Wednesday, March 31, 2010

'Natural Flavorings' ~ My Journey to Three Supermarkets!

Have you ever watched the Biggest Loser?
Do you cook with Jennie-O Ground Turkey?
Or any other kind of pre-packaged ground turkey from Trader Joe's, Ralph's, Albertson's, Kroger's, etc?

Then you are most likely eating MSG.

I just spent an entire morning driving from Ralph's to Albertson's to Trader Joe's only to end up back at Whole Foods to purchase ground turkey without any 'Natural Flavorings'. You may ask why I took my son on this wild turkey chase - and I am seriously wondering the same thing myself, except for this... Natural Flavoring = MSG!

There are a few things that I am really devoted to when it comes to food in my house...
No High Fructose Corn Syrup
No Nitrates
Dirty Dozen veggies must be organic

The problem is that almost all food from a store contains one of these items, making grocery shopping and label reading a nightmare. I am cooking several meals for a friend that had surgery, hence the turkey quest, and I was blown away that you cannot purchase ANY truly natural ground turkey in most grocery stores. So I am on a mission to share my findings and hopefully help you make the best choice for your family. I LOVE watching The Biggest Loser as it's inspiring, motivating and a truly positive show that helps so many people. I just might have to write a letter though as it saddens me that they are promoting something as being really good for you - that really isn't. Don't get me wrong, Jennie-O ground turkey is a MUCH better choice than the fast food most of the contestants were living on before, I just want food companies to clean their ingredients up of unnecessary items!


  1. Jen I couldnt have said it better!!

  2. AMEN !!! I was just diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis & MSG is a big thing I have to stay away from. I've been watching MSG for a couple of yrs now due to a bladder problem, but when I started eating "healthy" recently, it blows my mind that ground turkey meat has MSG !!! Crazy !

  3. OMG, I was wondering what the 'natural flavoring' in the lean ground turkey was as I seem to get sick when I eat it...thanks for posting...

  4. I contacted Hormel, the manufacturer for "Jennie-O Ground Turkey". I exchanged 5 emails with a "Consumer Response Specialist" who would not give me a straight answers to my questions about the "Natural Flavorings" listed on the packaging, and eventually refused to answer my questions.

    The problem is "Natural" has no legal meaning or weight, anyone can call anything "Natural", which is a minefield for people like me with medical food/chemical allergies. I HAVE to ask, to be safe. To date, in 5 years, Hormel is the first and only company ever to refuse the information I ask for.

    Below are my emailed questions, and the responses verbatim:

    1) I asked "what specifically are in the "Natural Flavorings, and does it contain MSG"? Response: "the natural flavoring is rosemary".

    2) I then asked "it is just Rosemary oil, or dried herbs... are there other ingredients, and does it contain MSG? I have to ask due to medical food allergies" The 4 word response: "It is rosemary extract".

    3) I asked "what else is in the rosemary extract" and "does it contain MSG?" and "I will never buy a product from a company that will not honestly disclose all ingredients." The response: "I contacted our R & D department regarding the rosemary extract. There is no Monosodium Glutamate in the extract."

    4) I replied: "Thank you for contacting your R&D department. I will try one more time to ask my question... I will try caps… WHAT IS IN THE ROSEMARY EXTRACT? Specifically what ingredients? Just Rosemary, or what else? Thank you."

    5) The response: "I understand your question, NO CAPS NEEDED. I'm sorry, I have provided you the information that I am able to. Jacki, Consumer Response Specialist, Hormel"

    So I can confirm that Hormel refuses to disclose all the ingredients in their "Natural Flavorings", which is something I've read on many other message boards, but wanted to find out for myself by giving Hormel the opportunity to be honest about their ingredients. They were not.

    Here is the problem -- "Rosemary Extract" sounds all nice and natural, but probably isn't. What's in the oil? What preservatives are included? What other ingredients, then Rosemary are in this "extract"?

    In the end -- I DID take a chance, and try "Jennie-O 99/1 Ground Turkey". I got a migraine, tight chest, rash, and all my sinuses swelled shut so I couldn't breathe. So there is definitely SOMETHING in there other than what Hormal refers to as "Natural".

    BOTTOM LINE -- if a company makes the claim "Natural" and then refuses to disclose ingredients that would confirm this -- it's probably NOT NATURAL.

  5. Thank you. I did not ever realize that there was natural flavoring added to ground turkey until today. My husband just simply asked me, "what is the natural flavoring that Jenny O adds to their ground turkey?" and I was surprised! They do???? So I find your website and get an answer, MSG???!!! We do not do any form of MSG if we realize it, and we quit meat a few months ago, thank goodness. He was hungry for ground turkey but decided not to get it. I'm so glad we learned this because whenever we do eat some meat we want it to be totally natural, organic and good for us.
    Love your website.

    1. I am frustrated by this too. I want to know how much rosemary extract is added as well as what it is. The product I am looking at is referred to as "Flavored ground turkey" on the company website, but the package says Lean Ground Turkey and in very small print, turkey and rosemary extract.

  6. Thank you for this info! I was suspect of Jennie O but it is the only ground turkey brand the store carries. It took me what I believe is too much time to get to your page after having to sift through pages and pages of Jennie O sites... information like this should be easier to find and more people should take responsibility for what they are putting in their bodies.