What’s in your Pizza?

When I started researching pizza ingredients, one thing became abundantly clear. Pizza restaurants did not like the questions I was asking.

The only way to find out what may be lurking in your pizza is to review its complete ingredient list, which is often concealed from the public. I began calling the top pizza chains and easily found a couple ingredient lists online. But, when I called most pizza restaurants and began asking questions, they blatantly refused to share ingredient lists and their customer service reps were oblivious to what their ingredients were – they had no clue.

Well, I’ll tell you what they’re hiding: Lots and lots of hidden MSG!

Restaurants don’t want to get a bad rap by putting monosodium glutamate (MSG) on their ingredient or allergen statements, so they have found another way to secretly add this potent flavor enhancer to your food, without the average customer realizing it. Instead of letting you know that they are putting MSG in your food, they are using an FDA loophole to sneak processed free glutamic acid into your food, which has the same effect as MSG – all without warning you. They simply use other forms of free glutamic acid (such as Hydrolyzed Soy Protein), which is the main component of MSG. This allows them to have “clean labels” and deceive us into believing their product contains no MSG – when it actually does!

While it’s true that tomatoes and cheese are naturally high in glutamates, they do not have the same effect on the brain as added manufactured free glutamic acid additives. When I talked to Papa John’s, they admitted that these additives are used as a replacement for MSG by the food industry.

It will blow your mind – literally

MSG tricks your brain into believing that what you are eating tastes so great that you want more of it. Your taste buds sense that there is more protein in the food than there really is – which is great for food manufacturers that want to save money by using less or lower quality meat. These ingredients also promote an addiction to pizza so that you keep coming back to order more. Repeat business keeps their pockets lined with lots of cash. Ever wonder why you can’t stop at one slice? This is why.

MSG and hidden MSG additives are known to commonly cause headaches, obesity and depression – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. As an excitotoxin, its effect on the brain is so toxic that it has been linked to learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Board certified neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D. warns that, “Excitotoxins have been found to dramatically promote cancer growth… It also causes a cancer cell to become more mobile, and that enhances metastasis, or spread… When you increase the glutamate level, cancer just grows like wildfire”.

This is serious stuff. But the industry will tell you it’s harmless and that you are crazy for being concerned.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is okay to eat this stuff occasionally, because these ingredients can stick around in your body for a long time, leach nutrients from your system, and can make you really sick. As put by my pal Kristen Michaelis at FoodRenegade.com, “Not only is MSG not a traditional food, not only are many people immediately sensitive to it, but it can also interrupt the hormonal and biological development of children! Lest you think this is all fanciful, it’s important to remember that a number of studies have found that the effects of MSG can occur cumulatively over time with subsequent exposure.”


Toxic hidden MSG ingredients buried in popular pizza menu items:

Autolyzed Yeast Extract (Hidden MSG)
Textured or Hydrolyzed Proteins (Hidden MSG and GMO)
Hydrolyzed Corn (Hidden MSG and GMO)
Modified Starches (Hidden MSG or Possible GMO)
Natural Flavors (Possible Hidden MSG)
Disodium Inosinate or Disodium Guanylate (MSG enhancers)

The additives Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate are not added to a product that doesn’t contain MSG because they are considered expensive additives that are ineffective without MSG ingredients. The presence of Disodium Guanylate or Disodium Inosinate in a product is a strong indication that a product contains hidden MSG.

I’m talking about more than MSG here

The ingredient lists that I could get my hands on are riddled with artificial colors, artificial and natural flavors, partially hydrogenated oils, cellulose (wood pulp) to keep the already shredded cheese from clumping, and GMO soybean oil.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans-fat) – There is absolutely no reason for anyone to still be using this. These oils are so bad that even our FDA has woken up and warns that it’s not safe to eat this in any food. Partially hydrogenated oils block arteries and the CDC estimates that they could cause up to 20,000 heart attacks every year! I found these dangerous oils in Pizza Hut’s hand-tossed crust, Round Table’s Creamy Garlic sauce, Papa John’s dipping sauces and Dominos Philly Steak pizza. Partially hydrogenated oils are found in 21 menu items at Cici’s Pizza – it’s even added to their cheese!

Soybean Oil (likely GMO) – You’d hope to see just olive oil in there, but soybean oil is the oil of choice for most pizza restaurants. It’s in the dough and pizza sauces, so it basically makes its way into every pizza. This genetically engineered inflammation causing oil is being used at these restaurants:

Papa John’s
Domino’s
Pizza Hut
Uno Pizzeria
Papa Murphy’s
Little Caesars
Cici’s

Mellow Mushroom – “Soybean oil is a major ingredient in our pizzas”

California Pizza Kitchen – “our Ciabatta Bread and our Wheat Dough do contain Soybean Oil”

Round Table Pizza – Creamy Garlic sauce

BHT/BHA (Butylated Hydroxytoluene.Butylated Hydroxyanisole) – BHT is used in embalming fluid and to fuel jets. BHA is toxic to your organs and linked to cancer. These were found in the pepperoni on every ingredient list I looked at from Uno’s to Dominos.

Sodium Nitrite – Whenever this is added to a meat, there is a really good chance that it contains cancer-causing Nitrosamines. Nitrites are often found in the pepperoni, ham, bacon and sausage toppings.

Enriched Flour – This is a dead food that has had some vitamins and minerals artificially replaced. It’s absorbed by your body as a starch, rather than a whole grain. This flour is used in pizza dough, except the gluten-free versions.

Artificial Colors – These are petroleum-based colorings linked to asthma, allergies and hyperactivity. I found them in the banana pepper toppings, the cheese at Cici’s, and specifically in the garlic oil used by Domino’s.

Caramel Coloring – This is often made by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure which creates carcinogenic compounds. You’ll find this very controversial coloring in the bacon at Pizza Hut, the Italian sausage at Round Table, the beef at Little Caesars, the zesty pizza sauce at Cici’s and in the BBQ Chicken pizza at Uno’s.

BPA (Bisphenol A) – You won’t find this on any ingredient label, but BPA leaches from the cans that hold pizza sauce in some restaurants. Many fast food pizza chains use canned tomato sauce that could have BPA. This substance exposure increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes and a slew of other medical problems.


Are you wondering about your favorite pizza place?

The good news is that you can do the exact same thing I did at your favorite pizza place, and please share the outcome with me!
To get the best results, plan to visit your pizza place during a slow time and not during their dinner rush. This way their employees won’t be rushed and will have time to answer your questions. Right off the bat, ask them if they have an ingredient list to share with you. Most likely they won’t, but it’s worth a try. If their ingredients are not readily available, here’s my game plan for navigating the menu and asking the right questions:

Typically the safest bet is to stick with a veggie pizza without cheese. This is dependent on what they have lurking in their sauce and crust, so it’s really important to find out what is in those items! Ask them to read you the complete ingredients in the sauce and dough.

Hidden MSG is most often found in meat toppings, seasoning mixes and creamy sauces – so if you plan to order those things I would ask specifically about hidden MSG ingredients. Ask them if monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed proteins, modified starches, or natural flavors are in any of those menu items. Which ones?

GMO soybean oil is usually found in the crust and the sauces. Ask them if they use soybean oil – and in what menu items. Is soybean oil used in their pans? Can they make you a pizza without it?

Ask them directly if any of their ingredients are GMO. You may be surprised as they may have no clue what you are talking about. Use this as an opportunity to briefly share with them what a GMO is and why you don’t eat GMOs. Let them know that most soy is GMO so if they use soy in any products, it is probably GMO. Their allergen statement should also be able to tell you if soy is used in any product.

Remember that “garlic oils” and “shake-on seasonings” may contain a bunch of questionable ingredients and MSG. Ask them if there are any specialty oils, butter sauces, or seasoning mixes used on their pizzas. If they can’t tell you the ingredients in those, ask them not to use it on yours.

Do they use high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners in their sauces or dough? These sweeteners are probably derived from GMO sources – including “sugar”.

Most vegetables will not be GMO, unless they have corn, tofu, zucchini or yellow squash toppings. I would avoid those.
What about cellulose in their cheese? Are flavorings and preservatives added to the cheese as well?

Beware that often times the restaurant employees truly do not know the answers to your questions, and will give you incorrect answers. For instance, they may tell you that their cheese is “100% real cheese”, without realizing that the pre-shredded bag of cheese in the back contains an ingredient list. On that ingredient list, they will likely find cellulose, some preservatives, and possibly some flavors and colors. It’s good to remember that it’s not all that it seems on the surface, and in order to find out what is really in their food they will need to read the ingredient list on the box, bag or can that the menu item comes in. The bottom line – If they won’t tell you what is in their food, don’t eat there.

What to eat instead:

Okay, this is the good part! I’m thrilled to say that I’ve found some pizza places that are doing it right!

Pizza Fusion – I called up a Pizza Fusion restaurant and they freely answered every question I had about their ingredients – a big WIN in my book! Their sauce is super simple: organic tomatoes, olive oil, water – and no nasty additives or hidden MSG. They only use olive oil in the restaurant, so you won’t find any GMO soybean or canola oil here. They confirmed with me that their gluten-free crust no longer contains canola oil and that they are diligent about preventing cross-contamination with gluten. I was really happy to find out that all of their meat toppings are antibiotic-free! Their chickens are also fed a non-GMO diet. Many of their veggie toppings are organic and local, and all are non-GMO. This varies and depends on what is seasonally available, so simply ask them which veggies are organic when you order. They have about 12 locations right now, and I really hope they grow into a larger chain so that more of us have access to pizza places like this!

Pure Pizza – I simply love this place. If you are ever in Charlotte, this is the place to go. They have an amazing organic sprouted grain crust, and source their toppings locally.

Truly Organic Pizza – This pizza chain in Florida is USDA certified organic. Because of this, none of their ingredients can be GMO, and all of their meats are antibiotic-free and not injected with hormones. I called them up and asked specifically about hidden MSG ingredients. They told me that they do not use any flavor enhancers such as autolyzed yeast extract or hydrolyzed proteins to season their food. They cook their meatballs and chicken from scratch and only season them with basic seasonings like what we would use at home! This is another great option if you are in Florida.

My Favorite Homemade Pizza Recipe – If you don’t have pizza restaurants like these in your neck of the woods, my homemade pizza recipe is super simple and will be ready in less time than it would take you to order and have it delivered – I promise! This recipe cures my pizza craving in no time!


https://foodbabe.com/2014/03/23/if-y...low-your-mind/