A recent NaturalNews article on Amy's Kitchen (a well-known producer of organic food products) resulted in a groundswell of customer comments being sent to the Amy's Kitchen company requesting they stop using yeast extract in their products. The large number of requests garnered the attention of Amy's Kitchen decision makers, and NaturalNews was soon contacted by Bill Twieg, the Technical Director of Amy's Kitchen, who offered additional information presented here.
Bill Twieg explained that the reader response resulted in, "The most emails we had ever received in one day" and indicated that due to Amy's Kitchen's commitment to serving the health-conscious community, the owner of the company (Andy Berliner) was willing to work with their product formulators to find a way to possibly remove yeast extract from the four products that currently contain it. Although no specific commitment for the removal of yeast extract was offered, the company did say that it would conduct reformulation tests and taste tests to see if the ingredient could be eliminated without compromising the taste experience expected by consumers.
Mr. Twieg also explained that Amy's Kitchen only uses yeast extract in four of its products, and there is no hidden MSG across the product line. All ingredients are listed plainly on the labels, NaturalNews was informed, and the "spices" ingredient contains only wholesome spices like sage, rosemary and thyme, not any hidden sources of MSG. Several products do use tamari, another ingredient that contains a small amount of free glutamate, but tamari is usually not problematic for consumers in the same way that yeast extract can be, possibly due to the process used to create tamari.
The "no hidden ingredients" claim that currently appears on some Amy's Kitchen products, we were told, is currently being phased in across the Amy's Kitchen product line and will be appearing on more products soon. The lack of such a descriptive claim on any current Amy's Kitchen product in no way means the product contains hidden ingredients, Mr. Twieg explained. It only means the product labels have not been updated for those food items.
NaturalNews hopes to be able to report, sometime in 2007, that Amy's Kitchen will be entirely free of yeast extract. Upon achieving that goal, and given that no other MSG-containing ingredients are used to replace yeast extract (such as torula yeast, autolyzed or hydrolyzed vegetable proteins), Amy's Kitchen will receive our full endorsement for safe, healthful and tasty organic frozen foods.
Our present view of Amy's Kitchen is that the company is making some of the highest quality organic frozen foods on the market today and is clearly a superior food company with a desire to meet the stringent quality demands of informed consumers. We only published an article critical of their use of yeast extract because we feel Amy's Kitchen is a company worth encouraging to clean up their labels. There are many other so-called "natural" food companies that aren't even worth contacting, since they have no desire to remove yeast extract or to even listen to the natural health community about hidden sources of MSG. But Amy's Kitchen is willing to listen.
The fact that Amy's Kitchen responded in a constructive way to our original article is good news, indeed. It means the company is sensitive to issues of food additives and that it is engaged in a constructive dialog intended to improve its product line and food safety. Personally, I continue to eat Amy's Kitchen products, but I carefully read all the labels now to make sure I don't accidentally consume one of the four products containing yeast extract.
Most of the Amy's Kitchen product line deserves a five-star rating for food quality, taste, texture and presentation. And given the company's ability to produce surprisingly tasteful vegetarian cuisine without having to resort to hidden sources of MSG, it certainly appears to have the resources to reformulate four of its products to be yeast extract free.
NaturalNews thanks the hundreds of readers who contacted Amy's Kitchen about their use of yeast extract, and we thank Amy's Kitchen for responding in a constructive way. We will continue to follow this story and issue reports and updates here on NaturalNews.com. We've also updated our original story on Amy's Kitchen to reflect this new information.
Background information: Yeast extract contains from 6% - 12% MSG (or "free glutamate") and is used by food companies who want to add an MSG-like taste experience to their foods without using MSG on the label. It causes extreme headaches in some people, and according to Dr. Russell Blaylock, the author of Excitotoxins, MSG is damaging to the brain, nervous system, endocrine system and even promotes obesity by interfering with appetite regulation. Baby food manufacturers voluntarily removed MSG from baby foods decades ago after being accused by consumer advocates of harming babies' nervous systems with the chemical. MSG remains widely used today in canned soups, breakfast sausage, salad dressing and other commercial foods. Many people are desensitized to the ingredient and do not experience headaches, although such desensitization does not protect them from the potential nervous system damage caused by MSG.
In addition to his lab work, 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.
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 NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.