Why has the USDA gotten cozy with Ajinomoto?

We recently came across this press release issued in 2010: USDA-ARS and Ajinomoto launch sodium glutamate research collaboration. Wait…what?

Why in the world would the U.S. Department of Agriculture be cozying up with Ajinomoto, likely the world’s largest manufacture of monosodium glutamate?

The eleven-year-old release came from the Ajinomoto PR office, describing how this “powerful partnership” will “seek a better understanding of how to improve eating behaviors and human health” (a quote from then Ajinomoto president Masatoshi Ito, who is now listed as chairman of the company).

This “research” collaboration, the release states, “will add to the growing base of science around umami, widely accepted as the fifth basic taste.”

To be sure, the USDA ARS (Agricultural Research Service) does plenty of research. A long list of current collaborations and projects include biological control of coffee berry borer and combating the threat of fusarium wilt to cotton production. But this is something else entirely. An Ajinomoto-funded promotion of its product utilizing the name and resources of a federal agency. And not just any product, but one known to be a neurotoxic (brain damaging), obesity promoting, headache inducing additive, that untold numbers of citizens would like to avoid entirely.

We tracked down the scientist named in the press release, Dr. Kevin Laugero, of the USDA/ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center (the WHNRC’s mission is described in part as conducting “nutrition interventions” that will help “prevent obesity and related metabolic disorders.”), located at the University of California, Davis campus, and sent him an email. No response.

We then contacted the USDA/ARS public affairs office, which didn’t have very much to say except that perhaps we should contact Ajinomoto to learn more. They also said that sometime in the new year they may be able to reach Dr. Laugero. We are also filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the USDA.

Even if our research hits a brick wall, this is still a stunning illustration of how closely connected industry is with our so-called watchdog federal agencies, which includes, of course, the FDA. Another example of how they’ve been partners in crime for decades.

Stay tuned.

The ‘soup wars’ are over, but the ‘clean label’ fraud lives on

Over a decade ago Progresso and Campbell’s duked it out over whose soup contained less MSG. Called the “soup wars,” the first shot was fired by Campbell’s in a 2008 ad that said more Progresso soups contained monosodium glutamate than Campbell’s. Soon after, Progresso took out a full-page ad in the New York Times stating that “Campbell’s has 95 soups made with MSG.”

Now, those big brands tell different stories about the MSG in their products.

Campbell’s has decided to focus on how safe MSG is. They tell us that “MSG occurs naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheeses,” while in fact MSG is manufactured.  It does not appear “naturally” anywhere.

Along with that, “for those looking to avoid MSG,” Campbell’s has “clean label” soups. Those are soups that contain the same toxic manufactured free glutamate (MfG) that’s in MSG, which will be found in ingredients such as yeast extract, whey protein concentrate and natural flavoring, without any mention of the toxic glutamate in them.

Progresso has taken it a step further, claiming that its “focus on quality ingredients” means they’ve ditched using this excitotoxic additive all together.

Not exactly.

Progresso New England clam chowder is advertised as “no MSG added,” yet it contains natural flavor, yeast extract and whey protein concentrate. The brand’s Chicken & herb dumpling soup also states “No MSG added,” but contains natural flavor, corn protein (hydrolyzed), soy protein isolate and a second listing of natural flavor. Those are just two examples, we could go on and on, but you get the idea. All of those ingredients contain MfG.

Considering what’s contained in those soups, and how big and bold Progresso makes the claim of “No MSG added” one might think there’s no FDA regulation against such fraud. But there is.

Over 25 years ago the FDA issued this statement:

“While technically MSG is only one of several forms of free glutamate used in foods, consumers frequently use the term MSG to mean all free glutamate. For this reason, FDA considers foods whose labels say “No MSG” or “No added MSG” to be misleading if the food contains ingredients that are sources of free glutamates, such as hydrolyzed protein.”

Unfortunately, long ago the FDA stopped punishing or even scolding those who violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act – but that doesn’t make this any less a violation of FDA rules.

Campbell’s and Progresso are far from the only food manufacturers who engage in this “clean label,” “No MSG added” trickery. And soups are not the only products promoted this way.

So, when you pick up a product that states “No MSG” or “No added MSG,” you’ll know that you don’t even need to read the ingredient label.

Just put it back on the shelf.

Consumers appear to be losing their appetites for fake meats and other ‘alternative’ proteins made with brain-damaging amino acids

Here at the Truth in Labeling Campaign we’ve posted quite a bit about fake meat products that contain brain-damaging amino acids. These plant-based, so-called alternative proteins aren’t made from plants but in plants.

Not long ago, products such as Beyond Meat, the Impossible Burger and others appeared to be unstoppable. They managed to infiltrate supermarkets, restaurants such as Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts and even more elegant sit-down establishments.

Now, however, something is happening to the fake food industry – a great many consumers just aren’t buying these “substitute” foods (as the FDA calls them) anymore. U.S. sales of the Beyond brand (makers of Beyond Meat and the Beyond Burger) recently took a deep dive. Other manufacturers in the pretend food business are seeing their profits sink as well. One CEO of a Canadian company said the “category performance” of plant-based products “has basically flatlined.”

Could it be that people are becoming aware that fake fish, mock meat and counterfeit chicken are nothing more than highly processed promotors of obesity, infertility and migraines? Have consumers figured out that they contain large amounts of manufactured free glutamate (MfG) — the same toxic ingredient found in monosodium glutamate? In other words, are folks catching on to this con?

We believe so.

While it’s no shock that a cattleman wouldn’t support bogus burgers, the comments one made about these ersatz meat products is a bit surprising (perhaps he reads the TLC blog!).

Robert McKnight, Jr., president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, said in a trade publication article that medical professionals are concerned about plant-based “meats” as they contain “dozens of highly processed, laboratory-invented ingredients.”

You’ll find an assortment of those “laboratory-invented ingredients” in most all of these products. For example, take a look at four of the top ingredients in Beyond Beef, all that contain MfG:

  • Pea protein
  • Rice protein
  • Natural flavors
  • Dried yeast

The Impossible Burger does even better, with 6 MfG-containing ingredients:

  • Soy-protein concentrate
  • Natural flavors
  • Potato protein
  • Yeast extract
  • Food starch, modified, and
  • Soy-protein isolate

Now, there’s even “fish-free” tuna on the market. Good Catch brand is a catch of 7 brain damaging MfG ingredients:

  • Pea protein isolate
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Faba protein
  • Lentil protein
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Citric acid, and
  • Yeast extract

Despite all the clever marketing and hoopla over these foods, a recent survey found that nearly half of the consumers questioned want “more information” about plant-based foods before trying them, and over 43 percent want “complete transparency of ingredients.”

But based on the ingredients already on the labels, we’ve seen enough to say that they are nothing more than well-packaged chemical concoctions.  

Were those beautiful raspberries fertilized with MSG?

Last week we told you about a product called AuxiGro, a plant yield enhancer that contains MSG’s toxic component MfG (manufactured free glutamate). According to a label found on the Internet, AuxiGro WP (wettable powder) contains 29.2 percent L-glutamic acid. 

The Truth in Labeling Campaign first learned of AuxiGro in the late 1990’s and tracked its approval in the U.S. as it made formal objections to federal and state authorities, including the California Department of Pesticide Regulations.

Emerald BioAgriculture, which manufactured AuxiGro for the U.S. market, told us this past summer that they “exited the AuxiGro business” starting in 2005, with final sales of the product in 2007. “It is no longer available,” they said.

Or is it?

We recently came across this video (posted below) from 2014, a testimonial for using AuxiGro on raspberries from Mexico. You don’t need to speak Spanish to get the drift of it – big, beautiful berries, all due to AuxiGro.

While it’s hard enough to determine what pesticides and fertilizers have been used on U.S. grown produce, it’s practically impossible to uncover what has been applied to imports. We have noticed, however, that the imported berries in the supermarket are exceptionally large this year. Is that due to AuxiGro? We’ll probably never know, but where fruits and vegetables are concerned, bigger isn’t always better.


Be sure to check out a bonus secret posted at Saturday’s Secrets here!

Traces of 450 Pesticides Found in Popular Fruits and Vegetables. And they didn’t even check for the ones grown with MSG.

The Ajinomoto MSG production facility in Eddyville, Iowa

According to an October 15th article in Newsweek, analysis conducted by Consumer Reports on five years of data collected by the Department of Agriculture uncovered traces of more than 450 different pesticides in fruits and vegetables. Some of the residues exceeded what CR considers a “potentially harmful threshold.”

Why, you might ask, would someone who publishes a blog focused on the hazards of Manufactured free Glutamic acid (MfG) in food suddenly be talking about the hazards of pesticides? Unless, of course, some pesticides contain MfG.

Enter a product called AuxiGro. In 1998, Auxein Corporation had applied and was granted permission to spray unregulated amounts of monosodium glutamate combined with MfG from other sources on agricultural products. 

The free glutamate components of MSG and every other flavor-enhancer and protein substitute are excitotoxic – brain damaging — amino acids, known to cause migraine headache, fibromyalgia, asthma, heart irregularities, seizures and more.

We learned of AuxiGro in a curious way. In the late 1990s, an MSG-sensitive friend reported that after eating potatoes (in addition to her otherwise standard diet) she’d had an MSG reaction. Another friend independently told the same story, but his story was about lettuce. What did husband Jack and I believe?  Our friends had gone off the deep end, that’s what we believed.  Maybe too much MSG had gotten to them.

Then came the information that MSG was being sprayed on crops.  Two of the crops that had been used in field tests and then brought to market (prior to approval) were lettuce and potatoes.  This told us that monosodium glutamate sprayed on crops could cause adverse reactions in MSG-sensitive people who ate those crops. 

Not long after AuxiGro was approved for use, Auxein Corporation applied to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) for organic certification.  The independently owned and operated Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) was in charge of the approval process.  When Jack made his presentation to the NOSB, the OMRI report recommending approval was already in the hands of NOSB board members.  Based on Jack’s presentation which included demonstration of the fact that AuxiGro was a synthetic product, the board denied approval of AuxiGro and L-glutamic acid for use in organic foods.

When the NOSB rejected the application, we assumed that OMRI would cancel its relationship with AuxiGro.  We found, however, that OMRI merely tabled the issue, suggesting to us that they would try again sometime in the future to have AuxiGro approved for use as an organic fertilizer.

During the course of various discussions, we learned that OMRI charged a fee to any company submitting a product for its review prior to receiving an OMRI recommendation to have the product added to the NOSB list of approved organic products.  We also learned that if a product was approved, the producing company would pay OMRI an annual fee as long as the product remained approved.  If there was no NOSB approval, there would be no annual fees paid to OMRI.   Conflict of interest?

AuxiGro came to our attention because it contains MSG.  And although to the best of our knowledge that product is no longer sold and used in the U.S., there are a myriad of fertilizers, pesticides, and plant growth enhancers that contain excitotoxic MfG just as MSG does.  There will be no information about these toxic chemicals on ingredient labels – or anywhere else on a product label for that matter.  But the fruits, grains and vegetables treated with these chemicals will have absorbed them, and will pass them on to the people who consume them.

The MSG migraine connection

Despite the glutamate industry’s widely disseminated marketing material, practically every headache clinic in the U.S. lists MSG as a migraine trigger.  FDA records even list migraines as the single most common reaction to both MSG and the low-cal sweetener aspartame (both of which contain excitotoxic amino acids.)

In addition, the Truth in Labeling Campaign has received untold numbers of reports over the years from those who were able to prevent the intense suffering of a migraine by eliminating sources of manufactured free glutamate (MfG) – which includes MSG and dozens of other additives.

You would think the new and exciting findings out of the University of Utah would put the “MSG doesn’t cause migraines myth” away for good. The study, published in the journal Neuron this past February, found that migraines appear to be triggered by “massive ‘plumes’ of glutamate,” described by the researchers as filling the “area between brain cells” and sparking “tsunami-like waves of activity that spread across the brain in migraine and other nervous system disorders.”

Researcher K.C. Brennan, M.D., who participated in the study, calls glutamate plumes “a completely new mechanism of migraine, and it’s a good bet that they are players in other diseases of the nervous system.”

While glutamate plumes may be “something new under the sun,” if you are a frequent blog-reader of the Truth in Labeling Campaign, the fact that MfG is a causative factor in a slew of neurological and non-neurological abnormalities, not just migraines, won’t be a new concept. And the fact that this new study doesn’t turn up top-of-the-list for searches on “migraines” is both bad news for the many millions who suffer from what the World Health Organization calls one of the “10 most disabling medical illnesses” one can have, and testimony to the clout of the glutamate industry to keep anything negative about MSG from appearing in major media.

You can read MSG linked to migraines? Chemical used in processed food could trigger brutal headaches at: https://www.studyfinds.org/msg-migraines-processed-food/ And as you read, do note that even while describing in detail how devastating these glutamate plumes can be, the article’s author appears to have felt compelled to promote the “no definite link” between MSG and “poor health” concept the Glutes so often manage to get into print.

As always, the Truth in Labeling Campaign has questions.

What would it take to recognize a definite link between MSG and poor health? Would the manufacturer of MSG have to admit that MSG causes reactions such as migraine headache along with brain damage — and that the FDA has been representing glutamate-industry interests since 1968, if not before?

There are seven lines of evidence leading to the conclusion that manufactured free glutamate, no matter where it is found, is excitotoxic. See https://bit.ly/3vkZ6Cl or if you like graphics with your information, https://7lines.org. Take special note of the details of industry’s programs for rigging studies: https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/seven_lines/Seven_Lines_Lines3.pdf and: https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/seven_lines/Seven_Lines_Line6.pdf.

You might also be interested in details of the role played by the FDA https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/industrys_fda_final.pdf.

Food for Thought

Who has more clout with the FDA?  Is it Big Food or Big Pharma?

The FDA requires this statement to appear on all direct-to-consumer drug advertising:

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

But you won’t find a phone number dedicated to taking reports of negative side effects of food.

In the mid 1990s, when there was consumer pressure (and a lawsuit) on the FDA to identify and label MSG and its toxic manufactured free glutamate (MfG), one could report reactions to the FDA’s Adverse Reactions Monitoring System (ARMS) if you could figure out a way to reach them. But ARMS was eventually shut down, not because it was no longer receiving reports, but because “They” knew that MSG and MfG and aspartame and sulfites were harmless.

A new twist to glutamate-industry disinformation

“MSG has an image problem.”

That was the first sentence in the latest online propaganda received by the Truth in Labeling Campaign today. 

“An estimated 42% of us are trying to limit or avoid MSG entirely, according to the International Food Information Council,” as reported by Karen Ansel in the TODAY article appearing at msn health — Is MSG bad for your health? The Surprising truth.   

Is that an admission or what?  Especially coming from the IFIC, an industry front group that’s been representing Ajinomoto, MSG’s U.S. manufacturer, for years. (It was the IFIC that orchestrated the damage control plan for Ajinomoto when concerned about the 60 Minutes program on MSG in 1991.) *

Then Ansel goes on to ask, “Is MSG really as problematic as we’ve been led to believe, or is it time to give it a second look?”  And the answer, of course, is that it’s time to give MSG a second look.

From that point forward, the piece reads like much of the glutamate-industry propaganda we’ve seen over the years. As would be anticipated, there’s growing reference to MSG as a salt substitute, ignoring, as always, the downside of substituting excitotoxic amino acids for sodium. But there’s also a hint that authors for glutamate-industry propaganda are getting hard to come by, as evidenced by Ansel giving her article over to Toby Amidor, quoting generously from Amidor who has been representing Ajinomoto for years.

The article concludes by saying: “In the end, if you’re one of those people who is MSG sensitive, it makes sense to avoid it. For everyone else, there’s no need to stress about it.” 

Are you serious? No need to stress if you don’t get something you notice like a-fib or headache after consuming MSG?  Think about the fact that you won’t be able to notice the brain damage that occurs if you accumulate more glutamate than your body requires.


Toby Amidor:


“It Wasn’t Alzheimer’s.  It Was MSG.”  Page 34.    https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/it_wasnt_az.pdf

PROPAGANDA 101: The 8 ingredients in cutting edge propaganda:
http://truthinlabeling.org/blog/2019/05/01/propaganda-101-the-8-ingredients-in-cutting-edge-propaganda/  Featuring Stefan Chin’s YouTube presentation

Six Big Fat Lies:

Seven Lines of Evidence leading to the conclusion that manufactured free glutamate, no matter where it is found, is excitotoxic:
https://bit.ly/3vkZ6Cl    and    https://7lines.org

* 60 Minutes: