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Washington, November 8 -- Unsafe levels of dioxin were measured in a sample of Ben & Jerry's brand ice cream, according to a new study published on Junkscience.com.
Ben & Jerry's promotional literature, available at its "scoop shops" and on its web site, 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." Dioxin is a by-product of industrial processes and may also be created naturally through combustion of plant materials.
The study authors report that, according to Ben & Jerry's and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, the level of dioxin measured could cause about 200 "extra" cancers among lifetime consumers of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
"The level of dioxin in a single serving of the Ben & Jerry's World's Best Vanilla Ice Cream tested was almost 200 times greater than the "virtually safe [daily] dose" determined by the EPA, said Michael Gough, lead study author. Gough is a former government scientist who chaired the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advisory panel on the effects of dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange on U.S. Air Force personnel in Vietnam.
"An independent laboratory measured 0.79 ± 0.38 parts per trillion of dioxin in the sample of ice cream, " said Gough . "Our result has measurement error associated with it and the sample may or may not be representative of all Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but our result is consistent with current scientific literature."
Gough and Milloy noted they believe existing scientific evidence does not credibly link low levels of dioxin exposure with human health effects. "But not everyone agrees," said co-author Steven Milloy, editor of Junkscience.com. "Ben & 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 & Jerry's should remove its ice cream from the market until it is 'safe,' consistent with the company's promotional literature," suggested Milloy.
"Many children enjoy Ben & Jerry's ice cream," said Milloy, "but by the company's own standards, its ice cream is not safe. Are they are choosing corporate profits over children's health?" he asked. "Maybe an appropriate new flavor would be 'Tasty Toxics' or 'World's Best Hypocrisy'."
Steven Milloy may be contacted at 202-467-8586.