Many "natural" foods contain questionable taste additives like yeast extract

Thursday, September 14, 2006
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of (See all articles...)
Tags: yeast extract, MSG, health foods

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The food industry is always trying to come up with a new way to add chemical taste enhancers to their foods without alerting the consumers. They used to rely heavily on MSG (monosodium glutamate), but when the public began to learn about the dangers of MSG and how it causes extreme headaches, reproductive disorders, endocrine system imbalances, appetite control problems, and nervous system disorders, the industry began moving away from MSG and toward other ingredients.

The link to obesity is very strong with these ingredients; if you eat a lot of foods containing MSG or similar substances, you will find it very difficult to stop eating. That's because MSG harms the normal function of your endocrine system and it disrupts your appetite control system. So even though you may be physically full from eating, your brain tells you you're still hungry and you overeat. If you've ever felt like you are eating unhealthy foods but couldn't stop eating them, it could be because you've been poisoning yourself with MSG. If you stop consuming foods with MSG, you may be able to rebalance this natural system and return to healthy, normal appetite control.

Yeast extract was one of the first replacements for MSG -- it has the same effect on taste, and it contains a concentration of free glutamic acid, just like MSG. The difference is that it doesn't look as bad on the label, and food manufacturers can actually claim that it's all-natural. You'll see yeast extract in many products, even so-called natural products like veggie burgers. But now that the word is getting out about yeast extract, food companies are switching to yet another hidden form of a chemical taste enhancer.

This latest one is called "torula yeast" and instead of being a yeast extract, this is just a specific type of yeast. Again, it has the same purpose in food -- to make otherwise boring foods taste sensational. Torula yeast is now found in many snack products, even many so-called natural snacks. I've seen it in chips and a number of fried snack foods. It seems like this ingredient is going to be increasingly popular in the years ahead because it looks so non-threatening to the consumer. It doesn't look like MSG, and it technically isn't yeast extract, but in my opinion, this ingredient is quite harmful.

I gave torula yeast my own test, because I'm quite sensitive to MSG and similar products; I can almost immediately feel the effects if I consume MSG. I ate some foods containing torula yeast and they created the same effect as MSG and yeast extract.

Food manufacturers "clean up their labels" by lying to consumers

Distributors in the natural foods industry heavily promote torula yeast. I read a food industry publication where is one company was promoting both yeast extract and torula yeast as ingredients that can help the food manufacturer "clean up your label." In other words, these ingredients are being touted as ingredients that can help food manufacturers claim their foods are all-natural. In truth, these are all just food industry lies.

If you're looking for hidden forms of MSG chemicals on food labels, look for yeast extract and torula yeast, and anything that is hydrolyzed or autolyzed. Autolyzed or hydrolyzed vegetable proteins are also hidden sources of MSG, according to Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of "Excitotoxins," and perhaps the world's top expert on neurotoxic substances found in the food supply.

I believe that food companies who continue to manufacture foods containing these ingredients are misleading consumers, and you should not purchase any products from these companies, which include many of the top veggie burger and "healthy" snack food producers.

For example, the Garden of Eatin' "Salsa Reds" product contains organic red corn, expeller pressed oleic safflower oil and/or sunflower oil, rice flour, dehydrated tomato, salt, cultured skim milk, dehydrated onion and garlic, dehydrated green and red bell peppers, spices, contains 2% or less of asparagus powder, barley malt syrup, yeast extract, cocoa powder, natural flavor, extractives of paprika. [Emphasis added.]

There it is, listed right there in the ingredients list. But guess what? The promotional text for the product doesn't mention yeast extract. Strange coincidence, huh? From their own website, you'll find this promo text:

Salsa Reds - Take those Red Corn Tortilla Chips developed especially for Garden of Eatin'® from the red corn of the Mexican Highlands. And then add salsa ingredients: tomato, onion, garlic, green & red bell peppers and spices. And voilá! You've got Reds with zip. Salsa Reds!

See? No mention of yeast extract. Sounds like the company isn't exactly proud of that ingredient. You have to read the fine print to discover it.

The Garden of Eatin', by the way, was bought up by the Hain Celestial Group, a giant "natural" foods conglomerate that owns brands like Soy Dream, Rice Dream, Yves Veggie Cuisine and a long list of others. And guess what? Many of these products also use yeast extract or torula yeast. Here's the ingredients list for Yves "Savory Veggie" veggie burgers:

Water, oats, brown rice, onions, cheddar cheese (milk, bacterial culture, salt, calcium chloride, enzymes), mushrooms, flax meal, canola oil, red peppers, flaxseeds, dextrose, salt, textured soy protein (with caramel color), modified vegetable gum, natural cheese flavor, corn starch, torula yeast, hydrolyzed wheat protein, autolyzed yeast extract, spices, carrageenan, garlic powder, tomato powder. [Emphasis added.]

I get a headache just thinking about eating any of those foods. I consider it the corporate invasion of the natural foods industry. And in the process of all the corporate takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, everybody forgot about the health of the consumer.

Bad habits of some "natural" food companies

There's a lot about the natural foods industry that is dishonest, and it seems like the larger the companies get, the more dishonest they become. The small companies still offer genuinely natural foods without all the additives, preservatives and taste enhancers, but once they become large and successful or get purchased by a larger food company, it seems like all the formulas suddenly change and it's just another "natural" brand of junk food.

I doubt there is anything that food companies wouldn't put in their foods as long as it's legal. I believe that food companies, especially the food giants, would put any chemical in their foods no matter how harmful, as long as it helps sell their products. The food industry has used hydrogenated oils for decades, and continues to use them in many foods, despite the fact that the scientific evidence has, for decades, demonstrated hydrogenated oils to be extremely harmful to human health.

The food industry continues to use grains and products that have been stripped of as much as 98 percent of their original nutrition; and then they claim that food has no relationship to health. They say that junk food doesn't cause obesity or nutritional deficiencies, and that there's no such thing as a bad food, only a bad diet. Hogwash.

In reality, food is the single most important factor in determining your state of health. Whether or not you acquire degenerative diseases, suffer from cognitive decline, suffer from chronic pain, or live life addicted to prescription drugs is almost entirely determined by what you eat or drink on a daily basis. Still, the food industry continues to claim that such a relationship does not exist and, astoundingly, many physicians actually agree.

If you really want to eat healthful foods, don't fall for the old "natural" processed foods sham. Eat wholesome food products made with a few simple ingredients that you actually recognize. Avoid all foods -- even natural or vegetarian foods -- made with yeast extract or torula yeast. And don't spend another dime with a "natural" food company that misleads consumers by hiding chemical taste enhancers on the label with words that disguise their true purpose.


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About the author: Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

In addition to being the co-star of the popular GAIAM TV series called Secrets to Health, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

In 2013, Adams created the Natural News Forensic Food Laboratory, a research lab that analyzes common foods and supplements, reporting the results to the public. He is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released ten popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at

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