The Huel Shaker isn't safe (endocrine disruption)

Hi,

I was somewhat horrified to learn recently that the “BPA-free” label on a lot of plastics these days is basically just marketing, and that many BPA-free alternatives have the exact same effects on the human body — in some cases even worse. This includes Tritan™ which is used to make the Huel Shaker.

There is a video here discussing the research, and here are two studies on the topic:

Here is also an investigative journalism piece on industry efforts to cover up / deny / minimise the research.

I personally found that the Hot & Savoury branded Huel cup scratches very easily if you eat out of it with a fork, and I have been heating my food in it, which makes this even worse.

None of this is to say that Huel consumption causes endocrine disruption that you otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to, as the unfortunate truth is we are surrounded by polycarbonate plastics in our everyday life. But this is to say that the BPA-free label is basically meaningless and you should ideally not be consuming your Huel out of these branded plastic shakers/cups at all.

I will be binning my containers. I would love it if the Huel Team would consider looking into alternative, safer materials for manufacture of their shaker.

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…‘Horrified’ :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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What alternatives would you like to see? I’m pretty sure, whether you agree or not, Tritan is already considered the gold standard in plastic for this type of use. Stainless steel requires considerable natural resources and massive amounts of energy to make so comes with a big environmental cost, and glass isn’t durable.

Even if that research is correct, which I’m not commenting on, at the end of the day, you have to drink out of something.

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Don’t do that, you’ll be causing endocrine disruption in fish, worms and other animals.

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Thanks for raising this @Kestrel, it’s great that you’re educating yourself. This issue has come up before and we have tested for BPF and BPS for our shaker. You’ll be glad to know all the samples tested came back with ‘not detected’ results.

The issue is also what would the alternative packaging be? For example, glass breaks easily and has a significantly higher carbon footprint than plastic. Metal has a much higher carbon footprint too and runs into issues around pollutants in the supply chain. Phil has done a useful post here around stainless steel.

You of course can use alternatives. Like blending Huel and pouring into a glass, this obviously removes a lot of convenience but I can’t think of many other ways to get around this? H&S you can obviously use a ceramic bowl.

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Most blenders use plastic jugs so you would still be “exposing” the Huel to the plastic in the blending process before pouring it into a glass.

The water which we all drink from the tap is delivered via metal (copper I think) pipes. If you leave water in a pipe long enough it turns orange. Obviously it would then be dangerous to drink. So in theory at least, the water we drink could contain metal deposits. I think you have to draw the line somewhere or you would go crazy.

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The air we breathe is not without its dangers either. Daily life is full of risks and although it is good to keep ourselves informed we also need to retain a sense of proportion.

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Bring back lead pipes like the good old days

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No need to worry about that! You already get your dose of lead from eating or drinking out of glazed ceramics :partying_face:

Your crockery leaches out all sorts of nasties into your food or drink when its heated or damaged and glazes can include mixes of:

  • Silica
  • Boron
  • Aluminium
  • Sodium
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Cobalt
  • Tin
  • Zirconium
  • Barium
  • Strontium
  • Lead
  • Chromium

And if you’re using any family China from the early 20th Century – possibly even Uranium. The heavy metals in particular are very toxic and bioaccumulate but sure, lets worry about plastics instead and toss them into a landfill - because that helps.

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Interesting topic. If you browse long enough you will find research highlighting contaminents everywhere. Where do you draw the line. Many of these studies conclusions are based from data that does not always relate directly to humans but are inferred to have a negative affect based on other species . Also the measurement parameters can vary widely from ppm to picocgrams. Many studies indicate RDA of vitamins, minerals protein etc. are given in milligrams (mg.). These values are also influenced by other factors such as age, weight and such. You get the picture. You have to draw the line and use common sense and do what you believe is right for you.

This is very true, our skin only disperses about 40% of the chemicals it comes into contact with and absorbs the rest – so a journey in your car will probably mean you absorb as much if not more from the polycarbonates and polyurethanes on the dash/handles/wheel etc as you would from leaching into your food from a poorly made container.

I do hope you are not suggesting Tim’s wonderfully crafted shaker is poorly made :wink:

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perish(able) the thought - just hypothesisng a worst case scenario :grinning:

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The ‘everything has problems’ thing is a faulty generalisation and doesn’t mean plastic remains the best option.

Personally, I got tired of having so many plastic shakers so started ticking the no thanks button for new ones and use a glass shaker instead. On a personal level, for me, that works great.

At Huel’s scale would switching to Maus shakers be sensible? No. But that doesn’t mean we all have to use plastic.

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absolutely not - its just ‘a’ option - unfortunately there are ups and downs for any material choice you as a consumer make and every type also so has some sort of manufacturing consequence down the line.

Agreed - absolutely consumers should use whats the best fit for them and the best way to do that is a bit of research and weighing up the pros and cons - not by demonising one thing and assuming everything else is better.

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Hi @Tristan I like the idea of your glass shaker but it would have to be quite tough glass for me. :tropical_drink::boom: I no what you mean about having too many shakers though. I do like the new shaker design and I am really surprised that I have not lost the lid yet.

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Blockquote

The issue is also what would the alternative packaging be?

BAMBOO! Make them out of bamboo!

And while you’re at it, biodegradable bags please. we’re in an ecological emergency.

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All drinking water contains trace metal deposits. Without the impurities in the water, including the metals, we couldn’t survive. Our kidneys aren’t designed to process ultrapure water and they need the natural impurities.

I’m not sure what your pipes are made of, but water contaminated with copper will turn blue. Orange water could be caused by iron contamination. Iron is a heavy metal - if your water is orange contact your water authority or a competent plumber immediately.

Both plastic and metal pipes are used in the water supply - many underground metal water pipes have been replaced with more durable plastic ones in my area in recent months.

A list of chemicals that sound ominous is pretty useless if you don’t know what those chemicals are or how they affect the human body. All but one of the elements, compounds and minerals you’ve listed are perfectly harmless, at least in the doses you would get off of glazed crockery:

  • Silica - sand/glass, available as a supplement for hair, nail or bone health
  • Boron - found in nuts, available as a supplement for bone health, hormone production and protects against heavy metal toxicity
  • Aluminium - no known risk to human health (it is the third most abundant element on the planet, aluminium is literally everywhere), aluminium is found in some vaccines and medicines
  • Sodium - essential for human life, affects blood pressure and muscle and nerve function
  • Iron - essential for human life, used in the creation of red blood cells
  • Copper - essential for human life, used in the creation of red blood cells
  • Cobalt - used by the body to help process vitamin B12
  • Tin - no known natural biological role in humans or animals, but generally harmless
  • Zirconium - not known to be toxic, although it is an irritant
  • Barium - perfectly safe, can cause digestive problems if taken in toxic doses
  • Strontium - available as a supplement, promotes bone growth and health
  • Lead - the only element on the list which is always toxic to humans, but the use of lead in paints, glazes and clay is against the law in much of the world, so generally would only be found in very small trace amounts these days if at all
  • Chromium - available as a supplement, helps with insulin production amongst other important functions, safe in trace amounts
  • Uranium - perfectly safe in trace amounts, there is naturally occurring uranium in the environment all around us and it doesn’t kill us; a banana will be more radioactive than your average piece of china

It’s worth noting, too, there’s a finite amount of these materials in each piece of crockery. For example, if a plate has trace amounts of copper and all of the copper present leeches onto your food over time, there is no longer any copper in the plate.

I couldn’t agree with you more.

Biodegradable bags would be the best option, but if that’s just not feasible what about a scheme similar to a bottle return scheme. Offer Huel in reusable containers, add a reasonable charge for the higher cost of the packaging, and refund the extra charge when the containers are returned, then clean and refill the containers.

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I just want to say that I think you and Phil are making exactly the same points. A list of scary chemicals isn’t any use without the research to support any negative side effects in humans. This is exactly what you and Phil are both saying.

The chemicals in question in the shaker (BPA, BPF, BPS) have undergone research, and there is more and more of it but the studies in humans are currently inadequate to reach a conclusion. However this is irrelevant, since we have tested for these 3, and others, and there is no detectable amount.

Please can we keep thread on topic please :slight_smile: there are plenty of threads about plastic pouches/recyclable/biodegradable ones/return schemes.

Would it be possible to see more details about these tests? For example was expected wear & tear taken into account from scratching via cutlery (for the H&S pot) and levels of heat you’d get from running the shaker through the dishwasher?

I also think as awareness of the issues surrounding endocrine disrupting chemicals gains traction, more people might benefit from being able to view it in the website FAQ for instance.