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Is your mustard jar hiding a chemical secret?

From American hotdogs, to Bavarian pretzels, to Swiss sausages, and to Indian roasted fish, mustard is one of the most popular and widely used condiments in the world. But is this beloved condiment hiding a dark secret?

The Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) recently released a surprising new finding: mild mustard commonly contains the chemical bisphenol F (BPF). According to FSVO, BPF is produced from a component naturally present in mustard seeds when the seeds are processed to make mustard.

This means that, for millennia, mustard-loving humans have unknowingly consumed BPF, a chemical also used in many consumer products and industrial applications.

Even if you’ve never heard of BPF, you’ve likely heard of its chemical cousin—bisphenol A (BPA). BPF and BPA are chemically very similar and are both weakly estrogenic.

Before you start to worry about your mustard, know that there’s no evidence that either BPA or BPF cause negative health effects at typical exposure levels. As to BPA, the European Food Safety Authority and U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recently concluded that BPA is safe.

The FSVO reinforced these conclusions, noting:

Our unexpected and surprising findings may shed a new light on the risk linked to the family of bisphenols and in particular to the controversially discussed BPA.  BPF is structurally very similar to BPA and has similar hormonal effects and now we realise that BPF has been consumed over centuries in a popular condiment.

Typical exposure levels to BPF in mustard are similar to or higher than estimates of BPA exposure. Yet the FSVO report states, “we are not aware of any study connecting mustard consumption with an increased risk for human health.”

These new Swiss findings about BPF in mustard help confirm what governments around the globe already know: BPA poses no risk to human health as it’s currently used.

In contrast to the frequent calls to ban the synthetic chemical BPA based on claims that it causes health effects at low exposure levels, there has been no outcry to ban mild mustard based on the same concerns about naturally produced BPF.

Though, given NGOs disregard for sound scientific research, perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we see petitions to “Ban Mustard Now.”

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