Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I've been "took," and I brought you along for the ride!
Remember the blog I wrote about Annie's Homegrown products? Well, the bunny grahams are made with good ingredients, but I just discovered that the cheddar bunnies have MSG in them. It doesn't say "MSG" on the box, but monosodium glutamate hides behind more than a dozen other names. My friend in Phoenix did extensive research on MSG and has "cured" her son's tourettes syndrome by ridding his diet of that yucky flavor enhancer.

Since we returned from Phoenix in September, we have gotten rid of everything in our pantry with MSG--Campbell's soup, salad dressing, dry roasted peanuts. We literally threw them away. I won't go into the details of why MSG is so bad for you (if you want me to, ask and I'll email you) but the fact hat it can cause headaches, among other things, was enough for me to say "good-bye."

Here's a list of the other names for MSG:
monopotassium glutamate, glutamate, glutamic acid, gelatin, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), autolyzed plant protein, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, textured protein, yeast extract, yeast food or nutrient, and autolyzed yeast.

At the end of the list, you'll see "yeast extract." Yep, that's what is in Annies cheddar bunnies. Bummer! I read labels all the time now when I'm shopping, except when I'm at Trader Joes. The manager said TJs is a "MSG-free zone." I hope he is telling me the truth. Other things I've learned is that MSG is not a preservative, it is a flavor enhancer. If something says "preservative free," it could still contain MSG. Also, if a product says anything but 100% organic (Annies says 80%) then it could still be loaded with "bad stuff."

If you had told me 10 years ago, even five years ago, that I'd be an organic, preservative-free, MSG-free police woman, I would have said you are nuts. Now it looks like I'm the one who is "nuts." It just proves what my sister's husband always says, "You live in California, the land of fruit and nuts!"


frisky said...

Mmmmm, I think if I went and checked everything in the trailer that I've packed for the trip, that would definitely be on every box!

Michele said...

Thanks for that info! I'm not usually a label checker but I try to stay away from msg, I had no ideal it had other forms. Guess it proves the fact you need to stay away from as much processed food as possible!

John Foraker said...


My name is John Foraker, and I am the CEO of Annie's. I just read your post and I would like to give you a little deeper information regarding our product.

Our top priority is making safe, natural and organic products that are delicious and wholesome. We do not add artificial preservatives, additives or flavors to our products.

Yeast Extract is a savory flavoring agent naturally produced by growing, harvesting, and concentrating yeast. It is used in some of our products so that we can significantly reduce the amount of salt added. Yeast extract does contain a very small amount of naturally occurring MSG. The key thing to note here is that it is a naturally occurring glutamic acid that comes from the proteins in food grade baker’s yeast used to make the extract. No manufactured MSG is added to our products to enhance flavor!

The amount of this naturally occurring glutamic acid in a typical serving is less than you would find naturally occurring in tomatoes, peas, corn, fish, or mushrooms, or many other unprocessed foods. Furthermore, due to the usual dosages of Yeast Extracts in finished food products, the quantities of free glutamic acid brought by Yeast Extracts equal less than 100 mg per 100 g of food, to be compared to 140 or more mg per 100 g of tomato, peas, corn, fish or mushroom.

We care a great deal that our products are very clean and that we do not use artificial flavors, colors, or enhancers. When we do make the choice to use yeast extract to keep sodium levels down, we make sure it is clearly labeled. We believe in full label disclosure on all of our ingredients so that consumers like yourself can make informed decisions based on our packaging label. We are not one of those companies that hides yeast extract under natural flavor. If it is in our product, we label it.

Hope this clarifies Annie's position with respect to MSG and Yeast extract. Thanks

John Forakr, CEO, Annie's Inc

hestermom said...

WOW Christine, how did you get the Annie's CEO to comment!!??? That is so absolutely awesome, and I am pleasantly surprised. Aren't you glad you were "fooled" so you could post this and have Annie's respond? SO cool.

frisky said...

Yep, I knew it! No more tomatoes, peas, corn, fish, or mushrooms for me!! I'm going cold turkey! LOL!!!

Rebecca said...

In HK they had five pound bags of MSG in the grocery store, labelled "Magic Salt." For some reason nobody uses that moniker over here. ;)

Christine H. said...

Mr. Foraker,

I lost your email address months ago and so I gave up on responding-- and then I thought of responding through my blog comment thread. I just have one question and comment in response to your long blog comment. If you only put a small amount of yeast extract in your cheddar bunnies, why put in any at all? Yeast extract is not good for a person's body and it is not any better than MSG, since it is in fact the same thing. I know it is used to enhance flavor without adding more salt, but there are other ways to accomplish that without using MSG, yeast extract, or whatever you want to call it. Just a thought. We still buy the bunny grahams in droves. We love them!