What are kids actually eating?

Few people will be surprised to learn that highly processed/junk foods are loaded with MSG and sugars. And they

won’t be surprised to know that school vending machines and the “a la carte items” many school cafeterias offer, are loaded with unhealthy ingredients. They are also very high in sodium. But most people believe that the hot foods cafeterias offer are basically healthy. After all, they meet the US Department of Agriculture’s guidelines.

With so many expenses, where do food processors save money? On the food. Start with factory-raised meat, add lots of soy extenders, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and way too much sodium. The result?

Three homemade hamburger patties on a plate on a rustic wooden tableDepositphotos_36474599_l-2015

  • A typical pre-made school cafeteria hamburger patty contains six different MSG-type additives as well as two forms of sugars.
  • The barbecued pork rib patty has four MSG cousins and twelve forms of sugar, especially corn syrup and high fructose com syrup.
  • The popcorn chicken has three MSG additives, two sugars, and eleven forms of salt, plus TBHQ.
  • The beef teriyaki nuggets have only one MSG source, but eight sugars, four forms of salt, as well as artificial flavor and sodium benzoate.

Institutional foods are notorious for being largely composed of cheap fats and cheap sugars, including hydrogenated oil, HFCS, lots of sodium and a long list of synthetic chemical additives.

MSG-induced obesity

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a widely-used additive, is a known cause of obesity in animals. It is added heavily to Depositphotos_68855041_l-2015institutional foods, but because the name “MSG” has a bad reputation, food processors use it hidden under various names to achieve the same result without having to admit they are adding an undesirable chemical to boost missing flavor. Even products sold in health food stores can have MSG “cousins.” Here are some of the names commonly used to disguise the presence of MSG and MSG-type additives:

  • Autolyzed yeast extract
  • Disodium inosinate
  • Disodium guanylate
  • Flavor
  • Flavorings
  • Hydrolyzed soy/wheat gluten protein
  • Hydrolyzed soy/corn/wheat gluten protein
  • Hydrolyzed corn/wheat/soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed corn gluten
  • Hydrolyzed corn protein
  • Hydrolyzed corn and yeast protein
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Hydrolyzed milk protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat gluten
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Natural flavor
  • Sodium glutaminate
  • Soy protein
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Textured vegetable protein
  • Textured vegetable protein product
  • Vegetable protein product
  • Whey protein hydrolysate
  • Yeast extract

Note: Check the labels of “health food” products,too – especially soups, gravies, salad dressings and meatless entrees.TheSlowPoisoning Some contain these additives.

John Erb, a Canadian researcher and author of the book The Slow Poisoning of America, believes that the MSG ingested by pregnant women can damage the unborn child’s brain, leading to cell death and symptoms of ADHD and autism.

The list of health problems that are attributed to MSG is a very long one; it includes asthma, now reaching epidemic proportions in the United States.

Boy having his blood pressure checked by doctor

The Glutamate Association, a lobby representing the makers of sodium glutamate and the companies using it, point to a beneficial effect of MSG. When it is added to institutional foods fed to the elderly, it causes them to eat more. This is considered desirable for seniors who lack appetite, but it also has the same effect on everyone else.

Other names that can indicate the presence of MSG:

  • Calcium caseinate
  • Glutamate
  • Glutamic acid
  • Monopotassium glutamate
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Textured protein
  • Yeast food
  • Yeast nutrient

Sources: MSG Update, by Jack Samuels, Wise Traditions, Summer 2004; www.truthinlabeling.org

Critics charge that MSG has an addictive effect, causing changes in the brain which make people crave the foods containing it. There is no legal limit to the amount that manufacturers may add to foods.

Fat mice

Two interesting terms appear in the scientific literature: “MSG-obese” and “monosodium glutamate induced obesity.”

Fat Rat sits on a white background

For several decades scientists have known that they can create obese test animals by injecting MSG under the skin of day-old mice and rats. MSG appears to lead to obesity as well as diabetes by stimulating the pancreas to dramatically increase its output of insulin.

It’s tempting to think that while MSG has been found to cause obesity when it is injected into mice, it might not have the same effect when it is eaten. But actually, many children do receive injected MSG because it is used as a stabilizer in some vaccines. The web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a list of which vaccines contain MSG.The list also indicates which vaccines contain aluminum and formaldehyde.
Hand with glove holding a syringe.

Where does MSG come from? The manufacturer does not need to disclose this, but the best information we have is that it is produced by fermenting bio-engineered bacteria, which give off glutamic acid.

The role of soy

Depositphotos_1593068_l-2015Along with soy based extenders, MSG enables food manufacturers to produce a “meat” dish at a low cost. The main dishes used in school lunches and other institutions typically contain soy in the form of TVP or “textured vegetable protein.” The various additives, sweeteners and salt help disguise any beany flavor, but soy itself may be part of the problem. It has been implicated in causing obesity by damaging the thyroid.

Also, babies fed soy-based formula have been found to be at higher risk for later development of diabetes, as well as behavior problems. Soy formula has 80 times the level of manganese

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found in breast milk, and infants may not excrete it efficiently. Excess manganese reduces the levels of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain; in addition, soy formula provides phytoestrogens equivalent to five birth control tablets per day, according to Mike Fitzpatrick, a toxicologist in New Zealand.

Where's the sugar . . corn syrup?

Schools expose children to sugary junk food (loaded with synthetic additives) in many ways: class parties, teacher’s rewards, math workbooks that include M&Ms, fund raisers, “a la carte” sales in the cafeteria and — especially in high schools — vending machines.

BANGKOK,THAILAND - NOVEMBER 19, 2013:Selection of chocolate candy M&M's on the shelves in a supermarket Siam Paragon. With 300,000 sq m of retail space Siam Paragon is one of the world's largest malls

Happy Halloween candy in square white bowls on orange background.

Sweet cake pops in jar on table on bright background