Have you been eating these popular FDA-approved chemical stews?

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented untold challenges for people everywhere. For certain segments of the U.S. food industry, however, it was likely a dream come true.

Sales of what the FDA calls “substitute” foods are off the charts, and new products are being introduced at a record pace. According to industry experts, last year saw an almost 30 percent increase in these “foods,” with sales hitting the $7 billion mark (that’s right, B as in billion), far exceeding the growth of the “total U.S. retail food market.” As a result, experts now consider 2020 to have been “a breakout year for plant-based foods across the store.”

But what do those billions of dollars in sales represent? Not a healthy new way to eat while saving the planet, that’s for sure. In truth, these products, which are advertised as being wholesome alternatives to real meat, fish and eggs, are chemically laden promotors of obesity, infertility and migraines, filled with brain-damaging manufactured free glutamic acid (MfG) — the same toxic ingredient found in monosodium glutamate.

So, what are these toxic products made from and how do manufacturers get away with using the names of real food on their packaging?

Ersatz eggs

Let’s start with plant-based “eggs,” an unknown commodity just a short time ago that is now out-selling the real deal at ten times the rate.

The leader in the artificial egg game is JUST, Inc., makers of JUST Egg, which contains nothing that any reasonable person would consider having come from a bird of any kind. JUST, however, has no shame about splashing the word EGG all over its product and website. The company (known as Hampton Creek when it introduced its first fake product, mock mayo) is apparently taking advantage of an odd FDA loophole in the “standard of identity” (SOI) for what can be called an egg. While the FDA requires that there be a legally binding SOI for hundreds of items from peanut butter to pasta (consisting of a detailed description of that food), you won’t find eggs among them. And, to make things even crazier, the FDA is prohibited from creating an SOI for eggs.

So, a product concocted of mung bean protein isolate (containing MSG’s toxic component MfG), canola oil, tetrasodium pyrophosphate (a thickening agent or coagulant) and transglutaminase (a.k.a. “meat glue”), among other highly processed ingredients, came to be called “egg,” outselling highly nutritional real eggs.

Fake fish

The ever-expanding market for imitation food has reeled in a host of phony fish dishes, the latest coming from “Good Catch,” with its “fish-free TUNA.”

This product contains more brain damaging MfG ingredients than any other product we’ve previously looked at, including pea protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, faba protein, lentil protein, soy protein isolate, citric acid and yeast extract.

Why the company has not been challenged by the FDA for false and misleading labeling isn’t clear, since the FDA has a long list of what can legally be called tuna, which is limited to actual varieties of real fish. Nestle, which also makes a faux fish product at least calls it “Vuna,” a product that “tastes like tuna.”

That little detail hasn’t stopped “Good Catch” from netting millions of dollars in investment capital, including close to $30 million in its latest round of funding.

The big kahuna of mock meat

While meatless burgers and nuggets have been around for some time, it wasn’t until Impossible Foods came along with the additive-filled concoction it calls a “burger” that the market for consuming bogus beef took off.

While Impossible claims it’s busy saving the Earth from devastation, it doesn’t have much to say on its main component, soy-protein concentrate, an MfG filled excitotoxic ingredient. And that’s not the only one. You’ll also find natural flavors, potato protein, yeast extract and soy-protein isolate in their “burgers.”

Aside from the known brain-damaging nature of these ingredients, there’s also a GMO ingredient called soy leghemoglobin, or heme, added as a color additive to make the burger appear to “bleed” like real meat. That’s now the subject of a lawsuit filed by The Center for Food Safety (CFS) challenging the FDA’s approval of the ingredient.

This genetically modified soy (a newcomer to the human diet), was OK’d by the FDA without “extensive safety testing before approving its use,” CFS states.

The heme is produced by a chemically complex process in which the DNA from genetically modified soy is extracted, inserted into genetically engineered yeast and fermented to produce genetically engineered heme.

The FDA has no comment as to the regulatory compliance of these fake foods other than saying (in a 2018 press release) that it’s on a “fast track” in reviewing “substitute” food products. The last we were told by the FDA is that staffers there are busy reading over 13,000 comments on this issue and that they take “labeling concerns seriously.” But apparently not all that seriously, as more and more foods that aren’t really foods are being manufactured and misleadingly labeled all the time.

How one health crisis is helping to fuel another

It seems that it took a world-wide health crisis to give these “substitute” products the push needed to rake in those billions in sales. Along with meat shortages last year and the all-around difficulty in buying actual food items, somehow these products became labeled by some as “healthier” eating, with numerous articles attributing the plant-based “revolution” to Covid-19.

But despite all the extravagant claims made by manufacturers, if you read the ingredient labels on these products you’ll find that they are not eggs, meat or fish, and not the kinds of “plants” grown by farmers either. As we’ve said before, a better name might be chemical-based junk foods.


Watch out for products that make protein claims on the packaging. Most are made from combinations of manufactured free amino acids such as those found in MSG and in aspartame. This includes snack bars, cookies, smoothie mixes, protein powders and protein drinks in addition to fake eggs, fish, and meat.

All, “substitute” protein products will contain MSG or its toxic MfG.

Remember also that soy, pea and bean protein do not taste remotely like meat, fish or eggs, so MfG-containing flavor enhancers like MSG are added to trick your tongue into making that taste association.

Check out our list of ingredient names that contain MfG as well as our brochure to take shopping with you. Better yet, if you want to do all you can to have a healthy diet, ditch the processed foods and ultra-processed fake foods, altogether.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

The two G’s, glyphosate and glutamate, even more toxic together

Dr. Stephanie Seneff’s new book Toxic Legacy: How the Weedkiller Glyphosate Is Destroying Our Health and the Environment, dissects the truth about glyphosate, a toxic chemical incorporated into hundreds of weed-killing formulations – the most widely known being Roundup.

Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, documents the case against glyphosate, that she describes as a chemical that can deliver the “slow kill” as it gradually accumulates in your tissues and over time becomes the catalyst for some “horrible diseases.”

Seneff connects use of the herbicide with a long list of illnesses and conditions including kidney and liver disease, diabetes, multiple types of cancers, urinary tract infections, antibiotic resistance, mineral deficiencies, and the destruction of our beneficial gut bacteria leading to immune-system malfunctions.

If you follow the Truth in Labeling Campaign blogs or have visited our website, you know that we have lots of information on glutamate: How protein (meat, chicken, fish, milk, etc.) contains bound glutamate along with other amino acids that, when normally digested, are vital for normal body function. How manufactured “free” glutamate (MfG) which is found in monosodium glutamate (MSG) and dozens of other food additives, differs from the glutamate found in nature. And how, when glutamate is present in the body in excess, it causes brain damage.

Seneff, however, describes a new dimension of danger.

She links glyphosate exposure to glutamate neurotoxicity, noting that the weedkiller interferes with the mechanisms that prevent excess – brain damaging — glutamate from accumulating. As told in Toxic Legacy, “Roundup increased the amount of glutamate released into the synapse (the point of communication) by neurons. It also interfered with the ability of brain cells to clear glutamate from the synapses by converting glutamate to glutamine.”

Seneff describes the normal cycle of glutamate production and clearance, an amazingly complex system that depends on the trace mineral manganese to prevent the accumulation of excess – brain damaging — glutamate. And manganese “can be chelated by glyphosate, making it unavailable.”

As Seneff says, “There is no question that glyphosate disrupts glutamate.”

Seneff also makes it clear that excess glutamate “is a known factor in several neurological disorders, including depression. Abnormally high levels of glutamate lead to excessive oxidative stress in the brain, causing neuronal damage, particularly in the hippocampus.”

But avoiding glyphosate, like avoiding MfG, is a challenge.

Glyphosate-based herbicides, which are totally unregulated and available just about anywhere, are sprayed in back yards, driveways and parks. They are also doused on hundreds of millions of acres of genetically modified crops, such as corn, cotton and soy, and are sprayed on non-organic wheat, barley and oats to speed up drying. Despite the fact that glyphosate is considered a “probable” human carcinogen by the World Health Organization and currently the subject of thousands of lawsuits over its role in causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers, it sells like water in the desert. 

MfG found in MSG, yeast extract, hydrolyzed proteins and dozens of other flavor enhancers as well as protein substitutes, shows up in processed foods from soup to nuts. In addition, the latest big sellers, plant-based protein foods, are typically loaded with MfG. The Impossible Burger, for example, contains six potentially brain-damaging ingredients that include soy-protein concentrate, natural flavors and yeast extract.

Despite the pervasive nature of both glyphosate and free glutamate, there are still some steps you can take to avoid these toxins as much as possible.


  • If you can’t implement a totally organic lifestyle, always shop organic for the Big Five GMO foods: Corn, canola, sugar beets, soy and cotton (cottonseed oil is used in conventional nuts and chips, while canola is used in just about everything, as is corn and soy);
  • Buy organic dairy as well, since genetically modified alfalfa is extensively fed to dairy cows;
  • Whenever possible, buy organic versions of any products containing oats, wheat and beans, which don’t have to be genetically modified to be sprayed with glyphosate as a drying agent shortly before harvest.
  • When outside, steer clear of areas that have had pesticides applied, sometimes indicated by a white flag.

Manufactured free glutamate (MfG):

  • Make it a habit to avoid processed foods, especially ones that say “No MSG added” on the label;
  • Download our brochure listing the names of ingredients containing MfG;
  • Avoid mock meat, fake fish or other faux foods.

Even without the helping hand of glyphosate, MfG is associated with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, MS, stroke, ALS, autism, schizophrenia, depression and many other neurological conditions. Remember, the brain you save may be your own.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

Aspartame: the placebo used in ‘MSG-is-safe’ studies

But to make sure the conclusion that MSG is harmless would be beyond reproach, glutamate-industry researchers guaranteed that subjects would react to placebos with the same reactions that are caused by MSG. They did that by using aspartame as the toxic ingredient in their placebos, which worked well for them because the aspartic acid in aspartame and the glutamic acid in MSG cause virtually identical reactions (as well as identical brain damage). Having set that up, glutamate-industry researchers (and the propaganda artists who quote them) will say “These people aren’t sensitive to MSG, they reacted to the ‘placebo’ too.”

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

Don’t expect to learn the truth about MSG from today’s U.S. researchers

I’m certainly not afraid to speak out. I’ve been speaking out on the hazards of MSG for more than 30 years along with Jack Samuels, slowing down only to grieve his death and tell his story, “It Wasn’t Alzheimer’s, It Was MSG.” Given that the US maker of MSG controls the medical journals, the media, and the FDA as well as legislators who might have FDA oversight, speaking out has been limited to updating our fact-based webpage, making it easier to use and writing blogs. And I filed three Citizen Petitions with the FDA requesting that MSG and the toxic glutamate in it be stripped of their GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status. But apparently those who would or could do something for the welfare of the American people were not paying attention.

But something changed in the 2020s. Maybe the pandemic caused some soul searching – at least in Asia and Africa. Maybe there was so much free-glutamate in processed food (free-glutamate being the toxic ingredient in MSG and all other flavor enhancers) that the numbers of people reacting to flavor enhancers escalated to the point that it couldn’t be denied. Or maybe Ajinomoto’s campaigns to clear MSG of its bad name backfired, and people realized that it was lies that were being told over and over and over again in industry propaganda dressed up as news — or lies being told by celebrity chefs who really don’t use MSG in their cooking.

Today a friend of the Truth in Labeling Campaign sent me a copy of this research: “Worldwide flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate combined with high lipid diet provokes metabolic alterations and systemic anomalies: An overview” that included the warning, “This comprehensive review formulates health care strategies to create global awareness about the harmful impact of [MSG with a high lipid diet] on the human body and recommends the daily consumption of more natural foods rich in antioxidants instead of toxic ingredients.”

And that wasn’t the only warning I’ve seen in recent years. Others have included:

  • Study of the Toxic Effects of Monosodium glutamate on the Central Nervous System (Egypt)
  • Entering a new era of quantifying glutamate clearance in health and disease (Canada)
  • Anti-inflammatory activity of ginger modulates macrophage activation against the inflammatory pathway of monosodium glutamate (Egypt)
  • Targeting metabotropic glutamate receptors for the treatment of depression and other stress-related disorders (USA)
  • Modulation of immune functions, inflammatory response, and cytokine production following long-term oral exposure to three food additives; thiabendazole, monosodium glutamate, and brilliant blue in rats (Egypt)
  • Natural products as safeguards against monosodium glutamate-induced toxicity (Iran)
  • Dietary monosodium glutamate altered redox status and dopamine metabolism in lobster cockroach (Nauphoeta cinerea) (Nigeria)
  • Antiapoptotic and antioxidant capacity of phytochemicals from Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and their potential effects on monosodium glutamate-induced testicular damage in rat (Egypt)
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)-Induced Male Reproductive Dysfunction: A Mini Review (Nigeria)

In the 1980s, researchers focused on identifying and understanding abnormalities associated with glutamate, often for the purpose of finding drugs that would mitigate glutamate’s adverse effects. It is well documented that free glutamate is implicated in kidney and liver disorders, neurodegenerative disease, and more. By 1980, glutamate-associated disorders such as headaches, asthma, diabetes, muscle pain, atrial fibrillation, ischemia, trauma, seizures, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), epilepsy, addiction, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), frontotemporal dementia and autism were on the rise, and evidence of the toxic effects of glutamate were generally accepted by the scientific community. A November 15, 2020 search of the National Library of Medicine using PubMed.gov returned 3872 citations for “glutamate-induced.”

Millions of health care dollars could be saved by simply considering MSG when making diagnoses. And if the truth about the toxic potential of free glutamate were told and its use in food reduced, disease and disability would certainly be reduced with it. Given that free glutamate plays a role in a wide variety of abnormalities, decreasing the amount of free glutamate added through ingestion of free glutamate in flavor enhancers and protein substitutes to the body’s glutamate pools certainly wouldn’t do any harm, and many have argued that evidence says that decreasing the presence of excitotoxic amino acids in processed and ultra-processed foods is called for. It’s time to follow the science of independent researchers and not the propaganda spewed forth by the glutamate industry.

Adrienne Samuels

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, MS, epilepsy and 10+ other diseases all have this in common

It looks like Ajinomoto is fighting tooth and nail, pulling out all the stops to convince the public that their brain damaging (excitotoxic) monosodium glutamate (MSG) is harmless. They’re pouring millions of dollars into buying advertising space in newspapers throughout the world, issuing press releases, covertly publishing YouTube commercials dressed up as news, buying testimonials from celebrity chef, sports personalities, and good-looking young women who call themselves “sci moms.” They’ve mastered brainwashing on social media. Yet people keep getting sick after eating MSG. Not everyone, of course, just lots of people. And Ajinomoto’s MSG sales have been slipping.

There’s something else, too. Scientists are beginning to realize that somehow glutamate has something to do with increases in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, ALS, autism, schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), epilepsy, ischemic stroke, seizures, Huntington’s disease, addiction, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), frontotemporal dementia, and autism. No one has yet identified a cause and effect relationship, but the scientific community now recognizes that glutamate is associated with each of them. Data? A January 18, 2020 Medine search (www.pubmed.gov) for “glutamate-induced,” returned 3742 references.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

The art of lying about the safety of MSG

Straight from the horse’s mouth: How to tell your story, market your idea and sell your product without mentioning that its use could be lethal

Nobody does it better than Ajinomoto and their team of public relations specialists.   Since 1957, when they changed the way they manufactured monosodium glutamate (a.k.a. MSG), and reports of reactions to MSG began to circulate, they’ve waged one hell of an effective marketing campaign aimed at convincing consumers (and anyone who might influence consumers) that MSG is harmless. And their success is evidenced by the facts that researchers in the United States rarely study the effects of MSG toxicity and medical journals don’t often publish studies that even suggest MSG might be toxic. Mainstream media dutifully carry Ajinomoto’s message while physicians don’t diagnose for MSG-sensitivity, and the FDA gives false testimony to the safety of MSG.

Recently, Jeryl Brunner writing in Forbes, interviewed one of Ajinomoto’s own, who showed us how it’s done.

Building Tia Rains’ expert/celebrity status

Brunner’s interview starts with Jeryl Brunner explaining that Tia Rains, an Ajinomoto executive, is “crusading to change the perception of monosodium glutamate.” Following are the feel-good words you’re supposed to associate with Tia Rains (without realizing that you’re being brainwashed).  They’re used interchangeably by Rains and Brunner to build Rains’ expert/celebrity image.

  • Nutrition (nutritionist)
  • Scientist
  • Nutritional scientist
  • Her true calling
  • Mastering the art
  • Devoted
  • Educating
  • Optimize
  • Understand
  • Guru
  • Inspired
  • Swimmer (a sports figure)
  • PhD
  • Passion
  • Research

Then there are statements about Tia Rains’ “crusade”:

  • Her specialty is debunking misperceptions of maligned foods. 
  • She’s focused on translating nutrition science into application to advance public health
  • She’s dedicated to mapping out a communication approach that resonates with her audience.

The headline actually reads — “For Decades, This Nutrition Scientist And Marketing Guru Has Inspired Millions To Change Misperceptions.” 

Brunner goes on to say,

Nutrition scientist Tia Rains is devoted to educating people about the food they eat. Her passion for nutrition developed from being a child competitive swimmer. Rains knew that nutrition could optimize her performance and she wanted to understand how.

“For two decades Rains has spent most of her professional career mastering the art of nutrition communications. A PhD in nutritional sciences, her specialty is debunking misperceptions of maligned foods. 

“Rains started at Kraft Foods where she found her true calling at the nexus of science and application. Then she lead nutrition research at a contract research organization. From there she moved to the Egg Nutrition Center where she led a successful effort against the public vilification of eggs.

“Her latest endeavor is crusading to change the perception of monosodium glutamate, better known as ‘MSG.’ As Vice President of Customer Engagement and Strategic Development at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Rains is a health and nutrition advocate within the food and nutrition industry. She is focused on translating nutrition science into application to advance public health.” 

Here’s how Rains would inspire you to change your opinion on MSG being toxic, using “art and science.”

Ordinarily, there would be five parts to the “art and science” of generating propaganda:

1. A positive image of the person delivering the message (an expert or a celebrity)

2. A recitation of the good things about the product,

3. A recitation of how the product (MSG) has been maligned,

4. A recitation of what’s bad about those who contradict claims that the product is worth buying, and,

5. A recitation of alleged “facts” – lies that people will be told about MSG.

In Brunner’s article, however, the focus is on the expertise of the person making the presentation as she exposes the root of all this “misinformation” (which, Rains says, is a 1968 article in the New England Journal of Medicine).  

To accomplish that, Rains and Brunner use words that will resonate with her audience as she:  

Builds sympathy for poor maligned MSG:

  • “MSG is one of the most baselessly demonized ingredients in American history.”
  • “We’re attempting to overturn a terrible and long history of xenophobia and misinformation.”
  • “MSG became an easy target and the stigma took hold.”  

Praises the success of her efforts to convince people that MSG is “safe”:

  • “To date, her efforts have contributed to more than twelve million Americans becoming more positive toward the ingredient.”   

Reinforces the positive image that Rains has built for herself:

  • “I hope we can get to a place where we’re leaning more on science than personal feeling, or even fear.”
  • “Every time I present facts and get someone to shift their perception, I’m reminded of why I do what I do.”   
  • “As a scientist, I’m an analytical thinker by training and recognize the importance of research and data. I am able to make science accessible and understandable for the average consumer. But I also think critically about the variety of factors that inform a perception and then see how we can work with researchers and experts to examine why they persist. Credible data is important when creating successful marketing campaigns.”

Urges followers to deliver a balance of logic and emotion:

  • Be logical.  Logic gives people confidence in the message.
  • Play to the audience’s emotions.  Emotion allows people to take ownership of Rains’ campaign and work to have others work with her to change their negative opinions about MSG.

Speaks of the benefits of using MSG:

  • It’s critical for people to taste what MSG does to food and truly experience it. 
  • MSG can be used as a replacement for table salt.

Recites some of the half-truths told by the glutamate industry:

  • “Decades of research validates MSG’s safety.”

(NOTE: the research said by Rains to validate MSG’s safety is badly flawed, in some cases using placebos made of excitotoxic amino acids that cause reactions identical to those caused by MSG.)

  • “Public health organizations around the world stand by its use in the food supply.” 

(NOTE: The organizations referred to by Rains did no research of their own on the safety of MSG (neither library nor laboratory research), but were given material to review by Ajinomoto and Ajinomoto’s agents, which includes the FDA.)

For more information see: https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/industrys_fda_final.pdf

For obvious reasons, neither Brunner nor Rains mentions brainwashing which, we have observed, is her basic modus operandi.  Brainwashing can be accomplished in many different ways. Here it’s done by pairing the three letters MSG with feel-good words.  Just as food was paired with ringing a bell for Pavlov’s dogs to condition them to salivate when a bell was rung, pairing “MSG” with happy, soothing words will make people feel good every time they think “MSG.”

What more could a propaganda artist ask for than a couple of pages of subtle brainwashing displayed on the pages of Forbes.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.  And if you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, we’ll put them up on Facebook.  You can also reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling

Warning about the hazards of MSG can be hazardous to your reputation

By Linda and Bill Bonvie

Being accused of racism these days is no small matter. And those of Asian descent have seen an increase in incidents of racism targeting them.

So, when a reader review at Amazon.com appeared about our book, “A Consumer’s Guide to Toxic Food Additives,” accusing us of “promoting myths rooted in racism,” it was a bit of a shock, to say the least.

This reviewer, whose comment is called the “top” one from the U.S. (also somehow bumping any other reviews into obscurity), was in fact simply parroting information gleaned from various “news” stories appearing across the web.

It may sound crazy, but just by including warnings about consuming MSG in that book, we now were being accused of spreading a “myth deeply rooted in xenophobia.” In effect, consumer protection had somehow become redefined as ethnic bigotry directed specifically at Asian Americans.

You may be wondering, as we were, just where such a bizarre idea could have originated, and the answer is one that clearly shows how much influence PR agencies – especially large, well- connected ones – have over media of all sizes these days.

It stands to reason that manufacturers of questionable additives would attempt to counter warnings about their products with whatever industry-sponsored hype they could devise. But never did charges of “racism” enter into it until the “global communications” firm Edelman Public Relations entered the scene. They are being paid millions of dollars by Ajinomoto, the world’s largest manufacturer of monosodium glutamate, to conjure up the concept that legitimate concerns about the safety of MSG were nothing but racist myths.

Taking a cue from the removal of “misinformed historical symbols,” according to an Edelman press release, the Ajinomoto creative team apparently had an ‘aha moment’ when it coined “xenophobia-born misinformation” in an attempt to divert attention away from any negative science and adverse reactions associated with MSG.

Has it worked? If you go by the amount of media coverage received, such as this headline at CNN saying, MSG in Chinese food isn’t unhealthy – you’re just racist, activists say, this imaginary imagery seems to have taken hold, even filtering down to that “reader review” of our book. But Edelman, despite its ability to have media lists at its beck and call to run articles on how the term “No MSG,” constitutes racism, can’t seem to even monitor its own client list for conflicts of interest.

A question sent to the Del Monte press office about its College Inn broth product, for example, took a surprising turn with a return email from an Edelman representative speaking on the company’s behalf.

A group of products that say "No MSG" on the label.

Being that the College Inn product sports a rather large “No MSG” symbol on the package front, we asked our Edelman contact if, according to their own high-profile campaign, that would constitute the same type of “racism” and “xenophobia” that we were accused of.

But despite several attempts to elicit an answer, Edelman has now gone dark on us. (We wondered if Del Monte would be looking for another PR firm should its executives connect the dots.)

Which only goes to show how even the best-intentioned causes, such as shining a spotlight on racism, can be distorted and manipulated by industry shills to cast other good causes, such as consumer protection, in a bad light.

Only in this case, the fact remains that keeping MSG out of your diet is no more “racist” than avoiding apple pie sweetened with HFCS is “un-American.”

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.  And if you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, we’ll put them up on Facebook.  You can also reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling

Excitotoxins in processed food: The best guarded secret of the food and drug industries

Excitotoxicity is the pathological process by which nerve cells are damaged or killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamic acid (glutamate).

In 1969 when researcher Dr. John Olney of Washington University in St. Louis observed that process in his laboratory, it should have resulted in sweeping changes in how food additives are regulated. 

He noted that glutamate fed as monosodium glutamate (MSG) to laboratory animals killed brain cells and subsequently caused gross obesity, reproductive dysfunction, and behavior abnormalities.

Before that, the world knew nothing of what Dr. Olney had dubbed “excitotoxins.” And after Olney’s discovery, the existence of free excitotoxic amino acids present in food became the best-guarded secret of the food and drug industries.

Today, excitotoxins present in food remain largely ignored or unknown, mostly because the rich and powerful food and pharmaceutical industries want it that way. A great deal of food industry profit depends on using excitotoxins to “enhance” the taste of cheaply made food. And a great deal of pharmaceutical industry profit depends on selling drugs to “cure” the diseases and disabilities caused by the excitotoxins in the food supply.

What are excitotoxins?

Excitotoxins are often amino acids, but not all amino acids are excitotoxins. The amino acid with the greatest excitotoxic footprint is glutamate. When present in protein or released from protein in a regulated fashion (through routine digestion), glutamate is vital to normal body function. It is the major neurotransmitter in humans, carrying nerve impulses from glutamate stimuli to glutamate receptors throughout the body. Yet, when present outside of protein in amounts that exceed what the healthy human body was designed to accommodate (which can vary widely from person to person), glutamate becomes an excitotoxic neurotransmitter, firing repeatedly, damaging targeted glutamate-receptors and/or causing neuronal and non-neuronal death by over exciting those glutamate receptors until their host cells die.

Technically speaking, neurotransmitters that over-stimulate their receptors to the point of killing the cells that host them are called excitotoxic neurotransmitters, and the resulting condition is referred to as excitotoxicity. Glutamate excitotoxicity is the process that underlies the damage done by MSG and the other ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid (MfG). 

Glutamate is called a non-essential amino acid because if the body does not have sufficient quantities to function normally, any needed glutamate can be produced from other amino acids. So, there is no need to add glutamate to the human diet. The excitotoxins in MSG and other ingredients that contain MfG are not needed for nutritional purposes. MSG and many other ingredients have been designed to enhance the taste of cheaply made food for the sole purpose of lining the pockets of those who manufacture and sell them.

Glutamate neurotransmitters trigger glutamate receptors both in the central nervous system and in peripheral tissue (heart, lungs, and intestines, for example). After stimulating glutamate receptors, glutamate neurotransmitters may do no damage and simply fade away, so to speak, or they may damage the cells that their receptors cling to, or overexcite their receptors until the cells that host them die.

There’s another possibility. There are a great many glutamate receptors in the brain, so it’s possible that if a few are damaged or wiped out following ingestion of MfG, their loss may not be noticed because there are so many undamaged ones remaining. It is also possible that individuals differ in the numbers of glutamate receptors that they have. If so, people with more glutamate receptors to begin with are less likely to feel the effects of brain damage following ingestion of MfG because even after some cells are killed or damaged, there will still be sufficient numbers of undamaged cells to carry out normal body functions.

That might account for the fact that some people are more sensitive to MfG than others.

Less is known about glutamate receptors outside the brain – in the heart, stomach, and lungs, for example. It would make sense (although that doesn’t make it true) that cells serving a particular function would be grouped together. It would also seem logical that in each location there would be fewer glutamate receptors siting on host cells than found in the brain, and for some individuals there might be so few cells with glutamate receptors to begin with, that ingestion of even small amounts of MfG might trigger asthma, atrial fibrillation, or irritable bowel disease; while persons with more cells hosting glutamate receptors would not notice damage or loss.

Short-term effects of excitotoxic glutamate (such as asthma and migraine headache) have long been obvious to those not influenced by the rhetoric of the glutamate industry and their friends at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hopefully, researchers will soon begin to correlate the adverse effects of glutamate ingestion with endocrine disturbances such as reproductive disorders and gross obesity. It is well known that glutamate plays an important role in some mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, but the fact that ingestion of excitotoxic glutamate might contribute to existing pools of free glutamate that could become excitotoxic, still needs to be considered. Finally, a few have begun to realize the importance of glutamate’s access to the human body through the mouth, nose and skin.

There are three excitotoxic amino acids used in quantity in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, protein drinks and powders, and dietary supplements:

1) Glutamic acid — found in flavor enhancers, infant formula, enteral care products for invalids, protein powders, processed foods, anything that is hydrolyzed, and some pesticides/fertilizers.

2) Aspartic acid — found in low-calorie sweeteners, aspartame and its aliases, infant formula, protein powders, anything that is hydrolyzed, and

3) L-cysteine — found in dough conditioners.

According to Dr. Edward Group, the six most dangerous excitotoxins are: MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartate, domoic acid, L-BOAA, cysteine, and casein.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.  And if you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, we’ll put them up on Facebook.  You can also reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling


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Olney JW, Ho OL. Brain damage in infant mice following oral intake of glutamate, aspartate or cystine. Nature. 1970;227:609-611.

Olney, J.W. Excitatory neurotoxins as food additives: an evaluation of risk. Neurotoxicology 2: 163-192, 1980.

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Verywellhealth.com.  An Overview of Cell Receptors and How They Work https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-a-receptor-on-a-cell-562554   (Accessed 5/5/2019)