The taste enhancer is MSG -- monosodium glutamate -- a chemical that has been associated with reproductive disorders, migraine headaches, permanent damage to the endocrine system leading to obesity and other serious disorders. MSG is a chemical compound that simply does not belong in the body in the concentrations provided by these foods. It is used by food manufacturers as a taste enhancer -- something to cover up the bland tastes of these foods and make them more appealing to consumers. But food manufacturers don't want to list MSG on the labels, especially when they know that consumers will avoid purchasing products that list MSG.
So what do they do instead? They hide the ingredient in another ingredient called "yeast extract", then they put yeast extract in the product and list "yeast extract" right on the label. So this is the scam: all sorts of natural health products and vegetarian products are using chemical taste enhancers in the form of yeast extract but failing to disclose to consumers that they actually contain MSG. And if you look around at the natural health products in health food stores and grocery stores, you'll find that yeast extract is a rather prominent ingredient. It's used in soups, in vegetarian mixes, in some tofu mixes, and even so-called natural frozen foods.
I can personally verify that yeast extract has the same effect as MSG, because I am an individual who is extremely sensitive to MSG. Upon consuming even a small amount of MSG, I experience a severe headache that lasts for 6 to 8 hours. Consuming yeast extract causes precisely the same effect as consuming MSG.
In fact, food manufacturers don't deny that yeast extract contains MSG -- it's something that's well-known in the food manufacturing industry. What's going on here is a blatant deception -- an attempt to mislead consumers by essentially renaming dangerous ingredients with harmless sounding names such as "yeast extract". I believe this practice to be irresponsible and unethical, and I strongly urge you to not only avoid purchasing products made with yeast extract, but avoid products from companies that use yeast extract in any of their products. It is simply a dishonest practice, and we should not reward companies that engage in such practices by purchasing any products they manufacture.
Unfortunately, many of these food manufacturers are creating products for the so-called health foods industry. In a way that is sadly all too real, traditional grocery products and processed foods will list MSG right on the label. At the same time, so-called healthy products will use yeast extract, so they can avoid mentioning MSG on the label. Yet, both products contain MSG, and both products carry the risk of toxic side effects associated with MSG.
So, are you any safer by purchasing health foods rather than traditional grocery store foods? The answer is that you should avoid purchasing processed foods at all, regardless of what health claims are made on the label. Processed foods are unhealthy foods, period. If you want optimum nutrition, and foods for which the human body was designed, you need to purchase and consume raw ingredients, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and healthy oils. It's also a good idea, as you've often heard me recommend here, to supplement your diet with whole food supplements, organic vitamins, and superfoods, such as chlorella, spirulina, broccoli sprouts and sea vegetables. This is the way to achieve optimum nutrition, not by purchasing processed foods that are disguised as healthy foods, even though they contain ingredients known to induce toxic side-effects in the human body.
But don't take my word for it -- check it out yourself. Next time you go to a health food store, look at the product boxes and cans on the shelves, and see just how many you can find that contain yeast extract. It's especially easy to find with vegetarian foods, which just goes to show you that just because a product says "vegetarian" on the label doesn't mean it's good for you (or that the company making it gives a hoot about your health).