MSG can be hidden by restaurateurs who claim that the food they serve contains no MSG.

MSG can be used (and hidden) in processed food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, personal care products, and drugs.  It can be used in waxes applied to fresh fruits and vegetables.  It can be used as ingredients in pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, and plant growth enhancers — remaining in the edible portion of the plant or on the edible portion of the plant when its leaves, fruits, nuts, grains, and other edible parts are brought to market.

MSG is shorthand for processed free glutamic acid, i.e., glutamic acid that has been manufactured or freed from protein through processing or bacterial fermentation.  It is a toxic substance.  It can be used without disclosure.

To understand how MSG can easily be hidden, you must first understand that there are two very distinct ways of manufacturing MSG. The first is through manufacture of a product called “monosodium glutamate.”  There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved, but the end result will always be a product that contains glutamic acid (glutamate), sodium (salt), moisture, and a number of contaminants.  It is important to understand that in “monosodium glutamate,” glutamic acid will be the only amino acid present.  If there were other amino acids present while the “monosodium glutamate” was being manufactured, they would have been cleaned out. When any product contains 79% free glutamic acid (with the balance being made up of salt, moisture, and up to 1 per cent contaminants), the product is called “monosodium glutamate” by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must be labeled as such. FDA regulations require that all food ingredients be called by their “common or usual names,” and “monosodium glutamate” is the “common or usual name” of the ingredient that contains 79% free glutamic acid (with the balance being made up of salt, moisture, and up to 1 per cent contaminants).

“Monosodium glutamate” was invented in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo, Japan who noticed that glutamic acid had flavor-enhancing potential. Prior to that time, the Japanese had used seaweed as a favorite flavor enhancer, without understanding that glutamic acid was its flavor-enhancing component.

The second way of producing MSG is through breakdown of protein, i.e., processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is created when protein is either partially or fully broken apart into its constituent amino acids.  A protein can be broken into its constituent amino acids in a number of ways (autolysis, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, and/or fermentation).  When a protein is subject to autolysis, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, and/or fermentation, the amino acid chains in the protein are broken, and the amino acids are freed. Acids, enzymes, and/or fermentation processes may be used to create MSG in this way.

There are over 40 food ingredients besides “monosodium glutamate” that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG). Each, according to the FDA, must be called by its own, unique, “common or usual name.”   “Autolyzed yeast,” “maltodextrin,” “sodium caseinate,” and “soy sauce” are the common or usual names of some ingredients that contain MSG.  Unlike the ingredient called “monosodium glutamate,” they give the consumer no clue that there is MSG in the ingredient.

The Truth in Labeling Campaign has asked the FDA to require manufacturers to identify ingredients that contain MSG by listing MSG on a product’s label.  In response, we have been told that FDA regulations require that all food ingredients be called by their “common or usual names,” but there is no requirement that a constituent of an ingredient be identified. Processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is considered to be a constituent of a hydrolyzed protein or fermentation product because the MSG is created during the hydrolyzation or fermentation process.  To autolyze yeast, for example, yeast is subject to processing; and during that processing, protein is broken down, and glutamic acid is freed.  The finished autolyzed yeast product will, therefore, always contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as a constituent of the autolyzed yeast. The MSG will not have been poured into the autolyzed yeast. Rather, the MSG will have been processed into the autolyzed yeast.

The distinction between having MSG poured into an ingredient and processed into an ingredient is important because the glutamate industry plays on this distinction in their efforts to hide the presence of MSG.  One of their favorite ways of hiding MSG is to claim that there is “no added MSG” in a product.  If MSG is processed into a product instead of being poured into a product, they declare that there is “no MSG added” or “no added MSG,” in the product, even though they know full well that the product contains MSG.

The Shocking Truth About MSG

That the FDA allows these distinctions to be made; that the FDA refuses to monitor those who make false claims about the presence of MSG in a product; that the FDA refers consumers who are concerned about the toxic effects of MSG to agents of the glutamate industry such as The Glutamate Association; and that the FDA refuses to require that MSG in a product be disclosed, testifies to the close ties between the FDA, Ajinomoto, Co., Inc., and the rest of the glutamate industry.   It is true that the FDA does not require that the constituents of ingredients be identified.  But there is nothing in FDA regulations to prevent constituents of ingredients from being identified. And there is precedent for identifying constituents of ingredients, such as cholesterol.

Although glutamic acid had been isolated in 1866 by the German chemist Karl Ritthausen, it was not until well into the 1900s that food technologists began to break various protein products into individual amino acids and used the processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as a flavor-enhancer.  Today, some of those hydrolyzed protein and fermentation products are designed to replace “monosodium glutamate” as a flavor enhancer, because manufacturers know that consumers are looking for products without MSG in them, and that consumers may well not realize that products such as “yeast extract,” “autolyzed yeast,” and “soy sauce” are nothing more than flavor enhancers that invariably contain MSG.

The flavor enhancer known as “monosodium glutamate” was first brought to the United States in quantity in the late 1940s. Today, processed free glutamic acid (MSG), the toxic ingredient in the food ingredient called “monosodium glutamate,” and a toxic ingredient in hydrolyzed protein, enzyme modified, and fermentation products, is found in most processed food. In 1997, MSG was introduced in a plant “growth enhancer” (AuxiGro) to be applied to the soil or sprayed on growing crops.  Today, we know of no crop that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to approve for treatment with AuxiGro. People first reported MSG reactions following ingestion of lettuce, strawberries, and giant russet potatoes in 1997 — people who didn’t know at the time that those crops might have been sprayed with a product that contained MSG.

The glutamate industry is adamantly opposed to letting consumers know where MSG is hidden.  Why? Because the glutamate industry understands that MSG is a toxic substance: that it causes adverse reactions, brain lesions, endocrine disorders and more. And the glutamate industry must understand, as we do, that if MSG in food, drugs, and cosmetics were disclosed on product labels, people who reacted to those products might realize that it was MSG they were reacting to, and might, therefore, refrain from buying products that contain MSG.

MSG is hidden in ingredients used in processed food. English names of ingredients known to contain and/or produce MSG during manufacture are listed on the following Web page:

MSG is being sprayed on growing fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables — not all, just some.  And, yes, there have been reports of MSG reactions to produce.

Using MSG-laced ingredients, MSG can be hidden in:

  • Infant formula
  • Baby food
  • Enteral feeding products (tube feeding products)
  • Dietary supplements
  • Medications/drugs
  • Protein drinks often recommended for seniors
  • Protein bars and protein powders
  • Vaccines–including vaccines that are injected into children.
  • Fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides
  • Kosher food
  • Cosmetics
  • Personal care products
  • Protein powders sold in health food stores
  • Food that is labeled “organic.”

MSG can be hidden:

  • In Wine — Sprayed on wine grapes, including California wine grapes
  • In food with labels that say “No Added MSG,” “No MSG Added,” or “No MSG”
  • In food that is falsely advertised as containing no MSG
  • In food whose manufacturers claim, in response to questions, that their products contain no MSG

Source: Truth in Labeling.Org