Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brewing microorganisms to create an amino acid used in baby formulas

                    "The Canadian Study leaves no doubt that ingredients that 
                     contain process free glutamic acid (MSG) and free aspartic-
                     acid--known neurotoxins--are used in baby formula."

Over a decade old, the Canadian Study analysed 5 formulas purchased in Canada.  The study noticed that the hypoallergenic formulas contained much more glutamic and aspartic acids than the non-hypoallergenic formulas.  According to the truthinlabeling website, the FDA sponsored a study in 1992 regarding the, "Safety of Amino Acids Used in Dietary Supplements."  They quote in part from that 1992 study, " is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, and children..."

Dr. Gregory J. Georgiou, PhD, a clinical nutritionist, states in his article, "The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG),"Today scientists know that MSG kills brain cells and causes neuroendocrine disorders in laboratory animals..."  He describes the many adverse reactions and states, "Obesity, reproductive disorders, and learning impairment, that sometimes become obvious only after puberty, may have their origins in neuroendocrine dysfunction caused by exposure of infants and small children to MSG.  He describes the hidden sources of MSG for those who read the ingredient list on their processed foods like infant formula.  These ingredients always contain MSG:  Glutamate, Glutamic acid, Gelatin, Monsodium glutamate, Calcium caseinate, Textureized protein, Monopotassium glutamate, Sodium Caseinate, Yeast nutrient, Yeast extract, Yeast food, Autolyzed yeast Hydrolyzed protein.  Then he lists those ingredients that often contain MSG or create MSG during processing:  Carageenan, Maltodextrin, Malt extract...Soy protein isolate....Whey protein concentrate....(see his article for a full listing) 

Dr. Georgiou also states that MSG is sprayed on crops as they grow (growth enhancers, fertilizers, fungicides).  And that MSG is used in waxes applied to raw fruits and vegetables.   Originally, seaweed was used to extract glutamic acid.   My understanding is that there is a couple of ways to manufacture this amino acid.  Fermentation is one process in which bacteria is used.  The bacteria is used because it has the ability to excrete glutamic acid.  The amino acid is separated from the liquid by filtration and various manufacturing processes are applied to creat the product.

Ajinomoto Company, Inc. is one company that manufactures this particular amino acid that is used by the infant formula industry.  They have several US patents and a European patent, too.  The first patent I read about was the US patent # 6331419 entitled, "L-glutamic acid-producing bacterium and method for producing L-glutamic acid," filed in 1998.  In this patent L-glutamic acid,"is produced by culturing in a liquid culture medium a microorganism belonging to the genus Enterobacter or Serratia.  The microorganism is "transformed with a vector containing a nucleic acid encoding at least one enzyme..." (enzymes may be citrate synthase, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, or glutamate dehydrogenase).  I conclude that the use of a vector and transformation means that this product is produced by genetic engineering.  Part of the claim specifically mentions the use of Enterobacter agglomerans or Serratia liquefacience.  In 1982, Enterobacter agglomerans was considered a new cause of primary pneumonia (Thorax 1982;37:865-866).  It is a known plant pathogen that causes human disease. Enterobacter agglomerans has been renamed and now called Pantoea agglomerans.

Ajinomoto has a European patent entitled, "L-glutamic acid producing bacterium and process for producing l-glutamic acid,"  EP 0999282 A2.   The abstract states, "L-glutamic acid is produced by culturing in a medium a microorganism belonging to enterobacteria and having L-glutamic acid productivity, into which a citrate synthase gene derived from a coryneform bacterium is introduced to produce and accumulate L-glutamic acid..."  According to this claim the mircroorganism belongs to Enterobacter agglomerans or Klebsiella planticola.  This patent was filed in 1999.  And it is obvious to me that this is a process in which fermentation and genetic engineering techniques are used.

Ajinomota has another US patent entitled, "L-glutamic acid producing bacterium and process for producing L-glutamic acid, " filed in 1999 but published in 2007.  One of their claims is that the isolated microorganism "belonging to enterobacteria selected from the group consisting of the genus Enterobacter, Pantoea, Klebsiella, Erwinia and Serattia and having L-glutamic acid productvity with is transformed by a polynucleotide sequence encoding a citrate synthase obtained from Cornebacterium glutamicum or Brevibacterium lactofermentum..."

Rather fascinating that we use these pathogens to produce an amino acid for use in foods (it is also used in intravenous solutions, various medical products  and prescription drugs).  I am rather astounded that we use it in baby formula (and as you can see by Dr. Georgiou's listing of ingredients, this amino acid is in quite a few of the listed ingredients of baby formula besides being an added amino acid used in specific formulas).  This is a fermented brew of bacterium genetically engineered to produce greater amounts amino acid.  I just start wondering about what research was done that proved this was a risk-free ingredient for infants?
Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain 

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