The Whole Foods grocery chain has reportedly yanked Skinnygirl Margaritas, bottled cocktails concocted by Bethenny Frankel of Real Housewives of New York City fame, off its shelves after discovering it contained an ingredient that has been linked to leukemia and other forms of cancer.
On the Skinnygirl website, Frankel calls the drink “the margarita you can trust” for its “all natural ingredients” and “no preservatives,” when actually the drink contains sodium benzoate – a preservative that becomes carcinogenic when combined with vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The Whole Foods grocery chain, which specializes in selling only natural and organic products, said that it had to stop selling Skinnygirl Margaritas “after discovering that it contains a preservative that does not meet our quality standards.”
Beam Global bought the Skinnygirl drink line from Frankel for a reported $120 million but has kept the star onboard for publicity. A company spokesman told the New York Post that Skinnygirl Margaritas have “extremely low levels” of the toxic preservative, but renown osteopath Joseph Mercola and other health activists have warned against the dangers posed by consuming even low levels of sodium benzoate, which produces a byproduct called benzene when combined with vitamin C.
According to Dr. Mercola, benzene “is generally found in pollutants such as car exhaust fumes” but “has been found in U.S. soft drinks at four times the limit considered safe for drinking water.”
Frankel was unapologetic about the “all natural” claim. “I’m not making wheatgrass here. If I could put an agave plant and some limes on a shelf I would. [The Skinnygirl Margarita] is as close to nature as possible while still being a shelf-stable product,” Frankel said in a statement to “Access Hollywood.”
Frankel also denied the drink was “pulled” from shelves over health concerns. “With all due respect to Whole Foods, we were in a dozen of their stores and have decided not to continue in these stores,” Frankel told Access Hollywood. “They represent an infinitesimal fraction of our business. We are, in fact, the fastest growing spirits brand in the US . . . We were bound to p*** someone off, and everyone loves to try to tear down a success. This is a non-event. I haven’t lost even a wink of sleep.”