Food For Life: How To Avoid MSG
We have attempted to give you a comprehensive list of what to avoid.
Unfortunately we needed to expand this list.
The latest attempt to mislead the consumer is Taste No 5 Umami Paste ®. This stuff is being marketed in “health” magazines as an alternative to MSG, but if the FDA had followed its own recommendation to properly label foods high in free glutamate just like MSG, THIS abomination would have made the list and have to be labeled for what it is. AVOID this.
Foods labeled “Low Sodium” or “Now with Sea Salt” are now suspect. According to the Codex Alimentarius, the global standard for food processing put out by the FAO/WHO (Sadly the Codex is not some weird conspiracy like The DaVinci Code, it is a very real standard now used globally for food manufacture) L- glutamic acid or glutamate (the active business end of MSG) is considered a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) substitute for salt. It can also be added to nearly everything – see the list in the link if you think we are kidding. Because it is detached from its usual sodium buddy, it doesn’t even need to be labeled as MSG or monosodium glutamate. We would recommend avoiding anything on that list – which is pretty much anything you didn’t grow or raise yourself, WORLDWIDE.
If you have the heart to keep reading after learning about the Codex Alimentarius, in addition to what is on the Codex list, most fast food establishments should be avoided – the worst offender by far is KFC®. It should become obvious as well, that the foods most likely to give someone an MSG reaction at ANY restaurant are: CHICKEN and SAUSAGE products, RANCH dressing, PARMESAN items, GRAVY, and DIPPING SAUCES and fries with any kind of seasoning on them except plain salt. FLAVORED salty snack chips – ESPECIALLY Doritos® and Cheetos® and items with cheese powder added.
At regular restaurants, you want to avoid PARMESAN encrusted ANYTHING, SOUPS, CEASAR salad, FISH SAUCE or EXTRACT, SOY SAUCE, BOARS HEAD® COLD CUTS and beef jerky (usually made with soy sauce) and anything that comes out of a can. Go to restaurants that make things from scratch – you can ask what is in food and also ask for special items without the offending ingredients. You WILL be glad you spoke up BEFORE you eat the wrong thing. DON’T smother your choice in the parmesan cheese at the table either- Parmesan cheese is 1% straight MSG by weight.
At your friend’s and relatives’ homes – the hardest place to avoid MSG – avoid your aunt’s “secret” recipe, anything that has Accent® in it, anything with a boullion cube or meat extract or “seasoning” packet, the Latino seasoning Goya Sazon®, Lawry’s® seasoning salt, Gravy Master®, tuna with “broth” or hydrolyzed or autolysed ANYTHING on the label, potato chip dip or hamburgers with Lipton’s® Onion Soup Mix in them, Vegetable dips with Knorr® vegetable soup mix in it, Italian foods smothered in Parmesan cheese, Hamburger Helper, canned soups – especially Progresso® and tomato or mushroom soup, the “green bean casserole” heck, ANY casserole. Check packages of prepared baked items and avoid any with soy protein, casein, wheat gluten, malted barley, and non-fat dried milk as an ingredient. Avoid aspartame, Nutrasweet®, “diet” drinks and artificially sweetened desserts. If you aren’t sure – just eat the raw vegetables but don’t dip them – eat them plain. Skip the hotdogs and cold cuts altogether unless you know they are safe. Have some iced tea and add plain sugar and fresh lemon. BRING foods you can eat so you aren’t tempted and weak when your relatives ask why you aren’t eating their prized recipe – and you cave in and poison yourself just to make them happy. Avoid Ultra-pasteurized dairy products, cheeses, cream, and half and half with carageenan added. Look for plain Pasteurized whole milk to put in your plain coffee and avoid low fat and non-fat milk – because low fat dairy products usually have dried, high-free glutamate, non-fat dried milk added to boost the protein content.
So, here is the official list which was obtained from the website links provided. (Amazing what they call food nowadays, isn’t it?)
The following Fast Food menu items contain MSG or enough free glutamate to cause a reaction:
Grilled Chicken Filet
Hot and Spicy Chicken Patty
Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad
Grilled Chicken California Cobb Salad
Sausage Scrambled Egg Mix, Sausage, and Sausage Patty
French Fries – the “seasoning” added to the oil the fries are precooked in.
The “seasoning” is made from beef, wheat and milk, processed to break down the proteins into free amino acids like glutamate. US laws allow “natural flavoring” to consist of “protein hydrolysates” containing free glutamic acid. That’s why they do it – to free glutamate to act like MSG so they can declare a “clean label” while misleading the consumer.
McDonalds® Ingredient Webpage
- Burger King®
Breaded Chicken Patty
Spicy Chicken Patty
Breaded Tendercrisp Chicken
BK Chicken Fries
Garden Veggie Patty – contains hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat – which contains free glutamate
Ranch dipping sauce
Ken’s Fat Free Ranch Dressing
Burger King® Ingredient Webpage
Roasted Ceasar Salad (WITHOUT dressing and croutons)
Crispy Ceasar Salad (WITHOUT dressing)
Roasted BLT Salad (WITHOUT dressing)
Crispy BLT Salad (WITHOUT dressing
Hidden Valley – The Original Fat Free Ranch Dressing
KFC Creamy Parmesan Ceasar Dressing – contains parmesan cheese – very high in MSG naturally
KFC Garlic Parmesan Croutons Pouch – contains parmesan cheese – very high in MSG naturally
KFC Famous Bowls – Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
KFC Famous Bowls – Rice with Gravy
KFC Snacker – Chicken
KFC Snacker – Honey BBQ
Honey BBQ Sandwich
Double Crunch Sandwich
Oven Roasted Twister
Oven Roasted Twister (WITHOUT sauce)
Tender Roast Sandwich
Tender Roast Sandwich(WITHOUT sauce)
Original Recipe Chicken (its in the marinade – it’s literally soaked in MSG and salt)
Extra Crispy – MSG is in both the marinade AND the breading
Colonel’s Crispy Strips
Chicken Pot Pie
Boneless HBBQ Wings
Boneless Fiery Buffalo Wings
Sweet and Spicy Boneless Wings
Green Beans (yeah, this shocked us too)
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
KFC® Ingredient WebPage
- Chick – fil – A® The Chicken Sandwich has MSG in it. MSG is the second ingredient in the seasonings after salt.
Chick – fil – A® Ingredient Webpage
We have not been able to get a real accounting of what is in Applebee’s food, the website is particularly vague, but we have gotten many reports of MSG reactions to foods at the chain restaurants like TGI Fridays, Applebees, and most chain restaurants that have marinated and seasoned meats and that overuse parmesan and soy sauce. In our experience, the better restaurants have chefs willing to make a special meal for you, and also the owners of local eateries (not chains) where things are made from scratch will be able to tell you everything that went into your meal. Don’t take chances on your health – often good chefs and chef/owners like the chance to be creative and keep a customer at the same time. The hardest part is dealing with your friends (who think you are high maintenance). It helps to eat out with friends who also have special diet requirements.
The best advice to anyone visiting a Fast Food establishment (if you have to):
AVOID all CHICKEN items
AVOID all SAUSAGE items
AVOID all PARMESAN items
AVOID all Ranch dressings – stick to oil and vinegar Italian
AVOID KFC altogether – we’re not kidding
AVOID Dipping Sauces
AVOID TOMATO AND MUSHROOM soups
Unfortunately, certain food companies are experimenting on how to put more MSG in your MSG–free foods. We recommend you avoid ANY and all products from the following food companies – since they will NOT have a label that will alert you to the presence of free glutamic acid. They are trying to keep a clean label while increasing the amount of free glutamic acid in your food.
Dairy Management Inc.
The Mushroom Council
Ajinomoto Food Ingredients
The following foods contain MSG or its business end – the free amino acid glutamate – in amounts large enough to cause reactions in those sensitive to it.:
- Taste No 5 Umami Paste ® MSG disguised as a substitute for MSG. A travesty of misleading labeling and marketing.
- “Low Sodium” or “Sea Salt” products now often have L-Glutamate added straight (without sodium) or freed during processing to act as a salt substitute to get a “clean label” without MSG on it. (Never mind that GLUTAMATE raises blood pressure)
- Taco Bell® – seasoned meat – contains autolyzed yeast – which contains free glutamate
- Other menu items that contain soy sauce, natural flavors, autolyzed yeast or hydrolyzed protein which can contain up to 20% free glutamic acid – the active part of MSG.
- Hamburger Helper Microwave Singles® (targeted towards children)
- Campbell’s® soups – all of them – based on their commitment to add “umami” (read – MSG) to their products
- Pringles® (the flavored varieties)
- Cold cuts – Boars Head – even the “low sodium” varieties with the “heart healthy” logos.
- Nathan’s® Hotdogs
- Progresso® Soups – all of them
- Lipton® Noodles and Sauce
- Lipton® Instant soup mix
- Unilever or Knorr® products – often used in homemade Veggie dips.
- Kraft® products nearly all contain some free glutamate
- Gravy Master®
- Cup-a-soup® or Cup-o-Noodles®
- Planters® salted nuts – most of them
- Accent® -this is nearly pure MSG
- Braggs® Liquid Aminos – sold at Whole Foods
- Hodgson Mill Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour®
- Tangle extract (seaweed extract) – found in sushi rolls (even at Whole Foods) Seaweed is what MSG was first isolated from.
- Fish extract – made from decomposed fish protein – used now in Japanese sushi dishes – very high in free glutamate.
- 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
- boullion – any kind
- instant soup mixes
- many salad dressings
- most salty, powdered dry food mixes – read labels
- flavored potato chips
- restaurant soups made from food service soup base or with added MSG
- monopotassium glutamate
- glutamic acid
- hydrolyzed gelatin – found in VACCINES – is 10% free glutamate by weight
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein (found in many processed AMERICAN foods, like canned tuna and even hot dogs)
- hydrolyzed plant protein (found in many processed AMERICAN foods, like canned tuna and even hot dogs)
- autolyzed yeast (found in many processed AMERICAN foods, read labels)
- sodium caseinate
- textured protein
- beet juice – it is used as a coloring, but MSG is manufactured from beets and the extract may contain free glutamic acid – Yo Baby – organic baby yogurt has just changed the formula to include beet extract
- yeast extract
- yeast food or nutrient
- soy protein isolate
- soy sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Kombu extract
- dry milk and whey powder
- “natural flavors” – may contain up to 20% MSG
- dough conditioners
- malted barley
- malted barley flour – found in many supermarket breads and all-purpose flours including: King Arthur, Heckers, and Gold Medal flour
- body builder drink powders containing protein
- Parmesan cheese – naturally high in free glutamate
- over-ripe tomatoes – naturally high in free glutamate
- mushrooms – naturally high in free glutamate
- Medications in gelcaps – contain free glutamic acid in the gelatin
- Cosmetics and shampoos – some now contain glutamic acid
- Fresh produce sprayed with Auxigro in the field. (Yes the EPA approved this. It appalled us too.)
Food manufacturers are hiding MSG so you don’t know where it is. Lately, food manufacturers mention a “clean label” when referring to soy sauce and other processed flavor enhancers that already contain MSG in the form of glutamic acid. Food manufacturers use these ingredients so they can claim “no added MSG“. Hence a “cleaner” label. They know it’s in there, they are just hoping you don’t.
See exactly how food manufacturers are trying to use free glutamic acid without telling you about it: Food Product Design article
Foods that start out low in free glutamate become extremely high in free glutamate the more they are processed as shown in the following chart. Eating fresh whole foods WILL help you.
In the latest pro-MSG “news” article in the Wall Street Journal – everything old is new again as the writers try to make “umami” (the name for the flavor enhancing effect MSG has had since it was isolated in 1908) seem like something newly discovered. What is truly appalling is that in the article, MSG is said to be something consumers are trying to avoid, and at the same time, the writers tout “umami” foods while at the same time admitting that they are high in the glutamate – the business end of MSG. The makers of MSG, Ajinomoto, accurately point out that what makes an “umami” food is it’s glutamate content. The “chefs” in the article KNOW that diners are trying to AVOID MSG in their food. These “chefs”, like Jean-Georges Vongerichte are actually trying to INCREASE the use of MSG, not decrease it, and they find that OK because the food has a “Clean Label”. The recent Cambell’s soup commercial where “sea salt” is used instead of regular salt leads one to assume that “umami” figures into their motives. At least the Wall Street Journal has done us all a favor and let us in on what they are planning for your dinners. You may want to pass on their “umami bombs”. And note that they don’t think they can even come close to the MSG hit young men take when they eat Doritos. The “umami” pushers will continue to add straight MSG to Doritos, because they are afraid of a “riot” should the young men get less glutamate in their “umami bomb” snacks.
Just because the tongue can detect sugar, fat, and salt as well as the presence of protein – because even bound glutamic acid is typically found on the outer surface of a protein molecule, is not a mandate to add simple sugar, trans fat, and an unbalanced amount of free glutamic acid to all of our foods at the expense of other nutrients. Tell a diabetic they can eat as much sugar as they want in any food simply because their tongues were designed to taste it and let us know what they tell you, after they are done laughing at your ignorance.
The most blatant example of a so-called “clean label”:
Unilever appears to be in trouble in Vietnam for marketing a product called Knorr Dam Dang as a substitute for MSG. Unfortunately for Unilever, (the makers of the Knorr dried vegetable soup popular in vegetable dips), their product was actually tested and found to have 30% MSG in it. Despite clearly misleading consumers in Vietnam, the company representatives argue that they are legally allowed to do this due to current labeling laws allowing it.
Vietnam news story.
Vietnam News Update
MSG by any other name…….
In Japan, MSG is labeled as 味の素 or Ajinomoto
In China, MSG = wie jing
In the Phillipines, MSG = Vetsin
In Thailand, MSG = phong churot
In Germany, MSG = Natriumglutaminat
In Europe – MSG = E621, but avoid E620-625 as they also contain glutamate
In the US – “umami”, MSG, glutamate, free glutamic acid
We are also getting reports of MSG being added to sausages called “boerewors” and other meats found in supermarkets in South Africa.
MSG is also finding its way into “fast” foods in India, Brazil and Viet Nam
It is getting harder and harder to avoid MSG regardless of where on planet earth you live……
Be aware it is not just the brand names mentioned, but many similar products to the ones listed also contain MSG. You must always read labels. These product names were given as examples of the many products that contain MSG.
Four good rules of thumb are:
- The more salty a processed food is, the more likely it is to contain MSG or free glutamate.
- The more processed a food is, the more likely it is to contain MSG or free glutamate: powdered stuff that used to be food is likely to have added MSG because the original flavor has been degraded, AND processing concentrates and frees glutamate already bound and present.
- The more ingredients in a packaged food, the more likely MSG is present. Read labels carefully . Time is money. If a food has more than five ingredients and you don’t have half an hour to read one ingredient label – put it back on the shelf – you’ll be better off.
- Do not trust something simply because it is in a health food store and the label states it is natural or even organic. The US allows “natural flavors” to include protein hydrolysates which can contain up to 20% MSG by weight. A distinction without a difference.
The next wave of hastily approved “MSG replacers” you may wish to avoid will be Senomyx.
According to the New York Times April 6, 2005 article “Food Companies Test Flavorings That Can Mimic Sugar, Salt or MSG“:
“Since Senomyx’s flavor compounds will be used in small proportions (less than one part per million), the company is able to bypass the lengthy F.D.A. approval process required to get food additives on the market. Getting the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association status of generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, took Senomyx less than 18 months, including a 3-month safety study using rats. In contrast, the maker of the artificial sweetener sucralose spent 11 years winning F.D.A. approval and is required to list the ingredient on food labels.”
And Senomyx DOESN’T have to be labeled as such. It will be grouped under “artificial flavors”. They still don’t believe the consumer should know what they are eating. In fact, that is exactly the strategy. Here is one last quote from the NYT article to leave you with:
“We’re helping companies clean up their labels,” said Senomyx’s chief executive, Kent Snyder.
Mr. Snyder, that is EXACTLY what we are afraid of.
For more Information: