Food product fumigation and your thyroid health

Ok, this might sound a bit strange – hey, you’ll see where I’m going very quickly. Yes, we’re back on fluoride again, but we’ve got to go round the houses first… I’ll start with a quick preamble on halogens, of which fluoride is one. This is really useful information as you’ll see…. I also suggest you wrap your head in duct tape right now. At least then you won’t lose any bits when your head explodes. Finding out about this made me very angry indeed.

Ok, your thyroid depends on it’s ability to access iodine in order to function well. Iodine deficiency can cause goitre, a swelling of the thyroid gland, as the gland begins to try to compensate for lack of iodine.

We already know that Fluoride lowers thyroid function, and displacement is one way that it does so. But there are various other molecules, which by atomic weight, can also displace iodine in the thyroid gland, and cause the body to seem deficient, when maybe the diet is adequate in iodine naturally.

The molecules that can displace iodine and wreck your health, are known as halogens, and they are:

F – Fluorine as fluoride: Fluoride is added to drinking water in many municipalities and is used in toothpaste to protect teeth from decay, but this is actually very controversial and many believe fluoride is much more harmful to human health than beneficial. Fluoride inhibits the thyroid from utilizing iodine.

Cl – Chlorine: Chlorine is used as a disinfectant in many municipal drinking water systems, as well as a disinfectant in swimming pools. Chlorine gas irritates the mucous membranes and the liquid burns the skin. As a halide, chlorine also displaces iodine.

Br – Bromine: Bromine or bromide is an extremely toxic halogen. Listed just above iodine on the periodic table, it is very disruptive to iodine absorption in the body, but especially in the thyroid gland. (read more here: Link)

So Fluoride, Chlorine and Bromine will all displace iodine – leaving you potentially deficient and sick. How interesting that, even though scientists now know this, these substances are still widely mandated in drinking water, toothpaste, flour products etc. You might think though that bromine is one you aren’t exposed to that much – yet whilst you may be avoiding bromide/bromine in bakery goods (if you’re in the US; they don’t allow it in the EU at all, as far as I know), by going gluten free, there are numerous FOOD sources of this nasty chemical that I’m going to share with you today, all because of food and soil fumigation. Yes, really! It turns out that foods can be fumigated multiple times from the farm to your plate.

So how did I get to here? Well I was looking for information on the pesticides used in cocoa production, as I’d always been lead to believe that there was very little use of pesticides in that form of agriculture. It turns out I was wrong on that, but worse, all non-organic cocoa beans have been treated in quarantine with methyl bromide as a fumigant.

“Myth 7: “Fumigation with methyl bromide is the most effective quarantine treatment we have to kill insect pests in cocoa”

You may not be aware that raw cocoa beans entering countries like Australia and the USA are routinely fumigated with methyl bromide during quarantine, in order to kill insect pests.
Methyl bromide is a highly toxic gas. Acute exposure causes burns, severe kidney damage, and devastating effects on the central nervous system. The inhalation of small quantities of methyl bromide can cause mental confusion, double vision, tremors, lack of co-ordination and slurred speech.
Methyl bromide is also a Class I ozone-depleting substance, meaning that most countries have banned methyl bromide except for use in quarantine. (The earth’s ozone layer protects us from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation – methyl bromide is contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer).
Methyl bromide is devastatingly effective at killing insects, rodents, fungi, and weeds – but there are alternatives. One alternative is cold treatment, whereby cocoa beans are held in cold storage at a temperature of -18ºC for a period of seven days. Cold treatment is just as effective as methyl bromide (afterall, dead is dead), but cold treatment typically costs more, takes longer, and is bound up in more red tape than the use of methyl bromide.
Methyl bromide is not allowed under organic certification programs, whereas cold treatment is considered acceptable.” (read more here: Link)

Not only is methyl bromide considered a greenhouse gas, but it also has been shown to leave bromide residues in the foods treated with it. It’s been in use for many decades around the world, and now it is being phased out, however, as you need to realise, banned in the EU, or in America, DOESN’T mean banned elsewhere. It is still in use, as we’ll see…

So what’s the story on Methyl bromide? Why is it a problem? Let’s start here: In this report from 1972 from the World Health Organisation, they state: (read more here: Link)

“Use Pattern

Methyl bromide, which has been in widespread use for some 30 years, is used for all types of stored dry foodstuffs, particularly for produce in bags, cases or other packages. Its use for large loose bulks of foodstuff, when it may be used alone or in admixture with ethylene dibromide or with carbon tetrachloride, is more limited. It is also used for the treatment of soil before sowing or planting, especially in glasshouses, against nematodes, weeds and other organisms; also in plant quarantine operations, including disinfestation of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Residues resulting from supervised trials (Post-harvest uses)

From the extensive information previously reported it can be concluded that after treatment of produce the physically sorbed residue diminishes either by loss to the atmosphere or by reaction with the foodstuff. The main reaction products with cereals and cereal products have been characterized. In these materials methylation of nitrogen and sulfur containing groups in the protein fraction accounts for most of the reaction. In other foods the reaction appears to be similarly associated with the protein fraction. These reactions also leave a “fixed” residue of bromide which is in the water-soluble, ionic form. Considerable attention has been given to the determination of this inorganic bromide occurring in food after fumigation and many data are available for amounts in foodstuffs moving in commerce as well as from supervised trials.” [emphasis added]

And from the same site:


Sounds harmless enough – I mean 0.5ppm of bromide, it’s nothing. Except that this constitutes 0.5mg/kg – that is a lot if you are consuming fluoridated water on top of your oatbran, bread, peanut butter and so on. Throw in an SSRI like prozac, and you’re well on the way to hypothyroidism. (Here’s a link to a previous post covering Prozac fluoride levels: Link)

However, this 1995 report from the World Health Organisation states the following figures: (source)

“5.1.4 Food

When considering the published levels of methyl bromide and inorganic bromide in various foods, the method of analysis is important (section 2.4.9). Originally, bromide content only was measured and there is very little information on the methyl bromide content. Measurements of both entities are important as well as other residual products. After soil fumigation

[…] Roughan & Roughan (1984a,b) carried out surveys of bromide ion residues in lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, and self-blanching celery grown in soil fumigated with methyl bromide, and compared these values with those in a range of home-produced and imported fruit and vegetables. Lettuce grown on unfumigated soil contained less than 10mg bromide ion /kg, while most lettuces harvested from methyl bromide fumigated soil were found to contain considerably more, 30 % containing over 500 mg/kg and 2 % even in excess of 2000 mg/kg (Roughan & Roughan, 1984a).”

fumigatedDo you see that? Just to clarify that the average figure for wild oats of 3364mg/kg is a whopping 3.364grammes a kilo. But it gets worse:

soil typesThese are figures based on soil type, now here’s where it gets interesting for me. I live on the edge of the English fens, and the soil of the fens is one of the richest and most fertile loamy soils you could wish for – it falls right into that last bracket – which is the highest for imparting soil fumigant residues into salad crops. We have a huge salad producing company based right here in the fens doing just that – I’d be curious to know what they are using now that methyl bromide is being phased out…?

On it goes, however:

“ After post-harvest fumigation

Methyl bromide is widely used as a post-harvest fumigant to kill, or prevent, pest infestation. In 1976, around 100 000 metric tonnes of food commodities were treated with methyl bromide in the United Kingdom (Fairall & Scudamore, 1980).

Fairall & Scudamore (1980) measured methyl bromide residues in dried milk, wheat, flour, rapeseed, and groundnut samples after store fumigation (see Table 28). Products such as groundnuts and rapeseed retained higher amounts of methyl bromide. No methyl bromide was detected in any commodity after storage for 1 month (detection limit 10 µg/kg).” [… handy to say that, because the bromide ions are what is left, not methyl bromide…]


I love the typo in that ‘funfumigated’…

That’s also an interesting chart as it shows that the higher the protein in the product the more bromide ions were created as a reaction.

Ok, so what? I mean you might be thinking at this point that I’ve already told you that it’s being phased out, so why worry? Well being phased out, as it relates to Methyl bromide, is about as much of a guarantee of safety as the reduction and banning of DDT (which is still in use in many countries for control of mosquitos for example). Here’s the current status of methyl bromide use according to Wikipedia: [emphasis added, and my addition in square brackets]

Many alternatives for Bromomethane in the agricultural field are currently in use and yet further alternatives are in development, not least of which include propylene oxide and furfural.[8]

In Australia, bromomethane (methyl bromide) is the preferred fumigant required by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) for most organic goods imported into Australia.[9] AQIS conducts methyl bromide fumigation certification for both domestic and foreign fumigators who can then fumigate containers destined for Australia. A list of alternative fumigants is available for goods imported from Europe (known as the ICON database), where methyl bromide fumigation has been banned.[10] Alternatively, AQIS allows containers from Europe to be fumigated with methyl bromide on arrival to Australia. [So Australians, this is what is being used on your food]

New Zealand
In New Zealand, bromomethane is used as a fumigant for whole logs destined for export. Environmental groups and the Green Party oppose its use.[11][12] In May 2011 the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) introduced new rules for its use which restrict the level of public exposure to the fumigant, set minimum buffer zones around fumigation sites, provide for notification to nearby residents and require users to monitor air quality during fumigations and report back to ERMA each year. All methyl bromide fumigations must use recapture technology by 2021.[13] [So, New Zealander’s, it seems there’s no end in sight for you with the use of Methyl bromide]

United States
In the United States bromomethane is regulated as a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA; 7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.) and as a hazardous substance under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA; 42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.), and is subject to reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA; 42 U.S.C. 11001 et seq.). The U.S. Clean Air Act (CAA; 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). A 1998 amendment (P.L. 105-178, Title VI) conformed the Clean Air Act phase out date with that of the Montreal Protocol.[14][15] Whereas the Montreal Protocol has severely restricted the use of bromomethane internationally, the United States has successfully lobbied for critical-use exemptions.[16] Critical use exemptions allow the United States to continue using MeBr until it is scheduled to be completely phased out sometime in 2017.[17]

In 2004, over 7 million pounds of bromomethane were applied to California. Applications include tomato, strawberry, and ornamental shrub growers, and fumigation of ham/pork products. Also exempt is the treatment of solid wood packaging (forklift pallets, crates, bracing), and the packaged goods, being exported to ISPM 15 countries(to include Canada in 2012).

Has to phase out the use in agriculture by 2015.[18]

And over in China:

“The situation in China merits special mention because of the recent dramatic increase in the use of methyl bromide there, both for quarantine purposes and, more significantly, for soil disinfestation. During the period 1998-1999 a three-
fold increase took place in the volume of the fumigant used to treat export wood packing materials because of the needto control the Asian Longhorned beetle,  Anoplophora glabripennis (Yuejin, 2000). Before 1995, there had been very little use of methyl bromide for soil treatment in China, but the introduction of technology permitting local production of the chemical in small cans changed this situation. Individual farmers, growing horticultural crops in plastic greenhouses, were now able to fumigate the soil themselves and to continue crop production throughout the year. This new capability for soil fumigation is finding increasing favour among Chinese farmers, and it is predicted that there will be a 50% increase in the quantity of methyl bromide used to treat soil in China between 1998 and 2000 (Yuejin, 2000). If this increase continues, uncontrolled, the effect will be to partially negate the efforts of other countries to reduce methyl bromide usage.” (source)

So it’s not been banned yet, but it’s being replaced, and some countries are increasing it’s use. Oh well… never mind…. you’ll crave Methyl bromide when you see what they’re replacing it with. I mean frankly the most evil Hollywood villain couldn’t come up with a more dastardly plan.

While there are many fumigants on the market today, and I’ll probably do yet another post on this at some point, I’m going to concentrate on ProFume – Sulfuryl Fluoride. Yes, you read that right! More f-in fluoride!

profume 1

You can see the rest of the presentation here: Link

And what exactly ARE the MRL (Maximum residue levels) allowed by the USA-EPA? I mean, Dow wouldn’t have lobbied them by any chance, would they? Oh you bet you bottom dollar, they did:

“In March 2005 Dow AgroSciences petitioned EPA for new F tolerances for over 600 commodities, including an unprecedented 3 ppm in powdered milk, 12ppm in coffee, 70 ppm in many processed foods, 40 ppm in beef meat, and an extraordinary 850 ppm in dried eggs. On July 15, 2005, the EPA issued a “Final Rule” approving and even increasing many of these requests, e.g., 5 ppm in powdered milk, 15 ppm in coffee, 70 ppm in virtually all processed foods, and 900 ppm in dried eggs. Many of these levels are more than ten times higher than ever approved previously and, as noted at the beginning of these comments, can result in daily F intake levels from ProFume™ fumigated foods that are clearly in the toxic range. In support of its action, the EPA cited the 1997 report of the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences, which ignored data cited above, and proposed a “tolerable” F intake of 10 mg/day for adults and children 8 years and older. At this level of intake, crippling skeletal fluorosis is an end-stage of F intoxication; it is usually preceded and accompanied by severe dental fluorosis and a wide range of neurological, muscular, gastrointestinal, and other debilitating toxic effects.1-5″ (source)

So at 10mg safe limit for fluoride per day, fluoridated food and water and throwing an SSRI in on top (and looking around there are many adults taking 40mg Prozac (7.36mg fluoride) or even 60mg Prozac (11.04mg fluoride!!!!) and you are well on the way to disease and profits for the (p)harmaceutical industry. I’m sorry, I misspoke there… 🙂

So there we are – a round the houses look at other ways that we are being poisoned by the very food we are eating. One of the reasons I had to write this piece was to get away from all those articles out there I found which said that Methyl bromide is only used on Strawberry crops in California. Now you know different. It’s a depressing picture I’ve painted, but there is a solution, and you may have to stop paying for cable TV to afford it (I bet if you’re reading this you don’t watch cable anyway, but I digress) – go organic, buy organic, grow your own, buy local at the farm gate (far less chance of being ‘treated’ for shipment).

Nothing is of more value than our health – and ironically that is why disease is so profitable – we would do anything to be well, we’re just being lied to left, right and centre about what it takes to be healthy.

If the UN was really interested in protecting the environment and human health it would ban the globalisation of food, and restrict the measures used to fumigate  those which are imported. There is no country that I’m aware of that has taken any kind of stand to resolve the toxic environmental and human toxicity issues raised by food fumigation. Each country could, and should, stand for the health of it’s nation by stopping this process from using such noxious chemicals.

When you realise the scope of food product fumigation, it beggars belief. Our forebears never did this – they simply couldn’t. It’s all about the commoditisation of food – lengthening shelf life. This is the same argument used for irradiating food – and most people view that with rightful suspicion, yet we aren’t even aware this process of fumigation is taking place.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip round the houses for the fluoride issue. There’s more to discover I’m sure.

God Bless you