Tyson Sued Over Gluten-Free Drilling Mud

You want natural, or gluten-free? You can’t have both.

An Illinois woman apparently doesn’t understand that choice, so she’s filed a lawsuit against Tyson Foods – and seeks an order certifying the case as a class action and an award for compensatory damages.

Here’s the problem. The woman bought a package of Tyson’s “100% All Natural Batter Dipped Chicken Tenders” at Wal-Mart in O’Fallon, Ill., but discovered the product contains xanthan gum, a synthetic substance, thereby disqualifying the product as “all natural.” Or, maybe not.

Was the woman deceived by false advertising? Tyson is likely to argue the chicken was “all natural,” and had the woman read the ingredient label before she bought the package she would have known the batter contained xanthan gum.

So what the heck is xanthan gum? Ahh, yes, the complexities of the modern food industry. Xanthan gum provides elasticity and stickiness in doughs and batters – in gluten-free baking. Yep, it replaces gluten. Take out the gluten and you need a binding agent to help hold the batter to the chicken in order to make the chicken...err...well, taste better.

Xanthan gum is one of those ingredients many consumers find mysterious, and therefore they may believe it to be dangerous. It’s likely on the Food Babe’s list of no-no ingredients for her loyal followers who only consume healthy products such as raw water.

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide, made when glucose, sucrose or lactose is fermented by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris. Then it is turned into a solid by isopropyl alcohol, dried and ground into a fine powder.

Food companies have many uses for xanthan gum, such as salad dressings and sauces, ice cream, and others. The FDA declared it safe for human foods in the 1960s. Food Babe, however, is likely to notice that the oil industry can also use xanthan gum – in large quantities – to thicken drilling mud.

Which suggests how Tyson might need to label its product to avoid future silly lawsuits: “99.9% All Natural Chicken Tenders Batter Dipped In Gluten-Free Drilling Mud.”