(NaturalNews) I must offer an apology to NaturalNews readers. For more than a year now, I've been recommending Amy's Kitchen as a source of quality, organic frozen foods made without yeast extract. As you may recall, yeast extract is a natural-sounding additive that food companies use as a flavor enhancer replacement for MSG. Yet it contains free glutamate, and for many people, it has the same effect as MSG -- migraine headaches, chemical taste enhancement and harm to the nervous system according to doctors like Russell Blaylock, author of Excitotoxins
Editors' Note: This story has been updated with new information from Amy's Kitchen. In response to this story and considerable reader response, Amy's Kitchen has committed to attempting to reformulate their foods to remove yeast extract entirely. You can read the complete details of this new update at http://www.NaturalNews.com/021674.html
What follows is the original story on Amy's Kitchen and my experience with accidental ingestion of yeast extract found in an Amy's Kitchen product.
I have been eating and recommending Amy's Kitchen frozen foods for quite some time, and in all the labels I've read, I've never seen yeast extract on a single product from this company. That changed today when I purchased and ate an Amy's Kitchen "Vegetable Pie in a Pocket Sandwich," a product that claims, "NO Bioengineered Ingredients" on its label and says it is, "Made with organic vegetables & grains."
As it turns out, Amy's Vegetable Pie pocket sandwich is also made with yeast extract. Yep, you heard me correctly. Yeast extract. It's right on the label, right after "spices" and right before "turmeric." And as I write this, I have a screaming headache that was caused by it, and which will last probably for another six hours.
I made the mistake, you see, of trusting Amy's Kitchen products to contain no yeast extract. So I did something stupid: I ate a food product without reading the label. And I got nailed by an ingredient that I thought Amy's Kitchen never used. This is precisely what I advise my readers NOT to do, and I feel foolish for making such a simple food choice mistake (not reading the label).
So I apologize to my readers. I have unintentionally misrepresented Amy's Kitchen as a company that never used yeast extract, and I was wrong. They DO use this processed taste enhancer additive, and it DOES cause severe headaches in some people (like myself). It also brings into question the ethics of the entire Amy's Kitchen product line. Because if this company would use yeast extract in one product, what else might it use in other products? When its label says, "spices," can you really trust that there are no hidden taste enhancers lurking inside the box?
No hidden ingredients... on some products, anyway
About this particular product, the back on the package claims, "...we created these nourishing baked pocket sandwiches that are full of flavor and fully satisfying." But they forgot to inform consumers they're also full of yeast extract. So if you don't carefully scrutinize the labels from every single Amy's Kitchen product you buy, you might get caught just like I did and end up swallowing an ingredient that in my opinion isn't natural at all and is far less than "wholesome" or "nourishing."
Let's get real here: If a food company claims its product is "organic" on the front of the box, how can it get away with admitting its use of yeast extract on the back? The answer is that using processed taste enhancers like yeast extract doesn't disqualify foods from being labeled "organic." Interesting, huh? Truly, the definition of "organic" has been so distorted by corporate interests that it no longer means anything resembling all-natural, wholesome or healthful. It just means the food item in question met the definition of "organic" according to some standards group that was, of course, influenced heavily by the food companies. It's sort of like the food industry certifying itself that all its additives qualify as organic because, well, just 'cuz.
I find it interesting that on some products, Amy's Kitchen goes out of its way to steer clear of yeast extract and fully inform the consumer of that fact. The company's new Meatless Breakfast Patties, for example, contain no yeast extract whatsoever. It does contain "spices," but even that ingredient is specifically explained as, "100% pure herbs & spices (no hidden ingredients)."
That's an interesting phrase: "No hidden ingredients." You don't find that phrase on the Vegetable Pie package. Does that mean the vegetable pie contains hidden ingredients? Because, of course, if the vegetable pie product didn't contain any hidden ingredients, wouldn't they proclaim it on the label by saying, "No hidden ingredients"?
It's a suspicious company that would use hidden ingredients on some foods while proclaiming "no hidden ingredients" on others. It's almost like admitting that the boxes lacking that statement are using hidden ingredients, don't you think?
Help save Amy's from yeast extract
Despite all this, I still think there's hope for Amy's Kitchen. This is a company that seems to be doing most things right, and the majority of their food products contain no yeast extract or hidden sources of MSG. I say we encourage Amy's to drop yeast extract as an ingredient and stick with 100% pure herbs and spices for ALL its food products.
Will you join me in letting Amy's know that we don't want yeast extract in our organic food? If so, post a comment at the Amy's Kitchen website and let them know you don't want this processed taste enhancer substance in your food!
Specifically, we want no yeast extract, no MSG, no hidden MSG, and no hydrolyzed or autolyzed ingredients. As organic food consumers, we wish to protect our health, not compromise it. We want our brains to work at peak performance, not to spend hours throbbing in pain due to yeast extract side effects. And we want a company we can genuinely trust, so that we don't have to read every single label for every food product we buy from the same company. We'd like to be able to trust just one honest food company to not use these questionable food additives.
Let Amy's Kitchen know what you want, and I believe they'll respond. It would be nice to see the company announce a "no yeast extract" commitment and abandon the ingredient across their entire food line. But they won't do that without sufficient public pressure. It's the public, after all, that ultimately determines the formulations of their foods.
Take action: What you can do right now to save Amy from hidden ingredients
1. Encourage Amy's Kitchen to abandon the use of yeast extract by posting a comment on their website
(www.Amys.com). [Note: there is no need to post comments now, due to the updated information mentioned at the top of this story. Amy's Kitchen has received the message loud and clear.]
2. Read all food labels and don't buy any products made with yeast extract (this is the mistake I made -- not reading the food label on this particular item, and subsequently getting whacked by an "MSG headache").
3. Return any food products made with MSG or yeast extract. Take them back and demand a refund. This will get the retailers paying attention and applying pressure to Amy's Kitchen to stop shipping products with yeast extract. Make your consumer dollars count!
4. Beware of other brands that use yeast extract. Check the labels of Gardenburger, Boca Burger, Cedarlane and other "vegetarian" or "natural" frozen food companies to make sure you never buy yeast extract from them, either. (Most of these companies continue to use the ingredient.) Also watch out for yeast extract or other hidden sources of MSG in flavored snack chips.
5. Stay tuned to NaturalNews.com for more news on this topic by subscribing to our free email news update. When we learn more about Amy's Kitchen and the yeast extract question, we'll pass it along to you!
Remember, as consumers, we vote with our dollars. And I apologize for not knowing some of Amy's Kitchen products were made with yeast extract. That was an oversight on my part, and I believe that I was misled by the product labels into thinking the company would never use yeast extract. But I was wrong. They do use the additive, and they apparently have made a conscious decision to do so.
Let's hope they find the courage to reverse that decision and do what's right for consumers' health. This is a company that I believe wants to do the right thing. It's up to us, the consumers, to remind them what that is.
End the use of yeast extract. And save Amy from hidden ingredients.