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Read This Before You Ever Stand In Line At The Deli Counter Again.

Whenever I enter a conventional grocery store, I get heart palpitations. You might think I am kidding about this, but I am not. My body gets heated, my face starts to scowl and I end up saying “WTF” about 18 times before I leave the store. You’d think by now, I would have my emotions under control – but I don’t and I think that’s why I am so passionate about fixing this food system. And I know you are too because you keep emailing, commenting and alerting me of all the messed up things you are seeing out there and I can’t thank you enough!

This investigation is one that you have been asking for, so here it is… And if you are new to Food Babe, you definitely want to read this before you ever go to the deli counter again. 

boars_head TITLE

You asked:  Is Boar’s Head deli meat better than the other brands?

I’ve received emails and comments on social media expressing that you’ve been led to believe that Boar’s Head deli meat is healthier than other brands – but you wanted to know if it really is better or if they’ve just got really good marketing. 

Their slogan – “Compromise Elsewhere” – sure makes it sound like they don’t add cheap additives to their deli meats, but is that really true? One of your emails said:

“I would love to eat Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses as they are gluten-free and I have Celiac Disease and they seemed to be the leading company in the gluten-free deli meats. I called the company directly for ingredient lists on some of my favorite deli meats and discovered there is caramel coloring (which I know is not good) in a lot of their offerings. Could Food Babe investigate further and start a campaign to get them to take out the offending ingredients?”

Another reader sent me this photo of a big sign they saw at Publix grocery store: 

Boars-head trust

Reading between the lines, this is what this sign says to me…

  • “No Fillers”: This means their meats don’t contain carrageenan, soy concentrate, cellulose, starches, and other cheap substances that can hold processed meat together and reduce costs for food manufacturers.
  • “No By-Products”: These are parts of the animal that we don’t typically eat, like lips, tripe, pork stomachs, and heartsEven mainstream deli meat brands like Oscar Mayer (confirmed on the phone) and Sara Lee (via their website) claim to have deli meats that are free of by-products, so this doesn’t really set Boar’s Head apart as superior to those brands.
  • “No Artificial Colors”: Here they are only referring to FD&C certified colors, as these are the only ones considered “artificial” by the FDA:  Blue #1, Blue #2, Green #3, Red #3, Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6. I haven’t been able to find a single deli meat that contains any certified artificial colors, so this claim really doesn’t mean anything and is misleading because caramel color is still used.
  • “No Artificial Flavors”: Another trick to make you believe their meat only contains quality ingredients, when in reality “natural” flavors can still be used. Natural flavors are not much different than the artificial variety and are made in a lab.
  • “No Trans Fat”: Their meats don’t contain partially hydrogenated oils. Again, this isn’t a normal ingredient in deli meat… I’ve never seen it!

As you can see, marketing messages like these on signs, ads, and on the front of a package tell you very little about a product. This is why I say to stop paying attention to these tactics and to always read the ingredients instead!

The biggest red flag that something was up at Boar’s Head was when I tried to find their ingredients on their website and they weren’t listed.

If Boar’s Head is so proud of the quality of their products, why don’t they publish what’s in them? How are we supposed to “trust” them if they aren’t being transparent? Even their fiercest deli meat competitor, Dietz & Watson, lists their ingredients online. Besides bugging the busy deli counter worker, there really should be an easier way to get their ingredients, and publishing them online is the best way to make them accessible to consumers.

My team called Boar’s Head to see if they would email over a list of their deli meat ingredients – and had no luck. The customer service rep told us that she wasn’t able to email us a list. She was only able to read off the ingredients over the phone for specific products, but wouldn’t send them to me via email (even for just one product). They won’t send them to us in writing? Again… red flag! I really began to wonder what Boar’s Head is trying to hide.

Given our experience with customer service, I reached out directly to the President of Boar’s Head – Mike Martella to discuss this as well, but have not heard back yet. But, after obtaining some ingredients directly from Boar’s Head over the phone and from Publix grocery stores (one of their biggest retailers), it turns out that Boar’s Head is adding some pretty controversial additives to their deli meats.

Boars Head Ingredients

This is what I think the Boar’s Head sign should really say…

“Don’t Trust Boar’s Head!” 

“Artificially Browned with Carcinogenic Caramel Color!”

Boar’s Head artificially browns some varieties of deli meat with class III and class IV caramel coloring, which is linked to cancer (this is the same color that we successfully campaigned to get removed from Starbucks drinks!Caramel coloring is in a dozen of their meats, including the Rotisserie Seasoned Roasted Chicken Breast, EverRoast Turkey, Seasoned Filet Roast Beef, and Maple Honey Ham.

“Made With GMOs?!?!?!”

Update 1/11: Called Boar’s Head again, and they said their meat is not non-GMO.

We asked Boar’s Head if any of their deli meats contain GMOs and they didn’t respond. Yet, they use many ingredients that are usually derived from GMO crops like sugar (sugar beets). Added sugar and/or dextrose (typically made from GMO corn) is found in a lot of their meats, even in ones that seem healthier like their “No Salt Added Turkey Breast”. Other meats that are “maple glazed” and “honey coat” contain more sugar and dextrose than real honey or maple syrup. They also told us that their caramel coloring is derived from corn and some of them are browned in cottonseed oil (the worst GMO oil on the planet and is regulated like a textile crop (more toxic pesticides!) – cottonseed oil is not food!). Boar’s Head claims that many of their meats are “Vegetarian Grain-Fed”, yet this is often code for “GMO-fed” animals when not organic.

Boars head GMO

“Raised with Antibiotics!”

To be fair, they do have a “Natural” line that is antibiotic-free, but they told us the others are given antibiotics for disease prevention. Now that Subway has made the commitment to stop using antibiotics to raise their deli meats, hopefully Boar’s Head will follow suit. Boar’s Head also told us that they have no organic deli meat. Organic meats are prohibited from using antibiotics and growth-promoting drugs and hormones in their animals. Organic animals also can’t be fed GMOs or given drugs like ractopamine

“Flavored with Secret and Proprietary Ingredients!”

Several of Boar’s Head meats contain “natural flavors” or “Natural Hickory Smoke Flavoring”. Just because it doesn’t contain artificial flavors, that doesn’t mean the taste isn’t fake or engineered in a lab. The chemicals that are used to make “natural flavors” are kept secret from consumers and their “safety is sometimes declared based on scientific data that isn’t publicly available”

What about their Preservative-free claims?

Boar’s Head sent me a list of their deli meats with “No Preservatives and Without Added Nitrates”, yet I found that some of these meats – like the Cajun Style Smoked Turkey, Lemon Pepper Chicken and All American BBQ Chicken – still contained sodium phosphate. This additive is on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of ingredients to avoid because it can increase the risk of heart disease. 

Maltodextrin has no place in deli meat that takes “No Compromises”.

I found the additive maltodextrin in some of their meats: Everroast Roasted Chicken, All American BBQ Chicken, London Broil Roast Beef, Virginia Ham, and Lemon Pepper Chicken, and most of these also contain dextrose and other added sugars. These ingredients are carbohydrates and commonly used as “fillers” in cheap processed food, like the taco “meat” at Taco Bell. Maltodextrin is also often a hidden form of MSG

I don’t eat deli meats often, but when I do this is what I choose:

  1. 100% certified organic (preferably grass fed/pastured) – This ensures that the animals weren’t given antibiotics or growth hormones, weren’t fed GMOs, and none of the ingredients are derived from GMOs.
  2. I like to roast whole pieces of organic meat, and slice it myself. This way, I know exactly what’s in it and there’s no processing!
  3. Whole organic sliced deli meat without sodium nitrate.
  4. No fillers or additives like carrageenan or maltodextrin.
  5. Brands that list their ingredients online (if not already pre-packaged with ingredients).

Some brands to try: Organic Prairie, Kol Foods Oven Roasted Turkey, Nuna Naturals, Applegate Farms (some contain carrageenan and fillers – so always read the ingredients!) 

If you know someone who is blindly trusting Boar’s Head meat, please share this post with them. Be part of the change, take a moment and comment on Boar’s Head Facebook page here or tweet them here – tell them we deserve better.



Update 1/12/2016 – See new revealing ingredient pictures here.

Update 1/8/2016 – Reader obtained additional ingredient lists from Publix and it looks like Boar’s Head Virginia Baked Ham has MSG. 

MSG in BoarsHead

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236 responses to “Read This Before You Ever Stand In Line At The Deli Counter Again.

  1. Ive been eating boars head since I was a kid and after years of trying and comparing their meats with other companys, Ive found their quality is way above others . I’m always reading labels on all foods that I buy and never seen them using hydrogenated oils or carrageenan (which I even see in most ice creams now and applegate meats), maltodextrin is highlighted but thats found in most labels at my health food store and even sold as a supplement so go figure. Im a fan of you food babe but think your being very misleading of boars Head.

    1. Peace. You either have to be joking, stupid, or a paid by Boars head. Did you not see the other disgusting ingredients? How is that misleading? She clearly highlighted them that you “somehow” missed. And just because maltodextrin is a sold as a supplement doesn’t mean its good. They do the same thing with flouride.

      1. Nice attack Saludeen, No Im serious from personnal experience and please point out what part of my comment is “joking. stupid or paid by boars head”? I personnally dont eat products with hydrogenated oils and carageenan, maltodextrine Ive never excluded from my purchases, its in most of the things I buy at the health food store so I question why it was highlighted. Sugar and citric acid are also highlighted??. From the list the only ingredients I agree should be highlighted are caramel color and the sodium preservatives. Thats why I feel its misleading

      2. I’m not calling you stupid, just your argument, and I replied because you’re attacking a good article by calling it misleading when you’re wrong. I actually think you work for them because I don’t think you’re dumb.

        You said, “maltodextrine Ive never excluded from my purchases, its in most of the things I buy at the health food store so I question why it was highlighted. Sugar and citric acid are also highlighted??”

        Translation: “The other trash I buy has the same bad ingredients and I get it from a “health store” so it’s fine. And I don’t know why sugar or citric acid are bad because I havn’t googled it yet.”

        So again, just because something like flouride is in all public water and you might choose to drink it, doesn’t mean flouride is good for you in other products. So this article isn’t misleading. You’re misleading people by telling them Boars head is still good quality when its clearly not, as highlighted. And if you don’t know why those ingredients are bad for you, or disagree, then you should google it.

      3. I have no clue what this guy Jim is talking about. It is clear here, the Boars head product is simply junk, there’s no way around it. They have organic cold cuts now in various stores, and if one is going to have meat like that once and awhile, they might as well put something in them that knocks out all the junk with one certified label, the very label that Boars head will never have. If meat like this, is causing some studies to make meat look bad, then its understandable. Anything that is processed without any scrutiny will also cut corners for money, that’s great, but you don’t want to cut corners with your health.

    2. I called boars head inquiring of GMO free…. The lady I spoke with was a bit combative/defensive and argumentative. I spent more $ on board head and honestly it is not much better than publix store brand…. If u r concerned w GMOs. U should NOT be eating this product. Their animals are fed grain that is a GMO product. Which in turn makes the poor factory farmed animal a GMO product…. Animal free now for three months, cut back on factory farmed animals… Live and love longer…

      1. Agreed, i dont think their products are gmo free, I dont recall that claim, and Im not familiar with that publix brand, quality or if its gmo free. I’m not 100% vegan but I’meating more balanced diet with more vegetables and grains. Moderation is the key

      2. This is extremely misleading. And the comments comparing it to “Publix” brand (insert any “brand” there) are completely missing the point.

        If you want to know what’s in your meat, get on a first name basis with your farmer that is providing it. Anything less than that and you do NOT know what went into it. But don’t publicly slam a company because it “may” contain something and you just don’t know. The labels added after you demonized the company, in the picture, are printed by a grocery store, not Boar’s Head.

      3. It is disturbing how ugly some people can be in regards to a response.
        First off I am not
        A hypocrite, I don’t eat meat at all anymore after watching earthlings and several other documentaries on how people’s food is inhumanely treated, ‘my choice’ is not to support that. As far as others decisions, I am a messenger of what I have learned not to be good regarding consumption. It is all a choice. I hope yours treats you well whatever it may be…
        Yes I am a tree hugger, yes I truly love animals more than to play a part in their horrific treatments in their preface to death for others to eat… And yes I will continue to try to educate and learn for friends, family and others who may also be interested in living healthier and longer.
        Good luck to those who make fun of, and choose not to see a brighter kinder world, I hope ur peace is kind to you….

    3. I agree- I LOVE Boar’s Head Cold Cuts! They are without a doubt the BEST Cold Cuts on the market!

      1. You can love the taste of Boar’s Head Cold cuts but you need to be aware of the unhealthy ingredients.

      2. Personally I dislike Boars head products.somehow they managed to push out Thumann’s, Hormel and other deli counter products. There is no choice in our grocery stores. They all went solo with Boars Head. I choose not to buy their products.
        I live in North Jersey and the only store you can find a choice is Shop Rite which is not close to me. I’d like to know what strong arm hold does Boars Head have on these grocery store deli managers to only carry Boars Head. Shame on the grocery chains for allowing this strong arm hold. What control they have (Boars Head).

      3. No, they are not. They are the ‘best tasting’ flesh of innocent beings tortured for the greed of evil men and your deceived taste buds. Those ‘meats’ are the among the most processed, fake food in the store.


        You ‘love’ torture and violence done to innocent beings for your ‘taste’?
        You are disconnected from what ‘food’ ‘sustenance’ is. And EXACTLY what the owners of the company want.


        Food is not from a ‘supermarket’. That is a an invention of recent history and SERVES TO MAKE EVIL MEN RICH.

    4. I agree somewhat misleading. Where is the mention of Boar’s Heads number #1 selling item Ovengold roasted Turkey? Or about the top round roasted beef or the all natural items?

    5. You have to understand that the only thing all these big companies want is MONEY MONEY MONEY.
      Question: Does Boar’s Head care about you and your family?
      Answer: NO!
      Question: Does Boar’s Head care about what they put in their meat?
      Answer: NO!
      Question: Does Boar’s Head care about money?
      Answer: YES!
      Summary: Boar’s Head does not care about you! They care about MONEY and that’s it!

      1. my experience with boars head meats has been positive and better than with other companies. every company is in business to make money but you cant compare boars head to companies like kraft and sara lee and fast food like mcdonalds which are filled with chemical sweetners, hydrogenated oils and even silicone. boars head is not be perfect but its a much better choice than that junk

      2. Here’s something you should know, boars head has a secret sauce, it is keeping the competition out of the deli case, this way the consumer cannot make a choice, or even try a taste of the competition like Dietz & Watson,
        Boars head hates competition , they must have something to hide . Dietz & Watson has done many blind tastings with boars head, where people thought they were having or said they were having above all else Dietz & Watson .

      1. Thanks Vicki, I checked their site, the ingredients are clear and are in no way misleading. Looks like I’ll be buying a BJ’s membership. Bye Bye Boars Head!

        “Always hear others out, and remain open-minded: the day you think you know everything is the the day you have the most yet to learn”
        AJ Darkholme

      2. No they don’t lol, last time I checked “Grill Flavor” isn’t something you can go pick up at a store. I’ve compared BH and Dietz and Watson labels with each other, Dietz always have way more ingredients, like “Grill Flavor” “Butter Flavor”. I worked at a deli that served Boar’s Head, one day my owner switched to Dietz because they literally gave him a cash incentive and free product to drop Boar’s head. Not even kidding, no more than three weeks later we switched back to Boar’s head because we had so many customer complaints and lost sales over that three week period. We even taste tested, some Doetz products tasted better but that was maybe one or two. Boar’s head from my experience has cleaner ingredients and tastes better.

        This is Boar’s Heads Buffalo Chicken Ingrédient label

        Chicken Breast, Water, Contains 1.5% Or Less Of Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate And Dextrose, Browned In Cottonseed Oil. Coated With: Cayenne Red Pepper, Vinegar, Salt, Spice, Paprika, Rice Starch, Garlic.

        This is Dietz and Watson’s Buffalo Chicken ingredient label.

        Chicken Breast, Water, Buffalo Seasoning (Sugar, Vinegar Powder (Vinegar Solids, Maltodextrin), Natural Butter Flavor (Maltodextrin, Natural Flavor), Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Paprika Extract, Spice Extracts) Contains Less than 2% of Salt, Isolated Soy Protein, Sodium Phosphate, Dextrin, Grill Flavor (Sunflower Oil), Vinegar, Spice Extract, Browned in Canola Oil.

      1. I am right with you Tim. There are no better deli meats than Thumann’s. They are the best tasting and clean ingredients.

      2. Tim and Jaye….I’m with you on Thumann’s being the best deli meats. For years Boars Head used MSG in many of their meats; their deluxe pear shaped ham, and many other of their hams, the bologna, liverwurst and other loaf style meats. I don’t believe Thumann’s ever used any MSG in their meats. IMO Deitz and Watson is also better than Boar Head.

        Boars Head’s dominance in deli cases is based on decades of slick advertising….multi-millions of dollars in advertising in addition to “buying their way into super market chains.

        Boars Head = Over Priced….Over Hyped very average deli meat.

    6. Doesn’t Boarsheaf make a line of deli products under the “Simplicity” brand that are more additive free?

    1. Don’t eat it and u won’t smell it…. Lamb… A baby taken from its mother and killed for human gratification…. So sad, would u eat a puppy too?

      1. While I fully agree with that sentiment, I think it’s slightly hypocritical. Most people who would not eat a puppy, would also not eat an adult dog. ALL meat we eat are “animals killed for human gratification”. And believe me, I’m one of the hypocrites too.

      2. I agree with Darla. ALL meat we eat is for human gratification. At least if you slaughter a lamb, it doesn’t have to endure as much time in factory farm conditions. I believe we are omnivores, but I also think it is important to know where our meat comes from and how it’s raised, and not just for our own heath reasons. Yeah, organic meat is pricier, so you just eat less meat and get protein, etc. from other sources. We generally eat meat 2-3 times a month and it feels like a special treat!

  2. I wrote a polite but straightforward comment on their FB page the day I received the info here. Within hours I had three truly vitriolic replies! Over lunch meat?? Geez. But with hungry teenagers I’ve been purchasing this brand for years, thinking it was better. I’ve spent the last 5 years going organic, grass fed meat etc and almost exclusively organic produce. I will not be buying boars head again, not only Vani’s article but the response from the ‘people’ on their page left a ‘bad taste’. That day I had to pack lunches for a ski trip and bought Applegate. Let’s hope Hormel hasn’t ruined them! Anyway, I will continue to vote with my dollars one company at a time

    1. I feel the same way about Applegate and Hormel, but I don’t have many choices when it comes to bacon, which I rarely eat) that doesn’t make me sick and lunch meats. So Applegate it is, until I can come up with a better alternative.

      1. (to Margot)
        We do not eat pork and so therefore have turned to smoked uncured beef bacon. I bake mine in the oven on parchment paper lined baking sheet at 375 deg until our liking of crispiness. I purchase the brand Wellshire sold at Whole Foods- because there are no nitrites and other added junk in it. Heb and Kroger( I live in Texas) both sell a beef bacon but with added junk :/ geez. We’ve been eating this brand bacon for 3 yrs now. I’ve even went as far as ordering on line and having home delivered. Most times different companies selling online will offer specials discounts etc. and I stock up and just put into freezer, I even stock up from Whole Foods-our bacon. They also have lunchmeats in the Wellshire brand. Hope this helps. :0)

      2. Try your local butcher……….google organic butchers in your area. I buy all my meat from one, or buy certified organic. It’s really not that much more expensive. They will usually make thier own bacon, sausage and much more.

      3. Do your research on Applegate. Their ‘uncured’ meats have celery powder acting as a preservative. Guess what? That turns into nitrites.

  3. Although I do greatly appreciate her work, t’s kind of sad how many people need FoodBabe to tell them this stuff is crap. One glance at the ingredient list makes it pretty obvious. What really bothers me is how nobody seems concerned about the animal welfare aspect of these factory-farmed meat products. It’s all about ME, and how this will affect MY health. Meanwhile, the fact that these animals are not oragnic/grassfed/pastured practically GUARANTEES that the animals were treated in a way that, if you treated your pets that way, you’d have them taken away, and would most likely be facing charges for animal abuse. So much self-centered cognitive dissonance, here!

    1. There are a lot of people who need Food Babe. They have busy lives and can’t research everything.
      I am concerned about humane conditions to the point that I don’t want to eat an animal that has been raised in poor conditions. If I were to be concerned about food consumption animals like I would a pet, I wouldn’t want to eat it. Some things just go too far in the expectation of food-consumption animals.

    2. I have been researching and studying the food industry since 2011, long before I even knew who Vani was. I just recently started following her, within the past month. So not everyone who follows Vani is ignorant, we just want to support a person that believes what we believe about what the industry in general.

    3. I know right! The animal welfare level is like… zero. But I think it’s even better to be vegetarian, and BEST of all to be vegan. That’s my plan. Vegan. Right now I’m vegetarian and it’s going great! I did it because I don’t want to eat dead animals; but it will also help to combat climate change and hunger.

  4. My question would be what about their natural turkey and ham? Yes I bought boars head because I thought it was better until one day when I was purchasing it I noticed that it did have nitrates and nitrites in it. But I saw the natural that didn’t. So now I guess when I do get cold meat which is not very often I will look for organic.

    1. I am also wondering about the all natural turkey breast. I thought I was eating something healthy and now I wonder about the exact ingredients.

      1. The All Natural Turkey has turkey, water, organic sugar and sea salt. Very clean product.

  5. What about the uncured meats they offer? I know they are not GMO Free but are they at least a little better option or are they just as bad?

  6. I’m a formal employee for Boar’s Head I remember we had a meeting and we were told not to tell the public what in the meat.We got overloaded in phone calls .We we taught to put the public on a long hold so they would hangup the phone.Most of us that worked there knew something wasn’t right.It wasn’t long before i walk from Boar’s head and got a different job.I was raised on Boar’s head.I will never ever eat that crap again.

    1. Who owns this company? Is it the 80+ y.o. billionaire that was caught pawning rotten meat from Brazil to eastern europe?

  7. Yeah their food is basically filled with garbage like the rest of the processed meats out there. I avoid them. Why on earth would anybody add caramel coloring to meat? Would anyone do this at home? I seriously doubt it. People shouldn’t eat this stuff. Oh and most of the canola oil is GMO.

    1. e v e r y t h i n g causes cancer now, it’s so sad the world we live in. i wonder who is supporting this crap, maybe the same pharma companies and other crap that charge $250,000 for a year’s worth of pills for some diseases. sickening. we will end up destroying ourselves and the world

  8. i have bought boar’s for years. well not anymore! can’t believe the amounts of salt,, sugar and oils in ‘meat’. not to mention the chemicals. phosphates are bad for your kidneys too. i buy mostly uncured & unsalted deli meats, but can only imagine how much is still in them after reading these labels. i bet even wal-mart’s ‘natural’ brand isn’t any worse than this junk. have bought my last boar’s head.

  9. Heartbreaking!
    My husband and I are over-the-road truck drivers. It is difficult at best to find ‘real’ food to eat on the road. I try to bring as much food from home as I can. I’ve been buying Boar’s Head rather than the Publix (store) brand, paying the higher costs, because it wasn’t supposed to have all this garbage in it and because it tastes better. I had been eating the roast beef and adding slices of provolone cheese to make deli ‘roll-ups’ for nearly every evening meal until our winter break began at Christmas.

    Reckon I’ll need to find something else to eat that is easy to grab while driving.
    Thanks Vani for all your work to keep us informed and safe!

  10. I find it interesting that people are blinded by this discussion regarding “any” of these meats are actually a “good” thing. Before you even get to the nasty ingredients that are unhealthy for “you” to eat, research the sourcing of these products. Everything Boars Head (along with every other large scale meat production company) sells, is sourced from massive factory farming operations. If you choose to eat meat (or dairy, or eggs) of any kind and do not personally know the precise source (most likely local) of your product, there is a 99%+ chance that it is from one of these gargantuan factory farms.

    These brutal farming operations barbarically abuse millions of animals on an ongoing basis, (including while you read this). It is a horrific practice for the poor (and often quite intelligent) animals involved, and terrible for the environment.

    This massive abuse is fueled by greedy people trying to squeeze out every $ they can from the system, and it continues because you keep buying these products. If any of you saw how these animals are treated you would never eat any of these products. Moreover, if you were caught treating an animal the way “all” of these animals are treated, you would go to jail. However, it is OK for “factory farms” to abuse animals on a massive scale, thanks to lobbyists (for the trillion dollar Big Ag machine) getting laws passed to allow it.

    There is no time like right now to change your life for the better, and simultaneously change the world for the better. There are many good sources to help you. But you can start by simply reading the other Food Babe commentary on healthy and delicious diet alternatives, assuming you want to be wonderfully healthy and happy, and to stop personally contributing to this brutality. What kind of path do you want to leave behind you in your time on this beautiful planet? It is your choice.

  11. Vani,

    Great article (read both and watched video). I wish you would of investigated the deli staff too. I nearly caused a riot at a BH store, when I asked counter person if it contained MSG. She stated none of the BH products had MSG. I couldn’t understand why the ingredient list on the package deli meats would be different than on in the glass case. Her response was it was preservatives. HAHA is exactly what I said until, she came around counter and showed me the ingredient list for Virginia ham in case. It clearly matched same list as the package one. Obviously, no training or trained incorrectly.

    1. There is NO ADDED MSG in any Boar’s Head product. It is actually one of their “5 nos.” The picture posted above of the 5 nos is old and outdated.

      1. Boars Head Deluxe Ham…Bologna, Liverwurst and many more of their meats contained MSG for over 60+ years. It was printed right on the label.

        If they no longer do, it is recent. I no longer work in a deli so it can’t check their labels anymore.

  12. I am so disappointed – I have been eating it & feeding it to my kids for years 🙁 Do you know what the ingredients are in their all natural line? Also – do you know anything about the ingredients in Kroger’s Simple Truth deli meat line? Fresh Thyme markets deli meat line? Thanks!

    1. I just called the company to ask about their all natural turkey. It seems pretty okay, unless I am missing something. I posted below what they told me are the ingredients.

  13. Thank you, Food Babe for all u do I have also beenvery curios about Boars Head products. I have actually stopped buying any of them for some time, some one in public tried to tell me their products were uncured nitrite/nitrate free.etc.. So thank you again for finding out the truths to my hunch..

  14. I am glad that you continue your search for nutrititional truth but all things being given an equal voice, the ingredients that you listed hardly revelatory. First, I have seen much worse ingredients in prepared meats and desserts for that matter. There is no smoking meat gun here. They all have these and more ingredients and more potential toxins in them. Caramel color is in prepared gravies and even medications along with many other colors found in the rainbow. The azidocarbamide that you exposed in Subway bread was far more problematic. Most people when they prepare meats at home are already using some of these ingredients. I e-mailed you in the past and continue to tell people to stop buying this crap! Period. Get back in the kitchen regardless if its size and using what you have shown them, to start preparing their own meals and snacks. They must educate themselves on the basics of nutition. Then these food assassins will either change or disappear.

  15. I didn’t need to see a label to know their meats were unworthy , I tried them once, and only once. My body disapproved, loud and clear. I hear it all the time, ” I’m eating healthy, but still feel awful.”

  16. You show the Virginia Ham ingredients (showing no MSG), then show the Publix label with MSG. Which one is correct?

  17. They also had a listeria issue in all turkey products women miss carried babys but Corporate coved it up the company has no vertues

  18. Just spoke with the nutrition department at Boars Head 800-352-6277 and they read me the ingredients of the all natural turkey breast (this is in addition to what they have on the website, which says no hormones, antibiotics, etc.

    The ingredients are: turkey breast, water, less than 1.5% organic sugar, and seasalt.

    It seems that this particular product of theirs would be okay, unless there’s something I am missing. Any comments?

    Just thought I would share with all here.

  19. All processed foods are not good for any human. We have to do better for ourselves and the next generation . What about the seedless foods that’s out there for consumers to purchase. Seedless food doesn’t reproduce. The food market place where we all shop is GMO’s invested

  20. First, I am a chemist. The article you cited as a reference for “caramel coloring” being a carcinogen is unlikely to be read by many of the readers that stumble onto this blog like I randomly did … and it doesn’t actually say that “caramel coloring” is a carcinogen. In brief, it states that caramel coloring MAY contain 4-methylimidazole if it is manufactured with ammonia (or salts of ammonia). The article goes on to say that caramel coloring is “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA. Distrust in big government aside, as a chemist I trust that the FDA reviews and conducts research fairly in an effort to regulate harmful chemicals in this country, and need I point out that the article you chose to cite itself was produced by NIH and the FDA. My interpretation of this article is that “caramel coloring” can contain a POTENTIALLY carcinogenic chemical (the article did not actually conclude that the chemical is a carcinogen for humans) if manufactured in an irresponsible way. Therefore, the presence of caramel coloring does not immediately guarantee that you are at risk. We should also add to this the fact that the dosage they were giving to the lab animals is WAY higher than any dosage you would be likely to get from caramel coloring being used simply as a food additive. Maybe if you drank gallons of the stuff directly …

    Next, GMO’s. I’m going to assume since you listed GMO’s as a bad thing, that you are in the camp of folks who believe that ingesting products that contain GMO’s or animals who have been fed GMO’s is somehow bad. If you or any of your readers believe that ingesting GMO’s will some how genetically modify your own biology, or have toxic effects … again, as a chemist, let me say that this is not possible. This is a myth propogated by the ill-informed, and you should consider doing a little more research on this topic before adding to the myth. Here is an article from Harvard that explains the current state of the research more eloquently than I can:

    Finally, MSG … since that got tossed in at the end as an “update” with no supporting explanation for why this would be considered a bad or a good thing. You are likely unaware that MSG’s bad rap is yet another massive lie. Back in the 70’s … as a joke, as part of a wager between friends … some young cheeky scientist decided to try to publish completely false data surrounding MSG in a peer-reviewed scientific journal … on one hand this should have never made it through the review process, the scientist even used a false name … on the other hand this challenge was basically a test of the journal’s reputability in properly reviewing articles before publishing. The article should not have made it through peer-review, but somehow managed to due to the oversight by the journal. This happens more often than most people realize, and is the reason why members of the scientific community are more skeptical of SINGLE articles that claim something outrageous, and have much more faith when several articles from multiple different research institutions continually re-affirm the same conclusions (*cough* climate change). Anyways, there is NO PROOF that MSG does anything detrimental to humans. In fact, are you aware that high levels of MSG exist NATURALLY in mushrooms, parmesan cheese, miso, green tea, tomatoes, and many other common foods. The public has only convinced themselves that there is something wrong with MSG because of the way it interacts differently with your taste receptors for certain people. This is nothing harmful! This effect is comparable to why some people hate cilantro because their tongue senses soap-like flavors, and others love cilantro because their tongue does NOT sense the soap flavors.

    I’ve only addressed the myths that I have a particular working knowledge of, but I am sure some of the other things you have listed above fall into the same category of health guru myths that are being continually propagated on the internet and by people claiming to be “doctors” on tv. Please, please, please … help stop the cycle. To you and all your readers, do your research thoroughly before claiming these things to a broader audience. Ensure that your cited articles actually prove the point you’re trying to make, and that you are not misleading your readers/listeners by claiming the article states something that it does not. Make sure the articles are from reputable sources, and not just someone else’s blog. Double check articles that others cite as proof, before using them yourself. And ALWAYS, keep an open mind to those members of the scientific community who have a reasonable argument against the myth that has you fearing for your safety.

  21. Old article but I could care less what’s in my food. We are all going to die some day and refuse to let my life be hampered with what’s in this or that but do find most of this is scare tactics.
    That said I have no brand loyalty but can honestly say that most people are victims of the placebo affect.
    My wife swore boars head tastes better. She also felt land of lakes cheese was best. I started to buy other brands and didn’t tell her, she had no clue it was not boars head and kept racing over it. Once I told her it’s not boars head then all of a sudden she could tell the difference!
    My brother had a deli and at first carried boars head. Had the boars head signage etc. Then he switched to another brand, removed the boars head signs and never advertised the new brand. NO noticed the difference until some noticed the signs removed. It’s all in your heads people!

  22. This article is excellence….
    It is more right on then it is off.
    The fact that most of boar’s Head products are not a clean product.
    Their labeling program is no different than an Oscar Mayer.
    Top of the line may be good, but label after label more labels come out and it’s not the old boar’s Head that were grew up with.
    Thank you for this article

  23. Well, to be fair, most of the “unsafe ingredients” listed are perfectly fine. MSG has been proven not to be a cause of headaches, nausea, etc in those who aren’t allergic, and few people really are. It’s practically identical to sodium in how it reacts with the human body. Highlited are things like molasses, corn syrup, canola oil ,and sugar. Which, granted, are very bad in large quantities, but hardly in worrying amounts in these products. A small amount of oil is necessary for even roasting, and will be found in nearly any roasted product. Why aren’t you looking at ingredients like tapioca starch (linked to disproportionate hormonal fluctuations and weight gain), or gelatin (because they claim to be by-product free). Nearly all the ingredients you listed were on the coating, which makes up less than 0.5% of the meat. If you’re eating enough deli meat to actually have adverse effects, you have WAY bigger problems than the “bad ingredients”. Hypertension from salt will kill you first.
    Boars head isn’t the best, but it is by far not the worst. Being concerned with what is in your food is absolutely healthy and awesome! Fear mongering is not so awesome.

    1. That’s not true. There is no concensus in the medical community.

      Anything synthetic made in a lab is poison. Toxic. Anything that’s white powder – sugar, refined salt etc is not good for you. They are the ‘drugs’ of the food industry. MSG included. Doing a study on centenarians found that they ate natural, non adulerated foods, homemade or from recipes that have been around with their ancestors. Sustenance isn’t from a store. Just no way around it. Would you trust the guy across the street to watch your kids without meeting and knowing them? Why people trust greedy strangers to nourish them is insane. I was raised to eat real food and rebeled and ate junk food. Outgrew that and then just ate real food. But not everyone knows what food is. Food is partially found in grocery stores. Diseases are also found in grocery store. You have to figure out what is what. Don’t be dumb fooled or addicted. They are counting on that.

  24. First is a question. Food babe, do you have any sponsers? Or more directly, do receive money from any corporation, business or person? Second, just to clarify: something can be preservative free but stil contain sodium phosphate. Sodium phosphate isnt a preservative. Something with sodium phosphate could not be labled “all natural” but could be labeled preservative free.

  25. Looking for where boars head gets their meat.
    I hope not china!!!!!’
    Can’t find that answer anywhere not a good feeling.

  26. Are the hogs used in the Simplicity brand raised or processed in China. I have read a lot lately that pork is being shipped to China to be finished and then sent back to the US for sale.

  27. Hello Vani. Why did no one mentioned how BH deli chicken is shaped like a chicken? I saw a video years ago of pieces of meat chopped and ground up, then reshaped in a mold with gelatin or other chemicals like sausage. This may be the big secret the company is so carefully protecting.

  28. all DELI meat is crap. Diete and boars just taste a little better. I try to only have it when I want a sandwich. But it is truly not a healthy choice to have any deli meat, period. IT IS VERY disturbing that MOST companies mis label their products and like everything else these days, we are all on our own to take care of ourselves and eat pure whole foods. Stay away from poultry and processed meats, and meats that are not just one ingredient. PERIOD.

  29. I realize this article is older, so maybe things have changed. But I am looking at a poster at my local deli right now that says “No artificial colors, flavors, or Caramel Color”.. I am wondering if this recently changed because of the feedback from your investigation?
    Could you do another look into Boar’s Head and see if they’ve made any other changes since 2016?

  30. Being this post is 6 years old it’s staggering that the prices of boars head is up to 12.99 or more per pound. I can only imagine how much it would cost if the meat was completely organic and natural or basically whole sliced roast beef. It would be 15.99 or more per pound. We buy their pastrami sliced in 2 pounds. It’s 27 dollars. That’s not manageable all the time, and the other options you mention is really unaffordable.

  31. Boars Head Deluxe Ham…Bologna, Liverwurst and many more of their meats contained MSG for over 60+ years. It was printed right on the label.

    If they no longer do, it is recent. I no longer work in a deli so it can’t check their labels anymore.

  32. I just found this feed. My
    Pulmonologist has me on steroids right now to help me. I was great until I had a GF spinach lunch wrap (mission), board head maple Turkey, avacado & plant based cheese. Now my O2 is low. Im allergic to a lot of preservatives. I eat Non gmo & organic as much as possible. Now I have to figure out which is the culprit! I’ve sliced my own chicken this same way & was fine. I really think it’s the lunch meat. Too bad….I was really enjoying it.

  33. Could we have an update to this 🙂 trying to find the best deli meat behind the counter and this would be helpful!

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