Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Battle with Kashi - Real Food Wednesday

So, last week on Fight Back Friday I posted about my discovery of Autolyzed Yeast Extract in some Kashi products. I emailed them about it, asking that they either label the ingredient as " (contains glutamate) " or remove it all together.

Well, I considered my action to be complete, until I received this email back from Kashi (bold type is my emphasis):

Hello Melody,

Thank you for contacting Kashi concerning our Heart to Heart® Cereals and TLC® Crackers. We appreciate your interest in our company and products. Our goal is to provide wholesome, all-natural foods that meet the high nutritional and taste standards of the Kashi consumer.

At Kashi, we do not add any MSG to our products, as evidenced by the ingredient statements on our packages that follow FDA labeling regulations.

Natural ingredients used to enhance the flavor of our products, including autolyzed yeast extract, are used in Kashi foods. Autolyzed yeast extract, which has been used safely as a flavor enhancer for nearly a century, contains naturally occurring free glutamate, an amino acid that is present in virtually all protein-containing foods including meat, vegetables, poultry and milk. Free glutamate is different than monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is glutamate bound to sodium.

We do not list glutamate in the ingredients as it is an amino acid present in most proteins, and makes up a part of the whole ingredient.

We appreciate your inquiry and hope this information will be useful to you when you make product selections for you and your family. We have forwarded your comments over to the appropriate department. Thank you again!

The only problem I have with the above statement is that it is a lie. Autolyzed Yeast Extract is Free Glutamate, and glutamate as it naturally occurs in protein foods is rarely free. It is nearly always a bound molecule. Here is my email response back to them, containing some very helpful and informative links:

While "glutamate" is found in many protein containing foods, it is not free glutamic acid. The glutamates in most of the foods that we consume are bound, which changes the way that our bodies process them. The testing done with free glutamates such as Monosodium Glutamate and Monopotassium glutamate have shown that MSG and other free glutamates consistently cause weight gain in mammals (original tests done on rats), are addictive, and can cause or exacerbate neurological symptoms. For people like myself, who have Asthma, it can also exacerbate asthmatic symptoms. Here are some links which point to studies linking free glutamates like Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, and MSG to these issues. (I know this link is to a forum but it contains links to some studies).

The only people saying anything like "AYE is safe for people who are allergic to MSG" are people in the processed food industry, and as someone who is sensitive to it, I am frankly very tired of doing research to see what I can and cannot eat, eating something that is presumably "safe," having a bad reaction, and then finding out that there is yet another form of free glutamate under another hidden name. I appreciate Kashi for many of your healthy and wholesome products. As I've said before, I make a lot of my own foods for meals and for snacking. When I am on the run, it is important to me to be able to quickly find something that is going to be wholly good for me. You can say whatever you like about Autolyzed Yeast Extract and its use in Kashi foods, but the studies I have seen (which are above and beyond the handful I've enumerated here) indicate that it is NOT the same as the bound glutamates found in naturally ocurring meat and vegetable proteins.

Hydrogen peroxide, when exposed to light, breaks down into water. That does not, by any means, indicate that it is safe to drink a bottle of it. True, H2O2 and H2O have the same components, but that tiny little difference in molecule structure makes a world of difference in toxicity.

I am a little bit angry right now. This person who emailed me may have just been sold the "company line," and not aware that they were peddling a blatant lie; but a company that is supposedly dedicated to our health shouldn't have this line. I do not understand why people saw a market for healthy foods, took advantage of that market, and now want to subtly infiltrate that market with the same additives most of us are striving to avoid.

Please email Kashi and tell them your thoughts about AYE and other Free Glutamates that we do not want in our food!

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Cheeseslave
Re-Posting for Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade

Please feel free to post excerpts from this post, as long as you link back to me. I want to encourage everyone possible to write to Kashi, as well as other companies, to let them know we're not fooled by AYE and other deceptive names for free glutamate.


  1. I emailed my congressman about the MSG issue once; this is so interesting!
    Also, I saw that you commented at the Cultures for Health starter giveaway at Passionate Homemaking. I’m hosting the same one, just through tomorrow night (9/24). You can enter here:
    Good luck!
    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

  2. Thank you so much for your comment, and I'll definitely swing by your blog to check out the giveaway!

  3. The people at Kashi should really know better than to give an answer like that! You are absolutely right free glutamate is free glutamate, and the only difference with this stuff is that it isn't purified away from the lysed yeast cell components. You might consider passing your concerns along to the FDA. Until the FDA passes a "contains glutamate" labeling requirement, I doubt Kashi is required to inform the consumer. In the meantime, the marketing people at Kashi really should consult with their chemists before making further statements. Hope your day gets better!

  4. Way to go!!!!! You'll definitely make them stop and think! (And then hopefully make some changes.)


  5. Thank you both so much for your comments! I haven't had any message back from Kashi in response to my reply. I can't say that I am very surprised, at this point!