Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Here is this week's Food Safety Tip from the Organic Consumers Association:

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is one of the most common and hazardous food additives on the market. MSG is reportedly more toxic than alcohol, tobacco and many drugs. MSG is an excitotoxin, so it tricks your brain into wanting to eat more and more foods containing the ingredient, even if you are already full. Side effects of MSG include: obesity, eye damage, headaches, depression, fatigue and disorientation. Food manufacturers know that health-conscious consumers try to avoid MSG, so it is oftentimes not listed in a product's ingredients. MSG is banned in organic foods.

Here's a list of ingredients that ALWAYS contain MSG:

Autolyzed Yeast -- Calcium Caseinate -- Gelatin Glutamate -- Glutamic Acid -- Hydrolyzed Protein -- Monopotassium Glutamate -- Monosodium Glutamate -- Sodium Caseinate -- Textured Protein -- Yeast Extract -- Yeast Food -- Yeast Nutrient

For more information, check out this article.


Allison Fouse said...

I just got this article in my e-mail and was very alarmed by it. After further research I found out that "yeast nutrient" is a term interchangeable with nutritional yeast. I always assumed it was safe because I purchase it from "health food" stores. Now I'm considering dumping it.

Cathe Olson said...

I hadn't realized that nutrional yeast was similar to msg . . . I did some checking and it looks like Frontier brand is MSG free. I checked the Red Star Web site because that's the brand that I use but I don't see anything. I'll email them and let you know what I find out.

JenPB said...

Yep. I get the headaches. REALLY sucks when someone sneaks MSG into the recipe. I pay BIG TIME for it.

No other food issues (unless you count my joy of eating it and the results of that near-obsession).

CakeJunkie said...

Wow...I didn't realize MSG hid in so many forms. Thanks for sharing the information!

Buffy said...

totally listening in to the nutritional yeast discussion -- we use it a fair bit...

Anonymous said...

MSG is just a name, the underlying culprit is glutamate. I have been studying its effect on me for quite a few years and found that I can end my symptoms of Bipolar DIsorder by cutting out the majority of the amino acid in either its free or bound form. Check out my blog:

Cathe Olson said...

Still no response from Red Star . . . I'll try emailing them again.

Anonymous said...

Red Star Yeast has 91MG of glutamate per serving, I dod not know if it is free glutamate however.

Here is the amount in nutritional yeast: 1456 mg!

But I know it has it because I can test it on my tongue. The tongue has NMDA receptors (glutamate receptors)

Cathe Olson said...

This is what I find on the Web site for Frontier NY:
Frontier Nutritional Yeast is a (no MSG) nutritional yeast, grown from molasses, processed at low temperatures. It is a natural source of B vitamins, chromium and minerals. B vitamins are great for soothing stress, bad moods, nerves and more.

So what are they doing differently than other NY's? Is it the low temp or some additive they are leaving out?

Anonymous said...

See, this is how they are sneaky. The damaging part of MSG is not the MS, but the G. You get it? So things like autolyzed pea protein stimulate taste the same way that MSG does because it is high in free glutamic acid.

So even though they say "No MSG" if still could be high, as it is, in free glutamic acid, and those of us who are affected by MSG will also be affected by nutritional yeast.
"Hydrolyzed protein is used in the same manner as monosodium glutamate in many foods, such as canned vegetables, soups, and processed meats."

Cathe Olson said...

Interesting . . . thanks for your input.

Buffy said...


Cathe Olson said...

This was posted on the Organic Consumers Web site:
OCA Web Forum User "Tater_Chip" posted this question and response: "Due to the recent email from OCA (Organic Bytes #170) covering MSG I was very alarmed to learn that whey protein, especially in isolate and hydrolyzed form are basically forms of this substance. I just purchased Solgar "Whey to go" at my local health store, Mount Hope Foods. Does anyone know the relationship/safety of whey protein powders, since they are associated with MSG?"

Response: "I got a phone call today from Solgar. They told me that their processes do not create MSG because they use no sodium. So even though free forms of glutamic amino acids are in the formula, there is nothing for them to bind with to make the dangerous form of MSG. Now this may not be the case with cheap formulas widely available. In my opinion, I would check for sodium content on the nutrition label. If it has sodium, it could bind with the glutamic acids and form MSG unintentionally. At any rate, it is something to watch our for when buying protein powder. This rule of thumb can actually apply to other protein powders as well - not just whey. You must watch out for it in soy especially, but it may also be in pea protein powder....."

If I'm understand this response correctly -- they're saying that it is the S and the G together that causes problems, not just the G in MSG.

Anonymous said...

Hah, yeah, well, they want to sell you whey powder, which is a useless product for the average person. I love their response; "We use no sodium"! sodium is not even used to make MSG!

If the whey is not hydrolyzed (a complete, bound protein) then it is better, but if it is hydrolyzed, then it acts the same as MSG in the body.

Look at the synonyms for MSG here:

and read:

"The form ultimately responsible for the taste is the glutamate ion, and the form of glutamic acid at the time of the addition is not important. However, crystalline glutamic acid salts such as monosodium glutamate have a much better and faster solubility compared to crystalline glutamic acid, a property important for its use as a flavor enhancer."

It is the same thing. MSG just dissolves on the tongue faster for increase taste perception.


"The whey protein concentrate and liquid aminos that many Americans buy at health food stores are also, essentially, pure glutamate, Dr. Chaudhari said."

Monosodium glutamate is a salt of glutamic acid, one of the most common amino acids that proteins are made of. The flavor-boosting properties reside in the glutamate part of the molecule, so any compound that releases free glutamate can perform the same trick. The monosodium version is merely the most concentrated and convenient form of glutamate.

Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, and seaweed are rich sources of free glutamate. That's why a little bit of any of these ingredients can give a big boost to the flavor of a dish.

Cathe Olson said...

Finally got a response from Red Star -- well not a response exactly but was directed to this PDF of nutritional info:

It says no MSG -- but there is glutimate . . . which is what Christian has been talk about.

So -- Christian, are you saying that sea veggies, mushrooms, tomatoes, parmesan, etc. are bad to eat? Or just for those sensitive to glutimate?

Anonymous said...

I would say we all need to limit glutamate, but eliminate it if you have any mental health issues, problems with pain, or diabetes. Oh, and addiction:

I do not think sources in natural food is as much of a concern. Like tomatoes and mushrooms. Cheese, especially parm, I am cautious about.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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