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What is Torula?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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Torula is a yeast which is formally known as Candida utilis. This yeast has a number of practical uses, and it can also become pathogenic in certain circumstances. Torula can be found all over the world in a variety of settings, preferring cellulose-rich substrates such as wood, leaf litter, and paper pulp. In several regions, people deliberately cultivate this yeast for industrial purposes, usually on a substrate of wood pulp which makes the yeast easy to extract.

Yeasts are organisms within the fungal kingdom. They reproduce by budding, and they are unicellular in nature, although they can link together to form colonies. Many people think specifically of baker's yeast when they hear the term “yeast,” but there are thousands of yeast species, with many more waiting to be identified. Candida is a particularly large yeast genus with a number of representatives, including Torula.

The term “Torula” references a now deprecated scientific name for this yeast. Historically, Torula was known as Torula utilis, until researchers realized that the yeast belonged in the Candida genus. The yeast has also gone through a number of other scientific names and classifications, reflecting the difficulties involved in classifying many fungi, but the term “Torula” appears to have stuck.

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This yeast can be used to provide dietary supplementation, especially in food for cats and dogs, where its high protein content is very useful. It is also used in the production of food for farmed fish and other food products. The slightly meaty flavor of this yeast, which lacks the bitterness many people associate with yeasts, causes some companies to use it as a flavor enhancer in some foods, especially packaged foods, and many people have developed other uses for this versatile yeast. Torula may also be found living with other yeasts, in which case the benefits are provided by both yeast species together.

In some cases, Torula may colonize the walls of a structure. People with sensitivity to molds can develop allergies and sinusitis as a result of exposure to the mold, especially when the exposure is prolonged. In these individuals, cleaning the environment to remove the mold is usually necessary to resolve the symptoms. The mold can also colonize the bodies of people with compromised immune systems, causing infection and discomfort. Urinary tract infections in particular appear to be a specialty of Torula. Antifungal medications can be used to help the body resist infections caused by this yeast.

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anon944367
Post 10

I purchased a bag of UTZ Red Hot Potato Chips. I rarely eat chips, but when I do, it's UTZ. Well, my tongue started to swell and I had a rash up and down my right arm.

I went to the ER and the attending physician confirmed I had an allergic reaction to something I ate. Funny thing is, I am not allergic to anything edible. Fungus and mold, yes.

All the food items I had for lunch were items I have had before. So I proceeded to eat each item separately. Sure enough, the potato chips caused the allergy. Well, last night, completely by accident (and without thinking) I took a handful of potato chips while watching a movie with family. My whole face began to swell. This time it was the UTZ BBQ Chips. Both flavors of chips have torula yeast. I called UTZ's customer service to try to find out when the yeast was added as I have never had a problem before the two incidents. The rep was a little too defensive. I am guessing this is a new additive.

anon328244
Post 8

Torula will also appear anywhere where spirits are distilled. Visit any bourbon distillery in Kentucky, whiskey or scotch distillery in Ireland or Scotland or even a rum distillery in Puerto Rico and you will see it on just about every thing that doesn't move - and a few things that do.

Where I work as a tour bus driver in Kentucky, it appears on the aging warehouses, the fences, even the tree trunks, not to mention on all of the vehicles. It can be power washed off buildings and vehicles.

As for mold allergies, we had a summer employee who had severe mold allergies and yet she was unaffected being around it.

When asked about it, our guides reply that it is a harmless (as far as they know) yeast that forms when it feeds on the sugars that coat the buildings when aging alcohol (bourbon in this case) meets humidity. It turns black when it dies and covered again by another coat of sugar and yeast.

While the information here is news to me, I will certainly pass it on to my coworkers.

anon323450
Post 7

I recently bought some of the Cape Cod potato chips and was really relieved to see that they don't have MSG's. Before eating them, I also checked their website and was happy to see that they are "Allergy Free". This is because I'm severely allergic to MSG's.

I ate some of the chips and immediately suffered a severe allergic reaction!

I found out the Cape Cod chips contain torula yeast, which I now know is just another flavor enhancer/ neurotoxin that has the same effect as MSG's and affects the body in the same way as MSG's.

I'm very disappointed. I feel the labeling is obviously and intentionally misleading. Worse than that, I've missed work and was miserable for two days due to their cryptic labeling!

anon301259
Post 6

I just bought a RNA/DNA supplement that is touted as reversing/preventing wrinkles. I've heard about it for at least 20 years, people swearing by it. I just got mine in the mail: it has brewer's yeast and Torula yeast but no "extract". Is this safe for me? I have had gut candida infections and am still prone to ringworm. Can someone please reply?

anon278689
Post 5

With all the allergies that so many people suffer from these days, is it any wonder that food additives are to blame? This never was an issue when I was growing up in the late sixties. Peanut allergies were unheard of back in the day.

Profit now drives production and at whatever cost to keep the formulas as cheap to produce as possible,

including adding cheap flavoring agents. Do we have to ingest this crap? Not likely.

anon236428
Post 4

I bought a well known brand of chips and started having breathing issues. I thought I had severe asthma or pneumonia. I looked at the ingredient list and found one not known to me: torula yeast. After some research, I found it bothers people allergic to mold. Aha! I am highly allergic to all mold. I got so bad I thought I would pass out just walking. The FDA needs to make companies be real.

anon162444
Post 3

I am confused. Is the term "yeast" or "Torula yeast", or any kind of yeast, containing MSG, or just in the "yeast extract"? What else would be in the extract and why use extract, not real yeast?

anon142859
Post 2

if it has yeast extract, it has msg. They hide it under this name.

anon136910
Post 1

I am very sensitive to MSG, and get very ill. Of course, I am careful not to get any in my system. Recently, I bought a bag of a well known brand of potato chips that had torula yeast, and yeast extract. I got sick with the same type of signs and symptoms as MSG.

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