Dead babies in food

Fact Check-PepsiCo drinks do not contain ‘aborted fetal cells’

By Reuters Fact Check

5 Min Read

Beverages produced by PepsiCo do not contain aborted fetal cells.

This false claim spread online via an image that listed brands allegedly connected with PepsiCo under the headline: “Foods that contain aborted fetal cells” (here , here , here , here).

The post presents no evidence and plays into misinformation on these products that has been in circulation for years. The original author of the post later apologised for “some inaccurate information” but did not delete it (here).

The claim originates from 2010 when the food and drink company PepsiCo (here) signed a four-year deal with Senomyx (here), a biotechnology company that develops sweeteners (here).

A year later, a US-based anti-abortion group called ‘Children of God for Life’ called for a boycott on companies partnered with Senomyx, which they alleged was using “aborted fetal cell lines to test their products”. They claimed Senomyx was using human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells “taken from an electively aborted baby” to produce human taste receptors. The cells were called HEK-293 (here).

Google Patents shows that Senomyx had a patent issued in 2008 for “Recombinant Methods for Expressing a Functional Sweet Taste Receptor” that mentioned HEK-293 cells (here , here).

A 2014 article in the scientific journal Nature said the HEK-293 cell line originates from the kidney of an aborted human embryo from 1973. The cells were cloned and are widely used in biomedical research (here).

The patent therefore suggests that Senomyx used cloned cells derived from an aborted embryo, a developing baby at the early stages (here , page 18).

PepsiCo has denied any involvement with HEK-293 cells.

In a 2012 letter, a PepsiCo vice president responded to the boycott by Children of God for Life and told consumers that PepsiCo did not conduct or fund research that utilised cell lines derived from embryos or fetuses, and that Senomyx did not use HEK cells for research on behalf of PepsiCo (here).

PepsiCo confirmed to Reuters that this was still the case.

“At one time PepsiCo did have a relationship with Senomyx exploring the development of new sweeteners and flavor enhancers,” a PepsiCo spokesperson said, but “PepsiCo’s commercial relationship with Senomyx has ended and we do not use any Senomyx ingredients in our products.”

The spokesperson added: “As always, PepsiCo absolutely does not conduct or fund research that utilizes any human tissue or cell lines derived from embryos or fetuses.”

Reuters Fact Check previously debunked claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain “aborted fetal tissue” here and here .

False. PepsiCo told Reuters that the company does not use any Senomyx ingredients in its products and does not fund or conduct research using cells derived from human embryos or fetuses.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

Fact Check-Food products do not contain human fetal cells

By Reuters Fact Check

7 Min Read

There is no evidence that food products contain cells from aborted human fetuses as flavor enhancers, contrary to a social media claim that revives a related, previously-debunked charge about cells used in biomedical research.

A widely-shared tweet claims that “flavor enhancers made from aborted fetal tissue are being eaten without the knowledge of consumers. Amounts of these flavor enhancers used in food products are below a certain threshold, so they don't need to be reported or safety-tested by the FDA” (here).

The post had received more than 10,000 “likes” and been retweeted over 4,000 times at the time of writing. Additional examples can be found on Facebook (, (

The claims offer no evidence that food companies incorporate human cells into their products for any reason, but they include a screenshot of text invoking an older claim that a fetal cell line used in many kinds of laboratory research had ended up in soft drinks. That cell line, HEK-293, has been used in laboratory research related to testing food flavors, according to a 2002 study and a 2008 patent application, but that research did not involve incorporating the cells into foods.


The text in the screenshot, which is dated 2015, reads: “A biotechnology company out of California called Senomyx specializes in the development of food flavorings using aborted embryonic cells for the production of food chemicals. Research by Senomyx into the use of ‘HEK-293’ aborted human fetal cells as a flavor enhancer was published in Pubmed in 2002, after which several patents were filed by them. Additionally, this company has partnered with numerous major processed food manufacturers including Kraft, PepsiCo, and Nestle.”

The graphic image and title in this screenshot date back to at least January 2012, when they appeared in an article on the Gawker website (here).

Confusion and controversy over use of a cell line known as HEK-293 in food-related research date back even further, to at least 2011, when it was the basis of calls to ban certain types of research (here) and to boycott companies that used the HEK-293 cell line in their research and development.

Reuters previously factchecked false claims that PepsiCo drinks contained aborted fetal cells. The claims had originated in a 2011 call from a U.S.-based anti-abortion group, Children of God for Life, to boycott companies partnered with U. S. biotech Senomyx, which was said to be using “aborted fetal cell lines to test their products” (here).


The controversial cell line is derived from fetal cells dating to the 1970s. The HEK-293 cell line was originally created sometime around 1973 or 1974 by Canadian scientist Frank Graham (here). Graham used a lab technique to “transform” cultured cells for use in cancer research. He had started with cultured kidney cells obtained in 1972 by Dutch researcher Alexander Van der Eb, who explained the cells’ origin in a 2001 presentation to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (on page 77 here). Van der Eb has attested that the cells were derived from human fetal tissue, though he was uncertain if it was from an abortion or miscarriage (

HEK-293 cells are used widely in biomedical research, including in studies of cell mechanisms (here). In 2002, Senomyx researchers published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that used the cells to study receptor proteins that detect certain tastes (here ). Google Patents shows that Senomyx had a patent issued in 2008 for “Recombinant Methods for Expressing a Functional Sweet Taste Receptor” that mentions the use of HEK-293 cells (here).

A 2011 CBS News report about the Pepsi allegations suggested that the Senomyx patent was most likely being used to test substances, but that no HEK cells were in finished products: “The company appears to be engineering HEK cells to function like the taste-receptor cells we have in our mouth. This way, Senomyx can test millions of substances to see if they work as different types of taste enhancers without subjecting human volunteers to endless taste tests.” (here).

In 2018, Senomyx was acquired by Firmenich, a global manufacturer of fragrances and flavors (here).

Andrea Duarte, a spokesperson for Firmenich, told Reuters by email, “Neither Firmenich products nor Senomyx products have ever contained any human cell or material.”

A Nestlé spokesperson said via email that Firmenich is a supplier to Nestlé, but that Nestlé does not use any flavor compounds using HEK cells, nor use HEK cells in their research.

Andrea Foote, a spokesperson for PepsiCo said, “While PepsiCo previously partnered with Senomyx on sweetener research, the relationship has concluded, and we do not use any Senomyx ingredients in our products. PepsiCo absolutely does not conduct or fund research that utilizes any human tissue or cell lines derived from embryos or fetuses.”

Kraft did not respond to a request for comment.


False. There is no evidence that any food or beverage products contain cells from human fetuses or derived from fetuses.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here.

Why children are picky eaters and what to do about it

  • Colin Barras
  • BBC Earth

Photo credit: Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy Stock Photo 9001 Description vitamins and minerals do not help the benefits

All parents know how stubbornly a baby can refuse certain foods - but this behavior has a good reason, scientists say.

Children are the world's harshest culinary critics. No matter how much effort and imagination parents put into preparing food, the chances that a two-year-old picky will turn his nose are great. Distrust is primarily generated by unfamiliar products. And vegetables occupy the first place among them.

As much as parents may be upset by this behavior of their children, it is encouraging to know that small children are not the only capricious eaters in the world. The young of many animals are also very wary of new foods.

At first glance, this looks strange. Food is often scarce, so why would babies refuse food when they have it? Biologists offer several explanations for this phenomenon.

Psychologist Lucy Cook from University College London, who also works at Great Ormond Street Hospital, has been studying children's eating habits for over 15 years.

She distinguishes two types of capricious behavior in children at the table. On the one hand, there are picky eaters - those who have a limited amount of acceptable food. On the other hand, there are neophobes, children who refuse any new or unfamiliar dishes. nine0011

Image copyright HD57life / Alamy Stock Photo

Caption before photo

Children are the world's toughest food critics

Together with a team of scientists, Cook observes twins born in England and Wales in 2007.

Because identical twins share 100% of their genes, but only 50% of theirs, scientists can find out whether certain eating habits in children are genetically determined.

Various studies have shown that both pickiness and the fear of new foods are indeed genetic. But only half. Upbringing and experience can have about the same effect on the culinary preferences of the baby. nine0011

An in-depth study of the scientific literature shows that pickiness in food also depends on the age of the child. It noticeably increases after 1. 5-2 years and persists until adolescence.

Why so?

Our ancient ancestors lived mainly by gathering. Most of their diet consisted of plants. And plants, especially in the tropics, where most of the evolution of the human race took place, often contain toxins. Consequently, ancient people had to provide themselves with a varied diet, but at the same time be very careful with new plants. Scientists call this phenomenon the "omnivore dilemma." nine0011

Image copyright Leila Cutler / Alamy Stock Photo

Image caption,

Oddly enough, they rarely refuse chocolate.

In the first year and a half or two years of life, children do not feel the dilemma of omnivores, as parents carefully choose their food. But from about the age of two, children become more independent.

They begin to explore the environment and the food in it. And, therefore, from an evolutionary point of view, it is quite justified that children at this age begin to treat unfamiliar foods with great fear. This theory also explains why children are so hard to get to try vegetables, especially green vegetables like peas or broccoli. nine0011

Author photo, Anup Shah/

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Observations of children conducted by anthropologist Elizabeth Cushden of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City confirm the dilemma of omnivores. In particular, the researcher found that poisonous plants pose a danger to children even in modern developed societies. nine0011

After talking to the Utah Poison Control Center, Cushden learned that houseplants are the number one cause of poisoning among children aged six months to one and a half years.

To further confirm the hypothesis of poisonous plants, the scientist turned to other biological species. If the omnivore dilemma does affect children's eating habits, it must also apply to other types of omnivores or herbivores, not just humans.

Several studies on gorillas and rats have found that some young members of these species are wary of new foods. But in general, the evidence to support the existence of the omnivore dilemma in animals was noticeably lacking.

Other studies have shown that picky eaters are found in all kinds of animals, even fish. Researcher Nicola Marples of Trinity College Dublin suggests calling this behavior "dietary conservatism" instead of neophobia. nine0011

Image copyright Kim Taylor/

Image caption,

Even fish can be a fussy eater

Fear of new foods should fade as a baby or baby animal sees the same food again and again. But some animals—just like small children—remain persistently reluctant to eat certain foods, even when they lose the novelty factor.

Back in 1995, Marples and her colleagues discovered that dietary conservatism is hereditary and apparently regulated by certain genes. nine0011

According to Marples, it also explains one of the most mysterious phenomena in the theory of evolution - why many types of poisonous plants and animals are brightly colored.

Scientists for a long time could not understand how this phenomenon developed in the process of evolution, because the first individual, colored brighter than others, should have attracted the attention of a predator. And how, then, could the species survive, let alone how the bright coloration could spread to the entire population.

Dietary conservatism explains this paradox. A predator may deliberately avoid consuming a colorful individual because it is different from other members of the species, and therefore something new and risky. nine0011

The author of the photo, Dave Bevan

Photo caption,

The bright color of the bees signals their viciousness

Researchers, however, agree that although pickiness in food is caused by genes, the environment in which a child grows and is brought up has a great meaning. If in the animal world a cub lives in a social group with adults, he carefully observes which plants his parents eat and eats the same.

In the same way, children are guided by the experience of adults in choosing safe food. The findings from these studies provide important clues to parents who are trying to feed their little fussy kids. Parents should eat with their children. Ideally, the same dishes that they give to children. nine0011

"Restaurants that have a separate menu for children make a big mistake," says Claire Louwelyn of University College London, who is also involved in the study of twins' eating habits.

But, unfortunately, in reality, many parents in modern society do not manage to sit down at the table with their children. Some come home late from work, and the kid can't wait until 8 to have dinner.

Image copyright Radius Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Photo caption,

For some reason, everything always comes down to broccoli

Lifestyle in developed countries adversely affects children's eating habits in other ways as well.

Many mothers go to work shortly after giving birth and are unable to breastfeed.

"But it's through the mother's milk that babies get to know the aromas and flavors of the food they eat," says Lynn Burch, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. . nine0011

This is why many children miss nature's cues that would help them avoid the omnivore dilemma. And as a result, some of them become capricious eaters. In extreme cases, a child's innate tendency to food neophobia can lead to an extremely restrictive diet that will satisfy the baby's tastes but harm his health.

Image copyright Roger Bamber / Alamy Stock Photo

However, Claire Louwelyn advises parents not to despair, even if their child is very picky about food. nine0011

"Our genes do not completely determine our fate. Genetically determined predisposition to something does not mean that it cannot be overcome by patient and persistent education," says the scientist.

How to feed a naughty baby

  • Do not use food as a reward, for example, promising your child a piece of cake if he eats broccoli. After all, this makes the dish more and more unloved, because the baby believes that it can only be eaten for a reward. And the cake, on the contrary, becomes more desirable. nine0004
  • Instead, parents can offer a non-food reward. Usually stickers or just verbal praise are a big success.
  • Many studies show that eating together and sharing menus with parents helps toddlers overcome food prejudice.
  • The researchers also encourage parents to be persistent. If your child stubbornly refuses a new food, offer it at the next meal. Keep doing this over and over. nine0004
  • Research shows that children usually agree to try a new dish after it has been offered to them at 15 consecutive meals.

You can read the original of this article in English on the website BBC Earth.

How to love “live food”: January 16, 2019, 10:16

© Pixabay

January 16, 2019, 10:16


Imagine that you have two shelves in your kitchen. One is called "living food" and the other is called "dead food." "Live food" is that which is useful. Just as all living things give birth to life, "living food" strengthens health and prolongs life. "Dead food", on the contrary, causes disease and shortens life.

Foods that are "living food" protect us from heart disease, cancer, obesity. They sharpen the mind, give more energy and "enliven" us. The healthiest "live foods" are fruits, starchy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and minimally processed whole grains. These products are distinguished by the fact that they are wrapped in an elegant shell called a peel or husk. They are difficult to color and difficult to add chemicals to. They are plucked from the field, harvested at harvest time and, if necessary, squeezed to a liquid state in the form of juices. They contain many useful vitamins, minerals, plant fibers - fiber. They can simply be called food. Live foods include many marine products, vegetable oils, fermented milk products, as well as probiotics that improve intestinal microflora. nine0011

Foods that are classified as "dead food" are those that have fallen into human hands and have changed beyond recognition. Significant amounts of various sugars are added to them - dextrose, fructose, glucose - everything that ends in "-ose". These foods are processed at high temperatures so that everything useful in them dies in order to be reborn into something unnatural, harmful and even toxic to the body. Dead foods include, for example, potato chips, many sweets, and packaged non-perishable foods. This category also includes fast foods - fast foods. The fact is that in them ordinary fats are converted into so-called hydrogenated fats, which damage blood vessels and cause disease. It is difficult to call them food; rather, they are simply consumer products full of unnecessary energy, various additives, dyes, preservatives and other substances harmful to the body. The danger lies in the fact that such products are most often liked, they quickly satisfy the feeling of hunger and quickly get used to them. You can say that most people you know eat unhealthy food, but they look quite healthy. Most of these people are just balancing between health and disease. In order to maintain health, it is important to limit the consumption of "dead foods", especially those high in refined grains, starches, sugar, salt and trans fats, as well as processed meats, such as sausages, sausages and various processed foods. nine0011

For more on the science behind healthy eating, see the Academy of Preventive Medicine's detailed review of the scientific literature:

How can you develop a love for "living food"? Our taste preferences come with experience, and therefore these preferences can be changed and reshaped. If only natural foods ("live food") are included in the child's diet, he or she will quickly become accustomed to such foods and love them. In other words, we can change our taste preferences. nine0011

However, it would be a mistake to hope that this will happen quickly. However, if you seriously tune in, then taste preferences can change within a few weeks and even days. You will immediately experience the benefits of increased energy, physical comfort, as well as positive external effects such as improved skin tone and a more attractive appearance. Below I recommend seven ways in which you can fall in love with "live food" and become healthier and more beautiful.

1. It is extremely important how we think and "talk" to ourselves. We all have internal dialogues, and they go a long way in making decisions about our own health. Instead of saying to yourself, "I CAN'T eat candy, cake, fast food, or drink sweetened drinks," it's much more effective to tell yourself affirmatively, "I DO NOT eat candy, cake, fast food, or drink sweetened drinks. " The former implies absence and self-denial, while the latter is associated with the power of choice and empowerment. Listen to your inner voice. nine0011

2. Contrary to popular belief, switching to "living food" does not cost you much, especially if you cook your own food. Those products in supermarkets that have been processed are expensive. Food from natural vegetables, fruits, cereals, beans, fresh meat, poultry, fish will be cheaper if you take it upon yourself to prepare it in your kitchen.

3. Be an artist and turn your meals into colorful paintings with a variety of yellow, red and green fruits and vegetables throughout the day. It is desirable that they are fresh and that they are not sprayed with harmful chemicals. Therefore, if possible, try to grow fruits and vegetables in the garden yourself. nine0011

4. If you have to buy packaged food, you should not ignore the list of ingredients. The main ingredients are always listed on the top of the package. Better yet, buy those products that do not require any labeling indicating the composition. For example, carrots are carrots, and you can’t confuse a head of cabbage or broccoli with anything else.

5. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of "dead food", that is, that which has been subjected to industrial processing. It is much better to get rid of junk food - everything that leads you into temptation, otherwise you will have to build willpower every day. nine0011

6. Even though you are aware of the undeniable benefits of "living food", it is important to always be on the lookout for the amount you consume. It's easy to control portion sizes by just using smaller plates: although they will visually look full, you will actually eat less food than if you took it from a larger plate.

7. Family meals at the kitchen table are the best for health. This will allow you to eat slowly, knowing that the food is near you, but, most importantly, to enjoy spiritual food, thanks to communication with loved ones. nine0011

By choosing "living food" you will be healthier, feel better, look better and think more clearly.

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