A Must Read!

Available at Amazon.com, see link below.

The Perfect Poison is a tell-all about the toxic effects of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the U.S. regulatory agency that has successfully suppressed that information for over 50 years.  

But more than a myth-shattering book, The Perfect Poison provides readers with the tools needed to deal with reactions to excitotoxic manufactured free glutamate found in processed and ultra-processed food, or better yet, to avoid it altogether.   

The Perfect Poison also offers an introduction to the thought-provoking hypothesis that excitotoxic manufactured free glutamate, ingested on a daily basis, plays a significant role in the many abnormalities with which glutamate toxicity is associated. 

Available in print and e-book format at Amazon.com

Neither Fish nor Fowl, as Imitation Foods Flood the Market the FDA Looks the Other Way

It doesn’t take a degree in marine biology to know that a concoction of pea protein isolates, soy protein concentrate, lentil and faba protein (all brain-damaging free glutamate ingredients), mixed up with some spices, yeast extracts, and natural flavors isn’t anything that came from the sea.

Yet, fake seafood abounds in the supermarket, even in some restaurants. Labeled as crab cakes, fish burgers, fish sticks, salmon burgers, prawns, shrimp, and even tuna, these imitation products are labeled to confuse.

We’ve told you about Good Catch “tuna” in a pouch, TUNO, and a few others, but the market for fake food is increasing so fast, it’s hard to keep up. We’ll give a closer look to some of these products in a minute, but first, let’s look at the labeling – something you would think the FDA would be doing.

According to the trade group the National Fisheries Institute these “alternative” products are “misbranded” and violate FDA’s labeling requirements. While not mentioning the toxic nature of the ingredients, the group says that due to their overall deficiency in nutritional benefits compared to real seafood, they should be required to say “imitation” prominently on package labeling.

“The FDA’s existing requirements state that nutritionally inferior substitutes must be labeled as “imitation.”  Mislabeling food is a serious infraction and can harm consumers both by depriving them of expected nutritional benefits and by possibly exposing them to food allergies.  The FDA statutes state labels that are misleading in any way are regarded as “misbranded.

“…the FDA refuses to enforce such a requirement on highly processed, plant-based alternative products designed and marketed to imitate fish without containing any fish protein.”

The National Chicken Council is also up in arms about fake chicken products labeled as “chicken tenders,” “chick’n strips,” and “chopped chick’n,” to name a few. The council states that such products are “misbranded under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.”

But despite such complaints on behalf of industry, it seems that more and more imitation foods are being introduced and purchased by confused consumers looking to eat healthier. While “plant-based” is a great marketing term, all it typically means is that the product came from a manufacturing plant.

Think about it — how many manufactured, toxic flavoring additives does it take to make pea protein or soy protein taste even remotely like crabmeat or tuna?

An Imitation Game

Two companies flooding the market in the fake food business include:

Gathered Foods, makers of the Good Catch line of imitation seafood. This company, which recently opened a manufacturing plant in Ohio (about as far from an ocean as their products are from fish), uses its proprietary “6-plant protein blend” along with a host of natural flavors, oils, starches, yeast extracts, corn starch, methylcellulose, corn maltodextrin, and corn flour to make a “tender, flaky whitefish texture.”

The special protein blend consists of pea protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, chickpea flour, faba protein, lentil protein, and soy protein isolate, all sources of brain-damaging free glutamate.

The company markets fake “crab cakes,” “tuna,” “fish fillets,” “salmon burgers,” along with food service versions so restaurants can cook up seafood fakery too.

Mega-food company Conagra Brands jumped on the pretend protein bandwagon with a complete array of pseudo-foods under the Gardein name. Its “f’sh filets” for example, contain a full line-up of chemical concoctions including “textured vegetable protein product,” “soy protein concentrate,” “titanium dioxide,” “yeast extract,” “natural flavors,” and “autolyzed yeast extract.”

Despite the fakery involved in the marketing of its products, Gathered Foods executives say on their website that they are helping to “feed” and “save the world.”

But however much funding they receive, fancy packaging they create, and cliché mission statements they post, they are nothing more than purveyors of imitation foods filled with toxic, brain-damaging ingredients.

Fake tuna?!

The ever-expanding market for imitation food has reeled in a host of phony fish dishes, the latest coming from “Good Catch,” with its “fish-free TUNA.”

This product contains more brain damaging MfG ingredients than any other product we’ve previously looked at, including pea protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, faba protein, lentil protein, soy protein isolate, citric acid and yeast extract.

Why the company has not been challenged by the FDA for false and misleading labeling isn’t clear, since the FDA has a long list of what can legally be called tuna, which is limited to actual varieties of real fish. Nestle, which also makes a faux fish product at least calls it “Vuna,” a product that “tastes like tuna.”

That little detail hasn’t stopped “Good Catch” from netting millions of dollars in investment capital, including close to $30 million in its latest round of funding.

Exactly what are ultra-processed foods and what makes them so unhealthy?

What makes a food “ultra-processed?”

Apologists for Big Food are working hard to make us believe that (with a few exceptions) ultra-processed foods are simply the natural evolution of food processing. Bread, they tell us, is likely the very first “processed” food, originally crafted over 30,000 years ago. Then there are cheeses, beer, and fermented foods – all created by humans to advance how we eat.

But along with the introduction of more and more novel ready-to-eat processed foods (such as canned beans and grape jelly in the 1920s and breakfast cereals hitting the market in the 1940s), something odd happened to large categories of these items. No longer did they retain the basic identity of food itself, with some being made entirely of laboratory-created ingredients.

These new creations, later labeled ultra-processed foods, surreptitiously emerged around the 1980s.

Before this sneaky shift in how many “foods” were being manufactured was realized, however, the effects of consuming these items became quite obvious — a growing epidemic of obesity along with a marked rise in chronic diseases.

And despite the increased scrutiny these types of foods have garnered lately you won’t find any kind of FDA-sanctioned labeling or notice that what you’re considering serving for dinner may look like what’s traditionally thought of as food, only it really isn’t.

The ‘Ultra-Processed Food Group’

Investigations by Dr. Carlos Monteiro, a professor of Nutrition and Public Health in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and other researchers at the University of Sao Paulo led to a first-of-its-kind classification of processed foods called Nova in 2010.

Using Nova, Monterio and others published a paper in 2019 that defines what makes up ultra-processed food.

Ingredients characteristic of ultra-processed foods are either food substances of no or rare culinary use, or else classes of additives whose function is to make the final product sellable, palatable and often hyper-palatable.

Classes of additives used only in the manufacture of ultra-processed foods are flavors, flavor enhancers, colors, emulsifiers, emulsifying salts, artificial sweeteners, thickeners, and foaming, anti-foaming, bulking, carbonating, gelling, and glazing agents. All of them, most notably flavors and colors, either disguise unpleasant sensory properties created by ingredients, processes, or packaging used in the manufacture of ultra-processed foods, or give the final product intense sensory properties especially attractive to see, taste, smell and/or touch, or both.

Manufactured flavoring agents, such as MSG and dozens of other additives containing brain-damaging free glutamate are key indicators of these ultra-processed foods. And all of these additives that make a non-food look and taste like real food have been given free rein by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Monterio gives this tip as a way to ID ultra-processed foods:

Generally, the practical way to identify if a product is ultra-processed is to check to see if its list of ingredients contains at least one item characteristic of the ultra-processed food group. These are either food substances never or rarely used in kitchens or classes of additives whose function is to make the final product palatable or more appealing.

The FDA has done its part to help in the proliferation of this “ultra-processed food group” by distracting consumers into reading its mandated and relatively meaningless nutrition facts label and declaring these toxic additives to be either “safe” or GRAS — generally recognized as safe.

Sadly, also making the Nova list of ultra-processed foods are infant formulas and “meal replacement” beverages for the elderly and infirm.

As Dr. Monterio said in an interview in 2023, the “main purpose of ultra-processed food is to make products that can replace real foods (to) amplify profits of the food industry.”

And when the food industry has friends like the FDA to help it along, you can bet the farm that more ultra-processed foods will be replacing real farm-grown foods than ever before.

In case you didn’t know

In case you didn’t know, excitotoxic – brain damaging — free glutamate is an essential ingredient in all ultra-processed food. You may recognize it as the essential ingredient in monosodium glutamate (MSG) – which is itself an ultra-processed food. 

Fake foods: how to quickly spot them

We’ve told you about fake fish, meat and eggs, all disguised to look like the real thing. And despite all the extravagant claims made by manufacturers, if you read the ingredient labels on these products you’ll find that they are not eggs, meat or fish, and not the kinds of “plants” grown by farmers either. As we’ve said before, a better name might be chemical-based junk foods.

Reading labels is vital, but there’s one tip that can save you some time in the supermarket:

Watch out for products that make protein claims on the packaging. Most are made from combinations of manufactured free amino acids such as those found in MSG and in aspartame. This includes snack bars, cookies, smoothie mixes, protein powders and protein drinks in addition to fake eggs, fish, and meat.

All, “substitute” protein products will contain MSG and its toxic component free glutamate.

Remember also that soy, pea and bean protein do not taste remotely like meat, fish or eggs, so free glutamate flavor enhancers like MSG are added to trick your tongue into making that taste association.

Check out our list of ingredient names that contain free glutamate as well as our brochure to take shopping with you. Better yet, if you want to do all you can to have a healthy diet, ditch the processed foods and ultra-processed fake foods, altogether.

Challenge: Find the plants in these ‘plant-based’ products!

The latest and greatest “foods” to hit restaurants and grocery store shelves these days are made from plants — or so we’ve been told. With that advertising claim in mind, we challenge you to find the plants in these products. The ingredients listed below are for the Impossible Burger, Beyond Burger, and Just Egg.

Some of the ingredients that contain free glutamate — the toxic ingredient found in MSG — have been highlighted for you. Maybe they qualify as plant based. They are made in food processing and/or chemical plants.

Once you take a look at what these products are made from it will be obvious that they’re not meat, they’re not eggs, and they’re not the kinds of plants grown by farmers. A better name might be chemical-based junk foods.

Impossible Burger

Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

https://faq.impossiblefoods.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018937494-What-are-the-ingredients-

Beyond Burger Patties

Ingredients: Water, pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice proteinnatural flavors, cocoa butter, mung bean protein, methylcellulose, potato starch, apple extract, salt, potassium chloride, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, sunflower lecithin, pomegranate fruit powder, beet juice extract (for color)

https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/the-beyond-burger/

Just Egg

Ingredients: Water, Mung Bean Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Contains less than 2% of Dehydrated Onion, Gellan Gum, Natural Carrot Extractives (color), Natural Flavors, Natural Turmeric Extractives (color), Potassium Citrate, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Tapioca Syrup, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Transglutaminase, Nisin (preservative). (Contains soy.)

https://www.ju.st/en-us/products/consumer/egg/scramble

MSG, the secret ingredient that makes a pet food a ‘success’

For most pet owners, the proof of quality, flavorful pet food products is in watching our furry friends enjoy their food. When a new diet is introduced to a pet and it stimulates active consumption, it’s considered palatable, and therefore a success. — Kemin Industries

Your idea of a successful food for your pet is probably one that will nourish your pup or kitty and help them live a long, healthy life. But for pet food companies, success is measured by how quickly a dog or cat eagerly eats up every last bite of the same food every single day.

Palatability is a key phrase in the industry. And to ensure that the food is palatable, or tasty and appetizing to the pet, a “secret” ingredient is added — one called a “palatant.”

Palatants are big business. These additives coerce an animal into consuming what’s placed in front of it (even if it’s an unappetizing-looking bowl of hard, brown pellets) using exactly the same method that makes Cheetos irresistible or gets Doritos to taste like the most delicious thing you’ve ever put in your mouth. You know the secret ingredient as monosodium glutamate (MSG), but it’s really the free glutamate in the MSG that triggers our taste buds and our animals’ taste buds, making them beg for more. Free glutamate can be found in 40+ food ingredients.

Palatants, which are also called “digests,” are primarily made from either hydrolyzed animal or vegetable proteins, which invariably contain free glutamate. When a protein is hydrolyzed it will always create excitotoxic – brain damaging — amino acids. It doesn’t matter if that hydrolyzed protein is put in dog food or a can of tuna you eat for lunch, it will contain free glutamate, the brain-damaging ingredient found in MSG.

Now, if you plan to carefully examine the labels of pet foods for this noxious ingredient, you won’t come away with much information. Palatants can be listed on the label as “natural flavoring,” “digest,” or simply incorporated into some other benign-sounding component of the food – both in bargain brands and pricy boutique ones.

There are, however, some pet foods that will tell you right on the package that they’re using free glutamate-containing hydrolyzed proteins.

The pea-protein gravy train

Currently, the biggest darling of the food industry is widespread, multi-purpose pea protein. It’s a cheap ingredient used to bump up protein content in scores of bars, drinks, powders for smoothies and fake foods. Read more about it here.

When used in pet food, it’s advertised as an easily digestible source of protein, and is typically found in allergy, grain-free and limited protein diets.

Purina is one of many major pet food manufacturers that uses pea protein in its dog food formulas. While consumers are starting to realize that pea protein in human foods contains excitotoxic, brain-damaging free glutamate, it appears that same level of concern doesn’t apply to what we feed our pets. That is, until we learn that something has gone terribly wrong.

The mysterious heart ailment associated with grain-free pet foods

In 2018 the FDA issued an alert about grain-free pet food being implicated in untold numbers of otherwise healthy dogs and cats developing dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that can come on slowly and ultimately be fatal.

In typical FDA slow-motion style, the agency first received reports of the potential connection back in 2014, yet waited four years to warn pet owners. Now we know that all breeds, ages and sizes of dogs have been involved in the 560 accounts the FDA received (which most certainly are only a fraction of the actual number of cases).

Interestingly, no heavy metal compounds were found in the foods tested, but over 90 percent of the food consisted of grain-free formulas containing pea and/or lentil protein, i.e., free glutamate.

Could the excitotoxic amino acids in those ingredients have triggered this deadly heart condition? It’s pretty much a given that we will never learn more from the FDA. To even consider these highly processed, toxic vegetable proteins as a potential cause of this tragedy is something that agency will never, ever do.

The U.S. pet food industry is predicted to reach $30 billion in the next two years, with more and more expensive, highly advertised and “gourmet” brands on the market. Despite all the glowing package claims and pictures of fish, meat and poultry, the contents generally consist of low-quality, toxic ingredients.

And sadly, our dogs and cats are becoming overweight, morbidly obese, diabetic and sick at an ever-increasing rate – just as are their human companions.

Snake in the GRAS

When you hear that the FDA considers monosodium glutamate GRAS – or, generally recognized as safe – what does that mean? It’s certainly one of the “selling points” that industry likes to toss around a lot as evidence that monosodium glutamate is harmless.

But that GRAS designation is inherently deceiving.

Sixty-two years ago, following passage of the Food Additives Amendment of 1958, the FDA grandfathered monosodium glutamate into a category of additives called GRAS. There was no testing done or even reviewed by the FDA to determine if monosodium glutamate was indeed safe. The GRAS classification was solely based on monosodium glutamate having been in use without objection prior to 1958. The actual safety of pre-1958 monosodium glutamate was not then, and never has been, established.

But to make using a GRAS label for monosodium glutamate even more farfetched, is the fact that the monosodium glutamate in use in the U.S. today is not even the same as the monosodium glutamate that was grandfathered as GRAS in 1958. From 1920 until 1956, the process underlying production of glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate in Japan had been one of extraction, a slow and costly method (1). Then, around 1956, Ajinomoto Co., Inc. succeeded in producing glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate using genetically modified bacteria to secrete the glutamic acid used in monosodium glutamate through their cell walls, and cost saving, large-scale production of glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate through fermentation began (2,3).

Approximately ten years later, the first published report of an adverse reaction to monosodium glutamate appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (4), and a study demonstrating that monosodium glutamate was excitotoxic, causing brain damage, endocrine disorders and behavior disorders, was published in the journal Science in 1969 (5). Of interest to note is the fact that by the time ten years had gone by, grocery shelves were overflowing with processed foods loaded with monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed protein products, autolyzed yeasts and lots of other ingredients that contained the same toxic free glutamic acid found in monosodium glutamate.

REFERENCES

  1. Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 6th ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983:1211-2.
  2. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 3rd ed. Vol 2. New York: Wiley, 1978:410-21.
  3. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 4th ed. New York: Wiley, 1992:571-9.
  4. Kwok RHM. The Chinese restaurant syndrome. Letter to the editor. N Engl J Med. 1968;278(14):796.
  5. Olney JW. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Science. 1969;164:719-721.

Ultra-processed foods: Little nourishment, lots of toxic amino acids

Although the typical U.S. supermarket contains a wide variety of packaged foods, that assortment emanates from 10 giant conglomerates.

These multinationals, such as Unilever, Coca-Cola and Mondelez, have their imprints on practically everything you eat. And more and more of these products are “ultra-processed.”

It used to be that food technologists designed processed foods.  Those would be whole foods that were canned, freeze-dried, or fermented, for example.  But in the 1980s ultra-processed food — products manufactured with substances extracted from foods or synthesized in laboratories — started to line supermarket shelves.

Ultra-processed foods are fractionated-recombined foods consisting of an extensive number of additives and ingredients, but little actual whole food.  They can be identified by the remarkably long list of ingredients – including many unpronounceable ones — found on their labels. According to a recent study, Canadians are taking in practically half of their daily calories from ultra-processed foods.

Not mentioned in any study of ultra-processed foods, however, are the toxic ingredients added for color, flavor, shelf life (preservatives), and protein, along with low-calorie sweeteners. Free glutamate, the toxic component of monosodium glutamate, and all of the ingredients in the following list are found in both flavor enhancers and protein enhancers. And some say because they mask the taste of old or rancid food, free glutamate is used as a preservative as well. 

Names of ingredients that always contain free glutamate:

  • Glutamic acid (E 620)
  • Glutamate (E 620)
  • Monosodium glutamate (E 621)
  • Monopotassium glutamate (E 622)
  • Calcium glutamate (E 623)
  • Monoammonium glutamate (E 624)
  • Magnesium glutamate (E 625)
  • Natrium glutamate
  • Anything “hydrolyzed”
  • Any “hydrolyzed protein”
  • Calcium caseinate, Sodium caseinate
  • Yeast extract, Torula yeast
  • Yeast food, Yeast nutrient
  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Gelatin
  • Textured protein
  • Whey protein
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Soy protein
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Anything “protein”
  • Anything “protein fortified”
  • Soy sauce
  • Soy sauce extract
  • Protease
  • Anything “enzyme modified”
  • Anything containing “enzymes”
  • Anything “fermented”
  • Vetsin
  • Ajinomoto
  • Umami
  • Zinc proteninate

Names of ingredients that often contain or produce free glutamate during processing:

  • Carrageenan (E 407)
  • Bouillon and broth
  • Stock
  • Any “flavors” or “flavoring”
  • Natural flavor
  • Maltodextrin
  • Oligodextrin
  • Citric acid, Citrate (E 330)
  • Anything “ultra-pasteurized”
  • Barley malt
  • Malted barley
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Pectin (E 440)
  • Malt extract
  • Seasonings

The following are ingredients suspected of containing or creating sufficient processed free glutamate to serve as reaction triggers in HIGHLY SENSITIVE people:

  • Corn starch
  • Corn syrup
  • Modified food starch
  • Lipolyzed butter fat
  • Dextrose
  • Rice syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Milk powder
  • Reduced fat milk (skim; 1%; 2%)
  • most things “low fat” or “no fat”
  • anything “enriched”
  • anything “vitamin enriched”
  • anything “pasteurized”
  • Annatto
  • Vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • certain amino acid chelates (Citrate, aspartate, and glutamate are used as chelating agents with mineral supplements.)

Convenient, relatively inexpensive and heavily advertised, the future of ultra-processed foods seems to be assured (1).  And why not?  The FDA lets the people who manufacture ultra-processed foods declare that they are GRAS (generally recognized as safe), and the general public seems unaware that the fox is guarding the hen house.

Reference

1. Open PR Worldwide Public Relations.  Press release7/3/2019. “What’s driving the Flavor Enhancers Market Growth?  Cargill, Synergy Flavors, Tate & Lyle, Associated British Foods pic, Corbion …”  https://www.openpr.com/news/1794737/what-s-driving-the-flavor-enhancers-market-growth-cargill.  Accessed 7/31/2019.