Kiera Butler at Mother Jones has an interesting article, "Which Veggie-Burgers Were Made With a Neurotoxin?" As Butler points out, a common found neurotoxin in many foods is hexane, an EPA-registered air pollutant.
The Cornucopia Institute, the food and agriculture nonprofit found that most non-organic veggie burgers currently on the market are made with the chemical hexane, an EPA-registered air pollutant and neurotoxin.
In order to meet the demands of health-conscious consumers, manufacturers of soy-based fake meat like to make their products have as little fat as possible. The cheapest way to do this is by submerging soybeans in a bath of hexane to extract the oil from the protein. Says Cornucopia Institute senior researcher Charlotte Vallaeys, "If a non-organic product contains a soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, or texturized vegetable protein, you can be pretty sure it was made using soy beans that were made with hexane."
If you've heard about hexane before, it was likely in the context of gasoline—the air pollutant is also a byproduct of gas refining. But in 2007, grain processors were responsible for two-thirds of our national hexane emissions. Hexane is hazardous in the factory, too: Workers who have been exposed to it have developed both skin and nervous system disorders. Troubling, then, that the FDA does not monitor or regulate hexane residue in foods. More worrisome still: According to the report, "Nearly every major ingredient in conventional soy-based infant formula is hexane extracted." The Cornucopia Institute found that a number of popular veggie burgers were made with hexane. The list (pdf, at page 37) is longer than you might think.
VEGGIE BURGERS AND HEXANE USENO HEXANE-EXTRACTED SOY INGREDIENTS USEDBoca Burgers “Made with organic soy”HEXANE-EXTRACTED SOY INGREDIENTS USED
Morningstar “Made with organic”
Superburgers by Turtle Island
Boca Burger, conventional
It’s All Good
Yves Veggie CuisineProducts listed as 'Hexane-Extracted' use non-organic soy protein. Our research suggests that these soy protein ingredients were extracted with the use of hexane, a neurotoxic chemical solvent that is prohibited in organic food processing. We strongly urge the companies that manufacture these products to switch to non-hexane extracted soy products.Also worth noting: Products labeled "organic" aren't allowed to contain any hexane-derived products, but that rule doesn't apply to foods that are labeled "made with organic ingredients." For more on soy sourcing, plus a list of popular "made with organic ingredients"-labeled protein bars that are made with hexane, read the Cornucopia Institute's study, "Behind the Bean."The Cornucopia Institute study also lists Nutrition Bars and Infant Formula made with Hexane. The report found only one infant formula acceptable. (pdf, at page 38 -42)Nature’s One’s Baby’s Only Organic is marketed as a “toddler formula,” but it is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements mandated by law for infant formulas. It is the only organic baby formula on the market that does not contain Martek’s hexane-extracted algal DHA and fungal ARA oils. Nature’s One also opts to source only organic ingredients when available, therefore the soy lecithin is organic and processed without the use of hexane.''Organic' is the word to look for. 'Made with organic ingredients' does not insure a pure organic product. Read the report and be diligent.