No, meals corporations will not be promoting merchandise that comprise 'aborted fetus cells'

A post shared on Facebook makes a disturbing declare that many standard food and drinks corporations use “aborted baby fetus cells” to reinforce the flavour of their merchandise. 

The put up options textual content round a collage of standard food and drinks objects reminiscent of Pepsi, Doritos, Lays, Fritos, Aunt Jemima and Gatorade. It says:

“If only sheeple knew .. that there’s a flavor enhancement company called senomyx that puts aborted baby fetus cells in their food and drinks.”

The put up additionally has a prolonged caption that seems to be taken totally from a 2015 blog post by Rich Swier, in which Swier includes this excerpt from a Conservative Put up story: 

“Kraft, PepsiCo, Nestle, work with Semonyx, a California-based [company] that makes use of aborted embryonic cells to check pretend flavoring chemical compounds. The aborted human fetal cell line is named ‘HEK-293,’ and it’s used to see how the human palate will react to artificial flavors. Since most of in the present day’s processed meals lacks taste, corporations like Semonyx are employed to develop flavors on their very own…”

Swier, in response to the weblog, holds a doctorate of training from the College of Southern California.

The put up was flagged as a part of Fb’s efforts to fight false information and misinformation on its Information Feed. (Learn extra about our partnership with Facebook.)

Let’s simply begin off by saying that no —neither Kraft nor Pepsi nor some other U.S. meals firm is promoting objects to the general public that comprise “aborted baby fetus cells.”

The Conservative Put up story that Swier’s weblog and the Fb put up reference no longer exists on the web site, however we traced the controversial declare again to a 2011 dispute involving Senomyx, a San Diego-based biotechnology firm, and a pro-life group referred to as Kids of God for Life. 

Based on an archived version of a March 29, 2011, press release from Kids of God for Life, the group referred to as for a boycott of meals corporations that contract with Senomyx. The group pointed to an April 2002 report by Senomyx researchers as proof that the corporate was including HEK 293 — Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells — in its analysis and growth to reinforce taste.

HEK 293 is a line of cells initially derived from human embryo kidney cells and that had been grown in a tissue tradition. The primary supply of the cells was a fetus that was legally aborted within the Netherlands within the 1970s. The cell line has been extensively utilized in organic and medical inquiry, particularly for most cancers analysis.

Fetal stem cell analysis has been utilized in cell biology for over 30 years. However no firm is manufacturing meals or different merchandise supposed for human consumption that comprise aborted human fetuses. 

Senomyx has used the HEK 293 cell line in its taste analysis to operate because the mouth’s style receptor cells, permitting the corporate to check lots of of drugs. However these cells will not be in any of the particular meals merchandise that buyers would discover available on the market. CBS News wrote about this in 2011: 

“To non-scientists this will likely sound a bit unusual, however the actuality is that HEK 293 cells are extensively utilized in pharmaceutical analysis, serving to scientists create vaccines in addition to medicine like these for rheumatoid arthritis. The distinction right here is that Senomyx’s work for Pepsi is without doubt one of the first instances the cells have (probably) been used to create a meals or beverage. (And it is vital to notice that no a part of a human kidney cell are ever part of Senomyx’s style enhancers or any completed meals merchandise.)”

Gwen Rosenberg, vice chairman of investor relations and company communications for Senomyx, described the process to the Miami New Times in the course of the 2011 controversy and mentioned the method is “basically a robotic tasting system”:

“(Rosenberg) depicted rows of little plastic square dishes with hundreds of tiny indentations in each dish. A protein is placed in each indentation, then a flavor. If the protein reacts to the flavor, the results are charted. If the new flavor (of which the company has more than 800,000) is successful with the protein test, the company then conducts taste tests with (live) adult humans.”

Science and medication author Matthew Herper additionally broke down the method in a 2012 Forbes article:

“That is 35-year-old know-how. And it’s extensively utilized in cell biology. And there’s no approach you may eat them or that the cells would trigger any well being issues.

“… The kidney cells were forced to take up bits of DNA using a technique invented in 1973 that used a calcium solution. The resulting cells don’t act much like human cells at all, but they are very easy to work with and have become workhorses of cellular biology. That’s why they’re used in the development of drugs and vaccines. (Here’s the original paper on the creation of the HEK cells.) No new fetal tissue has been used to keep the cell culture going; the use of this cell line isn’t leading to new abortion.”

Our ruling

A Fb put up claims a number of standard meals corporations add “aborted baby fetus cells in their food and drinks” for taste enhancement.

The put up mischaracterizes the use fetal stem cell analysis by biotechnology corporations reminiscent of Senomyx. HEK 293 cells, a cell line from an aborted fetus from the 1970s, has been extensively utilized in cell biology analysis for over 30 years in a number of areas, together with meals and pharmaceutical growth. However none of those cells are discovered within the meals merchandise accessible to customers.

So, whereas there’s a back-story related to this put up, the declare itself is simply too inaccurate to fee it something however False.

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