Today's Rant

1. Borax is toxic--is it safe for laundry? Borax is an ingredient in skin creams. (sodium borate) According to the material data safety sheet, it is toxic/fatal if ingested. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and absorbs much of what is on it. If borax is dissolved in hot water, and well-diluted, it may be safer than laundry detergents, which have more potent chemicals. However, check your skin care product labels--if sodium borate (borax) is on the label, discard it!

2. Flawed studies! A study by the University of Alberta says that for children who eat fast food more than twice a week, the beneficial effects of being breastfed as an infant are reversed, and the incidence of asthma is increased. The news report did not mention whether the study took into account other socio-economic factors that might be involved, such as hectic lifestyle, or a general lack of healthy practices such as nutrition and exercise.

We're feeding our babies....what????

Some babies get this at every meal:

Potassium hydroxide; also used topically to prevent the growth of horns in calves
Calcium carbonate; the common name is chalk
Calcium hydroxide; the common name is lye
Calcium chloride; the hardware store sells this under the label "Moisture Magnet"
"You are what you eat."
If you are within the 40% of mothers who give their babies formula, he or she is getting some or all of these ingredients!! Check your own infant formula can for the ingredient list. We didn't include all the formulas and their variations (powder, ready to use, concentrate) so just because the one you are using isn't on our list does not mean that ingredient isn't in it. Quotes are from the "Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives", also from "Food Additives, A Shopper's Guide" and "Hard to Swallow, The Truth about Food Additives". Also Earl Mindells books, "Safe Eating" and "Vitamin Bible".
My daughter had an interesting observation as I was writing this article--she pointed out the ingredient definitions that included "death" as a side effect, and said that perhaps that was why formula-fed babies have a higher risk of "crib death". (The risk is 3.7 to 5 times greater, according to scientific studies.)Also see other articles on formula contents throughout the catalogue--for example, the affect of free glutamic acid (MSG) and free aspartic acid, which are neurotoxins.Potassium Hydroxide:
The Dictionary of Food Additives says: "Occasionally used to prevent the growth of horns in calves. It may cause irritation of the skin in cuticle removers. Extremely corrosive, and ingestion may cause violent pain, bleeding, collapse, and death. When applied to the skin of mice, moderate dosages cause tumors. May cause skin rash and burning. Concentrations above 5% can destroy fingernails as well. The FDA banned household products containing more than 10% potassium hydroxide."
The booklet Food Additives says: "May cause mouth ulcers, gastrointestinal upset."
The book Hard to Swallow says: "When taken internally it has been known to produce severe pain in the throat, hemorrhaging and collapse, possibly leading to stricture of the esophagus. The FDA has restricted the amount of potassium hydroxide to less than 10% in household products while at the same time deeming it GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) for use in food. In spite of the dangers, the Canadian government has given the food industry complete discretion over the levels of potassium hydroxide it puts in food as most of the above-mentioned products are governed by the Good Manufacturing Practice regulation, most notably infant formula. This is irresponsible and unconsionable--particularly where infant formula is concerned."According to the label, potassium hydroxide is the 13th ingredient on the list for SMA powder infant formula. There are 37 ingredients, and it is standard procedure for the largest quantities to be listed first. Most of the liquid formulas, both ready to use and concentrate, state "May contain potassium hydroxide" on the label." Similac Advance, Similac LF, Enfalac, ProSobee, and Isomil all have that statement.
Calcium Hydroxide:

"Accidental ingestion can cause burns of the throat and esophagus; also death from shock and asphyxia due to swelling of the glottis and infection. Can also cause burns of the skin and eyes."
Common names include "Lye" or "slaked lime". Used to dehair hides, for cream depilatories (hair removers used for underarm or leg hair), mortar, plaster, cement, pesticides, and fireproofing. Mmmm, sounds like it would be good to put into baby formula....? The 14th ingredient on the label list for Nutramigen "Hypoallergenic" infant formula is calcium hydroxide! Nutramigen is an expensive formula used for babies who are having trouble digesting other formulas. The 17th ingredient on the label list for SMA powdered baby formula is calcium hydroxide. (It also contains potassium hydroxide--see above!)

Calcium Chloride:

Our local hardware store sells this powder under the brand "Moisture Magnet" which is used to absorb dampness out of basements. The label has a warning: "Avoid contact with skin and eyes. Do not breathe in dust."
It is employed industrially in the manufacture of antifreeze, glue, cements, in fire extinguishers. Also used to preserve wood.May cause heart problems (irregular heart beats), upset stomachs, and gastrointestinal disturbances. Listed on the label of the following baby formulas: SMA powdered formula (8th ingredient on the list), SMA liquid, Enfalac (they list it under "minerals"!).
Check your cheese label too!

(may also be called calcium carrageenan, sodium carrageenan, potassium carrageenan, ammonium carrageenan) This is used as a thickener and emulsifier. Listed on the label of nearly all liquid infant formulas, including Enfalac, ProSobee, Similac Advance, Similac LF, Isomil, Alsoy, SMA, and others.
"Due to the fact that carrageenan has no nutritional value and studies have shown it may pose serious health hazards, it should not be used in food, especially infant formulas. Infant formula in Britain does not include carrageenan.
"In 1969, experiments showed that it caused tiny ulcers in the large intestine, similar to those found in humans with ulcerative colitis. Other adverse effects were blood and mucus in the feces and stunted growth. Scientists feel that the public is possibly being subjected to a danger of unknown dimension."
"May cause ulcerative colitis; suspected carcinogen."
"Carrageenan stimulated the formation of fibrous tissue when subcutaneously injected into the guinea pig. When a single dose of it dissolved in saline was injected under the skin of the rat, it caused sarcomas after approximately 2 years. Its cancer-causing ability may be that of a foreign-body irritant because upon administration to rats and mice at high levels in their diet, it did not appear to induce tumors, although survival of the animals for this period was not good."
The book "Safe Eating" by Earl Mindell, says "carrageenan can interfere with the body's immunological warning system and should be avoided, particularly during illness." This book, like the other 3 reference books used here, also says that a symptom caused by carrageenan is "inflamed or ulcerated colon."
Calcium Carbonate

Found in limestone, marble and coral and is more commonly known as chalk. When consumed, may cause constipation. (It is used in anti-diarrheal medicine because of this effect.) Used to adjust acidity. Contained in: Similac Advance liquid (9th on the ingredient list), Similac LF liquid, ProSobee powdered formula.

Modified starch

Modified food starch acts as a thickener in baby food, and in some infant formula. Research shows that it cannot be properly digested by baby and is linked to digestive ailments such as diarrhea, malabsorption, and changes in gastrointestinal flora. It may be implicated in Crohn's disease. There is also a concern that the chemicals used to modify the starch are cancer-causing and cause gene mutations. Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society #149 (1997
Contained in: Nutramigen (3rd main ingredient), Similac LF (10th ingredient), may be in others not included in our sample.

Zinc Sulphate:

The result of the reaction of sulfuric acid with zinc. Used medicinally as an emetic (to induce vomiting). Irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. May cause an allergic reaction. Injection under the skin of 2.5 milligrams per kg. of body weight caused tumors in rabbits.
Added to most infant formulas as a "mineral": Enfalac, Isomil, SMA liquid and powder, Similac Advance and LF, ProSobee, Alsoy, Carnation Follow-up, Nutramigen, Bonamil.

Cupric Sulfate:

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Used as an agricultural fungicide, herbicide, in the preparation of azo dyes, in hair dyes as a coloring. Irritating if ingested. Contained as a "mineral" in : Enfalac, Isomil, SMA powder and liquid, ProSobee liquid and powder, Alsoy, Follow-up, Nutramigen, Bonamil.

Potassium Chloride:

"Small intestinal ulcers may occur with oral administration. Large doses ingested can cause gastrointestinal irritation, purging, weakness, and circulatory collapse." Dictionary of Food Additives
"When taken orally it may irritate the gastrointestinal tract (vomiting, diarrhea, and ulcer formation) and cause weakness and shock." From the book "Hard to Swallow"
Contained in: ProSobee powder and liquid, Isomil, SMA liquid and powder, Alsoy (9th on the ingredient list), Follow-up, Nutramigen.


Ingestion of large amounts of phosphates can cause kidney damage and may adversely affect the absorption of other minerals; can cause osteoporosis.
Although the body needs phosphoric acid, too much is not a good thing. It can disturb the absorption of minerals such as calcium from the gastrointestinal tract. Phosphate is a component of a great many food additives and so the body can easily be overloaded with phosphates.
Experiments performed in Germany in 1957 by Dr. G. J. von Esch and his colleages revealed that rats that were fed a 5% phosphate diet exhibited arrested development, diminished fertility, and decreased lifespan.
Calcium phosphate is described as a "skin and eye irritant".
Phosphates are used as emulsifiers and as preservatives that prevent physical or chemical changes affecting color, flavor, texture, and appearance of a product. For example, calcium phosphate tribasic is used to prevent caking in milk powder. One or more types of phosphates are listed on the labels of the following formulas (sometimes listed as a "mineral": Enfalac, ProSobee liquid and powder, Similac LF and Advance, Isomil, SMA liquid and powder, Follow-up, Nutramigen.

Mono- and Diglycerides:

"when used as food additives, they are usually synthetically prepared with the use of many different compounds. Studies on animals have shown that different members of the glyceride family cause poor growth, high mortality, decreased ability to absorb essential fatty acids, enlarged kidneys and livers, significantly smaller testes and dicolouration of the uterus. The FDA has diglyceride on its list of additives to be studied for mutagenic, teratogenic, subacute and reproductive effects." (definition of Teratogenic: causing birth defects) Listed on the label of: Enfalac liquid, ProSobee liquid, Similac Advance and LF liquid, Isomil liquid.

Ferrous Sulphate:

"Inorganic iron (ferrous sulfate) destroys Vitamin E, so the two should not be taken together. If you're using a supplement containing any ferrous sulfate, E should be taken at least eight hours before or after."
Vitamin E can be found on formula ingredient lists as "tocopherol", along with ferrous sulfate (inorganic iron). Vitamin E is an essential anti-oxidant needed by the human body. Iron is also essential for the production of red blood corpuscles and certain enzymes, and the body needs it in order to use B vitamins, so it infant formula makers have likely included it in their ingredients for that reason.
But according to the "Vitamin Bible" the type of iron that is used in formula destroys the Vitamin E which the baby also gets in the formula. The following formulas list the inorganic type of iron (ferrous sulfate) on their ingredient list: Enfalac, Nutramigen, SMA, Similac LF and Advance, Isomil, Prosobee, Alsoy.

Other Ingredients:

You'll find baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) on the ingredient lists of some baby formulas! (Our Food Additives reference book says that it is used as a neutralizer in milk).
Magnesium oxide which the "Dictionary of Food Additives" says "Has caused tumors in hamsters." is also on some formula ingredient lists.


We do NOT recommend baby formula AT ALL, but if you have no other choice, "Bonamil" powder had the least harmful ingredients. As you can see, it rarely appeared on any of the above lists. However, we haven't studied its composition compared to human milk, and of course it would not have the antibodies, fatty acids, and enzymes found in human milk. And it is cow's milk based. (Soy-based formulas have their own problems...see separate article.)