Peek a boo

One of the reasons why I’m canning so much is so my family can eat healthier. I’ve been finding all sorts of problems in the foods I buy at the store. Even when I try to stay away from “processed” foods and cook only with “whole” foods, there is a problem. For example, we eat a lot of tomato products. We use them in sauces, dressings, as an added vegetable in soups and stews, etc. I looked at my can of plain old ordinary store bought Hunt’s 100% Natural Tomato Sauce and guess what I found in the ingredient list – “natural flavoring”. Sounds harmless enough. But what IS natural flavoring? According to the Code of Federal Regulations, it is:

“the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

Natural flavor is made by scientists in conditions that are far from natural. They start with one thing, process it, break it down into smaller pieces, combine those pieces in another way, and call it “natural flavorings”.

Further research shows that “natural flavoring” often means MSG, or monosodium glutamate.  According to the FDA’s definitions, the food ingredient “monosodium glutamate” is “natural”, although manufacturers are required to list MSG on the label if they add it to a product.

According to the USDA:

The chemical breakdown of proteins may result in the formation of free glutamate that joins with free sodium to form MSG. In this case, the presence of MSG does not need to be disclosed on labeling. Labeling is required when MSG is added as a direct ingredient.

 Did you see that? “Labeling is required when MSG is added as a direct ingredient.”  So if it is “created” through the chemical breakdown of proteins, it is still MSG, but doesn’t need to be labeled MSG.

So my search for the true meaning behind “natural flavoring” reveals that it is far from natural, and is often an indicator of MSG. Peek a boo. I see you. And I don’t want to play anymore.