Foods with Hidden MSG (It's not Just Chinese Food)

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by elliespad, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. elliespad

    elliespad Member

    MSG: If it's Safe, Why do They Disguise it on Labels?

    Monosodium glutamate, commonly known as MSG, was thought of as a "miracle food enhancer" when it was first introduced to the public over five decades ago.

    More than just a seasoning like salt and pepper, MSG could actually enhance the flavors of foods, making processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny.

    This sign from the front window of a Chinese restaurant suggests just how many people prefer to have their food MSG-free.

    It wasn't until people started having side effects after eating foods with MSG that some began to question whether this miracle flavoring was too good to be true. Today, many more question its safety, but others insist it's safe.

    How Much MSG are Americans Eating?

    Americans associate MSG with Chinese food. In fact, MSG Symptom Complex, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identifies as "short-term reactions" to MSG, was for some time (unfairly) referred to in the United States as "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome."

    But MSG is in many more foods than Chinese food, and is listed under many other names than MSG. So while many Americans are aware that MSG has been linked to some negative side effects, or have experienced them personally, and believe they are avoiding it in their diets, many have been misled.

    Food manufacturers, who realize that many people would prefer NOT to have MSG in their food, have adapted by using so-called "clean labels." These ingredient labels hide MSG under names that consumers won't recognize, such as hydrolyzed soy protein.

    Some manufacturers have also gone so far as to list "No MSG," "No Added MSG," or "No MSG Added" on product labels when MSG is still present, but exists only as a constituent in another ingredient!

    MSG is Always In:

    Autolyzed yeast
    Calcium caseinate
    Glutamic acid
    Hydrolyzed protein
    Monopotassium glutamate
    Monosodium glutamate
    Sodium caseinate
    Textured protein
    Yeast extract
    Yeast food
    Yeast Nutrient

    MSG is Often In:

    Barley Malt
    Enzyme-modified substances
    Malt Extract
    Malt flavoring
    Natural flavor/flavorings
    Natural pork/beef/chicken flavoring
    Protein-fortified substances
    Soy protein
    Soy protein isolate or concentrate
    Soy sauce
    Soy sauce extract
    Vegetable gum
    Whey protein
    Whey protein isolate or concentrate

    What Does the Government Say?

    The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a group of scientists the FDA asked to review the safety of glutamate, released a report in 1995 that found the following:

    When consumed at usual levels, MSG is safe for the general population.

    No evidence of any connection between MSG and serious long-term reactions.

    No evidence linking dietary MSG or glutamate to Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, or any other long-term or chronic diseases.

    No evidence suggesting that dietary MSG or glutamate causes brain lesions or damage to nerve cells in humans.
    However, the study did find that MSG Symptom Complex did occur in some people, particularly those who ate a large dose of MSG and those with severe asthma. According to the FDA, MSG Symptom Complex can result in:

    Burning sensation
    Facial pressure or tightness
    Chest pain
    Rapid heartbeat
    Difficulty breathing for asthmatics

    Estimates of just how many Americans are sensitive to MSG vary widely: from 1.8 percent to 50 percent of the population may be affected. However, these estimates may be conservative. Symptoms related to MSG may present immediately or several hours after eating a food, so attributing them to MSG can be difficult.

    We've all eaten it, but now you can say you've seen it: Here's what MSG looks like close-up.

    In terms of labeling requirements, the FDA says that "monosodium glutamate" must be listed on the label only if MSG is added to a food. However, it's misleading for a manufacturer to list "No MSG," or "No Added MSG" on foods if sources of free glutamates, like hydrolyzed protein, exist, they say. Further, items listed as "flavors," "natural flavors," or "flavorings" may not include MSG, hydrolyzed proteins or autolyzed yeast.

    The Other Side

    Other experts are not so convinced of MSG's safety. For instance, Dr. Russell Blaylock, an author and neurosurgeon, recently explained a link between sudden cardiac death, particularly in athletes, and excitotoxic damage caused by food additives like MSG and artificial sweeteners. Excitotoxins are, according to Dr. Blaylock, "A group of excitatory amino acids that can cause sensitive neurons to die."

    Said Dr. Blaylock:

    "When an excess of food-borne excitotoxins, such as MSG, hydrolyzed protein soy protein isolate and concentrate, natural flavoring, sodium caseinate and aspartate from aspartame, are consumed, these glutamate receptors are over-stimulated, producing cardiac arrhythmias. When magnesium stores are low, as we see in athletes, the glutamate receptors are so sensitive that even low levels of these excitotoxins can result in cardiac arrhythmias and death."

    Further, many consumers have personally experienced the ill effects of MSG, which leave them with a headache, nausea or vomiting after eating MSG-containing foods.

    Said Cathy Evans Wisner in her article "The MSG Myth," "I know from personal experience that the chemical is not as harmless as vinegar or salt. When I ingest a fair amount of MSG, I immediately have nausea, stomach cramps, "spaciness," heart palpitations and a "pins-and-needles" headache, followed the next day by lethargy and overall weakness."

    Headaches are one of the most commonly reported side effects of MSG, which may occur because it can increase blood flow to the brain. According to Ann Turner, director of the Migraine Action Association, "Food additives can be triggers [for headaches]. MSG, although still not fully understood, may be a culprit … "

    Which Foods Contain MSG?

    MSG is much more prevalent than many people realize. Below is a list of some common food items that contain it from, but remember to look for the "hidden" MSG names (listed above) on all processed foods you buy.

    The Following McDonald's Items:

    Grilled Chicken Filet

    Hot and Spicy Chicken Patty

    Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad

    Grilled Chicken California Cobb Salad

    Seasoned Beef

    Sausage Scrambled Egg Mix, Sausage, and Sausage Patty


    Pringles® (the flavored varieties)

    KFC® fried chicken and most of their other products

    Boar's Head® cold cuts and most of their hotdogs

    Progresso® Soups

    Lipton® Noodles and Sauce

    Lipton® Instant soup mix

    Gravy Master®

    Cup-a-soup® or Cup-o-Noodles®

    Planters® salted nuts (most of them)

    Accent® (this "seasoning" is nearly pure MSG)

    Sausages (most supermarkets add MSG to theirs)

    Processed cheese spread

    Supermarket poultry or turkeys that are injected or "self-basting"

    Restaurant gravy from food service cans

    Flavored ramen noodles


    Instant soup mixes

    Many salad dressings

    Most salty, powdered dry food mixes

    Flavored potato chips


    Canned tuna

    Hot dogs

    Soy sauce

    Worcestershire sauce

    Kombu extract

    Dry milk

    Dough conditioners

    Body builder drink powders containing protein

    Medications in gelcaps (contain free glutamic acid in the gelatin)

    Fresh produce that has been sprayed with Auxigro, a plant growth enhancer that contains hydrolyzed protein(s) and MSG (some of these crops may be used in baby foods)

    Your best bet as a consumer looking to avoid MSG, for whatever your personal reasons may be, is to be diligent in reading processed food labels.

    In general, the more highly processed a food is (or the more ingredients listed on its label), the more likely it is to contain MSG. Meanwhile, try to limit the number of processed foods you eat overall and you'll inevitably reduce your chances of eating MSG, too.

    Recommended Reading

    Alcohol Consumption--How Much is "Too Much" and "Too Little?"

    Why Green Tea Would be Healthy EXCEPT for This One Dangerous Issue



    EMediaWire April 15, 2005

    How Food Could Help Your Headache April 18, 2005

    MSG Truth

    The MSG Myth: Why the Wonder "Spice" Isn't So Wonderful

    Truth in Labeling

    U.S. FDA MSG

    Whole Foods Market: MSG
  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    I don't eat much processed food because of the hidden excitotoxins. Some affect me more than others.

    This is good info; thanks for posting it.

    Love, Mikie
  3. XKathiX

    XKathiX New Member

    Thanks for the post! I'm shocked by some of this, like Boar's Head products that say they have no preservatives. It certainly is much more than just chinese food!

  4. cafe52

    cafe52 New Member

    Thats alot of info didn't realize it was in so many things. And I thought I was doing good at avoiding it, mainly becuase in the past wehn I eat at some chineese restaraunts I would have terrible stomach pain all night.

    I figured it was the msg but not all chineese restaraunts well do that to me. never had the other things though at least I never connected it before ow I well have to pay more attention.

    Thank you for this post.
  5. ladude

    ladude New Member

    Thanks for the info.

    With CFIDS I find WHENEVER I eat foods with MSG in any form I crash within 24 hours, it is 100% guaranteed. Small amounts mildly bad, larger amounts very sick sometimes for a week. Even broccoli has it naturally in it. In very, very small amounts I do ok with it.

    It makes eating out at restaurants almost impossible, (Except natural)but it can be done.

    Almost all foods in the supermarket that are prepared in some way have it MSG in them. Anything boxed where you add water, bad. Frozen and prepared, bad.

    If you are lucky and it does not cause an immediate effect as it does with me does not mean you are safe. The side effects will catch up. I think it a BIG reason so many are overweight. It makes people eat more.

    I have a list like this I carry in my wallet when shopping.

    Get this, I’ve read it is even sprayed on some produce while it is growing, how sick is that?

    Knowledge is power, although sometimes it can be depressing.


    [This Message was Edited on 02/06/2006]
  6. JLH

    JLH New Member

    I didn't realize that this was an old post at first, but I must have missed it then!

    Anyway, THANKS for bringing it back to our attention!!!

    MSG has always been a big trigger for my migraines!!!

    I didn't realize that there is even more food that I need to stay away from!!!

  7. jbennett2

    jbennett2 New Member

    I never realized it was in that many products.
    I'm going to look into the Green Tea issue.
  8. TeaBisqit

    TeaBisqit Member

    It definitely makes my CFIDS symptoms worse. Particularly, if I eat Chinese food. I end up with all kinds of stomach problems, racing heart, facial swelling, insomnia. A whole host of symptoms. Even if I tell them not to put it in the food, it's already in the sauces. I think I also get it from tomato sauce. Every time we get pizza, I can't sleep after eating it. I think MSG naturally occurs in tomatoes.

    It's very hard to avoid it. They put it in everything. But you can eat things with alot less of it. It makes for a very bland diet, though.

    I wish this additive was illegal. They shouldn't be allowed to force a drug on us. And it really is a drug.
  9. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    Thank you for posting this very important information.

    Personally, I have very extreeme reactions to MSG. Within 24 hours of consuming MSG, it causes me to fall into a black depression, want to kill myself, can't think straight, have difficulty speaking, and be so lethargic that I can hardly move, and feel paralyzed. With a one-time dose, the effects last two to three days for me, and then I gradually go back to normal. It is imperative that I avoid MSG in all forms.

    This article really put things together for me. I have exactly the same reaction to maltodextrin as I have to MSG. Now I know why. Maltodextrin is in some suppliments, and I've made the mistake of not reading the lable carefully one or two times, only to have these symptoms.

    I am stunned to remember now that my multivitamin has hydrolyzed vegetable protein in it. I will replace it with a safe one as soon as possible!

    I have to add warning to Splenda users. Any of us here who have a problem with MSG, please do not use Splenda!! Splenda is bulked up with maltodextrin so that it measures the same as sugar. :( Splenda may also be disguised on a lable as "sucralose." Maltodextrin is also found in some stevia powders to bulk it out, in some diabetic products, and in so many other foods. Aspartame is in the same chemical group as MSG, called the excitotoxins. If you react to MSG, you may react simalarly to aspartame.

    Thank you for the warning, elliespad. It saddens me that this is in SO many products. But at least now I will be more able to avoid it!!!
    Thank you!!! ((((( ))))) Shannon
    [This Message was Edited on 02/06/2006]
  10. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    This is from

    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.

    Note: There are additional ingredients that appear to cause MSG reactions in ACUTELY sensitive people. A list is available by request.

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

    [This Message was Edited on 02/06/2006]
  11. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    In 1969, Olney (143) found hypothalamic lesions, and described stunted skeletal development, obesity, and female sterility, as well as a spate of observed pathological changes found in several brain regions associated with endocrine function in maturing mice which had been given monosodium glutamic acid as neonates. Longitudinal studies, including feeding studies, in which neonatal/infant animals were given doses of monosodium glutamate and then observed over a period of months or years before being sacrificed for brain examination, repeatedly supported Olney's early findings. By the early 1980s, evidence of monosodium glutamate induced brain lesions was so well established that researchers interested in brain function and/or development of drugs with which to treat disease conditions in which glutamic acid played a role began to use monosodium glutamate as an ablative tool with which to kill selected brain cells.

    Today, Americans are expressing great concern about one of the pathological changes that follow brain lesions caused by ingestion of monosodium glutamate, i.e., concern about gross obesity. Overeating, inadequate diet, junk food, lack of exercise, psychological problems, genetics, and bad parenting have all been offered as reasons underlying gross obesity. But never mentioned are the glutamic acid in monosodium glutamate and the aspartic acid found in aspartame that are known to cause gross obesity in laboratory animals. Glutamic acid and aspartic acid are structural analogs which load on the same receptors in the brain and cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders. They also have been know to act in an additive fashion.

    There can be no question that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) causes brain damage and subsequent neuroendocrine disorders, including obesity in laboratory animals. Studies have demonstrated that free glutamic acid (including processed free glutamic acid [MSG]) can cross the placenta during pregnancy,(A-B) can cross the blood brain barrier in an unregulated manner during development, and can pass through the five circumventricular organs, which are "leaky" at best at any stage of life.(C-E) Moreover, the blood brain barrier is easily damaged by fever, stroke, trauma to the head, seizures, ingestion of processed free glutamic acid, and the normal process of aging.(E-F) It is generally accepted that, given the greater permeability of their blood-brain barriers, the young are particularly at risk from ingestion of MSG.

    There can be no question that in the United States, children in utero, newborns, infants, and children are exposed to ever increasing amounts of MSG.

    In utero children receive MSG through their mothers' diets.(A-B)

    As neonates they receive MSG through their mothers' milk if mother is consuming MSG (which can hardly be avoided if mother is eating processed foods) or through their infant formula which all has MSG in it. The greatest amounts of MSG in infant formula will be found in hypoallergenic formulas.

    Cantani, A; Micera, M.Immunogenicity of hydrolysate formulas in children
    (part 1). Analysis of 202 reactions.
    Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology, 2000 Sep-Oct,
    Abstract: Cow's milk protein hydrolyzed formulas appeared in the 1940s with
    the aim of decreasing or eliminating the allergenicity of cow's milk proteins,
    in addition to reducing the risk of sensitization. In recent years, the
    so-called "hypoallergenic" formulas have been developed. The use of such
    hydrolyzed formulas is based on the premise that predigested proteins, when
    fed as amino acids and peptides, provide nutrients in a nonantigenic form.
    Thus, protein hydrolyzed formulas have been classified as hypoallergenic.
    These formulas are processed by heat and enzymatic hydrolysis, and the
    conformational and sequential structures are more or less changed. The
    formulas contain peptides of lower molecular weight than the native protein
    source, which are thought to be less immunogenic. Hydrolyzed formulas appear
    to be nutritionally adequate and infants generally gain weight until they
    refuse the formula because of its bad taste. However, caution should be taken
    when such formulas are given for prolonged periods since no data are available
    on nutritional assessment of infants exclusively fed hydrolyzed formulas for
    several months. In this paper we report and discuss more than 202 reactions to
    different hydrolyzed formulas, including cases of anaphylactic shock and
    apparent life-threatening events. The cross-reactivity between different
    hydrolyzed formulas and cow's milk proteins, and the potential immunogenicity
    of such formulas are discussed. We conclude that none of the hydrolyzed
    formulas are nonallergenic, both for allergic children and for high-risk
    babies. Moreover, we suggest that double-blind placebo-controlled food
    challenge studies in larger cohorts of babies evaluated with well-defined and
    well-validated diagnostic methods may establish a more reliable prevalence of
    allergy to hydrolyzed formulas.

    As neonates, children are also introduced to the MSG through vaccines. All live virus vaccines, and some, if not all of the others, contain MSG. The MSG in vaccines will typically be contained in one or more of the ingredients that give no clue that they contain MSG.
    Until 1978, children were treated to MSG in those little bottles of food called "baby food." After 10 years of pressure from concerned scientists and parents, the MSG was "voluntarily" removed from "baby food" by its manufacturers. But on January 7, 1998, the EPA approved using processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in pesticide products and plant growth enhancers--and fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables treated with those products can now be used in baby food without disclosing that they have been treated with a product that contains MSG.

    Following birth, an infant is exposed to MSG in most, if not all of the vaccines it is given, and in most cases, is also exposed to free aspartic acid in vaccines.(30) The effect of the glutamic acid in vaccines is intensified by any mercury that is also present.(31) All infant formulas contain some free glutamic acid and free aspartic acid. An infant on a hypoallergenic soy-based formula will ingest more excitotoxic amino acids (glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and L-cysteine) per day than is contained in any serving of food that this writer has seen on grocery store shelves.(32) (We understand hypoallergenic soy formulas are now being used by 25% of mothers because they have been led to believe that soy formulas are better for their babies than are milk based formulas, even if their children are not lactose intolerant.) If an infant is breast fed, it appears likely that the MSG and/or aspartame ingested by the mother will pass into her milk. If the infant becomes ill, he/she may receive a medication sweetened with aspartame. As soon as the infant begins to eat table foods, the infant will be ingesting free glutamic acid, and, in many cases, free aspartic acid.

    Many fast foods, low-fat and no-fat foods, and processed foods contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG). Canned soups sold by large corporations and things like canned spaghetti or noodles are generally loaded with MSG, too. The things our children get in their school lunches are highly questionable -- possibly with more MSG in them if lunches are supplied by the schools.

    [This Message was Edited on 02/06/2006]
  12. darude

    darude New Member

    Thanks for this shannon
  13. elliespad

    elliespad Member

  14. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

    Eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and having Diet Coke along with it is a double whammy. It's a sure fire way to ruin your health!!!!!
  15. AllWXRider

    AllWXRider New Member

    I would often get migraines on trips w/i the US but when I'd travel internationally, I tended to be OK. Felt great for the most part.

    I know that I get bad migraines from MSG.
  16. Jordane

    Jordane New Member


    I never knew it was in so much!!!

    I ALWAYS get a bad reaction whenever I ate chinese,drink pop, eat at Macdonalds, eat at Wendys!!!Eat potato chips!!

    I would get sick and my head would hurt and be so hard to think even with Fibro's effect,it would be worse.

    So now I have to look at these other products too!!!


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