Dr. Woodrow C. Monte’s Methanol Research – University Of Arizona - Part 9

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acute toxicity not been met, but also, no demonstration of chronic safety has been made. The fact that methyl alcohol appears in other natural food products increases greatly the danger of chronic toxicity developing by adding another unnatural source of this dangerous cumulative toxin to the food system.


Methanol does appear in nature.

To determine what impact the addition of a toxin will have on an environment it is very helpful to accurately determine the background levels of consumption.

Fruit and vegetables contain pectin with variable methyl ester content. However, the human has no digestive enzymes for pectin, particularly the pectin esterase required for its hydrolysis to methanol. Fermentation in the gut may cause disappearance of pectin but the production of free methanol is not guaranteed by fermentation In fact, bacteria in the colon probably reduce methanol directly to formic acid or carbon dioxide (aspartame is completely absorbed before reaching the colon). Heating of pectins has been shown to cause virtually no demethoxylation: even temperatures of 120 C produced only traces of methanol. Methanol evolved during cooking of high pectin foods7 has been accounted for in the volatile fraction during boiling and is quickly lost to the atmosphere. Entrapment of these volatiles probably accounts for the elevation in methanol levels of certain fruit and vegetable products during canning.

In the recent denial by the food and drug Administration of my request for a public hearing on this issue, the claim is made by them that methanol occurs in fruit juice at an average of 140 parts per million (a range of between 15-640 parts per million). This often used average originates from a informative table in a conference paper presented by Francot and Geoffroy. The authors explain that the data presented in the table "may not" represent their work but "other authors". There is no methodology given nor is the original source cited and only the identity of the lowest methanol source, grape juice (12 ppm), and the highest, black currant (680 ppm), are revealed. The other 22 samples used to generate this disarmingly high average are left completely to the imagination. The authors conclude their paper by insisting that "the content of methanol in fermented or non-fermented beverages should not be of concern to the fields of human physiology and public health." They imply that wines "do not present any toxicity" due to the presence of certain natural protective substances. When they present their original data relating to the methanol content of French wines (range 14-265 ppm) or when the methanol content of any alcoholic beverage is given, the ratio of methanol to ethanol is also presented. Of the wines they tested, the ratio associated with the highest methanol content (265 ppm) indicates over 262 times as much ethanol present as methanol. the scientific literature indicates that a fair estimate of methanol content of commonly consumed fruit juices is on the order of 40 parts per million (Table 1). Stegink, et al.


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