What happens if I eat moisturizer?
December 13, 2007 4:51 PM   Subscribe

"For external use only." Okay... what if I eat it?

Okay, so I live in Toronto where it seems no store carries this (Cocoa Butter) which is in a few recipes (like this).

However, today I found this moisturizer (Cocoa Butter Stick), which lists as its ingredients:

"100% pure Cocoa Butter"

The label also says, "For external use only."

This site is telling me cocoa and cacao are pretty much used interchangeably as words (one is a powder and one isn't).

My question is, If this stuff is 100% cocoa butter, why can't I eat it? What will happen if I do?

The only thing I can think of is that because this is marketed as a moisturizer it obviously doesn't have the safety seal type of thing that would be on an edible product and the company is simply covering its ass. What say you?
posted by dobbs to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, man. It's the internet, dobbs. I'd say Don't eat it, because I am a wuss who won't eat stuff that's past its labeled expiration date, but other people will say EAT IT, EAT IT, just because it's the internet.
posted by cgc373 at 4:54 PM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

The chances that it will do you any lasting harm are pretty slim, but the chances that it'll be delicious are pretty much zero.
posted by box at 4:59 PM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

My question is, If this stuff is 100% cocoa butter, why can't I eat it? What will happen if I do?

To remind you it's being sold as a moisturizer, not something you should stick into cuts or up your nose or down your throat, since they haven't tested what will happen if you do that and there are probably different regulations/licences concerning moisturizers and foodstuffs. If they didn't have it on there and someone ate it and got sick, they might sue saying "hey cocoa butter is edible, and this had nothing telling me I couldn't eat it, GIVE ME MONEYS".

So yeah, I would say this, like pretty much every warning ever printed on a consumable, was ass covering territory.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:59 PM on December 13, 2007

It's possible, I guess, that it may have been manufactured or stored in a way that may make it unsuitable as a foodstuff. This site says their cocoa butter should be stored at a certain temperature and humidity, but doesn't say for how long. On the other hand, the text on the moisturizer could be just boilerplate legalise used by the manufacturer on all their products, and it could well be edible.

The only way to solve this is to have someone filming you eating the stuff. If you flame out metabolically, at least we can get a single link YouTube post out of it.
posted by maudlin at 5:00 PM on December 13, 2007

Response by poster: For the record, it smells delicious.
posted by dobbs at 5:02 PM on December 13, 2007

Best answer: Don't. Likely be extracted with a solvent which would be rough on your liver ("very sol in chloroform, ether, benzene, petr ether.")-- besides, I've never had one of those cocoa butter sticks which didn't smell rancid to me.
posted by jamjam at 5:10 PM on December 13, 2007

A little bit won't kill you, or it would have way worse warnings on it. So I say taste away.
posted by smackfu at 5:11 PM on December 13, 2007

Rancid cocoa butter is probably still a pretty good moisturizer.
posted by flabdablet at 5:11 PM on December 13, 2007

Also, if they say it's not food, they don't have to label it as food.
posted by smackfu at 5:12 PM on December 13, 2007

Your innards will be soft and smooth.

They're processed differently I believe, which makes the stick stuff pretty unappetizing. As much as it smells delicious, it tastes like- well, it's not good. At least not the one I tried. I didn't eat it, just a quick lick, but it wasn't anything i recommend using in a recipe.
posted by pupdog at 5:12 PM on December 13, 2007

For the record, it smells delicious.

I learned as a young boy browsing through my mothers supply of fruit scented shampoos that, while delicious smell often leads to delicious taste, this is not guaranteed!
posted by jpdoane at 5:12 PM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

it is probably technically edible, but not processed in a plant that would pass muster as a food processing plant.

i sort of think eating that much fat would be like, well, eating a spoonful or two of lard. which is to say, it might cleanse the bowels.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:17 PM on December 13, 2007

I've eaten that before. It was yummy. (This is not advice)
posted by Stewriffic at 5:21 PM on December 13, 2007

To clarify: Just a little bit, though. Calories and all.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:22 PM on December 13, 2007

Wikipedia says it's both edible and commonly used as a base for suppositories so it's presumably safe no matter which end you take it internally...
posted by robcorr at 5:22 PM on December 13, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all, especially jamjam--it never occurred to me to consider the extraction process.

All others, I don't want to eat the stick! I wanted to make that delicious looking dessert. :(
posted by dobbs at 5:32 PM on December 13, 2007

It may be labeled that way because of differences in the shelf life, processing, packaging, and storage of food products versus cosmetic products. That is, the product is not guaranteed to be food grade. It may have been produced from lower quality cocoa beans, or from extraction leftovers, or by equipment that would not usually be used for food. It may also not have been handled as other food products would be after production, whether or not it is the same as cocoa butter that isn't labeled "for external use."

So, I doubt you'd die from eating it, but I wouldn't put it in my nice cheesecake and risk having it turn out tasting like pasty rancid oil.
posted by zennie at 5:33 PM on December 13, 2007

Consider that it's not actually 100 percent pure cocoa butter, but that only the cocoa butter portion is 100 percent pure. As in, "We got the cocoa butter from a 100 pure source, but later we mixed it with petroleum jelly."

"100 percent pure cocoa butter" is unlikely to be really, really 100 percent, because the stuff goes rancid, doesn't have a shelf life, isn't the right consistency at room temperature, etc. Who the fuck knows what's really in there?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:51 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another thing to consider is that since the manufacturers never intended for this to be a food product, they probably never took the same kind of precautions to keep it from getting colonized by bacteria - like Salmonella (Typhoid), Shigella, or E. Coli (dysentery).

Plus, even if there isn't anything living on the stick now, there a lots of bugs out there that make toxins that, when ingested, can wreak havoc on your body. Botulism, Staph, Strep, and Cholera, just to name a few.
posted by i less than three nsima at 7:03 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

It is against federal law to use a product against the directions of its packaging. Not only may you potentially harm yourself, you could be prosecutable without a possibility of winning.

Be sure the ingredients say "Cocoa Butter" because often products will stated "with 100% xxxxx" meaning, one of the ingredients they used was 100% pure. As opposed to some tainted variety of Cocoa Butter. For instance something might be "with 100% orange juice" but contain next to no similar qualities of orange juice, because the amount of orange juice they used was 100%, not that the entire product is completely orange juice. Consider it along the lines of using "whole milk" and "skim milk" as one ingredient of many. It doesn't mean the product is entirely milk by using "whole" but that that particular ingredient is.
posted by Quarter Pincher at 8:14 PM on December 13, 2007

I wouldn't eat it, but if you do, you may find it an excellent laxative.
posted by Miko at 8:25 PM on December 13, 2007

Less goofy answer: even if it's exactly the same product - which, if the labeling is correct, it probably is - it's not manufactured under food-safe conditions. The standards for handling and temperature control and packaging and so on don't have to be as stringent as for food, so you may be taking your chances with bacterial infection if you do eat it.

One good way to find out might be to call the company's number and tell them you accidentally ate some quantity of it, and what should you do?

If the answer is "wait," see my first answer, above.
posted by Miko at 8:27 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cosmetic grade cocoa butter is solvent extracted, usually from the residues remaining after the food grade cocoa butter has been expelled or pressed. Solvent extracted cocoa butter must then be refined, to remove the solvent. Cosmetic grade is usually harder and waxier than food grade, and is unlikely to have the flavor composition you want in a cocoa butter used for cooking.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:00 PM on December 13, 2007

Even if it's the exact same product, here's why I wouldn't eat the moisturizer:

1 pound of Organic Raw Cacao Butter, $17.95
1 oz of Coco Butter moisturiser, $19.20

I'd probably rub the cooking ingredient on my skin, though.
posted by jamaro at 11:21 PM on December 13, 2007

You know how sunscreen says 'do not eat: if consumed please ring xxxxxxxx'? My friend once rang the number and said he'd just eaten a couple of tablespoons of it, and was it actually dangerous. The girl on the other end said that they didn't know of anything that would happen to him, but if he started feeling sick he should see a doctor. So I figure that 'do not eat' warnings are just cover your ass, not 'we know it is poisonous'.
posted by jacalata at 3:53 AM on December 14, 2007

oneirodynia's comment is right. Some of the other comments are silly. While I would never eat my stick of the same cocoa butter, and boy, have I wanted to, it is 100% cocoa butter and would be about as much a laxative mixed into a food product as chocolate chips or butter would be.

Looking at my stick, it even has chocolate bloom! Pardon me while I go find a real source of chocolate now.
posted by artifarce at 5:48 AM on December 14, 2007

For edible, food-grade substitutions, try looking here.
posted by bassjump at 6:16 AM on December 14, 2007

You're right of course, that oneirodynia's comment is specific and authoritative, and I don't disagree - I suspected that the handling would not be foodsafe even if the ingredient was pure.

But the reason I mentioned the laxative effect is quite defensible -- it's a good idea not to eat straight fats. They do have a laxative effect for most people. If you were to eat a straight stick of butter, it's likely you'd notice that. When mixed with other food products, the laxative effect is reduced because the fats are now carried along with fiber and plenty of other compounds. So while mixing food-grade fats with other ingredients indeed would not usually trigger a laxative effect, eating a stick of one very well might, and dobbs' question didn't indicate that he was going to mix it with anything.
posted by Miko at 6:29 AM on December 14, 2007

Why not just order the food grade type from the internets?
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:16 AM on December 14, 2007

I've used this stuff occasionally in food. It was tasty.
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 AM on December 14, 2007

If it were the only thing preventing me from being able to make that very-very-delicious-looking dessert, I'd sure as heck try it.
posted by Quidam at 10:25 AM on December 14, 2007

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