Wednesday, March 28, 2018

On the turps - it's insane.

In New Zealand where I live, we have a phrase "On the turps".  It means "drinking alcohol" usually, but not always, beer.  When you've been on the turps, you may have a hangover if you were serious about it.

I have a thing about ill-informed food and drink advice, some of which is downright dangerous.  Totally unqualified people seem to think that they can hand out advice on diet, so-called "super foods" and other health issues.

The latest whacky outpouring from a minor celebrity suggests that drinking a small quantity of turpentine with sugar will rid you of a cold overnight.  This is a BAD IDEA.

Turpentine is prepared from the resin of pine trees and, I have to say, smells really nice and fresh.  I used it when I was painting in oils to thin the paint.  Another person giving the advice, this time a disbarred doctor,  claims that her IQ "went up like 50 points".  I think she has the sign wrong - it should be -50 points.

There is plenty of scientific evidence to show that turpentine is poisonous, causing irritation to the eyes and central nervous system and severe damage to the kidneys, or, in sufficient quantities, death.

We have been considering natural turpentine here.  Hardware stores sell "mineral turps" which is a turpentine substitute prepared from petroleum.  Consumption of mineral turps may not be fatal, but can result in lung damage and irreversible brain damage.

Of course, this post is not strictly about food safety, but I believe it is important to get this message out there.

I feel so strongly about misleading food and nutrition advice that I am chairing a conference in New Zealand with the theme "In food we trust: confidence built on science and technology".

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