I receive each day (or thereabouts) a page with health information from Dr. Mercola’s site. Today’s article on Flavor Enhancers caught my attention, as it is an area I am particularly interested in and have done considerable reading on.
Senomyx is a high tech research and development business that is “dedicated to finding new flavors to reduce sugars and reduce salt.” But their focus is not on whole, organic fruits and vegetables, or grass-pastured meats, dairy and eggs. Senomyx develops patented flavor enhancers by using “proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems.”
That’s a testing system that provides scientists with biochemical responses and electronic readouts when a flavor ingredient interacts with their patented receptor, letting researchers know whether or not their flavor enhancer is effective. The receptors are made from HEK293 — HEK stands for Human Embryonic Kidney cells, with 293 denoting that the HEK was from the 293rd experiment. HEK293 originally came from a healthy, electively aborted baby whose cells were then harvested and cloned.
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation:
“Senomyx’s salt taste, savory flavor, and sweet flavors — as well as all their other flavor enhancers — are purposefully developed so that they stimulate your taste buds without them actually tasting anything … Much like MSG, these flavor enhancers operate on the neurological level to produce these reactions …
Since they are not actually ingredients but rather ‘enhancers’ they are not required to be listed in a package’s ingredients except as ‘artificial flavors’ … [And] because very small amounts of the additives are used … Senomyx’s chemicals have not undergone the FDA’s usual safety approval process for food additives.”
It’s no secret that most processed foods contain a variety of “artificial” and “natural” flavors intended to make you crave a certain brand of chips or cookies over another. But what is largely unknown to most consumers is that a new variety of food additive is already on the market and probably in some of your favorite snack foods.
These new additives are unique because they are not flavors at all. They are chemicals that contain no flavor of their own, rather they activate or block taste receptors in your mouth. The chemicals can mimic or enhance the taste of sugar, salt and monosodium glutamate (MSG), for example.
Do You Want to Eat Foods With “Flavors” Created by a Biotech Company?
Biotech firm Senomyx is at the forefront of the flavor enhancer market. As they state on their Web site:
“Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor. To enable faster discovery of new flavors, we integrated our assays into a robot-controlled automated system that uses plates containing an array of individual fluid wells, each of which can screen a different sample from our libraries of approximately 800,000 artificial and natural candidate ingredients isolated from plants and other sources.
Our high-throughput discovery and development process allows us to conduct millions of analyses of new potential flavor ingredients annually. This efficiency is impossible to achieve using conventional flavor discovery methods. As a result, we have identified hundreds of unique potential new flavor ingredients that could not be discovered using taste tests alone.”
Their products, which are intended to provide enhancements to savory, sweet, and salty flavors, as well as block bitter flavors and provide cooling taste sensations, are being marketed as a way to help companies “improve the nutritional profile of their products and/or achieve a competitive advantage maintaining or enhancing taste.”
The idea is that a food company can use a Senomyx chemical to enhance the sweetness of sugar or savory flavors, allowing them to boast “reduced sugar” or “no MSG,” giving the illusion that the product is healthier. In reality, it will contain a little-tested chemical that is NOT listed on the label.
Amazingly, these flavor-altering compounds are used in small amounts (less than one part per million), which means companies like Senomyx do 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 compound only has to be classified as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association — a process that can take as little as 18 months, with a mere 3 months of safety testing on rats.
As the New York Times wrote:
“Unlike artificial sweeteners, Senomyx’s chemical compounds will not be listed separately on ingredient labels. Instead, they will be lumped into a broad category — “artificial flavors” — already found on most packaged food labels.”
Many food companies have already partnered with Senomyx, so if you think this is a product you won’t come across, think again. Among the food companies working with Senomyx are:
- Kraft Foods
- Firmenich (a Swiss perfume and flavoring company)
- Ajinomoto Group (makers of meat glue and aspartame)
Embryonic Kidney Cells from Aborted Baby Used to Create Tastier Junk Foods
Senomyx boasts that they have “discovered or in-licensed many of the key receptors that mediate taste in humans.” But what they don’t state so plainly is that they used human embryonic kidney cells (HEK 293) taken from an electively aborted fetus in their product testing.
When this news leaked, Campbell soup responded to an outraged public by severing all ties with Senomyx. However, PepsiCo has maintained their relationship with the company, saying the collaboration is necessary for creating low-calorie, tasty products for their consumers.
Must they really use human fetal cells just to make tastier junk foods?
Food Additives Increase Your Toxic Load
There are many reasons why you’re better off choosing natural whole foods in lieu of processed alternatives, but one of the primary ones is that junk foods contain additives that increase your toxic load, which in turn may increase your tendency to develop cancer.
Cancer is, by and large, a man-made disease caused by a highly unnatural lifestyle and continuous exposures to excess chemicals, including chemicals in your food.
It’s easy to forget that the processed, pre-packaged foods and fast food restaurants of today are actually a radical change in terms of the history of food production. The frozen food business didn’t begin until the mid 1920’s when the General Seafoods Company set up shop and began selling crudely frozen fish fillets, and fast food restaurants didn’t get a foothold until after World War II.
So it could be that the epidemics of cancer we’re now facing is in part due to generational effects, caused by our grandparents’ dietary changes.
And if that’s the case, then we had better make drastic changes, and soon, because the disease trends we’re now seeing are only going to get worse as much of the processed foods consumed today are not even food-based! Who knows what kind of genetic mutations and malfunctions we’re creating for ourselves and future generations when a MAJORITY of our diet consists of highly processed and artificial foods that contain substances never before consumed by humans in all of history.
It’s a frightening prospect, to say the least.
How to Enhance Your Food’s Flavor, Naturally
When choosing what to eat, I highly recommend you focus your meals on real food, and remember “food” equals “live nutrients.” Nutrients, in turn, feed your cells, optimize your health and sustain life.
When you eat real foods as opposed to “food products” like the ones being produced by Senomyx, you don’t need artificial, lab-created “flavors” or flavor enhancers, because real foods taste delicious. The fact that processed foods taste good is the culmination of a profitable science of artificial flavors, enhancers and additives, without which most processed food would taste and look like cardboard.
Real food naturally has vibrant colors, rich textures, and is authentically flavorful. For times when you want to add even more oomph to your meals, nature has provided herbs and spices, which are not only incredibly tasty but also will make your real food even healthier.