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Tweet, Tweet as opposed to FDA: Peep Police want to get ahead of the science
Dennis Wyatt 2022
Dennis Wyatt

Where are the Peep Police when you need them?

They were mighty silent about 2019 research that suggested arsenic levels in 11 of 130 tested bottled water brands have arsenic levels “that are potentially dangerous to drink over extended periods of time.”

Who are the Peep Police, you might ask?

They are self-anointed citizen-politician-scientists doing the Chicken Little act in the California Legislature going after Red Dye No. 3

They are used to color various candies such as Skittles, Hot Tamales and — drum roll — Peeps.

Red Dye No. 3 has been linked to cancer.

But then again, bottled water has been linked to deadly arsenic.

Both conclusions were reached by real scientists and not those who use algorithms to determine what the hot Twitter trends are so they can shape public policy and rack up the equivalent of “likes” in polls and at the ballot box.

There is science that suggests washing down an occasional holiday Peep — a sugary marshmallow concoction that clearly is an acquired taste — with bottled water has “the potential” to be a deadly combo.

That, of course, is if you have something like a daily 3,000 calorie diet consisting of 80 percent Peeps and you drink enough bottled water that you are likely to get water poisoning from it first before death by arsenic kicks in.

California Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel’s bill is up for a committee hearing this week to ban red dye along with some several other chemicals in Peeps and other food products — assuming Peeps qualify as food.

One would think if you are really worried about widespread, large scale health concerns that Peeps — an insulin manufacturer’s dream — should be banned.

There are clear conclusions reached by scientists, including those scientists who work as government regulators to protect public safety, that excessive sugar consumption is a building block for a lot of serious and chronic health issues in the United States.

Yes, there are those allied with Peep Police who want to slap soda et al with sin taxes because of their potential in the long-term aggregate for people, who have the right dispositions to develop problems by excessive consumption of sugar.

But here’s the rub.

Test food — natural or otherwise — and other consumer products long enough and you will find evidence to suggest that they can lead to either death, serious health problems, or wanton environmental destruction.

That is underscored in one of the key points Peep Police use in their crusade to ban Red Dye No. 3 et al that — if anyone bothered to give it any thought — boomerangs on their entire premise for calling for such bans by legislative fiat.

Federal regulators more than 30 years ago banned Red No. 3 dye from makeup.

That, the Peep Police chirp, is ample evidence it should be banned in food.

But what does the science reviewed through those who are regulators who aren’t operating in a vacuum say?

There are a multitude of reasons why it could be banned from makeup and not food.

That includes the amount absorbed through the skin or in the application process from a  product on potentially a daily basis with a much higher concentration of Red Dye No. 3 has possibly a much higher impact than something occasionally consumed in a smaller and more diluted amount.

The assumption, of course, is that scientists who regulate the food products we eat have a set of analytic tests and standards that they apply.

The Federal Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies’ conclusions apparently haven’t warranted banning Red Dye No. 3 from Skittles, Hot Tamales, Peeps and other candy.

That clearly isn’t enough for those in the Peep Police ranks who had leadership roles in the wholesale pandemic orders by seeking cover behind the phrase “we’re following the science” who now want to get ahead of the science.

Yes, science says Peeps with Red Dye No. 3 could lead to cancer.

But does that meet reasonable tests devised by science to ban it even if it errs on the side of caution?

Arsenic occurs naturally in water.

And, as an aside, there is a scientific debate still going on whether our bodies need a trace amount of arsenic to function.

The federal standards regulating it are done on the premise that arsenic in large enough amounts can cause cancer in some people, but especially young children and pregnant women.

The acceptable federal arsenic standards were significantly tightened after the turn of the century.

It went from 50 parts per billion down to 10 parts per billion. That is how many parts of a compound are found dissolved in water or soil.

That prompted cities such as Turlock and Manteca to install arsenic filtering media to reduce the amount of arsenic in our drinking water to below the 10 parts per billion thresholds.

Makes you want to drink bottled water, right?

Do so at your expense — literally and figurately.

Ounce for ounce, water is 1,000 times more expensive bought at a 7-Eleven than obtained from your faucet.

And — based on a scientific analysis done on behalf of Consumer Reports in 2019 on 130 different bottled water brands — there are at least 11 brands that will provide you with more arsenic than most municipal water.

As an added caveat, there are numerous scientists who point out federal standards for drinking water levels for arsenic represent an abundance of caution. In other words, the acceptable level was made more rigid to build in a safety cushion hat that likely isn’t needed.

Do not read this as a ringing endorsement of Peeps.

There are those who just on the merits of one’s tastebuds and their conclusion eating sugar saturated marshmallows is akin to mainlining sugar could care less if Peeps — Red Dye. No. 3 or not — never again appeared on a store shelf.

And reasonable people might agree weighing scientific studies might best be done by federal regulatory agencies with the trained staff to do so than in some legislative committee hearing where Tweets carry more weight than Peeps.