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?
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.
For more on where MSG may be hiding in your food labels, I’ve created a handy, downloadable, easy-to-print guide for you.
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.
Bryan - oz4caster says
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.
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.
Absolutely true. I’m 90% done creating a video tutorial on fat, and will go into this aspect in greater detail.
Rod Newbound, RN says
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.
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!!
Marc Feel Good Eating says
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
Stacie Gavin says
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
MSG in organic food
Hi, Ive just read the comment about MSG on this site and the article from truth in labelling. I buy Kallo Organic stock cubes and they contain yeast extract, do you know if the ingredients of yeast extract in these types of stock cubes are 100% organic or if it contains any MSG even in small non declarable amounts?
The Soil Association kindly provided me with this excellent explanation of how MSG is banned from organic food by law, and yet is still present in organic food…
Yeast includes proteins which include the amino acid, L-glutamic acid, bound into the chains. This is present in almost all proteins including human ones, and in for example milk protein.
When proteins containing glutamic acid are hydrolysed, whether by acid, alkali or by natural breakdown (autolysis) of yeast some MSG is formed. MSG whether from yeast or other sources stimulates taste buds, having a specific savoury flavour. It is also a flavour enhancer.
Yeast and yeast extract are permitted as additives in organic foods, therefore there will be some MSG in organic foods which have added yeast, or yeast extract. Similarly MSG is naturally present in soy sauce and in some other ingredients.
Adding pure MSG, whatever the source is not permitted as it is not a permitted additive.
Some people may be sensitive to MSG. It is not clear whether this is due to MSG itself, as it is a common component of all animals and most plants etc. They may just be sensitive to the D form which may be made in small quantities when some proteins are hydrolysed. Alternatively people may actually be sensitive to free glutamic acid, or to other protein breakdown products such as some of the small polypeptides. The vast majority suffer no detectable effect, as is shown by the widespread consumption of natural MSG throughout the Far East.
I hope this clears up any confusion.
Hadel Toma says
No cow, pig ,chickens, or bison wants their throats slit for your taste buds, your diet or your opinion on their worth!
Organic or not they are the victims of your appetite.
Watch a documentary i made a while back called earthlings free on YouTube! Animals feel pain they dont wanna die wake up!!