Is there Paint Thinner (Trisodium Phosphate) in Cereal?

Have you heard that there might be Trisodium Phosphate in Cereal or in other foods? So is this a problem?

As it turns out TSP (Trisodium phosphate) is in many products. The question is--should you be worried or is it no big deal?

Trisodium Phosphate in Cereal | Trisodium Phosphate in Food

Trisodium Phosphate.

What's that, you ask? Let's find out.

Just the other day, one of my friends tagged me in a Facebook video that REALLY caught my attention.

The video was of a guy walking through the store talking about how there is paint thinner in Cereal!

Yes, he meant it.  He was pointing to the ingredients list on a cereal box and showing where it listed "TSP" or "Trisodium Phosphate" as an ingredient, and then he walked over another section of the store and showed how TSP is paint thinner.

YIKES! Paint thinner in cereal?

It sounds like one of those crazy alarmist conspiracy stories about how the government and big corporations are out to kill us by gradually poisoning us to death, doesn't it?

Well, I'm here to tell you the truth about yet another theory....that there is trisodium phosphate in cereal.

I Love (as in LOVE) Breakfast Cereal

Make that "loved."

First of all, let me tell you that I used to LOVE breakfast cereal.

I was so broke when I was in college. I literally lived off of almost no money and always shopped off of the bargain produce shelves and just made do. Whenever I would come home on break, it was just amazing being able to go into the kitchen and eat all kinds of things I couldn't afford when I was in school.

And a big part of that was--cereal!

I would run to the kitchen and indulge in whatever was there, but I ALWAYS (much to my mother's chagrin) made a bee line for the breakfast cereal.

And I ate a lot of it.

But since then, times have changed. I've had to revamp my diet (and my family's diet too) due to issues with candida and other gut health issues, and so now breakfast cereal isn't in our home any longer--with very few exceptions.

I guess I really do still LOVE breakfast cereal, but it doesn't love me back.

Even if you don't eat breakfast cereal, and have moved on to healthier choices like this Cream of Rice Cereal or Buckwheat Granola...or even something like this Dairy-free Quiche), or if you are eating more natural versions, this is about more than just breakfast cereal.  

Read on.

Pinterest collage for Is there paint thinner in your cereal? post

Paint Thinner / Trisodium Phosphate in Cereal

TSP is Trisodium Phosphate.

And you can find it in some breakfast cereals.

It's something that the FDA has approved to be used in your food.

Because you might just be getting more than a little. And who wants a lot of Trisodium Phosphate in their cereal? Not this girl. No thank you.

So let's walk through this step by step.

What is TSP / Trisodium Phosphate?

Is TSP paint thinner?

Well contrary to what  the guy in the grocery store in the video that I saw said, it's not--but it is an active ingredient in paint thinner.

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is an industrial cleaning product. It's used as a degreasing agent, mildew remover and lead abating agent and is also used to clean interior and exterior walls before painting. According to Snopes (I write about them later, its pH is"comparable to bleach".

YUCK.

Maybe I should retitle this post "Is There BLEACH in Your CEREAL?!"

Because of its alkalinizing cleaning properties, TSP was used in dishwashing soap and laundry detergent until it was phased out in 2011 after the EPA found it was harmful to the environment. The Clean Water Act, published by the EPA, lists TSP as a “Hazardous Substance” while the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends to “Avoid All Contact.” (note the link that I had for this information has been removed from the CDC's site--I can't find it any longer.) The CDC lists these TSP ingestion symptoms: abdominal pain, burning sensation, shock, or collapse.

Doesn't sound too good.

Let's dig into this more.

Why is there Trisodium Phosphate in Food?

TSP is most commonly used to reduce the acidic nature of foods, especially breakfast cereals, as it modifies cereal color and aids in the cereal’s flow through the extruder. Other uses are:

  • Added to meat to retain moisture during storage and cooking.
  • Acts as a leavening agent to “fluff up” foods like cakes, breads and baked goods.
  • Added to cheese to help keep its shape and melting properties.

TSP is also used as an antimicrobial cleaner for washing produce. Poultry is dipped in a TSP solution to potentially kill off bacteria.

Basically, TSP gives food a nice texture so it can withstand sitting on the grocery store shelf for months until you pick it up and take it home.

That's one reason to not buy food that can sit on the shelf for a long long time and still look great.  Food shouldn't be able to do that, you know?

Should You Avoid Trisodium Phosphate in Food?

Studies have shown that ingesting high levels of phosphate (the major mineral in TSP) can cause:

  • kidney damage
  • soft tissue calcification and
  • removal of calcium from bones.
  • Chronic high levels of phosphate intake can result in osteopenia and ultimately osteoporosis.
  • TSP also irritates the stomach and intestinal lining as well as reduces lactic acid in muscles.

I, for one, do not want kidney damage, soft tissue calcification, removal of calcium from my bones (hello osteoporosis?!?!?), or irritated stomach and intestinal lining.

But how much is too much?

And is there a too much???

What Foods Commonly Contain TSP?

Breakfast cereals seem to be the products that most commonly contain TSP. However, you may also see Sodium Phosphate, Disodium Phosphate or Tripotassium Phosphate on the label instead of just the typical Trisodium Phosphate.

These also can cause the same health problems as TSP so you really need to keep your eyes open.

So many products might contain TSP. Here's a list of common offenders.

Breakfast Cereals*

Lunchmeat

Ham

Other processed meats

Processed cheese

Cheese sauces

Rice syrup

Canned soups

Cake mixes

Bread

Pizza dough

Other baked goods

Toothpastes for adults, kids and babies

Mouthwash

Hair coloring and bleaching products

* Some cereals have either trisodium or tripotassium phosphate (TPP). TPP is just as harmful as TSP.

Note--the items on these lists are ALL processed foods.  So if you are eating a whole foods diet, then you shouldn't be ingesting that much paint thinner :).

HOWEVER, note that there are some personal care products on the list as well.

It's SO important to not only think about what you are eating, but what you are putting on your body.

These posts on Heavy Metals in Cosmetics and Haircare Ingredients to Avoid and the Dangers of Fragrances show that there is way more than just TSP and TPP to worry about when it comes to toxins in your personal care products.

How Much TSP is Safe In Food?

There is a lot of conflicting information about what a "safe" level of TSP is in food. Some say that the FDA says that 70 mg of TSP is the most TSP that one should ingest per day.

Then other articles state that the FDA has approved 70 mg/kg of body weight as the maximum tolerable limit of TSP that a person should ingest per day. (For a 150 lb person, this translates to 4,772 mg/day).

So that's a lot of TSP.

Actually, the precise amount of TSP in cereal isn’t known, but the FDA does say that it's safe enough for manufacturers to decide on their own. 

I think it's up to you. Personally would prefer to just not eat this. That doesn't mean that I think it's really dangerous, but I prefer to eat as little additives as possible.

With all of the sources of Trisodium Phosphate in food, if you are eating a lot of processed food and using conventional personal care products, you have no idea if we’re ingesting more than the maximum tolerable limit. So just to be safe, you might want to stay away from all foods containing TSP.

Toxicity Burden

It's important to remember that the toxic burden on our bodies isn't just about one ingredient.

When thinking about the toxic load that these products have on our bodies, you need to think about them in conjunction with each other. You are not JUST eating TSP, you are eating TSP, BHT, and arsenic, while you are spraying artificial fragrance on your body and washing your clothes in it.

It all adds up to a toxic burden that can cause all kinds of health problems.

Snopes' Take on Trisodium Phosphate in Cereal

Likely you are familiar with Snopes. Snopes writes posts on all kinds of things from political issues, historical events, and even, yes--paint thinner in cereal.

If you're looking on the internet to see if Trisodium Phosphate in Breakfast Cereal is a big deal or not, you will find that Snopes says--No. Trisodium Phosphate in Breakfast Cereal is just no biggie.

They acknowledge that TSP is used as a paint thinner but they claim that just because something is used for something that seems caustic like thinning paint, doesn't mean it's toxic. They then compare TSP to sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), stating that if you're OK eating baking soda (and most of us are), then you should be OK eating TSP.

One problem with this thinking is that baking soda and TSP are not the same thing and one of them is more dangerous than the other. (sources: 1, 2)

Snopes does say that TSP's pH is like bleach. So just because they rank the paint thinner claim as false (and it very well might be), that doesn't mean that I want this in my cereal.

Update on Health Concerns about Trisodium Phosphate in Foods

Since the publication of this post, some readers have commented about how nonsensical my concerns were, even though I did state that I wasn't that concerned about the toxicity of this product.  However, this has pushed me to do more research and as such, I am now more concerned than ever about this additive.

Kidney Health and Trisodium Phosphate

If you have normal kidneys, they can remove excess phosphorous from your body. However, if you have compromised kidney health, then you should consider monitoring and restricting the amount of phosphates in your diet, and that would include trisodium phosphate.

Extra phosphorus can pull calcium out of your bones and consequently high phosphorus and calcium levels can lead to dangerous calcium deposits in your body, including in your blood vessels, lungs, eyes, and heart. (source)

Bone Health and Trisodium Phosphate

As noted above, too much phosphorous in your diet can lead to calcium being leached out of your bones. So it would follow that this could be a huge health problem. How much is too much is the problem and it also depends on kidney health for the reasons described above.  You can read more about trisodium phosphate and bone health concerns here.

Conclusion

Even if we all agree that TSP is FINE (and I'm not so sure that it is), most cereals and processed foods are still NOT fine in my book.

Most breakfast cereals are full of:

sugar
white flour of some sort
preservatives (some even have that uber toxic, cancer-causing BHA and BHT in them. Just no thanks.)

And it's all extruded at very high pressure to make cute shapes ala Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, Cocoa Puffs, etc. Fun to eat, but there is damage done to the grains at those high temperatures and pressures so that they cause lots of inflammation in you when you eat them.

Yes, Cheerios (or, fill in the blank with any other traditional breakfast cereal) are JUNK!

And processed foods are basically almost all in the same camp. Doesn't mean we don't occasionally enjoy some organic crackers or chips, etc., but that is for sure the exception and not the rule.

While this TSP in cereal | TSP in food maybe isn't a BIG issue, it's an issue.

Since I wasn't able to find real documentation anywhere about how much Trisodium Phosphate in food is really supposed to be OK to ingest, I think it might be best to avoid it.

I'd love to hear what you think about it!

Trisodium Phosphate in Cereal | Trisodium Phosphate in Food

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100 Comments

  1. I get very differing opinions on dicalcium phosphate and tri vslcioum phosphate. I need a conclusion as it is in many cereals.

  2. TSP is not a paint thinner. The non-foodgrade version is used - at a relatively high concentration - on existing painted surfaces because the alkalinity makes it an excellent degreaser. Baking soda would do the job too, just as TSP could be used as a leavener.

    Snopes does NOT say it's a paint thinner. Neither do they say TSP is comparable to bleach - its "high pH [is] comparable to bleach". Their article is fact-based and links to the FDA quotes.

    I'm not saying it's a great food additive- neither is Snopes - but it's not the worst by far. Your website would be much more credible if you reported accurately instead of twisting what other people say to fit your own agenda. It's because of people like you that Snopes says:

    "Because representing a phosphate salt as a paint thinner is a rhetorical device used to sow scientifically uninformed fears about a commonly used food additive without any concern for scale or mechanism, and because the compound itself presents no reasonable risk to humans, we rank this claim as false."

    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/paint-thinner-trisodium-phosphate-found-cereals/

    1. Hi Shannon.

      Thanks for reading.

      I wrote that it isn't a paint thinner.

      The title was written b/c I was wondering about paint thinner in cereal.

      I personally don't buy all that Snopes says. I didn't say that they said it was a paint thinner. I did just edit the post to say that they said that the pH of TSP is comparable to bleach.

      I never said that TSP was the worst by far.

      What do you think I wrote that wasn't accurate?

      Thanks.

    2. Dear Shannon,

      Credibility and SNOPES don't belong in the same sentence. SNOPES has repeatedly been caught lying and/or spinning the truth to fit a certain agenda . It's no secret that SNOPES has made a habit of making false equivalences and Strawman arguments. SNOPES also tends to address only certain parts of a claim while COMPLETELY ignoring the other parts.

      Case in point:

      SNOPES compares TSP to baking soda and suggests that if baking soda can be used as a cleaning agent then there's no reason to worry that TSP is in our food. But that's a false equivalence. Adrienne pointed this out in her article; baking soda is considerably less dangerous than TSP. Large quantities of TSP can affect water systems, and as a cleaning agent TSP can stain metal and damage grout. Baking soda is not a strong and doesn't have these effects.

      Furthermore, we know how much baking soda is too much; we can safely assess the maximum amount of baking soda that we can consume without getting sick; but in the article Adrienne claims she hasn't been able to find out exactly how much TSP is too much; and you haven't addressed her query.

      The only valid point SNOPES makes is that TSP is safe in certain buffered forms. But there's a problem: we have no way of knowing for sure whether the TSP we're eating is indeed safe, the risk that we're consuming an unhealthy type of TSP is always there. So Adrienne wants to know; is the risk worthwhile?

      Basically, your entire reply is one big strawman; it addresses statements that Adrienne has never made.

      1. Thanks for adding to the conversation. Can you share information on what amount of TSP affects water systems? I found some articles stating that it wasn't really an issue while others said that it is. Thank you.

        Also, I would love to know what kind of dishwasher detergent you are using b/c since phosphates were removed from them it's hard to find one that works well.

        Thank you again.

        1. I googled most of my information. Wikipedia for example is a rich source of information on TSP (and everything else). It says that TSP-based cleaning agents cause eutrophication (excessive growth of water weeds) of lakes and rivers, an effect that is typical of common household detergents and cleaning products.

          You can read more about TSP on Wikipedia. It's a pretty good read, but I don't take at face value everything I find there since anyone with an account can add fake/misleading stuff (ahem, jagged 85).

          My main argument for avoiding food containing TSP is that...we don't know exactly how toxic/dangerous TSP can be; there is no consensus about it among experts. And even if TSP in buffered forms is indeed harmless, how do you know the TSP in your food has been buffered? Baking soda isn't as problematic as TSP.

          And by the way, SNOPES were caught with their pants down when they were spinning the truth in one of their articles in which they were persistently trying to discredit a blogger for warning readers about the dangers of glyphosate in food.

          https://foodbabe.com/do-you-trust-snopes-you-wont-after-reading-how-they-work-with-monsanto-operatives/

          Notice that SNOPES never adds any edit notification in their articles after they've updated them. That's because SNOPES will rewrite them every time readers find inaccuracies and untruths in them.

          Rumor has it that SNOPES themselves fabricate and spread fake information that will attract right wingers who are stupid enough to believe and forward it without fact checking it beforehand, and after enough people have started talking about it SNOPES debunks it, leaving the impression that it was a lie deliberately started by right wingers. Of course, this is just a rumor. But when politics and money are involved, I don't rule anything out.

  3. I am finding that so much food, even what is supposed to be fresh and natural is actually poisoning us. Where I live now, there are no serious grocery stores. It is just Walmart, Meijer and Aldi. Their chicken does not even seem right, fresh or frozen. I have chronic illness and live with a lot of stress. This worsening diet makes me feel even weaker and more stressed. Even the fish is mostly from fish farms along the coasts of communist countries. My son and his kids eat a lot of processed foods and and now I live with them. I always thought Cheerios were okay because they are from oats and no GMO. Now there even more poisons that I was not aware of. I cannot convince my kids that this is going on. They do not care. Hope other people are more receptive to your article.

    1. I am so sorry to hear all of this. Cheerios are apparently one of the foods that has the most glyphosate on it. I am working on a post about it and just got our youngest's urine tested for glyphosate. The results are very interesting.

  4. I am so nervous after reading allll of this!! I wouldn’t be as nervous, but I have a baby.. 18 months, he likes bread, fruits, milk, soups, hotdogs, chicken Alfredo.. the list goes on and on.. after reading all this, I’m interested in finding healthy alternatives! Whether that means I get us on a certain diet, I find a website of certain alternatives, etc.. so could you point me in the right direction please? Enlighten me more on this subject?? Maybe even a list of stuff that’s okay, or certain things I need to watch out for? Even if you have some tips, and trusted websites.. it’d be very much appreciated.. I don’t think anything needs to be critiqued as I’m not educated on the matter whatsoever, and it was an excellent educational read.. I will send you my email address below, I’d love to hear your opinion on this! Please inform me, PLEASE! I had to find this website again, because I started to look around for websites that could help me in this department and I didn’t see anything (I guess I’m not looking at the right stuff) also is anyone else has some good information about healthy alternatives, I definitely cannot get enough knowledge on this, I swear!! I’m not the best at typing, and I’m very sleepy so sorry if this isn’t correct grammar, typing, etc.. just a worried mom now and wondering what I need to do to make things better for my little one.. thank you I’m advance so happy I stumbled across this!
    My email is, (email deleted by blog owner)
    Again thank you, you may have just saved our lives in the long run!!
    Commenting from North Carolina!
    -Nina

    1. Hi Nina. Try not to fret. I just emailed you. I know it's confusing but you can make changes as you need to. Basically whole foods and as many organic as possible is the way to go. Your writing is just fine :).

      Feel free to respond here or via email but you can do it and eat healthier one step at a time.

      Blessings and hope to see you around again!

  5. I am so nervous after reading allll of this!! I wouldn’t be as nervous, but I have a baby.. 18 months, he likes bread, fruits, milk, soups, hotdogs, chicken Alfredo.. the list goes on and on.. after reading all this, I’m interested in finding healthy alternatives! Whether that means I get us on a certain diet, I find a website of certain alternatives, etc.. so could you point me in the right direction please? Enlighten me more on this subject?? Maybe even a list of stuff that’s okay, or certain things I need to watch out for? Even if you have some tips, and trusted websites.. it’d be very much appreciated.. I don’t think anything needs to be critiqued as I’m not educated on the matter whatsoever, and it was an excellent educational read.. I will send you my email address below, I’d love to hear your opinion on this! Please inform me, PLEASE! I had to find this website again, because I started to look around for websites that could help me in this department and I didn’t see anything (I guess I’m not looking at the right stuff) also is anyone else has some good information about healthy alternatives, I definitely cannot get enough knowledge on this, I swear!! I’m not the best at typing, and I’m very sleepy so sorry if this isn’t correct grammar, typing, etc.. just a worried mom now and wondering what I need to do to make things better for my little one.. thank you I’m advance so happy I stumbled across this!

    1. Hello Nina. I get it. It's so confusing to try to figure everything out. I'm happy to answer any questions you have and you might want to check out our new Facebook Healthy Living Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/171490083677560/

      You can ask questions there and everyone is pretty helpful--it's still small yet, but very interactive!

      There are a lot of things that can help you. Start with your biggest priority and go from there. Whole foods are the way to go. Let me know how we can help and welcome!

  6. Interesting read. I read the Snopes article on the TSP issue. Even before so, my initial thought was, eh, there are many cross-over chemicals/ingredients in food/home/industry use. But being informed and exercising caution is certainly reasonable and smart in navigating through this life.

    Look, as I teach my kids, living in society is based completely on the 'honor system'. Obeying everyday laws and rules simply helps the masses coexist [hopefully] as peacefully possible. Today, the FDA is a huge part of our everyday living, but not an absolute catchall. Common Sense and good judgement must be front and center in all of us. So, do we trust the FDA.....we must. It's made up of everyday people just like us. Does science know perfectly, about everything, across all time and all variables? No. But we can't live our lives paranoid, just reasonably cautious which is different for all. I'm not a fan of people posting, IMO, scare articles on FB and other social media, it just riles them up. Talk about it with your friends and family and they can do the same and I'm sure along the way some will help debunk, dismiss and/or enlighten one another.

  7. Thanks, my nine years old girls were upset about their lucky charms being trashed. But we're more shocked to understand why they were trashed.

    1. Hi "just another person" - well, I guess you mean that we should just eat whatever we want and not worry about it b/c it's fun to do so. Sadly, toxins are overwhelming us now and when we get sick it is no longer a good time. Hope that makes sense. Thanks for reading!

      1. I agree with just another person. Pretty much everything is bad for you, so should we just stop eating everything?

        1. No--basically we have just put too many toxins in our food and environment. Pretty much all of that is bad. Water is good. Veggies are good--fruit and protein. Back to basics :).

          1. Water can be good - unless it's been fouled. Veggies and fruit should be good - unless they've been forced and there's nothing nutritious left. Living sensibly should mean understanding there is no black and white, nothing is purely good. Even too much water can kill you!!

            1. Thanks. By going back to basics I meant without the toxins, etc. of course--since that's what this post was about to begin with--additives that don't need to be there.

          2. Shannon is making false equivalences again.

            Water is vital, whether contaminated or pure, we can't do without it; there is no substitute for water.
            Vegetables and fruits are a vital source of vitamins; our survival depends on them.

            Cereals are not vital. Your survival doesn't depend on cereals. Adrienne simply suggested that it might be a good idea to avoid cereals and other similar foods since they are unnecessary and might cause problems.

            I happen to agree with her suggestion.

  8. I'm a biochemical engineer, I will gladly challenge you to a simple feat. I will consume the full 4 grams of TSP you claimed to be a lot, all while keeping it in terms of mg to make it seem bigger, if you consume 4 grams of bitter almonds.

    1. As a blogger who isn't an intellectual slouch, you're on, as long as I can cook them first. Clearly you didn't read the article.

  9. Good grief!! Another awful "FDA Approved" ingredient added to our already failing food system. Most things on the shelves today are not even edible! It's quite discouraging when buying this type of stuff. We typically buy from local farmers, drink raw milk and buy only organic meat and poultry, but of course once inawhile the kiddos just want junk cereal. Now at least I have a better excuse when saying no, other than, "it's unhealthy|.. LOL
    I don't trust the FDA one bit! This further backs my reasonings. I'm with ya, no thanks is right!! TSP is not going near our lips!! Back to checking labels again!

    1. Thanks! Yes you do have one more reason. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment :)!

  10. No, I didn't know ingredients for paint thinner were in cerial. I am on my way to eating healthier, that is to say with less and less processed products. I want to lose weight not gain it.

  11. I think you summed it up with "The toxic burden on our bodies isn't done with one ingredient". The FDA may say BHT, BHT, TSP is safe In the Small amount of the hot dog/cereal/lunch meat, etc that you're eating, But again if you're having a diet filled with those BHA, BHT, TSP ingredients daily you ARE setting yourself up for an unhealthy lifestyle. We have choices, I choose to feed myself and my family more whole foods with an occasional 'splurge' .

  12. "Most breakfast cereals are full of:

    sugar
    white flour of some sort
    preservatives (some even have that uber toxic, cancer-causing BHA and BHT in them. Just no thanks.)"

    You forgot one...GMO (genetically modified organism)....About 95% of corn crops in America are GMO, and a LOT of wheat is GMO (don't know the percentage right at the moment), but most everything you eat, is either GMO, chemicalized, or both.
    Speaking of corn, it's fed to all factory farmed animals...along with the antibiotic shots (because they live in filth), and hormone shots (to make them grow fatter, faster). So anytime you eat ANY diary, or ANY meat, your getting those into your body....I'd prefer not to, so I eat ALL organic. Some people say, you can't trust organics either. But they might be a LITTLE right, but if you sign up for organic websites, that are honest, they will tell you everything that's going on with organics, and the organic companies. All it takes is to read, study, and pay attention, and LEARN!
    I know that organics are not all perfect...the wind has taken Monsatan's poisons, and spread them around, but it's just nice to know, that at least, I'm not ALL chemicalized and GMO'd! I'm sure I've got LESS poisons in my body, than the average grocery shopper, who doesn't care about their health, or what's being put in their food! And to know that I can find most anything and everything in organic, has me being a HAPPY and HEALTHY puppy! I just wish everyone in the world could be as happy and healthy, and knowledgeable as me!

    1. You are totally right. Thank you! We have moved to almost 100% organic. There are a lot of people lying out there, though. Even some USDA certified products aren't what they seem to be :(.

  13. please read this . ( link to Snopes' post on tsp deleted by blog owner) This is only one place I found that this claim is most likely false.
    I believe that this scary idea is misconstrued. There are so many fear inducing things printed and shared on social media. Whenever I read about one I try to do some research.
    This is the last paragraph of the article: Because representing a phosphate salt as a paint thinner is a rhetorical device used to sow scientifically uninformed fears about a commonly used food additive without any concern for scale or mechanism, and because the compound itself presents no reasonable risk to humans, we rank this claim as false

    1. Hi there.
      Sorry but I removed the link to Snopes b/c I don't want to give them any traffic b/c their post is basically nonsensical for most of its content.

      There are other posts online saying that the TSP / Paint Thinner issue is not accurate.

      Anyhow, I addressed Snopes' claims in the post--perhaps you missed it? I clarified in my post that TSP isn't a paint thinner, but it's an ingredient in it. Still, I don't want to eat it.

      They also compare it to bleach :)????

      Let me know what you think--thanks!

      1. Dear Adrienne, I'm not the commenter that you responded to, but I'm going to put my oar in here. 😉 My first thought when I saw the title in my In box was, "TSP is a cleaning chemical, not paint thinner!" [And no I don't want cleaning chemicals in my food either!] Yes, you did say at one point that TSP isn't paint thinner, but that it IS an ingredient in paint thinner (I can't find any info about paint thinner ingredients on line so can't check that). But you DO continue to say throughout your article that boxed cereals contain paint thinner and that you don't want to eat paint thinner. Maybe it's a little quibble, but once you discovered that TSP isn't paint thinner, don't you think it would have been more honest, and less sensational, to take out all references to it being a paint thinner? (I know the title got people reading, but it wasn't necessary in the rest of the post after you'd debunked it.) We haven't eaten boxed cereal in years [I know it's not healthy as it's so processed], but stirring up all the hype doesn't help convince those who really need to be convinced to eat more healthily, and it tends to alienate other folks; folks we need to persuade (as winsomely as possible) to a more logical worldview. I hope you're reading this in the spirit in which it is intended (an older mom/grandma trying to gently help). In His grace, Mrs. O

        1. Hi there, Mrs. O. Good catch! I must have forgotten to go back and edit that part of the post. I'm not perfect!! And right now I'm recovering from the flu so I'm really not on my game right now. Wish I had that excuse for when I hit "publish" on the post! Thanks for reading and for mentioning this! So sorry! You win the prize for the most detailed reading of the post -- it should be fixed now!

  14. Thanks for a great post with plenty of information to make our own decision. I have long not wanted my family to eat cold cereal (for many reasons including what you mentioned) but find myself out-voted. 🙁 This is my solution: we have it on vacation. It lightens my load in food prep and it is something else to look forward to on a trip which makes the kiddos happy. Also, we do not have many vacations so that really limits their exposure which makes me happy! Thanks again for putting together this post!

    1. You are so welcome. You think like we do. We never buy it but this past Christmas I bought some special treats for the family--one for almost every day leading up to Christmas. I should post some photos even though it's late now. One day it was Annie's Organic Chocolate Bunny Cereal. Nice job, Mom and great minds, eh 🙂 Thanks for the kind words!!

      1. Guess you haven't heard the bad news? Annies sold their soul ...

        Food brand update: Annie's sells out to General Mills while Barbara's gets its cereals Non-GMO Project Verified

        https://www.naturalnews.com/046883_Annies_General_Mills_Barbaras.html

        "General Mills, one of the most deceptive food companies in the world and a processed food giant that funds efforts to block GMO labeling transparency, is reportedly purchasing Annie's for $820 million."

        General Mills Buys Annie's for $820M

        https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/general-mills-buys-annies-820m

        I don't buy that brand anymore, myself.

        1. Hi there. I think I did hear that. I guess I shouldn't have given in. I'm not perfect. I have never bought anything else of theirs ever, I don't think. We rarely ever buy anything processed. Thankfully. Thanks for the comment :).

  15. Well that's nasty!! Ick! And I like that you tackled the Snopes issue too!! I don't eat cereal (I don't do dairy and thus no cereal)....but this helps me not want to even more. 🙂

    1. I know - ick. Yes, Snopes isn't too good at evaluating things sometimes / often. They are very frustrating. I actually don't eat dairy either but we LOVE coconut milk on cereal, however we don't have it in our house much b/c we eat too much of it and well, it's just not that healthy, even WITHOUT the TSP!

  16. Folks, TriSodiumPhosphate (TSP) is NOT paint thinner. It is a cleaning product in it's strongest commercial form but NOT used to thin paint. I worked seven years in the paint industry so I am very familiar with TSP. Please stop the scare tactics.

    Conclusion from Snopes - https://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/tsp.asp - I suggest you read the entire article.

    Because representing a phosphate salt as a paint thinner is a rhetorical device used to sow scientifically uninformed fears about a commonly used food additive without any concern for scale or mechanism, and because the compound itself presents no reasonable risk to humans, we rank this claim as false.

    1. Hello Nicholas.

      First of all, thanks for reading. I did read that article in its entirety. I cited it in the post--perhaps you missed that?

      There are several things to point out. I think I wrote a balanced post about this. I can go back and address the difference b/t Paint Thinner and a product that cleans walls prior to painting them, but neither sounds very appealing to me. In fact, the Snopes article says:

      In a different form, however, TSP is also a cleaning agent, comparable to bleach. Some people take that to mean there’s paint thinner in their favorite breakfast food midnight snack.

      Yuck. So maybe I should call the article -- Is the BLEACH in Your Cereal? Instead. In fact, I'm going to add that to the post.

      As for it being scientifically uninformed, it is clear that:

      While the precise amount of TSP in cereal isn’t known, as the FDA thinks the substance is safe enough for manufacturers to decide how much to use on their own, it’s probably certainly not in the triple digits.

      So here is where I am concerned. The precise amount of TSP in cereal (or foods) isn't known, but the FDA "thinks" it's safe enough for manufacturers to decide on their own. This is the same FDA that shuts down probiotic companies b/c they claim to have a health benefit and that thinks arsenic in chicken is OK.

      Do you see my concern? It doesn't sound that scientifically based if they don't even know what they are talking about. What is a reasonable risk if you can't even find any info about how much is in there or how much is safe? What do you think?

      I don't care personally if Snopes ranks it as false. I think there is bad information in their article and holes in their logic.

    2. Hi again, Nicholas. I just edited the post with more information so thanks for the impetus to do so. I did notice that I had already clarified in the post that TSP is a cleaning agent but it's more clear now.

      I would be interested in your thoughts.

      1. Thanks for responding Adrienne, and clarifying your concern.

        My initial concern was the clickbait, 'sky is falling in' lead in. I would argue that sugar is a far greater concern than TSP. Singling out TSP is a red herring. Another way to look at this is most municipal water contains chlorine which is used to disinfect and make water safer to drink. However, in large quantities chlorine is toxic. Many things we consume are safe in tiny amounts and actually serve a useful function but in large quantities will kill you.

        My point is I would have less of a problem had the blog title been: Sugar in cereal {Is it a danger?}. You bet it is. Far more so than TSP.

        Just know I am not trying to be argumentative.

        Thanks for listening.

        1. Hi Nicholas - thanks for the comment. Well, I was asking the question b/c this is the question that I was asking myself when I saw the video on FB. It was easy to freak out so I did reading and found out what I wrote....that it is bad but not as bad as I thought....maybe.

          It's not a red herring for me. I think that these thing are all adding up to problems and shouldn't be in our food and little by little as we remove them we do better. Yes sugar is a HUGE problem but that doesn't mean I won't write about other things that are lesser issues. Does that make sense? We are like buckets and eventually we can't handle any more.

          I avoid chlorine and filter it out of our whole house. So I don't think it's safe in a small amt--I think it serves its purpose and has to be removed.

          I appreciate your perspective but I wasn't trying to post click bait, really. I wanted people to read it to get the well informed conclusion (if I may say that I think I reached one). Otherwise I would have had to write something like -- "The TSP in Your Cereal Isn't a Big Deal" or "TSP in Cereal - the Truth" which really is the same thing, right? Except that people don't know what TSP is. Hmmmm...not sure I can win here....

          Hope to see you around again. Feel free to call me out if you think I should be. I try to be honest and it's hard...you want people to read w/o being over the top sensationalist.

          Thanks!!!!

          1. Hi Adrienne.

            I really appreciate your taking the time to explain your perspective. We are not that far apart. The problem is a large percentage of readers will not read the whole blog (I'm guilty, too) and they accept the blog's title as fact. That's why the Enquirer and other tabloids get readership. They use a 'shock' headline.

            I find it helpful when writing for others to use bullets, where possible, or paragraph headings above a short explanatory paragraph. In my experience, most people do not like to read long paragraphs. They want instant gratification.

            I'm not trying to be condescending or talk down to you just passing along what has helped me in my career (I am a retired old coot).

            I enjoy your posts but the TSP/paint thinner pushed a button (as you can tell).
            I know you are trying to be helpful to your readers and I applaud you for that. Follow your passion.

            Ok, I'm starting to ramble. Be well, Adrienne...Peace!

            Nicholas

            1. Hi again, Nicholas. Thanks again for the helpful interaction.

              I agree that that can be a big problem. I am really not sure what I should have put as the title otherwise but ugh...it's tough.

              I did think that I put in quite a few headlines. If you think there should be more--suggest away. I'm happy to change things around. I'm married to an English Prof and so I'm familiar with criticism about my writing (though I do spell and work out pronunciation much better than he does--odd, huh?). Our oldest finds errors in my writing all the time as well. I am just doing too much multi-tasking and spend less time than I should on editing.

              Too much passion, I think....and too little attention to some details.

              If I may ask, we actually need a painter for our house asap....were you a painter, and if so, are there any questions I should ask? We have some areas that aren't doing so well on the outside of the house and I want to make sure that they are taken care of properly.

              Thanks again - Adrienne

    1. Hi Kelley. Actually no - did you see the safety comparisons of the 2 in the post? I addressed that. Take a look and let me know what you think.

      1. Exactly! Everyone disagreeing with you is basically making false equivalences.

        Baking soda is safer. We know how much is too much.
        TSP is more dangerous and we don't know how much is too much.

        Some forms of TSP might be safe, but the safest option would be to avoid it altogether.