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Hot chips & cigarettes (or, how government regulators fail us, again and again)

A post by Dr Patrick Jones, audio version (approx. 5mins)


There’s a common argument in polite Australia that goes something like this, ‘Governments regulate industry and all is well in the world. We don’t need to watch corporate activity, our regulators have that all covered.’ But is this assumption naive and hazardous to our health?

I accompanied Blackwood and some friends to watch the cricket at the MCG last week. The advertising at the ground that bombarded us throughout the day included fast food, alcohol, gambling, and microbe extermination products. You can see this for yourself if you watch the highlights.

During the day, Blackwood, now a confirmed cricket tragic like his dad, was kindly offered a bucket of hot chips, and I agreed to let him have it. Although cigarette companies are banned from sports advertising (which took decades of activism including Australia’s own unique chapter, BUGAUP), this week I discovered that this small bucket of chips that Blackwood consumed may have had the same level of toxins as him smoking a bunch of cigarettes.

I’ve been invited to write a paper on environmental poisons for an Italian academic journal, which is providing an opportunity to update my research regarding environmental pollutants and toxins in both bodies and biomes. So, I thought I’d use this period (over the next several months) to share snippets of my research and publish interesting morsels here for readers.

This week I’m taking a look at the humble potato chip (or French fry, if you’re from the US), from the vantage point of a 2018 study on fried food toxins.

Our taste receptors are excited by salty and fatty foods. The fast food industry exploits our weak spot for such nutrients or chemical compounds, which were not so prevalent as we evolved into a species with unique human taste abilities.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m probably not telling you anything new. However, if you’ve been looking for research to back up your hunch that fried hot chips are likely very toxic in the body, then please read on.

Our family has been avoiding hot chips bought at a store for many years now, preferring to grow our own spuds and animal fats organically and cooking them at home. But, every now and then (like at the cricket) we soften our stance and indulge. Is this such a stupid thing to do?

A study entitled, Chronic non-communicable disease risks presented by lipid oxidation products in fried foods (2018), although limited in its frame of reference – i.e. it would have been more useful to switch butter for ghee, and add animal fats as part of the trial – it is nonetheless a good indicator of what we have suspected, intuitively for some time, that is – if you are buying hot chips from fast food outlets, perhaps don’t.

The study finds that in a “154g potato chip serving [the] aldehyde contents are not dissimilar to those arising from the smoking of a (daily) allocation of 25 tobacco cigarettes…”

That there exists cell-damaging, carcinogenic aldehyde toxins in supposedly benign foods like fried potato chips is yet another example of government regulation not serving people, but rather serving the profit interests of industry foremost, while simultaneously eroding human health.

Of course anyone paying attention knows governments and industry now sleep in the same bed, and as we saw so outstandingly with the Covid response, there is no longer even a covering up of their flagrant lovemaking.

To have fried foods duly regulated by government oversight is never going to occur within a political system that has been captured by every large industry across the globe. Such oversight can only come from individuals, households and communities getting informed from sources they can trust, and acting on what they find out.

But if we cannot trust, or haven’t got the time to research the things we consume, then living by a simple precautionary principle, like ‘if it’s fast it’s probably toxic,’ is going to serve us well, and keep us from the ever grubby hands of the pharmaceutical or illness industry.

Your comments, research and experiences with environmental toxins that have been enabled by falsely regulated industries and corporatised journalism, are most welcome here.

And lastly if you’d like to listen to a couple of sweet evolutionary biologists discussing the scientific paper mentioned in this piece, head here.

(The citation for the paper referenced is: Grootveld M, Percival BC, Grootveld KL. Chronic non-communicable disease risks presented by lipid oxidation products in fried foods. HepatoBiliary Surg Nutr 2018;7(4):305-312. doi: 10.21037/hbsn.2018.04.01)C

I’m closing out this post with a peg of Blackwood harvesting spuds in our home garden last year. Growing our own food is always the best medicine, and it means that low-income households like ours can afford organically grown food that is non-reliant upon the vulgar boudoir of the state-corporate nexus.


  1. When it comes to healthy fats and fat-soluble vitamins, the information that Weston A. Price has shared with the world is second to none. Sally Fallon is continuing to spread Price’s message with her book “Eat Fat, Lose Fat”, which I can highly recommend.
    Here is a interview where Sally talks about why we need animal fats to be optimally healthy:

    1. Thanks for sharing that link, Sambodhi. Fallon certainly holds a trove of nutritional wisdom.

      1. Richard says:

        Meanwhile, the new government of Aotearoa over the ditch have even abandoned the regulation they had.

        1. Thanks for sharing this link, Richard. NZ has seemingly headed back into old school state-corporatism (right) after the Ardern new school state-corporate period (left). Like in Australia, these are the only forms of government in town, so laughing at or ignoring them and creating our own community- and household-based regulation seems like a sensible way to dance these days.

  2. Caroline says:

    I am so sad to read this post. When I eat out with friends, which is rarely, I often go for hot chips as they are a great GF option. But after reading this post, I can’t do that anymore. I am so grateful for your research.

    Also, a huge happy birthday to Magpie! I gobble up everything you say and do Meg. You are such an inspiration to me and my circle of women. Whenever we find anything about you online that you post, we share it with eachother. I am a HUGE fangirl. Love from a very cold Canada.

    1. Thanks for your fandom, Caroline. Feeling the love across the waters. Another friend of ours said a similar thing, ‘bummer, hot chips are glutard-friendly fillers when away from home.’

  3. Ollie says:

    I had hot chips with a friend about a month ago. I usually avoid them. I had an almost instant stomach cramp, and the worst acne I’ve had a in a long time. Told myself never again 😬

    1. Oh no, that’s terrible, Ollie. And we’ve only discussed the toxins in the frying oils, the spuds themselves are one of the dirtiest crops grown conventionally because of the pesticides used.

      Diazinon for example which “is one of a class of pesticides called organophosphates (OPs), chemicals that were originally developed by the German company I.G. Farben as nerve gases during World World II. Even short-term exposure to diazinon and other OPs can damage the brain and nervous system. Symptoms can range from headaches, nausea, dizziness, and seizures to paralysis, multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, comas, and death in extreme cases. Pesticide industry studies conducted on laboratory animals show that children are more susceptible to diazinon than are adults. After reviewing thousands of scientific studies–most of which were generated by the pesticide industry–the EPA concluded in June 2000 that all common household uses of diazinon are unsafe.” From here.

      24 years of government capture later, no doubt all the studies show this pesticide to be completely safe.

  4. Corporate interests control the government responding to the directives of private neoliberal consulting firms to continue globalisation that exacerbates social coherence…

    1. Did ChatGTP write this, Jean-Marc? 🙂

  5. Jac says:

    Thanks for discouraging me on what has been a go-to cheap option, and something I may have some emotional attachment to. How have chips become so popular? I put it to you that potato salad is a nicer option. If you were to film yourself having a crunch on some “fries”, would that get to the heart of what this digusting degustation is about?

    1. True, Jac. Potato salad is the bomb. But so too is home-grown potatoes fried in duck fat or goat tallow.

  6. trace says:

    ahhh how have we gotten so far off track… lately I’ve been pondering… once we know such things… and far more damaging things too, if we see them as a crime… if we are complacent are we complicit?… thanks for yet again opening our eyes… glad I’ve never been much of a hot chip eater!

    1. It’s an interesting question, Trace. We all see things so differently. We’d imagine there wld be a riot if hot chips (as they are currently made) were banned. But rather than see or unsee such crimes of the poison economy, where are the new small businesses selling chemical free potato chips cooked in free-range animal fats or coconut oil? We know these fats are safe to cook with at high temps, so where are the hipsters, the virtue signallers, the ‘ethical’ bourgie foodies, the Instagram food pornographers? Or much much better, where are the new era soup kitcheneers who produce non-harmful hot chips with local animals fats and all the food they cook is affordable for anyone’s budget and is essentially collected leftovers from small chem-free market gardeners local to each business. How has the culture arrived at either bourgie or fast junk as the only two options for eating out? Oh Trace, there are so many more rhetorical questions… xx

  7. Patrick Hockey says:

    I’m reminded, perhaps a little perversely, of Helen and Scott Nearing’s view that a meal shouldn’t take longer to prepare than it does to eat – a different take on fast food!

    Also, I would definitely apply the ‘if it’s fast, it’s probably toxic’ concept to the global aviation industry which continues to grow exponentially out of all proportion to any sense or caution about a climate emergency.

    1. Yeah, the global aviation industry grows in step with The Age’s travel section. Virtue signalling climate stories one page, selling bourgie overseas travel adventures the next. But never any mention of vaccine injuries, excess deaths or unlawful mandates. Strange isn’t? Human rights for some, eh Pat. Good to see you back in the hood, brother.

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