Multilevel Marketing Uses Social Media To Market Food Scams
Multi-level marketing companies, or MLMs, have exploded over the past few decades. There is a good chance that, especially if you are in the demographic of a 30-40 year old woman, if you have not yet bought something from a woman, you have received a DM from someone whose you vaguely remember high school asking if you want to know more about an “incredible opportunity”.
These businesses, which are basically just legal pyramid schemes, employ extremely predatory sales tactics to take advantage of stay-at-home moms in particular. What they usually don’t tell you when recruiting is that 99% of MLM participants either don’t make any money or actually lose money.
In addition to these problematic sales and recruiting practices, there are several in particular that tend to spread a lot of misinformation in order to sell their products. These sales tactics are reminiscent of the “snake oil” sales tactics of over a hundred years ago: fabricate a problem (usually at the expense of science culture) and sell the solution.
Here, I’m going to explore three viral videos I’ve come across on social media in which MLM salespeople make false claims in order to sell their products, and I’ll explain why their claims are entirely false, based on some pretty basic stuff. scientific notions
# 1: Plant wash with essential oils that supposedly removes pesticides.
Here we have a video of someone spraying a head of broccoli with their MLM Vegetable Lye. Before spraying it, they claim that the water beading on the top of the broccoli is “the result of pesticides and environmental pollution, which is why you should wash and not just rinse your produce!” She then sprays the MLM Vegetable Cleaner on the broccoli and viola, the water no longer beads on the surface, to which she explains that “the layers of chemicals have been removed allowing the water to soak up the broccoli”.
So obviously the first red flag is that she is selling an MLM product. You should immediately be skeptical of any claims made about what the product does.
Right off the bat, the claim that water beads off the surface of broccoli from pesticides and environmental pollution is absolutely absurd.
Broccoli, like many plants, produces a natural layer of wax, which creates a hydrophobic surface so that the water beads and flows. This property has nothing to do with pesticides or environmental pollution and is a natural defense mechanism against UV rays, insects and pathogens. It helps the plant to retain moisture so that it does not dry out, in addition to keeping excess moisture out.
If you believe the first false statement, you are more likely to believe the following false explanation. Vegetable washing is essentially composed of a surfactant (soap) and essential oils. The surfactant removes the wax so that when it rinses it off with water after applying the soap and removing the wax, it is no longer hydrophobic and the water is able to soak into the broccoli.
It has absolutely nothing to do with pesticides or environmental pollution, and this demonstration doesn’t show the removal of either of those things.
OK, so no harm, no fault if someone believed it and bought it, right? Well, not exactly.
These detergents are not tested for safety or effectiveness. The amount of residue left on the food from them is unknown. The FDA cautions that “washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial laundry is not recommended. The products are porous. Soap and household detergents can be absorbed by fruits and vegetables even with plenty of rinsing and can make you sick. In addition, the safety of commercial detergent residues is not known and their effectiveness has not been tested. “
Researchers at the Department of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition at the University of Maine tested three commercial wash treatments against a water wash, with or without the aid of a fruit and vegetable brush , and found that water works just as well or better at removing residual microbes and pesticides when washing commercial products. Vinegar and other food ingredients can be used safely, but they are not necessary.
The recommendation is to simply wash all products thoroughly under clean running water before preparing and / or eating them. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean fruit and vegetable brush, and dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce any bacteria that may be present on the surface.
# 2: Soaking products in alkalized water removes more pesticides.
This one is something that I have seen from several different MLM water filter sellers on TikTok. It’s not as obvious whether it’s an MLM, but these people are selling water filters and ionizers that cost thousands of dollars.
I have covered some of the false health claims regarding alkaline water in this article and in my previous article, but in this specific demonstration they claim that soaking fruits or vegetables in alkaline water from the expensive filter that they sell removes more pesticides than regular tap water. Of course, the protest begins by falsely claiming that the fruits and vegetables are “coated with pesticides”. I’ve written about this before, and it’s absolutely not true. There may be parts per billion (ppb) levels of pesticide residues on products, but they are routinely detected on conventional and organic products at levels hundreds to thousands of times below the already very conservative tolerance levels. .
She then continues: “And guess what? You cannot remove them with just water. This is also wrong. Running under tap water can significantly reduce pesticide residues. These ppb levels are not a food safety issue to begin with.
She sells an MLM water filter for almost $ 5,000 based on false claims. MLMs are scams for both sellers and buyers. #mlm #mlmscam # alkalized water
original sound – Food Science Babe
She fills two glasses of cherry tomatoes and pours tap water on one, then what she claims to be pH 11.5 water in the other, though it doesn’t there is no way for the viewer to verify it. We just have to take her at her word. Lo and behold, the alkalized water turns a yellowish color, so she says “you can already see the pesticides coming off !!”
However, big problem: who said that yellow was synonymous with pesticides?
This is the assumption that is made, but there is no way of knowing if this is true unless you actually test the resulting water for pesticides, which it of course does not have. made. We’re just supposed to believe that yellowish water means pesticides, so it works. In reality, what could be happening is that the very alkaline water only breaks down the tomatoes, causing the water to turn yellow.
There is some evidence showing that soaking apples in baking soda solution can reduce pesticides even more than just running them under running water, although this is not a necessary step for safe products. If it helps them feel better about consuming products and causes them to eat more, then go for it. No need to buy an expensive water filter though. The method of rinsing and scrubbing with tap water is sufficient.
# 3: The scent kills weeds, so it’s bad for your body.
Surprise surprise this is another popular MLM essential oil sales pitch. This video that went viral on Instagram shows someone spraying perfume on an herb and then showing that the herb was dead some time later. The aim was to dissuade people from perfuming their bodies in order to sell them essential oils instead.
Hopefully this one is pretty obvious, but just because something can kill a weed doesn’t mean it’s bad to put or in our bodies. Vinegar and salt can also kill weeds. Heck, even too much water can kill weeds. Not to mention that essential oils can do this too.
The misinformation surrounding essential oils can be particularly harmful. The people who sell them are often misinformed themselves and tell people that it is safe to apply them to the skin or ingest them undiluted. They often claim that they are safe because they are natural, but even natural substances can be harmful. The dose causes the poison to apply to all chemicals and even a small dose of essential oil undiluted on the skin or ingested can be dangerous, causing everything from allergic reactions to rashes and seizures.
While the point of this is not to specifically call out one of those people who made these videos, it is important to know that these are very common sales tactics used by many MLMs. The salespeople making these videos may not even realize that they are spreading the wrong information because they may believe the sales pitches themselves. That’s why it’s important to be able to spot it so you don’t get ripped off as well. Beware of not only predatory recruiting tactics, but also predatory sales tactics.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Food Science Babe is the pseudonym of a lawyer and writer who focuses specifically on the science behind our food. She holds a degree in Chemical Engineering and has worked in the food industry for over ten years, both in the conventional and natural / organic sectors.