of artificial sweeteners can lead to many serious complications, including diabetes, cancer and obesity.
What is even more shocking is the fact that many of the sweeteners used today have been genetically modified; these include sucralose, aspartame, neotame and erythritol, which are made from corn, soy, or sugar beets. Emily Main, author for Rodale’s Organic Life, explained that:
“Satisfy your sweet tooth without calories? Artificial sweeteners give you all the benefits of sugar without the gut-busting consequences. It’s the perfect win-win.
Except when it’s not. Artificial sweeteners have been shrouded in controversy ever since saccharin, the first no-cal sweetener, was discovered in 1878. Even then, public health advocates questioned whether these lab-created sweeteners were truly safe; saccharin, after all, was discovered by a chemist working with coal tar, a carcinogenic material.”
Under a series of headings, she listed a number of potential hazards and concluded that:
“As if the preceding six reasons weren’t enough to turn you off artificial sweeteners for good, here’s one more: They’re yet another source of genetically modified crops in your food. Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, neotame, and erythritol can all be made from corn, soy, or sugar beets. In the United States, the vast majority of those three crops have been genetically altered to resist or produce harmful pesticides.”
Many of these sweeteners were included on the labels provided by Vani Hari when she investigated supermarket birthday cakes.
For further information on the subject of artificial sweeteners, read the Mission Possible World Health International website, and the work of Dr. Betty Martini.
What is Propylene Glycol?
Another ingredient that is hidden in many birthday cakes is propylene glycol, a synthetic substance that absorbs water, listed as a toxic substance by ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry). They stated that:
“Propylene glycol is also used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for de-icing solutions. Propylene glycol is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with food.”
If this is not frightening enough, this substance can also be found in brake fluid, acrylic paints, tile grout, primer, shoe polish, antifreeze, floor polish, tire sealant and sealant paste. See information by Vani Hari for details.
Taking these facts into consideration, not many parents would associate this product with children’s birthday cakes. Parents need ask themselves why this chemical is believed to be safe by the manufacturers. Well, it could be because the FDA has approved this product for use in food. They stated:
“The food additive propylene glycol alginate (CAS Reg. No. 9005-37-2) may be used as an emulsifier, flavoring adjuvant, formulation aid, stabilizer, surfactant, or thickener in foods.”
This is extremely interesting, because on further research, I came across a public health statement that stated:
“This statement was prepared to give you information about propylene glycol and to emphasize the human health effects that may result from exposure to it. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified 1,416 hazardous waste sites as the most serious in the nation. These sites make up the National Priorities List (NPL) and are the sites targeted for long-term federal clean-up activities. Propylene glycol has been identified in at least 5 of the 1,416 NPL sites.”
The statement continued:
“Propylene glycol can enter your bloodstream if you breathe air containing mists or vapors from either compound. It can also enter your bloodstream through your skin if you come in direct contact with it and do not wash it off. If you eat products that contain propylene glycol, it may enter your bloodstream. Exposure of the general population to propylene glycol is likely since many foods, drugs, and cosmetics contain it.
Propylene glycol breaks down in the body in about 48 hours. However, studies of people and animals show that if you have repeated eye, skin, nasal, or oral exposures to propylene glycol for a short time, you may develop some irritation.”
All very scary, I am sure the majority of parents would agree.
The Dangers of Hydrogenated Oils
The final ingredient that I investigated was hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oil is used in products such as cakes, pastries and pies to increase its shelf life. According to the website Healthline, hydrogenation is a process in which a liquid unsaturated fat is turned into a solid fat by adding hydrogen. During this processing, a type of fat called trans-fat is made. While small amounts of trans fats are found naturally in some foods, the majority of trans fats in the diet come from these processed, hydrogenated fats.
The Mayo Clinic stated that:
“Some meat and dairy products contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans-fat. But most trans-fat is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature.
This partially hydrogenated oil is less likely to spoil, so foods made with it have a longer shelf life. Some restaurants use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in their deep fryers, because it doesn’t’t have to be changed as often as do other oils.”
Despite the fact that this product is included as an ingredient in many of the foods that we consume on a daily basis, many professionals believe that it increases the risk of heart disease because it lowers the good cholesterol and heightens the bad.
Foods known to contain hydrogenated oil, listed by the Mayo Clinic are:
“Baked goods. Most cakes, cookies, pie crusts and crackers contain shortening, which is usually made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Ready-made frosting is another source of trans fat.
Snacks. Potato, corn and tortilla chips often contain trans-fat. And while popcorn can be a healthy snack, many types of packaged or microwave popcorn use trans-fat to help cook or flavor the popcorn.
Fried food. Foods that require deep frying — french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken — can contain trans-fat from the oil used in the cooking process.
Refrigerator dough. Products such as canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls often contain trans-fat, as do frozen pizza crusts.
Creamer and margarine. Non-dairy coffee creamer and stick margarines also may contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.”
If you read this list carefully, many of these foods are being given to children by their parents on a regular basis and would especially be given to children at their birthday parties.
The Mayo Clinic concluded that:
“Reading food labels
In the United States if a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat in a serving, the food label can read 0 grams trans-fat. This hidden trans-fat can add up quickly, especially if you eat several servings of multiple foods containing less than 0.5 grams a serving.
When you check the food label for trans-fat, also check the food’s ingredient list for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil — which indicates that the food contains some trans-fat, even if the amount is below 0.5 grams.”
Parents need to check all of the ingredients included on food packaging, to make sure that they do not overdose children with trans-fat, as too much of this substance can be extremely detrimental to their health.
Birthday cakes have unfortunately become an acceptable part of the birthday tradition. However, as I have discovered during my investigation, they have become increasingly toxic over the years.
If parents do want to celebrate their child’s special day with the birthday cake tradition, then we, at greenmedinfo.com, suggest that they bake their child’s cake using, healthy, nutritious ingredients. One excellent website to get ideas from is a website called This Rawsome Vegan Life, where the author, who calls herself Em, has listed a wide range of cakes and treats that are delicious enough to tempt even the fussiest of children.
*Article originally appeared at Green Med Info.