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MSG Hides In Alexia Organic Fries

Even these safe french fries arent safe.

Even these "safe" french fries aren't safe.

It’s time to get down and dirty.

With details. MSG is in just about every processed food you buy at the store. Even so-called “healthy” processed foods. And, yes, even in organic processed foods. (Read about why MSG is dangerous.)

A couple of days ago, I was asked to prepare a hamburger lunch unexpectedly for some company. I rushed to the grocery store, determined to buy everything I needed to make it easy.

Pre-shaped Bison burgers? Check.

Organic french fries? Check.

Pre-made sprouted grain buns? Check.

You can see from above that despite buying packaged and processed foods, I was determined to be as healthy as possible. Federal restrictions protecting Bison forbid the use of antibiotics or growth hormones in the raising of the animal AND require a mostly grass-fed diet. I figured the french fries were just organic potatoes. They have to be better than most chips — even the “all-natural” or organic ones.

I was wrong. As I discovered when I got home and actually read the label on my Alexia Organic Oven Crinkles, the stuff is full of MSG. Except on this product, it goes by the name “Autolyzed Yeast Extract.”

Yep. Did you know MSG has over 40 different legal names that the FDA permits food manufacturers to use in their labeling?

From TruthInLabeling.Org:

There are over 40 food ingredients besides “monosodium glutamate” that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG). Each, according to the FDA, must be called by its own, unique, “common or usual name.” “Autolyzed yeast,” “maltodextrin,” “sodium caseinate,” and “soy sauce” are the common or usual names of some ingredients that contain MSG. Unlike the ingredient called “monosodium glutamate,” they give the consumer no clue that there is MSG in the ingredient.

The Truth in Labeling Campaign has asked the FDA to require manufacturers to identify ingredients that contain MSG by listing MSG on a product’s label. In response, we have been told that FDA regulations require that all food ingredients be called by their “common or usual names,” but there is no requirement that a constituent of an ingredient be identified. Processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is considered to be a constituent of a hydrolyzed protein or fermentation product because the MSG is created during the hydrolyzation or fermentation process. To autolyze yeast, for example, yeast is subject to processing; and during that processing, protein is broken down, and glutamic acid is freed. The finished autolyzed yeast product will, therefore, always contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as a constituent of the autolyzed yeast. The MSG will not have been poured into the autolyzed yeast. Rather, the MSG will have been processed into the autolyzed yeast.

The distinction between having MSG poured into an ingredient and processed into an ingredient is important because the glutamate industry plays on this distinction in their efforts to hide the presence of MSG. One of their favorite ways of hiding MSG is to claim that there is “no added MSG” in a product. If MSG is processed into a product instead of being poured into a product, they declare that there is “no MSG added” or “no added MSG,” in the product, even though they know full well that the product contains MSG.

So, once again, I urge you: take control of your food. Become a Food Renegade. Don’t trust packaged foods — any packaged foods. Even the organic kind.

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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13 Responses to MSG Hides In Alexia Organic Fries
  1. Bryan - oz4caster
    January 3, 2009 | 10:17 am

    Unfortunately, many “organic” processed foods are also loaded with unhealthy polyunsaturated fat, mainly in the form of cheap vegetable oils, like soy oil, corn oil, safflower oil and even canola oil is fairly high in polyunsaturated fat. Another reason why it’s better to make your own food from scratch.

    • Allie
      August 4, 2014 | 7:59 pm

      Why can’t they just use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil and charge extra? I am sure that many people would gladly pay the extra money for good oil. I can’t believe the unhealthy, garbage oils used in prepared foods.
      Rao’s pasta sauces are a good example. They are really expensive, but people love them. I pay the extra dollars for them because they are THAT good and tasty and because their ingredients are real quality.

  2. KristenM
    January 3, 2009 | 10:24 am

    Absolutely true. I’m 90% done creating a video tutorial on fat, and will go into this aspect in greater detail.

  3. Rod Newbound, RN
    January 3, 2009 | 7:03 pm

    Thanks Kisten, for an enlightening post.

    The fact is the only way to know for sure you are getting what you want in food is to grow it yourself, but that’s a pretty tough thing to do for the vast majority of people.

    The next best thing is to make it yourself from “scratch” as Bryan says above. I’m been doing that for over 40 years, and I frequently get rave reviews from friends and coworkers who sample what I cook.

    Over the years I have pretty much stopped eating at restaurants because I know I can make it better at home. And since my kitchen is one of the places I go to relax and be creative, it’s far healthier than dealing with the noise and aggravation of a restaurant.

    As for processed foods, you won’t find one in my cupboard.

  4. Christiana
    January 3, 2009 | 11:01 pm

    This MSG phenomenon is new to me!!! I just can’t believe how many things it is hiding in!! It really inspires me to make sure that everything that I and my family are eating are made from only whole food ingredients in my kitchen!! Thank you so much for sharing your discoveries with us!!

  5. Anna
    January 4, 2009 | 9:42 am

    “Don

  6. Marc Feel Good Eating
    January 8, 2009 | 6:31 am

    Kristin,

    Great post!!
    Together with the “Sugar Blues”, “In Bad Taste the MSG Syndrome” was one of the first health books that I read years ago. It was written by Dr. George Schwartz and largely ignored. I’m sure you can pick up a cheap copy on Amazon. It has a great history on how MSG came about. I can’t believe the FDA now has 40 approved names for it……. Like Anna says, stay away from the packaged foods.
    Great blog!

    Marc

  7. James
    July 21, 2009 | 2:17 pm

    I have just recently found out how destructive MSG can be. Its taken 9 years of trial and error. I have had several strokes and TIA’s, went into the hospital once with my Blood pressure at 240/138 and slurring my speech and the wrong words coming out of my mouth, this was while I was taking my BP medicine. After sereral bouts of this and going into poor health in general, loosing my eyesight in my right eye, couldn’t think straight, everything on my body hurting, flashing swirling optical migranes, dealing with metabolic syndrome and the weight gain associated with it….FINALLY, I have figured out it has all been being caused by MSG and its favorite excitotoxin buddy, asparatme. For any of you experiencing headaches, problems with your blood pressure or heart palpitations, weight gain, especially around mid section, Fuzzy memory, achy body, lack of any motivation at all. I highly advise you to start reading labels and eat only home cooked NATURAL not processed food. It is a royal pain in the butt when you first start trying to do it. It certainly takes more time than hitting a drive thru somewhere, but you will get your life back. Good L:uck, I hope my comments helps someone to not have to go through what I have had to for so long.

  8. Erin
    December 5, 2011 | 1:35 pm

    Not all of the Alexia french fries have autolyzed yeast extract (MSG). The flavor you happened to look at, the onion and garlic flavor, does in fact have MSG but many other flavors do not. So yes, it is important to look at the ingredients on any food you intend to put in your body, but don’t assume that MSG is “hiding” in every Alexia product as your title suggests.

  9. Jane
    January 5, 2012 | 9:53 pm

    I will assume that MSG is hiding in every Alexia product because if this company deliberatley does not call MSG by MSG, then they are not to be trusted. It’s deceptive and yes, hidden. I’m allergic to MSG, sulfites, aspartame, etc – all from the same family of chemicals.

  10. Alexis
    January 21, 2012 | 11:46 am

    Alexia was also just caught adding synthetic chemical preservatives to their Saute Reds. So yeah I think Alexia had every intention to mislead on the MSG. Remember they are owned by ConAgra.

    • birgit
      October 31, 2012 | 11:39 am

      That just felt like a punch in the gut, as that is the ONLY organic french fries choice we have in our area. Dont feel like driving 30+ miles to a another grocery store …shucks. Go without..

  11. Stacie Gavin
    February 18, 2014 | 7:28 am

    A few hours after enjoying the Alexia potato puffs with roasted Garlic and black pepper, I had a full on MSG reaction. I did not pay attention to the ingredients. I made sure they were gluten free but forgot about the MSG factor. Buyer beware of this product! I am always teaching my clients to read the ingredients list but failed to do it myself this time. I payed for it big time. http://Www.gavinwellness.com

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.