Study Finds Unsafe Dioxin Levels In Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - A new study published Monday in says unsafe levels of dioxin have been measured in a sample of Ben and Jerry's brand ice cream.

The study said that, according to Ben and Jerry's and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, the level of dioxin measure could cause about 200 "extra" cancers among lifetime consumers of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

Ben and Jerry's promotional literature, according to the study, states, "Dioxin is known to cause cancer, genetic and reproductive defects and learning disabilities. The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all." Junkscience said dioxin is a by-product of industrial processes and may also be created naturally through combustion of plant materials.

"The level of dioxin in a single serving of the Ben and Jerry's World's Best Vanilla Ice Cream tested was almost 200 times greater than the virtually safe (daily) dose, determined by the EPA," according to the study's lead author, Michael Gough.

Gough also said, "An independent laboratory measured 0.79 plus or minus 0.38 parts per trillion of dioxin in the sample of ice cream. Our result has measurement error associated with it and the sample may or may not be representative of all Ben and Jerry's ice cream, but our result is consistent with current scientific literature."

The study also found that existing scientific evidence does not credibly link low levels of dioxin exposure with human health effects.

"But not everyone agrees," said study co-author and editor of editor Steven Milloy, "Ben and Jerry's and Greenpeace, the company's source for information on dioxin, have concluded that dioxin is not safe at any level."

"If dioxin is so dangerous, perhaps Ben and Jerry's should remove its ice cream from the market until it's 'safe', consistent with the company's promotional literature," according to Milloy.

Milloy said, "Many children enjoy Ben and Jerry's ice cream but by the company's own standards, its ice cream is not safe. Are they choosing corporate profits over children's health? Maybe an appropriate new flavor would be 'tasty toxics' or 'world's best hypocrisy'."

Chrystie Heimert, a spokesperson for Ben and Jerry's told "There's no denying the fact that there's no food group that's safe from the emissions of dioxin. Everything that we put in our mouths has dioxin in it because the dioxin's made its into the food chain through air, through water, through soil.'

Heimert added, "We can't control as a company all the sources of dioxin. But we have taken some small steps to impact where we can and for us that would be our packaging."

"We've converted our pint packaging to unbleached paperboard, that's packaging that's not bleached white with chlorine bleach, that's the small impact we can make," Heimert said.

Heimert denied the company is being hypocritical by taking a stand on dioxin and then finding it in its product. "There's no way to avoid dioxin in products, in any dairy product. There's no food group that safe from the emission s of dioxin. We can't eat without ingesting dioxins. Unfortunately, there's dioxin in all dairy, " Heimert said.