Everything you need to know about glutamate before your next trip to the supermarket

Glutamic acid (glutamate) is a building block of protein. When present in protein or released from protein in a regulated fashion, glutamate is vital to normal body function. It is the major neurotransmitter in the human body, 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 (when present in excess), glutamate takes on excitotoxic properties, becoming an excitotoxic neurotransmitter, firing repeatedly, damaging targeted glutamate-receptors and/or causing neuronal and non-neuronal death by over exciting glutamate receptors until their cells die.

Excitotoxicity of L-glutamic acid (glutamate) was first demonstrated in 1969. On April 3, 2019, a PubMed search for “glutamate” produced 157,021 references. Topics being researched included, but were not limited to, glutamate receptors, transport, excitotoxicity, release, transporter, brain, synthesis, monosodium glutamate, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, ALS, autism, schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), epilepsy, ischemic stroke, seizures, Huntington’s disease, addiction, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism.

Much, if not all of that research dealt with excitotoxicity caused by glutamate from endogenous1 sources. The contribution of glutamate from exogenous2 sources to endogenous glutamate pools through which excitotoxicity would be triggered, seems never to have been considered.

Overlooked also, is a wealth of knowledge that could be gleaned from the histories of humans who have suffered brain damage, endocrine disorders, and observable adverse reactions following intake of excitotoxic glutamate from exogenous sources.

With the following we present an overview of what we know, or think we know, about the function of glutamate in persons who have experienced reactions to it.  It is our hope that insights generated by this information may be used by researchers probing the mechanisms of glutamate toxicity, and by the medical professionals working with people who react to the excitotoxic effects of Manufactured free Glutamate.

Vulnerability

Everyone is vulnerable to the toxicity of excitotoxins if they get a heavy enough dose of them. There are no exceptions.  To be toxic, an excitotoxin must either target receptors that have become weakened or vulnerable to their attack, or be in such strong concentrations that no glutamate receptor can resist them. 

Vulnerability may be created by:

  • An inadequate BBB — allowing brain cells to be unprotected by a blood-brain barrier (BBB);
  • A damaged BBB;
  • Preexisting brain damage, possibly from a stroke, a blow to the head, or previously consuming a large quantity of Manufactured free glutamate at one sitting, and
  • Preexisting damage done to cells that host glutamate receptors in either the central nervous system or in peripheral tissue.

We know very little about the actions of excitotoxins. Glutamate loads on (triggers) glutamate receptors both in the central nervous system and in peripheral tissue (heart, lungs, and intestines, for example). When loading on (stimulating) a glutamate receptor, glutamate may simply stimulate receptors and then fade, so to speak; may damage the cells that those receptors cling to; or may stimulate those receptors (over-excite those receptors) until the cells that host them die.

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

Saying it another way, people with fewer receptors to begin with might be more likely to demonstrate brain damage following ingestion of MSG or MfG because they have fewer glutamate receptors remaining after excitotoxic insult than individuals who had more glutamate receptors to begin with. That might account for some people being more sensitive to Manufactured free glutamate than others.

Less is known about glutamate receptors outside the brain – in the heart, stomach, and lungs, for example. But it would be anticipated 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 Manufactured free glutamate might trigger asthma, atrial fibrillation, or irritable bowel, for example; while individuals with more cells hosting glutamate receptors to begin with, would not notice the loss of a relatively few cells.

Short-term effects of excitotoxic glutamate (effects like asthma and migraine headache) have long been obvious to all who are not swayed by the rhetoric of the glutamate industry and their friends, including friends at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Researchers may only now begin to correlate the adverse effects of glutamate ingestion with endocrine disturbances such as reproductive disorders and gross obesity, with some psychological disorders, and with neurodegenerative disease. And a few have begun to realize the importance of glutamate’s access to the human body through the mouth, through the nose, and through the skin.  

Excess

Glutamate is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that there is no need for a human to ingest glutamate as the body will produce what it needs from other available amino acids.

A reaction to glutamate, is a reaction to excess free glutamate. Because of differences in vulnerability, what is an excess for one will not necessarily be excess for another. While excess might ordinarily be defined as “more than is needed for normal body function,” that doesn’t seem to be the case with glutamate-sensitivity. Rather, excess seems to be related to the amount of glutamate that will damage or kill a given subject’s glutamate receptors.

Excess may be created by:

  • Eating enough Manufactured free glutamate at one sitting to trigger glutamate receptors on vulnerable cells;
  • Eating enough Manufactured free glutamate to trigger glutamate receptors on cells that had not previously been damaged or made vulnerable, and
  • Adding ingested Manufactured free glutamate to stores of glutamate in the body.

Manufactured free glutamate will be found in infant formula, protein powders, protein drinks, processed food, enteral care products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and dietary supplements. There is more than sufficient Manufactured free glutamate in processed foods to cause reactions in people who choose not to limit their access to Manufactured free glutamate. 

Data on availability will be found in grocery stores. Access a list of ingredients that contain Manufactured free glutamate (https://www.truthinlabeling.org/names.html), then look for products that don’t contain them. You won’t find 10 products that don’t contain at least one of the ingredients on that list, and every one of them contains Manufactured free glutamate. Consider how many of those Manufactured free glutamate containing products are in the meals and snacks enjoyed by people everywhere. Include restaurant foods in that tally.

Glutamate receptors

Glutamate receptors receive the glutamate sent to them by glutamate neurotransmitters. Although glutamate is essential to normal body function, when present in excess outside of intact protein it becomes excitotoxic, firing repeatedly and causing cell death and/or damage to targeted cells.

If cells are protected from excess glutamate, as the brain may be protected at least in part by a robust BBB, a little excess glutamate sent their way may not harm them. But if the BBB is ineffective, targeted cells die. Outside of the brain and central nervous system, glutamate-receptors may have no protective shield from excitotoxins at all.

Relatively recently, researchers discovered glutamate-receptors beyond the brain and central nervous system.  These include, but are not limited to peripheral receptors in the stomach, heart, lungs, kidney, liver, immune system, spleen, and testis. And cells associated with each may be damaged or killed if glutamate sent from glutamate neurotransmitters reaches them. It’s possible that these peripheral receptors may have some type of protection system, but if so, scientists have not yet identified it.

Years ago, it was thought to be remarkable that glutamate-toxicity worked through the brain, since glutamate could produce an immediate migraine headache. Glutamate eaten – brain triggered – headache happened within seconds. Today it is understood that glutamate can move directly to peripheral receptors without traveling through the brain.

It appears that cells that host glutamate receptors can be damaged if exposed to a little glutamate, but not enough to kill them outright. There might be times when one ingests enough Manufactured free glutamate to damage a cell, but not enough to kill it, or damage some of the cells in a group that control a particular function but not enough to knock out all of them. Ingest more glutamate on a second occasion, however, and those cells may die. Some Manufactured free glutamate sensitive people report that they can knowingly ingest Manufactured free glutamate in a favorite food on one occasion without noticing a reaction, but visibly react when that same food is consumed several days in a row.

What would increase glutamate receptor vulnerability?

Damage to the BBB would be the most obvious factor.  It is known that lack of blood-brain barrier development in the fetus and infant make them extremely vulnerable to exposure to Manufactured free glutamate passed through their mothers’ diets.

Damage done to the BBBs of mature humans through use of drugs, from seizures, stroke, head trauma, hypoglycemia, hypertension, extreme physical stress, high fever, and the normal process of aging, can render them more vulnerable than others.

Individual sensitivity may also be related to the integrity of cells or groups of cells that control a particular function. A person who has experienced heart problems might very well be predisposed to experiencing cardiac-related reactions by virtue of having glutamate receptors in the heart vulnerable to insult by glutamate. A person with asthma, is likely predisposed to having an asthma attack after consuming free glutamate.

Reports from consumers tell us that intensity or severity of reactions appear to be affected by alcohol ingestion and/or exercise just prior to, or immediately following MSG ingestion, and some women report variations in their reactions at different times in their menstrual cycles. 

Summary/conclusion

We have presented an overview of glutamate excitotoxicity gleaned in large part from persons who have experienced reactions to it.  This is information not generally considered by those researching abnormalities associate with glutamate.  Hopefully, insights generated by this information will be used by researchers probing the mechanisms of glutamate toxicity and by medical professionals working with people who react to the excitotoxic effects of Manufactured free glutamate.

1 growing or originating from within an organism.
2 originating from outside an organism.

Ajinomoto Finds Yet Another Way to Tell The Six Big Fat Lies About MSG


Over the past few years, Edelman PR has done its utmost to come up with wild and crazy campaigns for one of its major clients, Ajinomoto, the world’s leading manufacturer of monosodium glutamate.

Recent efforts include calling those who avoid MSG racists, a boot camp to teach bloggers and journalists how to promote MSG, having an online dictionary change the definition of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” and managing to place obvious advertising segments promoting MSG in major networks masquerading as news. Ajinomoto even attempted to butter up the U.S. Department of Agriculture to come up with a “study” claiming MSG helps you to lose weight.

The latest is beyond absurd. And once again, Ajinomoto and Edelman are working hard and spending big bucks to try and give prime time to what we call the Six Big Fat Lies About MSG.

The organic metrics for this stunt, called CancelPizza, indicate it wasn’t very successful. However, we feel obligated to respond to yet another episode of MSG misinformation by countering it with the truth. Let’s connect the dots.

A ‘Trojan horse’ of hype

As is usual for Edelman PR, they don’t just create these schemes for their most-loved client Ajinomoto without bragging about it to anyone who will listen. In this case, the PR firm issued both a press release and several interviews about its campaign dubbed #cancelpizza.

As told to an industry-geared online publication, Edelman stated “We held our noses and studied the conspiracy content that tended to go viral.” It then attempted to create a “conspiratorial basement dweller aesthetic” in an “extremely sneaky campaign.”

The campaign consisted of a string of TikTok videos that were designed to “spread a slow-burn, incendiary campaign online” (again, in its own words) to “cancel pizza.” Why? According to Edelman, “If people are going to cancel monosodium glutamate, then we must also cancel foods where MSG naturally occurs…like pizza” (more on this, one of Ajinomoto’s Big Fat Lies, in a minute).

The campaign was indeed so sneaky, involving a “trove of influencers to fan the flames,” that it appeared to violate the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules regarding providing clear notice to indicate paid advertising. (FCC, where are you?)

Edelman summed up its “creative genius” as “a straightforward science lesson inside the Trojan horse of a TikTok conspiracy theory.”

But despite all the planning, money, and self-congratulatory statements, it came across as an actor reading a script and yelling about pizza and MSG. Nevertheless, Edelman managed to once again repeat Ajinomoto’s Six Big Fat Lies.

So, here are the real facts versus what Ajinomoto and its PR firm are hoping you’ll believe.

Fiction: Monosodium glutamate occurs naturally in food.

Fact: MSG is manufactured using genetically modified bacteria that excrete glutamic acid through their cell walls. In the United States, monosodium glutamate is produced in Ajinomoto’s plant in Eddyville, Iowa.

There have been hundreds of patents issued regarding the manufacture of MSG, which is a man-made product. One of the latest applied for by Ajinomoto was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office in December of 2023 and covers an improved method of producing “a free” L-amino acid “such as L-glutamic acid,” from Coryneform bacteria.

Proving once again that there is nothing “natural” about MSG.

Fiction: The glutamate contained in MSG is identical to the glutamate in the human body.

Fact: The glutamate in the human body is L-glutamate. L-glutamate, only. The glutamate of any manufactured glutamate (found in monosodium glutamate and pea protein isolate, for example) is made up of both L-glutamate and D-glutamate plus unwanted by-products of production called impurities. And since industry has not found a way to remove the unwanted impurities from processed free L-glutamate, the glutamate in MSG will always come with impurities.

Fiction: MSG is naturally made, similar to yogurt, vinegar, and wine.

Fact: MSG is manufactured using genetically modified bacteria that excrete glutamic acid through their cell walls. The only similarity to yogurt, vinegar, and wine is that their production includes fermentation.

Fiction: MSG has been used for over a century without adverse reactions.

Fact: The statement that MSG has been used for over a century without adverse reactions is a bald-faced lie. Since 1968, there have been copious reports of brain damage, endocrine disorders, and adverse reactions following ingestion of MSG; and the glutamate cascade has been implicated in such disease conditions as addiction, stroke, epilepsy, degenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease), brain trauma, neuropathic pain, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.

Fiction: It must be safe since the FDA has said so.

Fact: The FDA relies on industry to determine what products are “safe.” Only when products are undeniably toxic, and claimed so by industry, or are not produced by Big Food or Big Pharma, will the FDA deem them unsafe.

The FDA does not order drug recalls, regardless of evidence of toxicity unless directed to do so by Big Food or Big Pharma. The FDA does no recalls on food or other non-drug items. When things get hot, so to speak, the FDA orchestrates a voluntary recall to be made by the manufacturer.

Fiction: MSG is very well researched and found to be safe.

Fact: Independent researchers have found L-glutamate to produce brain damage, endocrine disorders, and observable adverse reactions like migraine headaches, hives, and seizures.

Those studies that claim to have demonstrated monosodium glutamate safety have been rigged to fail to produce evidence of toxicity.

Claims that “authoritative” bodies or “well-respected international agencies” have found MSG to be a harmless food additive are false. Neither independent scientists nor independent regulators have deemed monosodium glutamate safe. FDA studies, which were actually reviews, have always been staffed by those with ties to the glutamate industry.

The regulators and/or authoritative bodies cited by the glutamate industry did no research of their own, but were given copies of FDA opinions on MSG safety or were provided review information by Ajinomoto, its not-for-profit corporations, and/or its agents — the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), for example. And the vast body of published research demonstrating monosodium glutamate toxicity was not shown to them.

To learn more, download or order The Perfect Poison, by Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D. at Amazon.

Impurities in Monosodium Glutamate

Click on image above.

A Japanese friend who’s been reading Truth in Labeling Campaign blogs thought we would enjoy sharing this bulletin from the Central Customs Laboratory that so clearly identifies the “Minor components (impurities) in Monosodium Glutamate,”  and debunks the glutamate industry propaganda that claims that the glutamate in monosodium glutamate and the unadulterated glutamate found in plants and animals (including humans) are identical. 

Why Are Researchers Just Looking to Treat Neurological Diseases Instead of Thinking of Prevention?

Alzheimer’s and ALS are just two of the neurological diseases with studies being done on the protective effects of lowering levels of free glutamate, see this, and this:

https://alsnewstoday.com/news/als-associated-cellular-toxicity-lowered-with-investigational-molecule-fp802/)

while the elimination of free glutamate, which is added to processed foods (in huge amounts), supplements, and drugs, is not considered.

Yeast Extract, Now with More Toxic, Brain Damaging ‘Food Flavor Enhancement’

Yeast extract might well be called the darling of the processed food industry, and the straw that breaks the camel’s back for MSG-sensitive people. Like MSG it’s manufactured (not “natural”), and also like MSG it contains toxic manufactured free glutamic acid.

Yeast extract is one of those “clean label” ingredients, often used in products such as soups and fake proteins that state “No added MSG” on the label (which is actually against FDA regulations, but enforcing that rule is no longer bothered with by the FDA).  Also qualifying as a “clean label” ingredient would be any ingredient other than MSG that contains free glutamate.  (Check out over 40 ingredient names that contain varying amounts of free glutamate here.)

Now we’re learning of a recent invention, a method for “large scale” production of a yeast extract product with nearly triple the brain damaging “glutamic acid content” of other yeast extracts.  Its patent describes how this new and improved yeast extract “possesses more delicious flavor and improved capability for food flavor enhancement.” Glutamic acid, the patent states, in free form can “strengthen the delicate flavour of food.” We’re being told in this official document that the more free glutamate an ingredient contains, the more flavor it will impart to any food it’s added to.

The patent was applied for and owned by Angel Yeast Co., which calls itself a “high-tech yeast company in China” with 10 “advanced” manufacturing facilities in China, Egypt and Russia. Angel provides yeast extract to food manufacturers for use in everything from soup to snacks, promising its product provides a “magic flavor explosion.”

It’s a “magic flavor explosion” that comes with brain-damaging – excitotoxic – glutamate.

When consumed in excess (which differs from person to person), free glutamate becomes excitotoxic, with the capacity to overstimulate glutamate receptors in the body, causing them to fire rapidly and die. In simple terms, it causes brain damage.

We know that the new and improved yeast extract will contribute to the accumulation of toxic free glutamate.

What we don’t know is how much it will take to cause an excitotoxic “explosion.”

What are the Secret Ingredients in Popeyes Chicken?

Placing an ad in the Super Bowl for the first time, Popeyes is going big for national exposure, but where its ingredients are concerned, it’s hush-hush.

Do fast-food customers care about what’s in the food they eat?

It appears that Restaurant Brands International, which owns both Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, thinks they do. So much so that both brands have announced to the media how they have been hard at work shifting to “clean” ingredients.

Burger King promoted a list of 120 “non-essential artificial ingredients” that it planned to remove from its menu items back in 2021. That was followed by Popeyes’ announcement of going “clean” by 2025, with a focus on one additive in particular, monosodium glutamate (MSG). As reported in Fortune in 2022, Popeyes is “… currently testing all-clean ingredients in our batter, breading and sandwiches in a few U.S. markets and we expect to be on track to an all-clean menu nationwide by 2025.”

Deciding to take a look at the ingredient list for Burger King and Popeyes food to see just how “dirty” or “clean” it might be, we found something curious. Both chains keep the ingredients for their menu items a deep, dark secret.

We called a Popeyes restaurant and asked if we could see a list of ingredients. That appeared to be quite baffling to the manager. who said that no such thing existed.

Thinking that he just didn’t understand the request, we went to corporate “guest care” and asked there. The supervisor sent back this response: “We do not have a publicly available ingredient list for our U.S. locations at this time.”

We were told that our request would be escalated to the “internal nutrition team,” and information would eventually be provided. We are, however, still waiting.

“We do not have a publicly available ingredient list for our U.S. locations at this time.”

Popeyes customer service, 2/13/24

So, whether Popeyes or Burger King has indeed removed “non-essential artificial ingredients” or even MSG in particular from its food is a secret. All we do know is that even by Restaurant Brands International’s admission, “globally” its ingredients comprise tons of nasty additives.

The moral of this story is that if the food ingredients are kept secret, there’s a reason. And of course, you can’t believe everything Big Food tells you.

UPDATE

Just as this blog was about to be published, Popeyes managed to come up with the ingredients for four of its menu items, which we’ve listed below. Apparently, not only haven’t they done away with MSG, but it’s used quite extensively in the chicken, shrimp, and rice and bean items. Also included in Popeyes food are a bevy of preservatives, so-called “natural flavors,” emulsifiers such as carrageenan (a cause of gastric problems for many people), and artificial colorings — including the infamous FD&C red #3, a synthetic coloring derived from petroleum that was found to be carcinogenic in animals. Banned from use in cosmetics decades ago, it’s curiously still permitted by the FDA to be added to food.

And that’s another thing Popeyes wanted us to know – that its “natural flavor(s)” consist of ingredients “… Approved For Use in a Regulation Of Food And Drug Administration or Are Listed as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) on a Reliable Published Industry Association List.”

If you check out the list of ingredients below, it seems obvious why it’s so hard to find out what’s actually in Popeyes’ food.

Classic Chicken Tenders
Marinated Chicken: Chicken, Contains up to 30% solution of water, seasoning blend[seasoning(modified corn starch, salt, natural flavor, monosodium glutamate, onion powder, garlic powder, maltodextrin), modified food starch, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, chicken broth], mild seasoning[food starch modified(corn), monosodium glutamate, salt, seasoning mix of dried onion, dried garlic, dried celery and spices including paprika, natural flavor (oleoresin capsicum, polysorbate 80 added for emulsion and stability)].
Flour: Bleached wheat flour enriched (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, malted barley flour.
Batter: Enriched bleached wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, s-pack [enriched bleached wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, sugar, FD&C yellow #5 (may also contain yellow #6, red #40, grape color extract, blue #1, blue #2, beet color extract, annatto extract and / or turmeric extract), soybean oil, spices including mustard, dried whole eggs, nonfat dried milk, leavening (sodium bicarbonate and/or sodium aluminum sulfate), microcrystalline cellulose, natural flavor (all flavor ingredients contained in this flavor are approved for use in a regulation of food and drug administration or are listed as generally recognized as safe on a reliable published industry association list. This product also contains corn syrup solids)].
Shortening (Beef Tallow): Beef Fat with BHT and citric acid added to help protect flavor. Dimethylpolysiloxane, an antifoaming agent, added.
 
Spicy Chicken Tenders
Chicken: Chicken, containing a solution of water, seasoning (selected blend of capsicums including paprika, salt, garlic, monosodium glutamate, cumin & mustard), seasoning (modified food starch, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, monoglycerides, chicken broth, oleoresin (natural flavoring and coloring, cottonseed oil, mono and diglycerides, soybean oil, tocopherol (antioxidant)).
Flour: Bleached Wheat Flour Enriched (Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Malted Barley Flour.
Batter: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Enriched With Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Salt, S-Pack [Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Enriched With Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid),  Salt, Sugar,  Fd&C Yellow #5 (May Also Contain Yellow #6, Red #40, Grape Color Extract, Blue #1, Blue #2, Beet Color Extract, Annatto Extract  And / Or Turmeric Extract), Soybean Oil, Spices Including Mustard, Dried Whole Eggs, Nonfat Dried Milk, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate And/Or Sodium Aluminum Sulfate), Microcrytalline Cellulose, Natural Flavor (All Flavor Ingredients Contained In This Flavor Are Approved For Use In A Regulation Of Food And Drug Administration Or Are Listed As Generally Recognized As Safe On A Reliable Published Industry Association List. This Product Also Contains Corn Syrup Solids)].
Shortening (Beef Tallow): Beef Fat with BHT and Citric Acid added to help protect flavor. Dimethylpolysiloxane, an antifoaming agent, added.
 
Popcorn Shrimp
Shrimp, Breader (Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Salt, Leavening [Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate], Seasoning [Sugar, Spices], Soybean Oil), Water, Batter Mix (Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, And Folic Acid], Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Methyl Cellulose, Seasoning Mix [Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Salt, Sugar, Tartrazine (FD&C Yellow 5) [May Also Contain Sunset Yellow FCF (FD&C Yellow 6), Allura Red (FD&C Red 40), Grape Color Extract, Brilliant Blue FCF (FD&C Blue 1), Indigotine (FD&C Blue 2), Beet Color Extract, Annatto Extract Or Turmeric Extract], Spices, Dried Whole Eggs, Nonfat Dried Milk, Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Microcrystalline Cellulose, Natural Flavor, This Product Also Contains Corn Syrup Solids]), Cottonseed And/Or Soybean Oil, Shrimp Seasoning (Spices Including Paprika, Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Soybean Oil [Partially Hydrogenated], TBHQ and Citric Acid [To Protect Flavor], Dimethylpolysiloxane [Antifoaming Agent]), Sodium Tripolyphosphate (To Retain Moisture), Salt, Sodium Metabisulfite (As A Preservative).
Shortening (Beef Tallow): Beef Fat with BHT and Citric Acid added to help protect flavor. Dimethylpolysiloxane, an antifoaming agent, added.
 
Red Beans & Rice
Red Beans: Water, red kidney beans, pork fat [cured with water, salt, smoke flavor (sunflower oil and wood smoke flavors), sodium phosphate, sugar, brown sugar, sodium nitrite (salt, sodium nitrite {6.25%}, FD&C red #3)], red bean seasoning mix (salt, spices including paprika and parsley, dried garlic, and monosodium glutamate), dried onions. May contain food starch-modified.
Long Grain White Rice: Pre-cooked parboiled long grain rice enriched with niacin, ferric orthophosphate (iron), thiamin mononitrate (thiamin) and folic acid.
Red Rice Seasoning: Salt, seasoning (dried onion, dried garlic), spices including paprika, not more than 2% silicon dioxide or sodium aluminum silicate added to prevent caking. Less than 2% palm oil.
Liquid Margarine: Liquid and hydrogenated soybean oil, water, salt, contains less than 2% of palm and palm kernel oil, vegetable mono & diglycerides, soy lecithin, sodium benzoate (a preservative), citric acid, natural & artificial flavors, calcium disodium EDTA added to protect flavor, beta carotene (color), vitamin A palmitate added.
 
The information provided regarding our food is as complete as possible at the time of this email and is based on ingredient lists provided by our suppliers. Variations may occur depending on the season, supplier, and/or product preparation at your local restaurant. Please also note that normal kitchen operations can involve shared cooking, preparation areas, and utensils, and the possibility exists that your food may come in contact with other food products, including other allergens and ingredients. Popeyes recommends that you always consult your healthcare provider for questions regarding your diet.

Another deceptive marketing term to watch out for

“Delicious,” “hearty,” “nutritious,” and “wholesome,” are just some of the buzz words used to catch your eye in the supermarket. But nothing is as overused and fraudulent as the term “all natural.” 

Since all natural has no official definition, Big Food uses it without the least little concern on anything it cares to, including products that are so blatantly unnatural that companies have been sued for using the term. Kashi brand, owned by Kellogg’s, is one example. While the company settled several cases instead of going to court and paid out close to $9 million (much of it going to “reimburse shoppers” a small fraction of their purchase price), Kellogg’s only promised to clean up its language, not the Kashi ingredients.

The Kashi California class-action lawsuit, settled in 2014, involved falsely advertising cereals, bars, cookies and crackers as “all natural” or made with “nothing artificial” when they contained,  according to the complaint, “an array of chemicals.”

The court documents also stated that Kashi shakes are “composed almost entirely of synthetic and unnaturally processed ingredients…” many of which are “shocking.”  Also mentioned in the complaint was this interesting tidbit: “Defendants (Kashi) also added several highly process excitotoxins to its products that are hidden sources of monosodium glutamate, a.k.a. ‘MSG.’”

We recently checked out some Kashi products starting with Kashi GO Original cereal. The very first ingredient is soy protein concentrate, which always contains manufactured free glutamate, the very same excitotoxic, brain damaging, glutamic acid found in all flavor enhancers including MSG.

Kashi GO dark cocoa contains even more free glutamate-containing ingredients, namely lentil protein, pea protein and natural flavors. Many in the “GO” lineup, in fact, contain soy, lentil or pea protein – all sources of free glutamate.

The Kashi Go Protein Waffles aren’t any better, containing whey protein concentrate (said to be organic, so that makes it an organic excitotoxin!), and natural flavors.

Soon after the class-action cases were settled, an odd array of feel-good Kashi stories started circulating. “Eat This, Not That!,” for example bragged about the “10 things you don’t know about Kashi,” such as how they “help farmers” and are “friends to honey bees.” Other articles focused on their whole grains and that they are “health-conscious foods.” Of course, it could have been a coincidence, but we’ve observed that it’s common for PR firms to plant such favorable press after getting negative publicity.

As shoppers are becoming leerier of “all-natural” claims, Big Food is looking for other ways to deceive consumers. One expert in food labeling said “I think we’re seeing the end of the golden age of natural. We’ll see more words like ‘Simply’ instead.”

So, now we know another deceptive marketing term to watch out for.

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 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 free glutamate.

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.

The slow, steady, thought-altering drip of propaganda

A tip sheet to help fight back when you encounter the glutes’ ‘mishmash’ of altered facts

Effective propaganda doesn’t just hit once and disappear. It works best as a steady stream, most effectively coming at you from all directions. It puts a grain of sand in your oyster of belief, slowly eroding what you thought to be true.

One of the best propaganda campaigns currently out there is being hosted by Ajinomoto, the world’s largest manufacturer of monosodium glutamate. We’ve seen videos, blogs and “news” stories touting the safety of MSG. We’ve been told that avoiding this brain-damaging additive is somehow “racist.” We’ve been informed that it all started with a 1968 letter sent to the New England Journal of Medicine, and that any idea that this toxic substance is dangerous has been debunked by decades of scientific testing. All this disinformation being orchestrated by those in the glutamate industry who don’t mind spending multi-millions to keep generating their ill-gotten billions.

For that reason, we have prepared the following tip sheet for you. Since most of what is circulating is amazingly similar, you can use it for practically any glute hype that comes your way – and that includes articles in newspapers and magazines, Youtube videos and most especially talks on MSG by celebrity chefs and famous foodies.

Tip sheet to cut through the toxic fog of glutamate fiction

Fiction: MSG is made from corn, wheat, and beets

Truth: Since 1957 monosodium glutamate has been manufactured by using genetically modified bacteria to synthesize glutamic acid outside of their cell membranes and excrete it into a medium to accumulate. This “reinvention” has allowed for huge amounts of the additive to be made and used in previously unheard-of amounts in processed foods of all kinds.

Fiction: Avoiding MSG is somehow racist because of the term “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”

Truth: As you likely know, Chinese Restaurant Syndrome was the title given to a letter written by a physician and sent to the New England Journal of Medicine seeking information about reactions suffered after eating in a Chinese restaurant in the U.S. Why would avoiding this additive – generally done because of personal experiences such as migraines, asthma, depression, heart-rhythm abnormalities, pain, and even seizures – smack of racism?

Fiction: MSG is known to be perfectly safe – “nobody has come up with any science that says there is a problem with it.”

Truth: The studies cited by the Glutes as evidence of MSG safety are ones in which MSG was fed to volunteers who were given test material containing MSG at one time, and at another time given a placebo that contained (without disclosure) an excitotoxic amino acid — one that would trigger the exact same reactions as those caused by MSG. When subjects reacted to both test material and placebo, researchers claimed to have again failed to demonstrate MSG toxicity. More on this subject can be found here.

Ever vigilant in promoting its views, the glutamate industry has declared that both the FDA and regulators around the world have found monosodium glutamate to be safe. In fact, however, neither independent scientists nor independent regulators have found monosodium glutamate to be safe. FDA studies, which were actually reviews, always have been staffed by persons with ties to the glutamate industry. The regulators and/or authoritative bodies referred to by the glutamate industry did no research of their own. And studies to be reviewed were delivered by industry agents. Studies of MSG-induced brain damage were never shown to these authoritative bodies. It’s known that MSG when fed to very young laboratory animals kills brain cells in the area of the hypothalamus, and, through that damage, causes a number of endocrine disorders. One of those disorders is gross obesity. Another is infertility.

Fiction: The glutamate that naturally occurs in many foods and the glutamate in monosodium glutamate are exactly the same

Truth: The glutamate found in unprocessed, unadulterated and unfermented protein is L-glutamate only. The MSG used in cosmetics, drugs, vaccines, dietary supplements and processed food is manufactured, and always contains L-glutamate plus D-glutamate and pyroglutamate (unwanted byproducts of L-glutamate production) plus other unwanted by-products of production all called impurities. And since industry has not found a way to remove the unwanted impurities from processed free L-glutamate, the glutamate in MSG will always come with impurities.

Only manufactured glutamic acid causes brain damage and adverse reaction when ingested or otherwise used. Glutamate contained in unprocessed, unadulterated and unfermented protein, no matter in what quantities, will not cause reactions in MSG-sensitive people.