Hidden sources of manufactured, process-free glutamic acid (MSG)

February 12, 2008

Ingestion of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is known to produce a variety of adverse reactions in some people. These reactions, although seemingly dissimilar, are no more diverse than reactions found as side effects of certain neurological drugs.

The most common symptoms of MSG sensitivity are headache, flushing, tingling, weakness, and stomachache. After eating meals prepared with MSG, people with MSG sensitivity may have a migraine, visual disturbance, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tightness of the chest, difficulty breathing, skin rash, or sensitivity to light, noise, or smells.

We do not know why some people experience reactions and others do not. We do not know whether MSG “causes” the condition underlying the reaction, or whether the underlying condition is simply aggravated by the ingestion of MSG. We only know that the reactions are sometimes caused or exacerbated by MSG.

The ingredient that causes MSG reactions in MSG-sensitive people is manufactured/processed free glutamic acid. Manufactured/processed free glutamic acid is found in processed foods — but it is not found in unprocessed or unadulterated meat, fish, or vegetables (including soybeans, mushrooms, and tomatoes.). Only meat, fish, or vegetables that have been subjected to some sort of manufacturing or fermenting process will cause MSG reactions in MSG-sensitive people who ingest amounts that exceed their tolerances for MSG. Dairy products, also, may cause MSG reactions in MSG-sensitive people because some dairy products are ultra-pasteurized, some are fermented, and many contain food additives such as carrageenan that are problematic for MSG-sensitive people.

All manufactured/processed free glutamic acid contains contaminants (D-glutamic acid, pyroglutamic acid, and others), while the glutamic acid found in intact/unadulterated protein contains no contaminants. Some manufactured/processed free glutamic acid contains carcinogenic mono and dichloro propanols.

All forms of MSG (free glutamic acid that occurs in food as a consequence of manufacture) cause these reactions in MSG-sensitive people. That includes MSG found in a plant “growth enhancer” called AuxiGro, and MSG found in a variety of other fertilizers and fungicides that have been approved for spraying on growing crops, including crops identified as “organic.”

Regulatory history

There are no regulations for labeling MSG in the United States. Consumers have no way of knowing if there is processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in processed food, and if there is any, how much or how little there is.

Similarly, consumers have no way of knowing how much processed free glutamic acid (MSG) remains in and/or on MSG-sprayed crops (produce) when brought to market.

Processed free glutamic acid (MSG) does not have to be mentioned on the labels of products that contain it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulate the use of food, drugs, and cosmetics in the United States. In their infinite wisdom, they seem to have chosen to work closely with the food and glutamate industries to make certain that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is, and remains, hidden in food. In their endeavors, the FDA and the USDA have been joined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR), which appear to be working hard to assure the glutamate industry that MSG will also be used, and remain hidden, in fertilizers, plant growth enhancer, fungicides, and other pesticide products, used on growing crops.

The regulatory history of these agencies vis-a-vis processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is simple and straightforward. The FDA and the USDA require that, in most cases, the names of food ingredients found in food products be identified on the labels of those food products. Processed free glutamic acid (MSG), however, has been classified by the FDA as a constituent of a food ingredient. According to the FDA, processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is not a food ingredient. So there is no requirement that MSG in processed food be listed on product labels.

Names of ingedients that contain enough MSG to serve as common msg-reaction triggers:

The MSG-reaction is a reaction to free glutamic acid that occurs in food as a consequence of manufacture. MSG-sensitive people do not react to protein (which contains bound glutamic acid) or any of the minute amounts of free glutamic acid that might be found in unadulterated, unfermented, food.

These ALWAYS contain MSG:

Glutamate, Glutamic acid, Gelatin Monosodium glutamate, Calcium caseinate, Textured protein, Monopotassium glutamate, Sodium caseinate, Yeast nutrient, Yeast extract, Yeast food, Autolyzed yeast, Hydrolyzed protein (any protein that is hydrolyzed), Hydrolyzed corn gluten, Natrium glutamate (natrium is Latin/German for sodium)

These OFTEN contain MSG or create MSG during processing:

Carrageenan, Maltodextrin Malt extract, Natural pork flavoring, Citric acid, Malt flavoring, Bouillon and Broth, Natural chicken flavoring, Soy protein isolate, Natural beef flavoring, Ultra-pasteurized Soy sauce, Stock Barley malt ,Soy sauce extract ,Whey protein concentrate, Pectin Soy protein, Whey protein, Protease Soy protein concentrate, Whey protein isolate, Protease enzymes, Anything protein fortified, Flavors(s) & Flavoring(s), Anything enzyme modified, Anything fermented, Natural flavor(s) & flavoring(s) Enzymes, anything Seasonings (the word “seasonings”)


The new game is to label hydrolyzed proteins as pea protein, whey protein, corn protein, etc. If a pea, for example, were whole, it would be identified as a pea. Calling an ingredient pea protein indicates that the pea has been hydrolyzed, at least in part, and that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is present. Relatively new to the list are wheat protein and soy protein.

Disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate are expensive food additives that work synergistically with inexpensive MSG. Their use suggests that the product has MSG in it. They would probably not be used as food additives if there were no MSG present.

MSG reactions have been reported to soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, and cosmetics, where MSG is hidden in ingredients that include the words “hydrolyzed,” “amino acids,” and “protein.”

Low fat and no fat milk products often include milk solids that contain MSG.

Drinks, candy, and chewing gum are potential sources of hidden MSG and of aspartame and neotame. Aspartic acid, found in neotame and aspartame (NutraSweet), ordinarily causes MSG type reactions in MSG sensitive people. Aspartame is found in some medications, including children’s medications. Neotame is relatively new and we have not yet seen it used widely. Check with your pharmacist.

Binders and fillers for medications, nutrients, and supplements, both prescription and non-prescription, enteral feeding materials, and some fluids administered intravenously in hospitals, may contain MSG.

According to the manufacturer, Varivax–Merck chicken pox vaccine (Varicella Virus Live), contains L-monosodium glutamate and hydrolyzed gelatin both of which contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) which causes brain lesions in young laboratory animals, and causes endocrine disturbances like OBESITY and REPRODUCTIVE disorders later in life. It would appear that most, if not all, live virus vaccines contain MSG.

Reactions to MSG are dose related, i.e., some people react to even very small amounts. MSG-induced reactions may occur immediately after ingestion or after as much as 48 hours.

Remember: By FDA definition, all MSG is “naturally occurring.” “Natural” doesn’t mean “safe.” “Natural” only means that the ingredient started out in nature.

Source:http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html, http://www.msgmyth.com/symptoms.htm


7 Responses to “Hidden sources of manufactured, process-free glutamic acid (MSG)”

  1. dianarn Says:

    Are there any processed foods that do not contain MSG? Because it sure seems like everything that’s not fresh contains this stuff.

    There was an article on Yahoo! a few weeks ago that talked about what not to eat right before going to bed. MSG-containing foods was one of them because it causes “dreams that are too vivid.” I would like to know how this supposedly “safe” and “naturally-occuring” chemical can affect one’s dreams.

  2. Rachel Says:

    I wrote to the FDA today about it, not that they will respond. How am I supposed to find out what I can and can’t eat without honest labeling? I ate some croutons today on my salad, after reading the label, and still had a reaction. Unbeknownst to me until today, Disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate are only present in foods where glutamate occurs in another ingredient (in this case, Romano Cheese). So once again I have to deal with digestive problems due to the God damn FDA. Pardon my French.

  3. annierichardson Says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I know how you feel. I am VERY sensitive to foods as well. The best thing you can do is to try to avoid anything processed. It is not as difficult as you may think and the more you do it the happier and healthier you will be. Also, as you already know, always check labels. There are BIG differences in what goes into processed foods. Some have many more additives than others. The fact that you are so aware of foods and additives gives you a great advantage over many people who don’t feel well and have no clue as to what’s causing their problems.

  4. […] articles: Hidden sources of MSG, The Dirty Dozen: 12 foods/food additives to […]

  5. Alana Says:


    MSG is a flavor-enhancing additive that increases the levels of seretonin your brain. Seretonin increases your brain activity which may affect your dreams.

    This is why, if you have migrain problems, they tell you to eliminate MSG from your diet. MSG will increase your blood flow which does cause headaches.

  6. momfromtx Says:

    I agree,
    I am just now finding out about the many ways that MSG is called by other names. I get horrible mirgains. I know now that MSG is not the only thing to look for on labels. .It may explain why I get so many migrains, Helps explain the obesity of the country and why young kids are obeses.

  7. Khazik Says:

    I’ve been living MSG/Free Glutamic Acid free now for a few good months. I’ve gone down 4 pant sizes and due to me raising my activity level in Chicago with my bike, the foods I’m eating are really helping me to look good. I’ll tell you a main staple in my diet is strained non-fat yogurt. I particularly enjoy the kind from FAGE (i believe is the name) as I favor their ingredients list. I eat raw fruits, vegetables, and granola such as Two Moms in the Raw brand.

    Yes with avoiding free glutamic acid all together you cant eat a whole lotta processed stuff. To make it easier on you, you need to educate yourself on which ingredients to look for and only support (buy from) companies that dont use free glutamic acid. I usually call up a few of them while I’m in the whole foods store and tell them how pleased I am that they dont use processed free glutamic acid. I usually only buy foods with absolutely no additives other than whats required to make the product (this means it’s raw and naturally occurring as possible).

    I do however love my diet and I cant tell you how happy I am as a guy to take my shirt off on the lake shore trail and actually feel good. The only hassle is that you really gotta think what you’ll have access to when you’re out n about. I usually pack my food or any meal. Needless to say, I cook everything I eat. E-mail me if you want more on the subject =D.

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