Here's another gem for the "Sneaky Blue Food" category that came in my nearly-daily Mercola newsletter this morning.
Is this ever a Hot Button for me. Read on and protect yourselves dear Friends...
If you pick up a can of soup and find that the sodium levels are lower than you expected, or that a food item advertises it has “less sugar” or “no MSG” ... then there may be cause for alarm.
A relatively young company, Senomyx, may be responsible for the sodium and sugar levels falling in various grocery store items. They may be putting chemicals into your food right now, without telling you and without you even realizing. Under the law, they don’t have to.
Senomyx has contracted with Kraft, Nestle, Coca Cola, and Campbell Soup to put a chemical in foods that masks bitter flavors by turning off bitter flavor receptors on your tongue. The companies can then reduce sugar and sodium levels by approximately half without affecting the flavor.
All of the companies declined to identify which foods and beverages the chemical additives have been or will be added to. These chemical compounds are not required to be listed separately on food labels; they are grouped into the general category of "artificial flavors."
Senomyx was able to obtain FDA approval and a “generally recognized as safe” classification from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association in less than a year and a half, based on a safety study of rats conducted for just 3 months.
Food items that are most likely to contain these new chemicals include soups, juices (fruit and vegetable), ice cream and sauces.
"We are helping companies clean up their labels," said Kent Snyder, chief executive of Senomyx.
Mark Zoller, Senomyx's chief scientist, says that his company has used the human genome sequence and identified hundreds of taste receptors. Senomyx's chemical compounds enhance those receptors to heighten the taste of salt or sugar. Under this premise, they go on to claim that their newly added chemicals are completely safe because they will be used in tiny quantities of less than one part per million whereas artificial sweeteners are used in 200-500 parts per million. This fact alone allows them to forgo the rigorous FDA approval process when introducing new food additives into the marketplace. Attaining the status of GRAS (generally recognized as safe) from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association for their most advanced product that replaces MSG, took this fledgling company less than an 18 month time frame by introducing a safety study of rats conducted for 3 months.
Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Michael Jacobson, commended Senomyx's strides to reduce MSG, salt, and sugar but warned against introducing a new chemical additive into the food supply without strenuous testing. "A three-month study is completely inadequate," he said. "What you want is at least a two-year study on several species of animals."
After pouring a total of 30 million dollars into research and development, the companies that have invested into Senomyx's products have been secretive, to say the least, about their involvement within the company. Some, like Kraft, have declined to divulge any specifics regarding their relationship with Senomyx but instead stated that Kraft was committed "to reducing the sugar and salt levels in many products."
Nestle and Coca Cola declined to comment. I think silence says it all.