November 21, 2008

The Hidden Danger of “Artificial Flavors” & Autism!

If you pick up a can of soup and find that the sodium levels are lower than you expected, or that a food item advertises it has “less sugar” or “no MSG” … then there may be cause for alarm.

A relatively young company, Senomyx, may be responsible for the sodium and sugar levels falling in various grocery store items. They may be putting chemicals into your food right now, without telling you and without you even realizing.

Under the law, they don’t have to.

Senomyx has contracted with Kraft, Nestle, Coca Cola, and Campbell Soup to put a chemical in foods that masks bitter flavors by turning off bitter flavor receptors on your tongue.

The companies can then reduce sugar and sodium levels by approximately half without affecting the flavor. All of the companies declined to identify which foods and beverages the chemical additives have been or will be added to.

These chemical compounds are not required to be listed separately on food labels; they are grouped into the general category of “artificial flavors.”

Senomyx was able to obtain FDA approval and a “generally recognized as safe” classification from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association in less than a year and a half, based on a safety study of rats conducted for just 3 months. Food items that are most likely to contain these new chemicals include soups, juices (fruit and vegetable), ice cream and sauces. – Source: Jennifer McKinley’s “‘Secretive’ Chemicals Being Hidden in Food Under ‘Artificial Flavors’ Label”.

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
Perhaps one day we can all simply eat cans of mush, and it won’t matter because they’ll contain chemicals to block and alter all of our taste receptors!

This is an example of malicious brilliance at its finest.

Processed foods, by their very nature, do not taste good unless they have loads of artificial colors and flavoring agents, salt, sugar and often MSG added to doctor up the flavors.

In fact, most processed foods would taste incredibly bitter if they weren’t doctored up because of things like their extremely hot cooking processes and added caffeine (in soft drinks).

So what do food companies like Nestle, Cadbury Schweppes, Campbell Soup, and Coca-Cola do?

They hire Senomyx, a biotech company that can skillfully manipulate your taste buds with synthetic chemicals.

The company has already developed several chemicals that, although they contain no flavor of their own, activate or block receptors in your mouth that taste.

The chemicals can mimic or enhance savory, sweet and salty tastes, and are intended to reduce the use of sugar, salt and monosodium glutamate (MSG) in processed foods.

One of Senomyx’s chemicals even causes a “cooling” taste, and we have only just begun to hear about the “innovations” that come from this company.

Senomyx already has 113 patents, and 371 more pending, in the United States, Europe and elsewhere in the world.

A Brief Lesson About Your Taste Buds

When you were in grade school, you were probably taught that certain areas of your tongue can taste different flavors. The “sweet” taste buds, for instance, were said to be at the tip of your tongue, and the “bitter” ones in back.

This taste-bud tongue map is still being taught today, but it has been known for decades to be entirely incorrect. In reality, each one of your taste buds contains 50 to 100 receptors for each taste. This means that you can taste every flavor there is with every taste bud on your tongue.

And, along with the standard sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes that everyone has heard of, your tongue can also taste a fifth basic taste: umami (the taste of glutamate, which is found in many Japanese foods, bacon and also MSG).

It is also being debated whether or not there is actually a sixth taste receptor for fat on your tongue as well.

Of course, your taste buds are not only there for pleasurable purposes. They also help you determine if a food is spoiled, unripe or otherwise unsafe to eat, which is why you’re probably better off leaving your taste buds as nature intended them to be: in fully functioning, tasting condition.

Your Taste Buds May Already be Deceiving You

Nestle is already marketing products that contain one of Senomyx’s savory enhancers.

But you would never know it, because the chemical compounds are lumped in with an ingredient that’s already listed on most processed foods: “artificial flavors.”

I did a little digging and found that the first product sold by Nestle that includes these “savory flavor ingredients” is bouillon used as a base to make soups and stews. So if you are using one of theirs that lists “artificial flavors,” I’d be very suspicious.

Meanwhile, because the compounds are being used in small amounts (less than one part per million), Senomyx did not have to go through the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process typically necessary to release food additives. Instead of the lengthy FDA process, the company only had to be classified as “generally recognized as safe”
by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association — a task that took less than 18 months.

And as for safety, well there was that one three-month rat study. That’s right: one three-month long study is apparently enough for major food manufacturers to decide that a never-before-used chemical is safe for you and your family to eat.

Unfortunately, for now it appears that these taste-bud-altering chemicals are here to stay, as earlier this month both Coca-Cola and Nestle extended their research agreements with Senomyx.

If You Want Chemical-Free Food…

It is becoming more important than ever to avoid processed foods. At the very least, boycott any product that lists “artificial flavors” as an ingredient.

You can tell a real food from a processed food because real foods are:

  • Grown, not processed
  • Messy, not neat and convenient
  • Of variable quality, not always the same
  • Prone to spoiling, not “forever” fresh
  • Vibrantly colored and textured, not dull and bland
  • Naturally flavorful, not artificially flavored
  • Strongly connected to the land and culture

Real foods have flavors that your taste buds won’t want to miss, so take a break from the grocery store and take advantage of your local farmer’s markets.

There you’ll find fresh, whole foods that your taste buds will be happy to recognize.

Article originally published in Back to Eden Health Ministry‘s May 2008 Newsletter.

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