So I just saw a report talking about how hexane is used in soy protein isolate production – it separates the fats from the protein, apparently, and is then steamed out of the final food product. This concerns me because I eat quite a bit of the stuff. The report and video struck me as alarmist, but I think I lack the science background to fully understand what’s going on. Wanna help fight my ignorance?
I can’t seem to access the original report (by the Cornucopia Institute), but this Slate article gives a good bit of background.
This is what I believe is true: Hexane IS used in the process, most of it is steamed out (leaving up to 20-ish parts per million in the final product), and what little remains has shown no noticeable effect in lab rats over their lifespans. On the other hand, the long-term effect on human health at that dosage has not been established; the EPA is basically taking a we-don’t-know-so-we’ll-assume-it’s-safe approach.
- Does that seem about right or am I missing something?
- Does soy protein isolate/textured vegetable protein/textured soy protein (damned if I know what the differences are) necessarily go through this hexane-laden process?
- Who is the Cornucopia Institute? Should I have heard of them? Their website doesn’t seem to be working for me and they seem to have come out of nowhere to focus on this issue.
- How is the international community responding to this? Does anyone care?
- Can hexane be included in organic foods? (I THINK it can’t be in 100% organic food, but CAN be AN ingredient in less-than-100% organic products). Clif Bar is one example of this and their back-and-forth with the Cornucopia Institute doesn’t really clarify the situation much.