Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ask Bill: Breyers Ice Cream Controversy Meltdown

Welcome to another edition of Ask Bill.

Hey Bill, I just saw this video being spread around like wildfire and would like to know if I should be concerned about consuming or purchasing Breyers products?


This guy again. Last year it was the non-melting cheese. This year, non-melting ice cream. If he did a little research, he'd find that he's a few years behind the hysteria already (look up the non-melting ice cream sandwich), but I guess he makes the old new again and gets the Youtube hits (although he disables comments on his video because he's probably afraid of a little science understanding might ruin his reputation ;)

Video is here

Within the first minute of this almost 11-minute video I wanted to turn it off as I could see where it was going. Not once did he make any effort to research and find out anything about the ingredients and he lies right off the bat.

He compares Breyers Family Classic Vanilla Frozen Dessert with Farmers Chocolate Ice Cream, Mr. Christie Oreo Ice Cream, and Scotsburn Mocha Fudge. He claims that Breyers and the Oreo ones are made with modified milk ingredients (which he claims a SCARY!!! but never explains why, but I assume because he doesn't understand basic concepts and is just fear-mongering) and that the Farmers and Scotsburn do not as they have milk and cream. This is absolutely untrue as Scotsburn does have modified milk ingredients.

I had trouble finding the Christie Oreo ingredients online, but ironically did find the Breyers Oreo which did not have modified milk, but I will assume he is telling the truth that the one he used did.
Farmers Brand does not list their ingredients online, although from the pic, it looks a little more than just milk and cream.

For comparison, here is the Breyers brand.

OK, so he's not being honest to start with.

What is modified milk ingredients? Well this could be many things. It can include casein, caseinates, whey products, yogurt, sour cream, cultured buttermilk, ultrafiltered milk, milk protein concentrate just to name a few. They are also called natural milk constituents as they are in a different state than what originally found. Doesn't sound so scary when you look into it.

You'll note as well that Breyers does not call it ice cream, but a frozen dessert. That may concern some, but it doesn't concern me.

He sets up his "experiment." The first thing I will note that there isn't much to this. I wouldn't even call it an experiment. He doesn't control various factors and he only does this once. A proper experiment would purchase many tubs in case one tub had a quality control flaw. The fact that all the other products had chocolate and the Breyers product did not does not make for a valid comparison and could in fact skew the results.

I have to give credit though where credit is due. He mentioned that his tub of ice cream did not have plastic on its top (but he did note that other Breyers products did). I must say it's weird though that he also mentions that the lot of that particular product did not have plastic on it. That means he opened every one. Now this is a valid concern if Breyers is not providing consumer protection on this product. I am not sure if this was a quality issue with that shipment or if it that is a normal procedure.

So does the Breyers Frozen Dessert not melt? Yes, it resists melting. This and some of the other products contain guar gum and cellulose gum (both naturally derived products by the way). These are plant-based stabilizers to prevent the products from becoming what nutritional scientist Grace Yek says "gross and crunchy." It gives ice cream a creamy texture and helps prevent the formation of ice crystals. But there is another ingredient that is my best guess as to why it did not melt (at least not in the conventional way).

He shows that there is a liquid at the bottom of the bowl of the Breyers product. So after a long enough time it begins to separate. I assume this liquid is probably the hydrogenated coconut oil separating. He also leaves this for 10 days. It's not surprising that it would smell rancid. This could also be part of the reason why after 10 days this had significant mold (or what appeared to be mold) growth. The guy does state that he doesn't know what it is. But he jumps the gun in calling it poison. If you don't know what something is, you can't claim it to be something without verification. That's just dumb and dishonest.

Now do I fancy eating frozen hydrogenated coconut oil? Not really. I would not be afraid of the Breyers product though, just as I would not be afraid of imitation cheese made from oil. Yeah, you probably are better off (especially in the taste department) eating something else as it has more nutrients (the Breyers product has no iron for example), but occasionally as a treat it would be ok.


*For over 30 years, Bill has been a professional magician and has traveled all across Canada, performing for all ages. Along with his passion for entertaining, Bill is an educator and life-long learner. He continues to study biology, psychology, neuroscience and chemistry.  Bill has also written many articles on science and scams for various blogs, newspapers and other publications.

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