Wednesday, May 4, 2011

About the Truth in Labeling Campaign

The Truth in Labeling Campaign (TLC) is all about knowledge -- about the consumer’s right to know what is in his or her food. About the consumer’s right to understand that neurotoxic amino acids, some of which contain cancer-causing chloro-propanols or heterocyclic amines, are being intentionally added to processed food – with the knowledge and approval of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). About giving consumers the information needed to avoid ingesting those neurotoxic amino acids and those carcinogens if they choose to do so.

TLC was incorporated in 1994 to take a more aggressive role in bringing about labeling of MSG in processed food than the directors of the consumer group NOMSG (no longer in operation) were willing to take. We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to securing full and clear labeling of all processed food. We are an all-volunteer organization funded entirely through donations. Neither our staff nor our directors are paid. We rent no office, and we use no professional fund raisers. Even the cost of disseminating information is primarily borne by volunteers.

Our activities, recorded on our web pages, have included visits to congresspersons and scientists, attendance at food industry meetings, testimony before representatives of the FDA, and suing the FDA. But more significant than anything else we have done, has been making information on the toxic potential of MSG and where it is hidden in food, protein drinks, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, dietary supplements, pesticide and fertilizer products,infant formula, and vaccines available to consumers.

The heart of this organization lies in two of its directors. One, a health care professional, has an acute sensitivity to MSG – a life-threatening sensitivity to MSG. The second, an experimental psychologist by training with expertise in learning, test construction, research design, methodology, and statistics, has the ability to recognize design flaws in research reports – including those research reports that claim to have found that MSG is “safe”. Both have the expertise needed to understand the science underlying Jack’s life-threatening sensitivity, and the ability to distinguish between the fact of his sensitivity and the fiction generated by those who profit from the manufacture and sale of MSG.

Our first project has been to secure identification of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) whenever and wherever it occurs in processed food. Concerned consumers have tried to work with the FDA for over 20 years on this issue, but have found no evidence that the FDA is acting on behalf of consumers. It is clear that only through a grassroots effort will the FDA's refusal to require labeling of all MSG be resolved.

It was with this in mind that the TLC joined with 29 petitioners whose ranks included physicians, researchers, and parents acting on behalf of their MSG-sensitive children, in filing a Citizen Petition with the FDA asking the FDA to require labeling of all MSG found in processed foods. The publicity generated by the petition and a subsequent lawsuit generated help from hundreds of volunteers who now pass out information to grocers, physicians, friends, and legislators on the toxic effects of MSG and the ingredients in which it is hidden.

The petition and subsequent lawsuit did not, however, have an impact on labeling. After turning down the Citizen Petition, the FDA succeeded in getting the lawsuit set aside, using the Administrative Procedures Act, an Act that allows agencies of the U.S. government to tell the court what material it may or may not look at. Through use of a legal technicality, the FDA managed to withhold evidence contained in its own files that testifies to the fact that MSG has toxic potential.

We continue to serve as a source of accurate information and a sounding board for those who seek the truth about the toxic potential of MSG and where it is hidden in food, protein drinks, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, dietary supplements, pesticide and fertilizer products, infant formula, and vaccines. We invite you to download and share the information on our Web sites, our facebook pages, and our Blogs, so consumers who are not protected by legislation or our government agencies have a chance at protecting themselves.  We are please to share the material that we collected along the way with all of those who might benefit from it.
How We Know What We Know

Six years before the Truth in Labeling Campaign was incorporated, we knew little about Jack’s sensitivity. We knew only that it was brought on by ingestion of monosodium glutamate and other food additives that contained the toxic component of monosodium glutamate, i.e., processed free glutamic acid (MSG).

We were looking for answers to the riddle of Jack’s sensitivity – particularly his loss of consciousness. What, exactly, caused his reactions? Why did some people react, while others did not? But we found it extraordinarily difficult to look for answers when we didn’t know what the questions to others should be. Adrienne started with the phone book and the phone and looked up "dietician," and "nutrition," and "FDA."She called colleges and universities, and when those to whom she spoke couldn't answer her questions, she asked them to tell her who could. One call that paid off was to the University of Illinois, where she was referred to Dr. Steve Taylor at the University of Nebraska -- "the authority on MSG”. The Institute of Food Technologists referred her to Dr. Steve Taylor. The American Dietetic Association, the American Medical Association, and the FDA referred her to The Glutamate Association.

Adrienne spoke to Richard Cristol at The Glutamate Association. He assured her that Jack could not possibly be sensitive to MSG, and he sent her a book that, he said, would prove that Jack was not sensitive to MSG. Richard Cristol also suggested that Adrienne speak to Steve Taylor, who assured her that Jack could not be sensitive to MSG, and suggested that she speak to Richard Cristol at The Glutamate Association. Adrienne had come full circle.

The book sent by Richard Cristol, Glutamic Acid: Advances in Biochemistry and Physiology(1), contained the proceedings of a symposium held in May, 1978 in Milan, Italy, for the thinly veiled purpose of appearing to prove that MSG was safe. It took only some carefully focused attention and a bent toward the truth, to realize that the research reported was, for the most part, built on inappropriate methodology and/or drew conclusions that did not follow from the results of the studies. There were, however, a limited number of papers that appeared to contain more than propaganda. One by John Olney, M.D., was particularly interesting, and Adrienne set out to read more.

Adrienne read it all. When she couldn't understand what an author was saying, she went to the children's section of the library and took out elementary science books. She read dictionaries, encyclopedias, books, and journals. She had no difficulty reading scientific articles, and quickly discovered that there were two distinct sorts of studies: those that set out to uncover the truth, whatever that might be; and those that set out to lend credibility to the notion that monosodium glutamate was safe.

Some studies seemed to conclude that monosodium glutamate was a harmless substance, while other studies concluded that monosodium glutamate was toxic. That was very interesting to Adrienne the researcher, but told us nothing about the nature of the ingredients that caused Jack’s debilitating and life threatening reactions, and why some, but not all, people suffered similar reactions. And that, after all, was what we were desperate to know.

The answers to our questions did come eventually, not from studies of the safety/toxicity of monosodium glutamate, but from individual consumers, manufacturers, food chemists, food technologists, food encyclopedias, trade magazines, people Jack met on airplanes, and intuition. First we came to understand that all of the adverse reaction triggers named by Dr. Schwartz contained free glutamic acid, i.e., glutamic acid that existed separate and distinct from protein. Then, as consumers began reporting that they reacted to products in addition to those with ingredients named by Dr. Schwartz, we began to realize that MSG-reactions were always associated with ingredients that contained manufactured free glutamic acid, be it freed from protein through some manufacturing process or through fermentation, or be it produced by genetically modified bacteria that were grown to excrete glutamic acid through their cell walls.

From trade journal articles and advertisements we learned that ingredients that contained processed free glutamic acid could be substituted for monosodium glutamate without sacrificing the perception of desirable taste. In addition, we learned that people in the food industry understood that there was profit to be made from monosodium glutamate substitutes that had “clean labels,” i.e., no indication that there was any processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in their product.

From a study done by Rundlett and Armstrong(2), we learned that processed food that contained free L-glutamic acid invariably contained free D-glutamic acid. And with that knowledge, we were able to search out information about the various other impurities found in monosodium glutamate and the other ingredients that contained manufactured/processed free glutamic acid (MSG).We even found an explanation of impurities present in monosodium glutamate tucked away in the files of the FDA’s Dockets Management office.

On the Internet, we found copies of patents associated with the production of monosodium glutamate. It was from patents that we learned that in 1990, Ajinomoto’s monosodium glutamate was made by a process of bacterial fermentation wherein carefully selected genetically modified bacteria that were fed on various carbohydrate media secreted glutamic acid through their cell walls. Thus it became clear that the “monosodium glutamate” found in the marketplace prior to 1957, the time that Ajinomoto’s means of production changed, and the “monosodium glutamate” for sale in the United States after 1957, were essentially different products.

At the time, we found the contrast between the facts recorded in numerous US patents and the descriptions of the manufacture of monosodium glutamate mounted on the web pages of The Glutamate Association and other industry-friendly groups to be most interesting. Over time, we found that discrepancies between fact and glutamate industry propaganda created from glutamate industry fictions to be endemic. 

Before we were finished, we realized that any glutamic acid that was ingested as a single amino acid would cause MSG reactions in people who exceeded their tolerances for the substance. We also came to understand that this processed free glutamic acid (MSG) can be intentionally produced/manufactured in food or chemical plants by acid hydrolysis, autolysis, enzymolysis, or bacterial fermentation; and MSG will be produced, possibly unintentionally, when a protein source is left to ferment. We found that MSG can be produced through a complex cooking process wherein a product referred to as a “reaction flavor” is produced from a combination of specific amino acids, reducing sugars, animal or vegetable fats or oils, and optional ingredients including hydrolyzed vegetable protein. And last but not least, we found that acid hydrolyzed proteins contain carcinogenic mono and dichloropropanols, and reaction flavors contain carcinogenic heterocyclic amines.
As pieces of the puzzle came together, we began to give serious consideration to the discrepancies in the published literature: the so-called scientific studies. We knew that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) caused adverse reactions. How could it be, then, that industry was able to produce studies from which it could conclude that MSG was safe?

The key to understanding how data could be manipulated to come up with the predetermined conclusion that monosodium glutamate could be considered a harmless flavor enhancer, still eluded us. Then, through careful rereading of each industry-sponsored study, we became aware that none of these studies met the assumptions of the statistical tests used and cited, and on that basis alone, the conclusions drawn from each and every study were invalid.

But there was something more. In the double-blind studies, where subjects ingested monosodium glutamate on one occasion and a placebo on another, researchers reported that there were as many responses to placebos as there were to monosodium glutamate test material. And that, we knew, could not be true. Unless, of course, those placebos were not truly inert, as placebos must be. But that was unthinkable. It was unthinkable that anyone – anyone -- would lace placebos with material that might cause adverse reactions.

By the beginning of 1991, however, we were thinking the unthinkable. And on February 4, 1991, at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) hearing on the Safety of Amino Acids Used in Dietary Supplements, Jack raised the question that should have rocked the glutamate industry’s world, and immediately removed monosodium glutamate from the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) list. Jack questioned the propriety of placebo material being used by the International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) in their double-blind studies of the safety of monosodium glutamate. And in a March 22, 1991 letter in response to questions posed by Sue Anne Anderson, R.D., Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist with the Life Sciences Research Office at FASEB, IGTC chairman Ebert acknowledged that since 1978, all of the placebos in double blind IGTC-sponsored studies had been laced with aspartame – an ingredient that contains an amino acid know as aspartic acid, which causes brain lesions, endocrine disorders, migraine headache, depression and all the other adverse reactions that can be caused by the free glutamic acid found in monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed protein products, autolyzed yeast, etc.

We had started our quest with two questions, the first being, “What is the nature of the products that cause Jack’s reactions?”But before we found the answer to that first question, we had raised two others. First, given the fact that monosodium glutamate and the other ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) have toxic potential, and there are no studies from which it could be legitimately concluded that monosodium glutamate was “safe”, why does the FDA allow the intentional addition of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) to processed food? And second, why isn’t the US population aware of MSG’s toxic potential?
When TLC was incorporated, we were still deluding ourselves with the hope that given a face-saving “out”, the FDA would admit to the toxicity of MSG and label MSG-containing ingredients appropriately. However, repeated visits to legislators in Washington, a law suit brought against the FDA over labeling, the FDA’s September, 1994 rejection of the “independent” study on the safety of MSG done for the FDA by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the EPA’s refusal to evaluate the toxic effects of MSG used in products they regulate, and California’s acquiescence to the forces of the glutamate industry, finally convinced us that no amount of truth would be sufficient to counter the glutamate industry’s control of the US government and our health care community. The power of industry and the greed of people in all walks of life and with all degrees of power who are fed by industry have made it virtually impossible for the consumer to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about MSG. That’s our opinion.  And providing consumers with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about MSG has become our challenge.


1. Glutamic acid: advance in biochemistry and physiology.Filer LJ Jr., Garattini S, Kare MR, Reynolds WA, Wurtman RJ (Eds), New York: Raven, 1979.
2. Rundlett KL, Armstrong DW. Evaluation of free D-glutamate in processed foods. Chirality. 1994;6:277-282.

To learn more about the Truth in Labeling Campaign go to

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Names and addresses of ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG)

The first essential to coping with MSG is understanding where MSG is hidden -- just in case you would like to avoid it, or would like to begin to understand how much MSG you are able to tolerate without having an obvious adverse reaction.

Everyone knows that some people have reactions after eating the food ingredient monosodium glutamate -- reactions that include migraine headaches, upset stomach, fuzzy thinking, diarrhea, heart irregularities, asthma, and/or mood swings.  What many don’t know, is that more than 40 different ingredients contain the chemical in monosodium glutamate -- the processed (manufactured) free glutamic acid -- that causes these reactions.  These ingredients have names like maltodextrin, gelatin, citric acid, and sodium caseinate, that don't give the consumer a clue to the presence of MSG.

Important to understanding the cause or causes of MSG reactions is the fact that glutamic acid found in whole, unadulterated, unfermented protein does not cause adverse reactions.  To cause adverse reactions, the glutamic acid must have been processed/manufactured or come from protein that has been fermented.  A whole, ripe (but not overripe), unfermented tomato will not cause an MSG reaction.  Neither will fresh mushrooms.
The following lists of common ingredients that contain processed (manufactured) free glutamic acid are your starting point for coping with MSG.  The lists have been compiled over the past 20 years from consumers’ reports of adverse reactions and information provided by physicians, manufacturers, and food technologists.

Names of ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid:
(E numbers are use in Europe in place of food additive names.)
Glutamic acid (E 620)
Glutamate (E 620)
Monosodium glutamate (E 621)
Monopotassium glutamate (E 622)
Calcium glutamate (E 623)
Monoammonium glutamate (E 624)
Magnesium glutamate (E 625)
Natrium glutamate

Autolyzed yeast
Calcium caseinate 
Any “hydrolyzed protein”
Anything “…protein”
Sodium caseinate
Soy protein; soy protein concentrate; Soy protein isolate
Textured protein
Whey protein;  Whey protein concentrate;  Whey protein isolate
Yeast extract
Yeast food
Yeast nutrient 

Names of ingredients that often contain or produce processed free glutamic acid:

Barley malt
Bouillon and broth
Carrageenan (E 407)
Citrate (E 330)
Citric acid (E330)
Anything “enzyme modified”
Anything containing “enzymes”
Any “flavors” or “flavoring”
Anything “fermented”
Malt extract
Pectin (E 440)
Anything “protein fortified”
Soy sauce
Soy sauce extract
Anything “ultra-pasteurized”

Names of ingredients suspected of containing or creating sufficient amounts of processed free glutamic acid to serve as MSG-reaction triggers in highly sensitive people:

Brown rice syrup  
Corn starch 
Corn syrup 
anything Enriched
Lipolyzed butter fat
most things low fat or no fat  
Milk powder 
Modified food starch 
Reduced fat milk (skim; 1%; 2%)  
Rice syrup 
anything Vitamin enriched

Names of ingredients that work synergistically with MSG to enhance flavor.  If they are present for flavoring, so is MSG.

Disodium 5’-guanylate (E 627)
Disodium 5’-inosinate (E-631)
Disodium 5'-ribonucleotides (E 635)

To print this information

A neat, printable table listing the common ingredients known to trigger MSG reactions can be downloaded from

Reminder.  These are some of the places where MSG resides

Low fat and no fat milk products often contain milk solids that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG), and many dairy products contain carrageenan, guar gum, and/or locust bean gum.  Low fat and no fat versions of ice cream and cheese may not be as obvious as yogurt, milk, cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc., but they are not exceptions.

Protein powders contain glutamic acid, which, invariably, will be processed free glutamic acid (MSG).  Individual amino acids are not always listed on labels of protein powders.

At present there is an FDA requirement to include the protein source when listing hydrolyzed protein products on labels of processed foods.  Examples are hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed pea protein, hydrolyzed whey protein, hydrolyzed, corn protein. If a tomato, for example, were whole, it would be identified as a tomato. Calling an ingredient tomato protein indicates that the tomato has been hydrolyzed, at least in part, and that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is present.

There is a growing trend toward labeling a product "No MSG", "No Added MSG", or "No MSG Added" when the product actually contains processed free glutamic acid (MSG).  Any product labeled in this way should be approached with caution.

Food and fertilizer/pesticide products labeled "organic" are not necessarily free of processed free glutamic acid (MSG).  We have recently seen organic maltodextrin, organic soy sauce, flavoring, and yeast extract in Wolfgang Puck Organic Soup; corn starch and citric acid in Muir Glen Organic Classic Minestrone (labeled "No MSG"); and organic corn starch, flavors, organic chicken broth concentrate, organic soy sauce powder, organic corn maltodextrin, yeast extract, flavoring, and organic flavor in Organic Imagine Chicken & Wild Rice Soup.

Disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate are relatively expensive food additives that work synergistically with inexpensive MSG. Their use suggests that the product has MSG in it. They would probably not be used as food additives if there were no MSG present.

MSG reactions have been reported from soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, and cosmetics, where MSG is hidden in ingredients with names that include the words "hydrolyzed," "amino acids," and/or "protein."  Most sun block creams and insect repellents also contain MSG.

Drinks, candy, and chewing gum are potential sources of hidden MSG and/or aspartame, neotame. and AminoSweet (the new name for aspartame). Aspartic acid, found in neotame, aspartame (NutraSweet), and AminoSweet, ordinarily causes MSG type reactions in MSG sensitive people. (It would appear that calling aspartame "AminoSweet" is industry's method of choice for hiding aspartame.) We have not seen Neotame used widely in the United States. 

Aspartame will be found in some medications, including children's medications. For questions about the ingredients in pharmaceuticals, check with your pharmacist and/or read the product inserts for the names of “other” or “inert” ingredients.

Aspartame will be found in almost all chewing gum.

Binders and fillers for medications, nutrients, and supplements, both prescription and non-prescription, enteral feeding materials, and some fluids administered intravenously in hospitals, may contain MSG.

According to the manufacturer, Varivax–Merck chicken pox vaccine (Varicella Virus Live), contains L-monosodium glutamate and hydrolyzed gelatin, both of which contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) which causes brain lesions in young laboratory animals, and can cause endocrine disturbances like obesity and reproductive disorders later in life.  It would appear that most, if not all, live virus vaccines contain some ingredient(s) that contain MSG.

Reactions to MSG are dose related, i.e., some people react to even very small amounts. MSG-induced reactions may occur immediately after ingestion or after as much as 48 hours.  The time lapse between ingestion and reaction is typically the same each time for a particular individual who ingests an amount of MSG that exceeds his or her individual tolerance level.

Remember: By food industry definition, all MSG is "naturally occurring." "Natural" doesn't mean "safe."  "Natural" only means that the ingredient started out in nature, like arsenic and hydrochloric acid. Processing, no matter how toxic the method and/or the ingredients used, is irrelevant to a product being called "natural".

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