Last month, in Part 1 of this series on the food additive MSG (monosodium glutamate), you were introduced to MSG, learned how it’s being hidden in 40+ food ingredients, and found out why some researchers and physicians consider it a dangerous excitotoxin. This ‘hidden MSG’ should technically be referred to as ‘processed free glutamic acid,’ however I am choosing to use the term MSG, as it’s the one we all recognize.
MSG, according to reliable consumer estimates, is being added to 95 percent of processed food products today; this includes the inner aisles of our food Co-op (and all grocery stores!).
So, here we present Part 2 in the series, which will stun Co-op shoppers who expect purity in the organic foods for which we pay good money.
What? Some Organic Foods Have MSG in Them?!
Foods labeled as ‘organic’ are not immune to the industry-wide practice of using glutamate food additives in processed food. Yes, the term ‘organic’ is not a safe harbor for those of us wishing to avoid chemical contamination of our food!
MSG itself, with its 99 percent purity level, is not a permitted ingredient in organic foods. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) standards allow certain ingredients containing MSG to be used in processed foods that are labeled as organic. In its National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, §205.605 and §205.606, I found the following ingredients which, when cross-checked with reputable consumer ‘hidden MSG lists,’ can allow hidden MSG in foods labeled as organic:
- Acids (Citric – produced by microbial fermentation of carbohydrate substances)
- Calcium citrate
- Gellan gum, high-acyl form only
- Gums – water-extracted only (Arabic; Guar; Locust bean; and Carob bean)
- Starches, Cornstarch (native)
- Whey protein concentrate**
- Xanthan gum
*In November, 2016, the USDA NOP National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to remove carrageenan from this list. See the Cornucopia Institute’s article, Carrageenan Voted Out of Organic Food and their report, Carrageenan New Studies Reinforce Link to Inflammation, Cancer and Diabetes. The July 7, 2012 New York Times article, Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized?, has additional information on past carrageenan voting at the NOSB and this 2012 Cornucopia’s Institute’s white paper speaks for itself: The Organic Watergate-White Paper Connecting the Dots: Corporate Influence at the USDA’s National Organic Program.
**Whey protein concentrate (WPC) may disappear from the USDA NOP list on June 27, 2017 (currently under regulatory review, public comment period extended until April 19, 2017). Industry is recommending its removal as it has found (alleged) ‘organic’ sources to replace it. Is this simply a new means being deployed to create ‘clean labels’ and hide more free glutamic acid in organic foods?
A generalized term like ‘yeast‘ can include a variety of different products or ingredients. For example, according to the excellent non-profit, the Truth in Labeling Campaign (TLC), yeast can include (but is not limited to) brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, yeast extract, and autolyzed yeast, all of which contain processed free glutamic acid. In 2012, the NOSB made changes to the term yeast, removing our right to know the processes used in creating these industrial food products. Therefore, crucial information is now being hidden regarding the chemicals being used, as well as any byproducts and impurities, including possible carcinogens! In addition, changes now allow that non-organic yeast may be used; this would appear to open the door to the use of non-organic growing mediums, including genetically-modified (GM) corn products or Roundup-Ready® GM sugar beet products.
Not sure where things like carrageenan and the gums (arabic [acacia], carob bean, gellan, guar, locust bean, and xanthan) are found? Go browse the dairy and yogurt coolers and the ice cream freezers and you will be floored at how many organic products include these MSG-containing ingredients!
Additionally, ingredients from our original “Hidden MSG” lists (see Part 1) may simply be prefaced by the term ‘organic’ (e.g., organic + textured pea protein – and, hey, presto! – there’s your ‘organic’ [hidden] MSG).
TLC warns that, when processed free glutamic acid is produced for use in food and agricultural applications, it is always a synthetic product which always contains toxic impurities, some of which are known to be carcinogenic. Well-funded food industry lobbyists maneuvered to get the USDA NOP regulatory permissions needed to include these synthetic ingredients in foods labeled as “organic”, and the Big Organic industry is under no legal obligation to disclose these facts to us!
It bears mentioning that Big Organic manufacturers have been known to repeatedly ignore organic ingredient and labeling regulations. This egregious example, an April, 2016 Organic Consumers Association lawsuit, (OCA) targeted two infant formula makers, The Hain Celestial Group, owner of Earth’s Best infant and toddler formula brands, and The Honest Co., for labeling their products ‘organic,’ even though they contained many prohibited ingredients. According to the OCA, of the 48 ingredients in The Hain Celestial Group’s Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula, more than half of those ingredients (!) violated the USDA NOP regulations, and some ingredients were even deemed hazardous substances!
This is why we must read labels 100 percent of the time and source our food very carefully!
Will you continue to purchase any products from either The Hain Celestial Group or The Honest Co. after reading that story? (Here are all the very familiar brands The Hain Celestial Group owns. Here are The Honest Co. products.)
I strongly recommend that you read the 2006 article by the TLC entitled, Beware — “Organic” Doesn’t mean “no MSG,” to understand why you must become a vigilant shopper when confronted with foods that are quietly and insidiously masquerading as ‘organic.’
Overwhelmed? Go, take a virtual shopping trip with the savvy Dr. Katherine Reid of the non-profit Unblind My Mind, as she teaches you to find and decode hidden MSG ingredients while strolling the aisles of a busy supermarket!
The USDA NOP firewall has been breached. Caveat emptor: do your hidden MSG research, buy local organic foods, and start a garden!
MSG is NOT Just Found in Food
Hidden MSG is also found in:
- pharmaceuticals (prescription and non-prescription; also check under the terms ‘inert’ or ‘other ingredients’)
- vitamins & supplements (beware of gelcaps, fillers, binders, coatings and their listed ingredients)
- bodycare products and (especially) so-called ‘organic’ bodycare products (soaps, shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics)
- insect repellents
- pet foods
- vaccines (particularly live-virus vaccines) 12
- enteral feeding materials, and some fluids administered intravenously in hospitals (!)
Additionally, AuxiGro ® WP Metabolic Primer (AuxiGro), a pesticide used as a ‘growth enhancer’ and fertilizer, among other things, contains MSG and is routinely sprayed on fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. TLC reports MSG is also contained in “Omega Protein Refined/Hydrolyzed Fish Emulsion” and “Steam Hydrolyzed Feather Meal.” The interiors of some food cans are being coated with substances that include MSG and the waxes used to coat produce may contain MSG, as well. This means a consumer has no way of knowing if the produce and products s/he buys for the family have MSG not only in them but also on them!
And it doesn’t stop there. I just went and grabbed a can of grain-free cat food from our pantry, Wellness Chicken Formula. It has these four sources of MSG in it, all high up on the ingredient list: chicken broth, natural chicken flavor, guar gum and carrageenan. (Cat owners, please see this current recall on Wellness cat foods.)
MSG Info Found at Top-Notch Consumer Websites
These consumer websites are filled with information about hidden MSG. I recommend you cross-reference the various lists of MSG-containing ingredients (I dubbed them “Hidden MSG Lists”) on these sites and also check them regularly for updates:
- The non-profit Truth in Labeling Campaign’s Hidden MSG List, Facebook page and Adrienne Samuels, PhD’s two books: The Man Who Sued the FDA, and It Wasn’t Alzheimer’s. It Was MSG.
- The non-profit Unblind My Mind’s Hidden MSG List (requires e-mail address), Facebook page, videos and podcasts and Katherine Reid, PhD’s upcoming book.
- Author Debby Anglesey’s Battling the MSG Myth’s Hidden MSG List, Facebook page and her two books: Battling the MSG Myth and Battling the MSG Myth, A Survival Guide and Cookbook.
- The non-profit MSG Truth’s Hidden MSG List and Facebook page.
- Say No to MSG’s Hidden MSG List and Facebook page.
- The Food Intolerance Network’s Hidden MSG List (an Australian source).
- Dr. Amy Yasko’s website, Facebook page, Hidden MSG List, two articles: Detecting Neuro-Provoking Foods and The Role of Excitotoxins in Autistic Type Behavior and Dr. Yasko’s books and articles.
- Dr. Russell Blaylock: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills; an interview with the ‘Health Ranger’ Mike Adams (audio or print); and The Blaylock Report.
- Search PubMed, and GreenMedInfo as well, for research papers about MSG and glutamine.
- Search World Natural Health Organization (WHNO) which maintains an MSG news archive going back to 2003.
- Search these databases for the glutamic acid content of processed and whole foods: USDA Food Composition Database, Danish Food Database, Self Nutrition Data, George Mateljan Foundation Whole Foods Search.
- For a unique and creative musical MSG message, listen to this music video, dude, who poisoned my food? by New Zealand music artist Trillion.
Highly Recommended Books:
John and T. Michelle Erb: The Slow Poisoning of America.
George R. Schwartz, M.D.: In Bad Taste: The MSG Symptom Complex.
Mike Adams: The Truth About Aspartame, MSG and Excitotoxins: An interview with Dr. Russell Blaylock.
Please consider giving a donation to these non-profits and organizations. Without the work of these dedicated individuals, families, doctors, researchers, authors, and musicians we would not be able to so effectively educate and protect our own families.
Truth in Labeling Campaign: Thank You Jack and Adrienne Samuels
“The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about MSG.”
My personal favorite among websites with hidden MSG information is the non-profit Truth in Labeling Campaign (TLC). Founded in 1994, their sites are packed with useful information compiled by Jack and Adrienne Samuels, who had been powerful national spokespeople regarding MSG’s toxicity. Sadly, Jack Samuels passed away in 2012. His wife, Dr. Adrienne Samuels, has continued the couple’s work. Together, they initiated a crusade to uncover and publicize so many important findings: the toxic effects of MSG; an accurate, updated list of the ingredient names and sources of hidden MSG; the scandalous lack of peer-reviewed research into MSG’s effects on the human body; and the evidence of collusion between industry and government. For decades, they attempted to compel the FDA and USDA to require the labeling of this excitotoxin when hidden in processed foods and wherever else consumers were being exposed to it.
Jack and Adrienne’s Truth in Labeling Campaign was – initially – the only place to go to for those of us who absolutely needed to know how to avoid the hidden MSG which has secretly been flooding our food supply for decades.
In 2013, Adrienne published two books about the couple’s work: a stirring book entitled The Man Who Sued the FDA, and It Wasn’t Alzheimer’s. It Was MSG. She is the author of a number of seminal research articles about MSG, including the 1999 peer-reviewed Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A Study of Suppression of Information, and is the director of The TLC. I highly recommend these two books as well as the TLC website, Facebook page, their Blogs, Jack’s articles found on the Weston A. Price Foundation website, this 2008 Weston A. Price Foundation Conference clip, and their Hidden MSG List (updated as of March 2014). The Samuels’ are true pioneers who put in decades of hard work, research and citizen advocacy on behalf of us and our families; we owe them our gratitude!
Coming in May: The conclusion of this three-part series, including “Oh, No, My Beloved Nutritional Yeast has MSG In It?”
Did you know that nutritional yeast, the yellow, flaky powder many of us sprinkle on popcorn and veggie stir fries, is a highly-processed, industrial yeast product? In Part 3 of this series (slated to appear in the May 2017 issue of the Co-op Voice), you’ll get the lowdown on ‘nooch,’ as many fondly call it, as well as other vegetarian and vegan processed foods, and you’ll also find out what steps Honest Weight has taken to educate about hidden MSG. Finally, you’ll find out the Action Steps you can take to protect your family from the sources of hidden and toxic MSG that are pervasive in our food supply.
Any information provided in this article is intended solely and specifically for consumer educational purposes. It is not intended to offer medical advice, nor substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment from your physician.
© Laura Hagen
[10a] The federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the “misbranding” of food. For example, in 1996, All Natural Bragg Aminos All Purpose Seasoning of Live Food Products, Inc., removed the term “No MSG” from its label; the FDA’s lab determined there was glutamate in the product. In a 16 Nov 2009 article, Bragg® Live Food Products, Inc. mentions its Liquid Aminos product. See: Excitotoxins – Some Key Information!
More recent information from the late Jack Samuels of TLC shows that there is little MSG enforcement action by either the USDA or the FDA against processed food manufacturers that mislabel or “misbrand” their foods.
 In 1969, MSG was voluntarily removed from baby food by three manufacturers after neurophysiologist Dr. John W. Olney and other researchers showed that MSG had damaged the brains of lab animals. Dr. Russell Blaylock states they simply replaced the MSG with hydrolyzed protein, caseinate, soy extracts and broth. (The OCA article, cited above, demonstrates that ‘organic’ whey protein concentrate is also being added). Prudent parents are cautioned to conduct their own, updated research and scrutinize all infant formula and baby food labels and ingredients.
 As with infant formulas and baby foods, parents are again cautioned to conduct their own, updated research into vaccines for their children. See:
Samuels, Jack. “The Dangers of MSG and How it is Hidden in Vaccines.” (June 2002). Dr. Joseph Mercola. Web. 27 Feb. 2017. The Dangers of MSG and How it is Hidden in Vaccines.
Hoernlein, Carol A., P.E. “The CDC Whistleblower – Injecting Sanity Into the Vaccine Debate.” (02 Sept. 2014). Epoch Times. Web. 01 Mar. 2017. The CDC Whistleblower – Injecting Sanity Into the Vaccine Debate.
Parpia, Rishma. “Monosodium Glutamate Used as a Stabilizer in Vaccines.” (16 June 2016). The Vaccine Reaction. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. Monosodium Glutamate Used as a Stabilizer in Vaccines.