skinnygirl faux pas

Created by ex-Real Housewife of NYC and food and diet guru Bethenny Frankel, the Skinnygirl Margarita is made of “natural” ingredients such as Blue Agave clear tequila and sweetened with agave nectar. Sounds yummy. But what Bethenny fails to mention is that her so-called, “natural” ingredients also contain sodium benzoate, a potentially carcinogenic preservative. The label doesn’t list it either. Oops. Needless to say, Whole Foods decided to pull all of the Skinnygirl products from their shelves. The natural food store, “prides itself in selling the best quality whole products that our high-end consumers expect. Not novelty products that are shaded with secrecy,” says a rep.

Whole Foods issued this statement about Skinnygirl:

This product had been offered in 16 of Whole Foods Market’s 310 stores. After discovering that it contains a preservative that does not meet our quality standards, we have had to stop selling it.”

Bethenny Frankel’s response:

I’m not making wheatgrass here. If I could put an agave plant and some limes on a shelf I would. [The Skinnygirl Margarita] is as close to nature as possible, while still being a shelf stable product.”

And she continues:

“With all due respect to Whole Foods, we were in a dozen of their stores and have decided not to continue in these stores. They represent an infinitesimal fraction of our business. We are, in fact, the fastest growing spirits brand in the US.”

“We were bound to piss someone off and everyone loves to try to tear down a success. This is a non-event. I haven’t lost even a wink of sleep.”

It’s pretty great to know that Bethenny Frankel markets her product as “all natural,” yet could care less to uphold that standard. I mean, why should she care? She’s only worth like a gazillion dollars. Sigh.

Anyhow, she isn’t even the problem. The problem is the preservative, sodium benzoate. It is a widely used and very common preservative in our foods. Besides being in Skinnygirl Margaritas, it’s also used in salad dressings, carbonated drinks, jams, fruit juices, pickles, condiments, medicines, and cosmetics. Read a label and you most likely find it listed.

By itself, sodium benzoate is pretty harmless. You would have to consume a huge amount of it in order to reach toxic levels in your body. The FDA says it’s safe because the amounts used to preserve foods are very low. However, there have been plenty of health concerns regarding the combination of sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (or vitamin C). When the two are mixed, they form benzene, a known carcinogen: meaning cancer causing agent. DO NOT mix sodium benzoate and vitamin C! You got that?

From Natural News, regarding avoiding benzene:

This should be easy. Never, ever mix vitamin C with pickles, peppers, salad dressings, jams, most condiments, vinegar, fruit juices, salsas, dips, shredded cheese, ketchup, or diet or regular soda. Don’t forget about mouthwash, toothpaste, cough syrup, NSAIDS, creams, lotions, and hundreds of cosmetic products.”

OK ladies, this shouldn’t be too hard. When eating salsa and chips, do not consume soda. If your child has a Saltine cracker, do not give him juice to wash it down. UGH! Utterly ridiculous.

Obviously, the best bet is to read your labels, educate yourself on whole foods, and buy organic. Oh and…

…make your own margaritas.

1 1/2 oz tequila
1/2 oz premium triple sec (preferably Cointreau)
1 oz lime juice

Rum the rim of a cocktail glass with lime juice, and dip in salt. Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into the glass, and enjoy.

have. a. great. night.

dr. lisa