As much as possible I try to avoid chemicals in my food. I buy organic, veer away from GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), and try to avoid plastic packaging. I never considered my stick blender as a possible source of chemical exposure until now.
A study released October 23, 2014 suggests that some hand blenders leak chlorinated paraffins, a type of chemical found in flame retardants, plasticizers, metal working fluids and more. CPs are classified as toxic to aquatic organisms, and carcinogenic to rats and mice. Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) are categorized in group 2B as possibly carcinogenic to humans from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Researchers at Stockholm University discovered the CPs while looking for environmental contaminants in cat food. The chlorinated paraffins showed up in disturbing amounts and were traced to in-house blending of the food, rather than the food itself. According to the study,
“After re-analysing samples with and without the use of a newly bought hand blender used for preparing homogeneous cat food samples, we concluded that the hand blender caused the contamination. In addition, a small hole was drilled just above the mixer blades and content of the compartment drilled into was analysed and the presence of CPs was confirmed.”
Do all brands leak CPs?
The research team purchased 12 hand held blenders available in Sweden.
- OBH Nordica, Chili
- OBH Nordica, Kitchen, Quickmix
- Braun Multiquick 3
- Philips, ProMix
- OBH Nordica, Indigo
- Electrolux, Ultramix Pro
- Russel Hobbs
- OBH Nordica Kitchen, Quickprep 500
Four of the brands did not show leakage: #3, #4, #7, #8. The remaining brands showed leakage of SCCPs. The author of the study, Ake Bergman sent me a photo of these 8 models.
Of the 8 brands found to show leakage, 4 of them are made in China. According to the study,
“Four of the twelve hand blenders tested are produced in China, all showing leakage of CPs, and three of them were among the five showing the highest levels. China is also the major CP producers with an annual production of over 600 000 tonnes in 2007 ”
I asked Dr. Bergman about the four models that did not show leakage.
“To the best of our knowledge the blenders not leaking CPs are to be regarded as safe.”
It’s important to note that the leakage may come from plastic components located under the hood, but according to Bergman it is more likely coming from the cutting fluids used in the machinery itself.
What does this mean for brands commonly found in the United States like Cuisineart, Procter-Silex, Hamilton Beach, and KitchenAid? A call to each company seems in order.
This study offers a grim reminder that chemicals have found their way into virtually every aspect of our lives and vigilance must become a way of life. While complete avoidance of chemicals may not be feasible, we can become informed and make our purchasing decisions accordingly.
As the study concludes:
“The results we are presenting in this screening study is unexpected and serious since humans eating food prepared using the hand blenders leaking CPs will become exposed to CPs. This is of particular concern since these types of household appliances often are used and recommended for preparing food for small children.”
As a result I purchased the Nordica Chili. Read more about my purchase here.