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Deceptions in the Food Industry: What You Don’t Know About Products Labeled “No MSG”

You may have seen labeling on food products which read “no added MSG” or simply “no MSG”?  If so, you should know that many of these foods likely contain MSG anyway.

This is because food companies have changed the wording on their products to other names you may not recognize, and are still including this toxic and brain-cell destroying substance in the food.

Why do food companies use MSG?

MSG is added to foods to enhance flavor.  These substances, called excitotoxins by Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D. and other reputable health authorities, are included in the food for one purpose and one purpose alone: to get consumers addicted to the products.

The chemical makeup of this ingredient makes it very dangerous to consume.  Many people have allergic reactions to it, and some have life-threatening problems as a result of consuming it.

MSG is a poison

Some people seem to consume foods with MSG and experience no side effects. The problem is that you could consume these substances a thousand or ten thousands times with seemingly no ill effects, but then one day you consume it and your body says “enough”.

Symptoms could be something mild such as a headache or fatigue, depression, mood swings, or something more noticeable such as nausea or numbness.

But, it could also be a severe: neurological disruptions, seizures, blockage of airway or even a life-threatening reaction such as cardiac arrhythmia or sudden death.

Those with a weakened immune system and who are more toxic such as those with childhood allergies, frequent illness and infection, asthma, skin disorders such as eczema, and known food allergies are at higher risk for experiencing an an anaphylactic reaction to toxins such as MSG. Anaphylactic refers to the body’s systemic or whole response to a poison or toxin.

To say that someone is “allergic” to MSG is simply not identifying the substance properly. MSG is not an allergen, it is a poison. By definition, an allergen can be something that is benign to the body, but to which the body has developed a super-immune response.

How companies get around labeling MSG on products

Some years ago, MSG was identified on packages and containers simply as “monosodium glutamate”.  That has all changed. Today, without further knowledge of what food ingredients really mean, the only recognizable way you’ll be able to know that MSG is actually in a food product is the use of this term.

Currently, FDA regulations allow food manufacturers to include MSG in foods under a variety of different names, even though it is technically the same substance: an isolated glutamate that has been engineered in a laboratory.

Because there are now so many different substances which contain processed free glutamic acid, the FDA now has a requirement stipulating that each one be called by its unique name. So now instead of merely labeling the food as containing MSG, now you see many different terms on packages.

Let’s not forget, the FDA – which is supposed to “protect us” from dangerous substances in our food and other products is the same organization which allowed genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) to enter our food supply in 1996, and be purchased and consumed by consumers without their knowledge ever since.

Big corporations and government interests have helped to promote the idea that toxins and chemicals in our food supply, drugs, personal care products, commercial and agricultural products and many others are not dangerous substances. Because of the wealth and influence these entities hold, they are able to affect the minimization of these reports in medical and scientific research – particularly to large scientific laboratories, universities, and medical and pharmaceutical companies. As a result, doctors and practitioners are largely unaware of the dangers and serious effects these substances have on human health, and also that they are a large culprit in many chronic illnesses and disease.

Even when the package specifically states “No MSG“, making you believe the food or product is safe: that is usually a false claim. Terms such as “flavors” or “flavorings” may contain MSG in ingredients besides “monosodium glutamate” and many other common terms such as “hydrolyzed proteins”  (i.e., soy, vegetable, wheat or other or without actually disclosing the presence of MSG).

Even claims made on meat packages that there are “no nitrites or nitrates” are soon followed by the phrase in fine print, “except from those naturally occurring in…” and the ingredient is usually celery root powder, celery juice powder, or some other “plant” source that is assumed by the consumer to be “all natural”.

The problem is that with celery root and celery juice powders, the glutamic acid in the product has been isolated from how it occurs in nature with co-factors, enzymes, and nutrients, and has been compounded (meaning it is in many times larger the amounts than it would actually occur from the natural source) and engineered in a lab, and that is nothing like how it actually occurs in nature.

You can also find MSG in non-food products such as shampoo, soap, hair conditioner, personal care products and and cosmetics. The terms used in the ingredients list will often appear as things such as “hydrolyzed,” “protein” or “amino acids”.

Here is a partial list of products that will likely contain MSG by other names:

  • Soda or carbonated beverages
  • “Juice” drinks
  • Aspartame, neotame and other artificial sweeteners used not only in food but also medications and other products
  • Candy and chewing gum
  • Protein powders and protein “drinks”
  • Low-fat and skim milk often contain forms of MSG under the names of carageenan, locust bean gum, or guar gum
  • Vaccines.  The manufacturer of Varivax–Merck chicken pox vaccine (Varicella Virus Live), states that this vaccine  contains hydrolyzed gelatin and L-monosodium glutamate, both contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG).  It is likely that most live viruses which are included in vaccines include some some ingredient(s) that contain MSG.
  • Some commercial waxes on some fruits and vegetables
  • Pesticide or fertilizer products used in farming, including some that are organic.
  • Infant formula
  • Kosher foods
  • Enteral products used for intravenous feeding in hospitals and other medical facilities (fluids and tube feeding products)
  • Certain plastic wraps used to contain food and other products have been found to contain MSG – one such product is Cryovac
  • Various ingredients such as yeast extract, autolyzed yeast, textured soy protein, and anything hydrolyzed are just a few ingredients that can be derived from organic produce, but still contain MSG (refer to list below of other names MSG goes by on packages).

Here are some commonly used names for MSG that you may not recognize (not an exhaustive list):

  • Yeast extract or almost any type of ingredient with the word “yeast”
  • citric acid
  • natural flavors
  • organic flavors
  • autolyzed yeast or yeast extract
  • organic autolyzed yeast or yeast extract
  • hydrolyzed soy protein
  • hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • anything using the word “hydrolyzed”
  • textured vegetable protein
  • caseinate
  • soy lecithin
  • soy protein
  • soy protein isolate
  • natural smoke flavor
  • carageenan
  • soy protein concentrate
  • soy sauce
  • malt extract
  • wheat starch
  • modified food starch
  • whey protein concentrate
  • glutamates
  • chicken, pork or beef stock
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • chicken, pork, or beef base
  • non-fat milk solids
  • corn syrup solids
  • Disodium inosinate
  • Disodium guanylate
  • cheese cultures
  • vinegar
  • any type of “powder”
  • Pasteurized part-skim milk
  • gelatin (unless from a known, sustainable source)
  • Monoammonian glutamate
  • malt flavoring
  • chicken, beef, cheese, pork, fish, or other flavoring
  • spices
  • pectin
  • broth stock
  • bouillon
  • maltodextrin
  • corn

How does MSG harm your health?

MSG and other ingredients like artificial colors or flavors, and preservatives act as excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain. Glutamate from MSG and artificial ingredients cause reactions in the body that bring on various symptoms such as  hyperactivity, migraine headaches, joint and bone pain, obesity, and general inflammation.  When we eat MSG, this triggers glutamate receptors in the brain.

Ingesting these chemicals leads to the brain signaling an opiate-like “high” in the body, and causes an addictive responses similar to those who use alcohol or drugs. It leads to preferences toward certain food brands and the avoidance of real, healthy foods.

Natural News featured an important interview with Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D.,expert on the dangers of neurotoxic, brain-damaging MSG. And here is a live interview:

Here are some foods I’ve randomly come across containing MSG. In addition to containing many other toxic ingredients, I’ve placed in bold those ingredients including MSG (some are organic):

Best Foods Real Mayonnaise

Ingredients: Soybean oil, water, whole eggs and egg yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice, calcium disodium EDTA (used to protect quality), natural flavors.

Cascadian Farm Fruit Spread

Ingredients: Organic sugar, organic apricots, water, fruit pectin, organic lemon juice concentrate, citric acid.

Chex Honey Nut Cereal

Ingredients: Whole Grain Rice, Sugar, Corn Meal, Rice Flour, Corn Starch, Honey, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Barley Malt Extract, Brown Sugar Molasses, Iron and Zinc (Mineral Nutrients), Color Added, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), a B Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A (Palmitate), a B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Natural Almond Flavor. Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.

Imagine Organic Chicken Stock

Ingredients: Filtered Water, Concentrated Organic Chicken Stock, Sea Salt,Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Onion Powder, Natural Flavor,Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Turmeric.

Kirkland Signature Frozen Vanilla Yogurt, Non-fat

Ingredients: Cultured and pasteurized skim milk, sucrose, corn sweeteners, non-fat dry milk, whey, natural and artificial vanilla flavors, pure vanilla extract, stabilizers (modified milk proteins, cellulose gum, guar gum, mono- and diglycerides), egg yolk, annatto extract. Also contains S. Thermophillus, L. Bulgaricus and L. Acidophillis active cultures which are required to create yogurt.

Martinelli Mulling Spices, organic

Ingredients: Organic Cinnamon, Organic Orange Peel, Organic Cloves, Organic Allspice and Natural Flavor.

Muir Glen Organic Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients: Chicken broth (water, chicken stock, sea salt)*, carrots*, cooked chicken meat*, wild rice*, rice*, celery*.

Contains less than 1% of: corn starch*, sea salt, water, chicken flavor (natural flavor, sea salt)*, chicken fat*, onion powder*, soy protein concentrate*, onion*, natural flavor*, black pepper*, chives*, garlic powder*, yeast extract*, cane juice*, parsley flakes*, turmeric*, natural flavor, tomato paste*, thyme*, rosemary*, carrot powder*, potato flour*, canola oil* *certified organic ingredients

Contains soy ingredients.

Nestle hot chocolate mix

Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup solids, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated coconut or palm kernel and hydrogenated soybean), dairy product solida, cocoa processed with alkali, and less than 2% of cellulose gum, nonfat milk, salt, sodium caseinate, sodium citrate, dipotassium phosphate, sodium aluminosilicate, mono and diglycerides, guar gum, artificial flavors.

Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade

Ingredients: sparkling filtered water, organic evaporated cane juice, organic lemon juice concentrate, organic lemon juice, organic natural lemon flavor.

It is important to note that some of these companies opposed Proposition 37 Right to Know Initiative in CA for mandatory labeling of GMOs on food packages: Best Foods (owned by Unilver Foods) Nestle, Santa Cruz Organic, Muir Glen (owned by General Mills which opposed the measure), and Cascadian Farm.

Here’s a list of other companies who opposed mandatory labeling of GMOs on food labels. By coincidence, many of these companies also use MSG in their products.

“Organic” foods are not exempt from using MSG. Many packaged, canned, and other similar “organic” products contain these ingredients.

The best way to avoid MSG and its many aliases is to avoid processed foods and prepare your own at home from real, sustainable food sources.

Learn why homemade broth is so beneficial to your health and how to make it: 9 reasons to make bone broth

Many “whole” foods such as meat, dairy, and other foods like soy and corn are from GMO sources. Finding good local sources of animal foods from farmers who raise their stock on pasture and without chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides/herbicides, or GMOs, and who grass-feed their cattle is important.

For more information on finding safe food from your local, sustainable food community, read Questions to Ask Your Farmer – Know What’s in Your Food!

More information:

Truth in Labeling: source of info about MSG

Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry Weston A. Price Foundation

Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, Dr. Russell Blaylock

More Deceptions in the Food Industry posts:

Omega 3s

Lean meats

Low-fat foods

All Natural

Whole grains

Low sodium and no salt added


22 replies on “Deceptions in the Food Industry: What You Don’t Know About Products Labeled “No MSG””

Excellent article. Thank you for this very useful information. Makes me glad I started making my own broth a couple months ago instead of buying the organic broth I used to buy in store.

Great article. The list of what may be MSG in disguise makes my head spin! My kids LOVE ranch dressing. Just try to find a store-bought Ranch without MSG — I gave up and now make my own.

Hi Stanley – That is precisely what I am hoping everyone who reads this will also conclude. Our mainstream food supply is tainted beyond recognition and the more we expose it for what it is, the better. Thanks for your support! 🙂

So, just to get this straight, about the certified organic products which may contain MSG- are these still created in a lab, the same as MSG in, say, Campbells soups, or is it just a concentrated form of a natural material? I also have a hard time believing that citrid acid for example is MSG in disguise, because citrid acid is a specific product, so does this have MSG added to it, or what? I’m just a little confused. I make most things from scratch, but when I run out of, say, my own salsa, I buy organic from the store or online, which contains citric acid (I’ve been unable to find one that does not!)

Earthmama – it’s true that there are a great deal of names MSG falls under, and citric acid is another ingredient like many on that list that produces free-glutamic acid. Its purpose is as a flavoring and a preservative. Originally during the late 1800s, it was produced on a wide scale from the real source, citric acid from citrus. In modern times, it is produced in a lab from a different type of mold, and the mold is then fed a glucose or sucrose-containing compound to render citric acid as is known today in many processed food products.

To say that it is “just” a concentrated form of a natural material is over-simplifying what’s going on: the body is not able to deal with free-glutamic acid like this because there are necessary corresponding nutrients found in the food itself which our bodies need to process these substances, and they are left out because the substance is isolated from what is found in nature. Dr. Blaylock goes into great detail about this in his book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.

According to Wikipedia: “The source of sugar is corn steep liquor, molasses, hydrolyzed corn starch or other inexpensive sugary solutions.[8] After the mold is filtered out of the resulting solution, citric acid is isolated by precipitating it with lime (calcium hydroxide) to yield calcium citrate salt, from which citric acid is regenerated by treatment with sulfuric acid.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this or any industrial chemical in my food or body, MSG or not. Take away lesson from all this: avoid processed foods.

Of course I don’t want chemicals in my body either. Those of us who don’t live on our own farms and produce everything ourselves may have a harder time avoiding such foods, however. I just learned about nanoparticles that are in packaging materials, so once again, another reason to stay away from anything in a package! The sad thing is though, if you live on earth, you are exposed to it all. Pesticides, herbicides, drugs, nanoparticles, ETC dont just disappear, they linger in the environment, in the water and air and soil. One reason why DDT, which was outlawed many years ago, is still in our bloodsteams 🙁
I read a study once about ocean water samples. There were many samples taken from all over different oceans. There was not a single sample that did not contain particles of plastic.
My dream is to one day own a large farm where I do everything myself, raise my own food, etc! until then, all I can do is try my best. I have chickens and a garden, but that’s all they allow in city limits.

Carrageenan is not MSG. It is a food additive derived from seaweed and used as a thickener.

MSG was originally isolated from seaweed (because the scientist had food made with the below-mentioned broths!) that is now chemically synthesized. It occurs naturally in quite a lot of food and I think that your list is a little misleading.

For one, MSG is found in katsuodashi and kobudashi, which are both staple broths used in Japanese cooking. Yet there doesn’t seem to be a related issue with health, development, etc. as you’ve described. If MSG were really as bad, why does a majority of Asia’s population not experience those problems?

I think that eating fewer processed foods is a fantastic idea, however, pinning a blanket list of problems on one thing does not make sense. There are a variety of factors at play in all of these situations, and blaming just MSG is irresponsible.

Not intended to offend anyone, I just think that there is a little bit of food-scare going on. Here is an interesting article that continues my point:

Nina – I wish it were just a “scare”, but Dr. Russell Blaylock M.D., and other scientific experts who have studied the process it takes to produce the modern ingredients listed above talk specifically about how all these ingredients are isolated compounds that are engineered in a lab in their research and publications. If you want to find out the truth about modern MSG, a good place to start is Dr. Blaylock’s book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. It has been well-documented what happens to neurotransmitters in the brain due to consumption of free-glutamates in processed foods: they are destroyed.

Although MSG was used for years in Asian foods, the naturally occurring form of monosodium glutamate found in normal levels in whole foods is simply not the same as the isolated, free-glutamates that are taken from plants and then compounded in the lab.

When you talk about Asians consuming broths and seaweed,and other foods containing the naturally-occurring glutamates with all the co-factors,enzymes, and other nutrients, it’s completely different than taking those isolated, free-glutamates and compounding them (meaning they are in much more numerous amounts than in nature), and then most of those substances are engineered and altered. Citric acid is one of the best examples of this. Citric acid, which is not even made from citrus anymore as it once was, is now made from a mold, and then corn sugars are added to it to get it to produce the final product.

A good comparison of another product on the market which many people buy and consume thinking that it’s a healthy choice are the isolated protein powders – whether it be whey, soy, or some other type. Just like monosodium glutamate in its natural form, the very act of separating protein from its source causes a denaturing of the substance, which damages this fragile nutrient. In order for the body to digest protein, it also needs the corresponding fat nutrients and other co-factors which naturally occur in a food with protein. Without it, the body cannot digest it and health benefits are not only lost, but the result is damage to health. The result is undigested particles of food in the gut which penetrate the blood stream, and are a primary source of health problems: it creates a super auto-immune response in the body (allergic symptoms), generates yeast and pathogens, and leads to chronic many health issues including weight gain, digestive difficulties of all types, fatigue, mind fog, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Interesting. I’d like to look into it further, hope to check out that book! Until then, I think I’ll stay a skeptic. Thanks for the reply, I definitely agree with you that highly processed foods are not good for us. And protein powders taste–well, they don’t taste very good at all. Better to get protein from natural sources. I brought up katsuo/kobu dashi because I’ve eaten it all my life (I’m Japanese) and I do have MSG in my pantry, though it is used sparingly. But I feel that there was an element of xenophobia in the initial media flurry which labeled it Chinese restaurant syndrome, and so it makes me hesitant when I see something declaring a food staple or common ingredient in Asian foods as toxic. Just the direction I’m coming from 🙂
I’m glad to see that you’ve done research into it, thank you for answering my comment.

Excellent post however I was wondering if you could write a
litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a
little bit more. Bless you!

The glutamates naturally present in food and the isolated glutamate, MSG are completely identical. Partially because MSG isn’t synthesized, but rather extracted from foods or processes that foods go through which create large amounts of it.

MSG also isn’t anywhere near as evil as you’re claiming I have to say. MSG and it’s glutimate in foods are harmless unless someone consumes a large amount of them all at once, and even with 3mg of msg the worst you’re going to get is a migraine. Naturally occurring thing that you in fact consume DRASTICALLY more of from completely natural sources (like meats, fruits, vegetables by themselves) than anyone even puts in food in as MSG form. Do you realize how much MSG is in a single tomato? That’s why most people enjoy things made with tomatoes. Cheese also contains HUGE amounts of glutimates. MSG alone is the reason why cheese is a staple for just about everyone in America. Don’t start talking about it like its evil and stirring up a bunch of conjecture-based panic.

Argh. The formatting is very poor. I offer my apologies to people who find this hard to read; I hope it helps some people understand the sneaky differences that may (or may not!) be present between various MSG sources.

Glad you told them. They are too dumb to know that msg does absolutely nothing for sweet food items yet they list some here.

When I started eating out in restaurants I found that I was experiencing anaphylaxis with the resulting difficulty in breathing that is very scary. It took years for me to determine that the problem in restaurants was their use of factory produced salad dressings that contained MSG. One time at a inn that prided itself on natural ingredients I could tell that there was MSG in the pancakes I was served. The waiter insisted that it was made from scratch but after checking with the cook he learned that it was a pancake mix and that it did indeed include MSG.

I traveled around with an expensive Epi pen for years until I learned to avoid anything that might contain MSG, such as restaurant salad dressings and soups and chowders and beef (MSG is in tenderizers) and anything breaded.

What is stupid to me is that a dangerous food additive like MSG is allowed at all. It may only affect 15% of the population but it is not essential for the flavor of food and is often used to mask poor quality meat or poorly prepared dressings and soups by incompetent or lazy cooks or greedy owners.

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