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The Toxicity of MSG
(
monosodium-glutamate)

MSG (monosodium-glutamate) is a brain neurotoxin. 
It is a slow poison.
Most people understand that MSG is
not healthy, so manufacturers have changed the name to "Natural Flavors". 

You will see this term or terms like "Natural Strawberry Flavor" or "Natural Vanilla Flavor" on many food and juice labels, even products that are called "nutritional".  If the product actually had "strawberry", the label would simply say "strawberry", not "natural strawberry FLAVOR".  The word "natural" means nothing. Everything is "natural" since everything has to come from something that was originally "natural". MSG hides behind 25 or more names, such as "Natural Flavoring."

The other issue is that manufacturers can say to you "There is no MSG in this product" as long as the MSG is a "constituent of an ingredient", ie. "natural flavors".  This is very deceptive.  Many ask this question, " What is the difference between the glutamic acid found in protein and the potentially harmful manufactured glutamic acid we refer to as MSG?"

This is a good question, and here is the answer:
Glutamic acid is an amino acid found in abundance in both plant and animal protein.  In humans it is a non-essential amino acid, i.e. the body is capable of producing its own glutamic acid, and is not dependent upon getting glutamic acid from ingested food.

Watch this video from the "60 Minutes" TV Show - 1992


What is MSG?
Outside of the body, glutamic acid is produced commercially in food manufacturing and chemical plants. Its use in food began in the early 1900s as a component of a flavor enhancer called "monosodium glutamate." Unfortunately, any glutamic acid that is produced as an individual amino acid outside of the body for use in food, drugs, dietary supplements, cosmetics, personal care products, fertilizers, or other, can cause or exacerbate brain lesions, neuroendocrine disorders, learning disabilities, adverse reactions, neurodegenerative disease and more in humans. Glutamic acid that is produced commercially in food manufacturing and chemical plants is known as "MSG."

Although an extract of seaweed had been used by oriental cultures to enhance food flavor for over 1,000 years, it was not until 1908 that the essential component responsible for the flavor phenomenon was identified as glutamic acid; and it was in 1910 that industrial production of glutamic acid designed for use in the food additive "monosodium glutamate"
commenced.  From 1910 until 1956, the process underlying production of "monosodium glutamate" was slow and costly.  However, in 1956, the Japanese succeeded in producing glutamic acid by means of bacterial fermentation; and after considerable research to identify suitable strains of microorganisms for starting the requisite cultures, large-scale production of glutamic acid (and food additive "monosodium glutamate") through fermentation began.

The first published report of an adverse reaction to MSG appeared in 1968 (Kwok, R.H.M. The Chinese restaurant syndrome. Letter to the editor. N Engl J Med 278: 796, 1968).  The first evidence that MSG caused brain damage in the form of retinal degeneration was published in 1957 (Lucas, D.R. and Newhouse, J. P. The toxic effect of sodium-L-glutamate on the inner layers of the retina. AMA Arch Ophthalmol 58: 193-201, 1957); and the first published report of brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances with monosodium glutamate was published in 1969 (Olney, J.W. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances with monosodium glutamate. Science. 164: 719-721, 1969).

Since the creation of man, he has eaten food in the form of protein.  We understand a fair amount about human protein digestion and subsequent metabolism at the present time. As part of protein digestion, protein is broken down into its constituent amino acids, one of them being glutamic acid. In the human body, the ingested protein is broken down (hydrolyzed) in the stomach and lower intestines through the action of hydrochloric acid and enzymes--both of which are found naturally in the human body.  In a healthy human, the body controls the amount of glutamic acid converted from protein in this way, and disposes of the "waste."  Humans do not store excess glutamic acid as such.

However, processed free glutamic acid (MSG) introduced as such into the body is not subject, at all, to the processes of digestion, including the processes of elimination of excesses of which are ingested. There are a number of methods presently used for producing MSG. Multiple studies show that MSG produced by every one of these methods can kill brain cells, cause neuroendocrine disorders, cause or exacerbate neurodegenerative disease, and cause adverse reactions in both animals and humans.

In its early editions of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) distinguishes between two classes of commercially manufactured glutamic acid when glutamic acid is to be used as a food additive (Code of Federal Regulations Food and Drugs  21: Parts 100-169, 1990;  Code of Federal Regulations Food and Drugs 21: Parts 170-199, 1989).

Class I. When glutamic acid is refined to approximately 99% glutamic acid, the FDA requires that the ingredient/product containing the 99% pure glutamic acid be identified on food labels as "monosodium glutamate."

Class II. When protein is broken down into its constituent amino acids, and refinement results in an ingredient/product that is less than 99% pure glutamic acid, the product is referred to as a "hydrolyzed protein product" (HPP).  This is typically stated on labels as "Natural Flavors". The manufacturer can say "There is no MSG in our product" as long as the MSG is less than 99% of the ingredient listed.

Olney and others have demonstrated that HPP, like "monosodium glutamate" causes glutamic acid type hypothalamic lesions and neuroendocrine disorders. HPP contain not only processed free glutamic acid (MSG) but other amino acids, including aspartic acid and L-cysteine, which are known to exert the same or similar neurotoxic effects as glutamic acid. (Olney, J.W., Ho, O.L., and Rhee, V. Brain-damaging potential of protein
hydrolysates. N Engl J Med 289: 391-393, 1973; Schainker, B., and Olney, J.W. Glutamate-type hypothalamic-pituitary syndrome in mice treated with aspartate or cysteate in infancy. J Neural Transmission 35: 207-215, 1974).

Humans who suffer adverse reactions to the ingestion of monosodium glutamate also suffer adverse reactions to ingestion of HPP (Schwartz, G. R. In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome Santa Fe: Health Press, 1988, pp 7-10). Similarly, they will suffer adverse reactions to ingestion of reaction flavors.

FDA regulations require that products that contain MSG inits "monosodium glutamate" form must be labeled with the words, "monosodium glutamate." Similarly,  FDA regulations require that products that contain MSG in its HPP forms must be labeled with their individual unique "common or usual names."  However, the FDA does not require, and has refused to require, that the MSG in products that contain any source of MSG be identified. The rationale given by the FDA for this refusal is that FDA code does not require that constituents of an ingredient be disclosed to the consumer. The MSG in hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, sodium caseinate, etc., is considered, by the FDA, to be a constituent, and therefore does not need to be disclosed.  Thus, very often, nothing on the label of a product containing MSG reveals that the product contains MSG.

The FDA goes even farther in allowing MSG to be "hidden," even more surreptitiously, in food.  When many MSG-containing ingredients are added to "flavor," "natural flavors",
"flavoring," "natural flavoring," "stock," or "broth," not even the "common or usual names" of those particular MSG-containing ingredients need to be disclosed.

It is extremely important to the glutamate industry that consumers should believe that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is identical to the glutamic acid in intact protein and in higher organisms (like the human body). The glutamate industry continues to deny that exposure to free glutamic acid found in processed food (MSG) causes adverse reactions including hives, asthma, seizures, and migraine headache; causes brain damage, learning disorders, and endocrine disturbances; and is relevant to diverse diseases of the central nervous system such as addiction, stroke, epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and degenerative disorders such as ALS, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

Central to their argument is the lie that the processed free glutamic acid used in processed food and in pesticide and fertilizer products is identical to the glutamic acid found in unprocessed, unadulterated food and in the human body. Central to the success of their argument is the fact that this glutamate industry lie has never been challenged by a
legislator, agency of the US government, or the Courts. When sued by those who have legitimate claims for damages caused by MSG, perpetrators of the lie settle out of court and leave no public record. Legislators and the Courts defer to the FDA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the FDA, EPA, and USDA refuse to respond.

Most of the glutamic acid with which consumers come in contact is found in protein where it is connected to (or bound to) other amino acids in long chains.  There are two forms of glutamic acid found in nature: L-glutamic acid and D-glutamic acid. When glutamic acid is found in protein it is referred to as bound glutamic acid.  The glutamic acid found in protein is L-glutamic acid, only. Eating protein (which will contain bound glutamic acid that is L-glutamic acid, only) does not cause either brain damage or adverse reactions.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, industrialists began to manufacture free glutamic acid.  Manufactured/processed free glutamic acid (MSG) always contains D-glutamic acid, pyroglutamic acid, and various other contaminants in addition to L-glutamic acid. Manufactured/processed free glutamic acid (MSG) causes brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders in laboratory animals.  Manufactured/processed free glutamic acid (MSG) also causes adverse reactions which include skin rash, tachycardia, migraine headache, depression, and seizures in humans.

This information should be sufficient to demonstrate that processed free glutamic acid used in processed food, drugs, cosmetics, personal care products, dietary supplements, and in pesticide and fertilizer products is not identical to the glutamic acid found in unprocessed, unadulterated food, and in the human body. Truly natural glutamic acid does not contain
contaminants. Processed free glutamic acid (MSG) does.
 

This is another viewpoint about ...

THE MSG IN MOST COMMERCIAL FOOD

The Slow Poisoning of America, a book written by John Erb, who was a research assistant at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He spent years working for the government and made an amazing discovery while going through scientific journals for his book.

In hundreds of studies around the world, scientists were creating obese mice and rats to use in diet or diabetes test studies. No strain of rat or mice is naturally obese, so scientists have to create them. They make these creatures morbidly obese by injecting them with MSG when they are first born. The MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates, causing rats (and perhaps humans) to become obese. They even have a name for the fat rodents they create: "MSG-Treated Rats." 

Study on Overweight in Chinese Adults

John wondered what was MSG in, and he was shocked when he went into his kitchen and checked the cupboards and the refrigerator. MSG was in everything -- the Campbell's soups, the Hostess products, Doritos, the Lays flavored potato chips, Top Ramen, Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper, Heinz canned gravy, Swanson frozen prepared meals, and Kraft salad dressings, especially the "healthy low-fat" ones.

The items that didn't have MSG marked on the product label had something called "Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein," which is just another name for Monosodium Glutamate.


It was shocking for him to see just how many of the processed foods we feed our children every day are filled with this stuff. MSG is hidden under many different names in order to fool those who read the ingredient list, so that they don't catch on. (Other names for MSG are "Accent, "Aginomoto," "Natural Meat Tenderizer," etc.)

But it didn't stop there.

John wondered what restaurants serve food which contain MSG?  Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, every restaurant -- even the sit-down eateries like TGIF, Chili's, Applebee's, and Denny's -- use MSG in abundance. Kentucky Fried Chicken seemed to be the WORST offender: MSG was in every chicken dish, salad dressing. and gravy. No wonder the coating on the skin is so good -- their secret spice is MSG!

So why is MSG in so many of the foods we eat? Is it a preservative, or a vitamin?

Not according to John Erb. In his book, The Slow Poisoning of America, he said that MSG is added to food for the addictive effect it has on the human body.

Even the propaganda website sponsored by the food manufacturers lobby group supporting MSG explains that the reason they add it to food is to make people eat more.

A study of the elderly showed that older people eat more of the foods that it is added to. The Glutamate Association lobbying group says eating more is a benefit to the elderly, but what does it do to the rest of us?

"Betcha can't eat [just] one," takes on a whole new meaning where MSG is concerned!  And we wonder why the nation is overweight!

The MSG manufacturers themselves admit that it addicts people to their products. It makes people choose their product over others, and makes people eat more of it than they would if MSG wasn't added.

Not only is MSG scientifically proven to cause obesity, it is an addictive substance. Since its introduction into the American food supply fifty years ago, MSG has been added in larger and larger doses to the pre-packaged meals, soups, snacks, and fast foods we are tempted to eat everyday.

The FDA has set no limits on how much of it can be added to food. They claim it's safe to eat in any amount. But how can they claim it's safe when there are hundreds of scientific studies with titles like these:

"The monosodium glutamate (MSG) obese rat as a model for the study of exercise in obesity." Gobatto CA, Mello MA, Souza CT , Ribeiro IA. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 2002.

"Adrenalectomy abolishes the food-induced hypothalamic serotonin release in both normal and monosodium glutamate-obese rats." Guimaraes RB, Telles MM, Coelho VB, Mori C, Nascimento CM, Ribeiro.Brain Res Bull. 2002 Aug.

"Obesity induced by neonatal monosodium glutamate treatment in spontaneously hypertensive rats: An animal model of multiple risk factors." Iwase M, Yamamoto M, Iino K, Ichikawa K, Shinohara N, Yoshinari Fujishima.Hypertens Res. 1998 Mar.

"Hypothalamic lesion induced by injection of monosodium glutamate in suckling period and subsequent development of obesity." Tanaka K, Shimada M, Nakao K Kusunoki.Exp Neurol. 1978 Oct.

No, the date of that last study was not a typo; it was published in 1978. Both the "medical research community" and "food manufacturers" have known about the side effects of MSG for decades.

Many more of the studies mentioned in John Erb's book link MSG to diabetes, migraines and headaches, autism, ADHD, and even Alzheimer's.

So what can we do to stop the food manufactures from dumping this fattening and addictive MSG into our food supply and causing the obesity epidemic we now see?

Several months ago, John Erb took his book and his concerns to one of the highest government health officials in Canada. While he was sitting in the government office, the official told him, "Sure, I know how bad MSG is. I wouldn't touch the stuff." But this top-level government official refuses to tell the public what he knows.

The big media doesn't want to tell the public either, fearing issues with their advertisers. It seems that the fallout on the fast food industry may hurt their profit margin. Producers and restaurants have been addicting us to their products for years, and now we are paying the price for it. Our children should not be cursed with obesity caused by an addictive food additive.

But what can I do about it? I'm just one voice! What can I do to stop the poisoning of our children, while our governments are insuring financial protection for the industry that is poisoning us?

Spread the word!

If you are one of the few who can still believe that MSG is good for us and you don't believe what John Erb has to say, see for yourself. Go to the National Library of Medicine at
http://www.pubmed.com

Type in the words "MSG Obese" and read a few of the 115 medical studies that appear.

We the public do not want to be rats in one giant experiment, and we do not approve of food that makes us into a nation of obese, lethargic, addicted sheep, feeding the food industry's bottom line.

With your help we can put an end to this poison. Do your part by telling others about MSG.

Blowing the whistle on MSG is our responsibility, so get the word out.

List of foods that contain MSG are below...  [sources FDA and "Food Allergies" by William E. Walsh, M.D.]:

Ingredients that always contain MSG

  • Calcium caseinate
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Gelatin
  • Glutamate/glutamic acid
  • Monopotassium glutamate
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Hydrolyzed soy/Vegetable/etc. protein
  • Textured protein
  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Yeast extract
  • Yeast food
  • Yeast nutrient
Ingredients, food and beverages that might contain MSG or that were processed with MSG
  • Bouillon
  • Broth
  • Carrageenan
  • Enzyme-modified food
  • Fermented foods and beverages
  • Beer
  • Bourbon/Scotch/Whiskey/Brandy/Wine
  • Other alcoholic drinks
  • Flavors and flavorings
  • Natural flavorings
  • Natural beef flavoring
  • Natural chicken flavoring
  • Natural pork flavoring
  • Smoke flavoring
  • Barley malt
  • Malt extract
  • Malt flavoring
  • Maltodextrin
  • Pectin
  • Protein-fortified foods
  • Textured protein
  • Seasonings
  • Soy extract
  • Soy protein
  • So protein concentrate
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Soy sauce
  • Stock
  • Ultrapasteurized foods
  • Whey protein
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Whey protein isolate

IMPORTANT: (please continue reading!) This list is for your reference. It is not a complete list, because in fact, there are varying levels of MSG depending on the ingredient/product. Please examine your diet and the things you're consuming in more detail if you think you might have a problem with MSG. A lot of the time you won't find exact information (disclosure) on product labels. For example the soy sauce I use doesn’t say it contains MSG on the product label. Instead, the soy sauce says, "Hydrolyzed soy protein". The sausage that I had been eating was labeled: "Monopotassium glutamate."

More info at: Truthinlabeling.org, "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about MSG." This site is run by a Chicago non-profit and contains a wealth of information related to MSG. 

Interesting paragraph I found on the above site: 

Glutamate Blockers?

Have you noticed that pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars developing glutamate blockers with which to fight neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer's disease, while the glutes are pouring (often hidden) processed glutamate (MSG) into our food?

Here's an article from US FDA (2003), "MSG: A Common Flavor Enhancer."

This article takes the stance that, yes, MSG is controversial, as there have been reports of reactions to MSG for decades, but these are among select groups and even then, are not consistent. I wouldn't rely on a single article, let alone one from the FDA, but would consider it significant that there have been ongoing reports of reactions even despite FDA recognition of MSG as "generally recognized as safe" as a food ingredient.

Here's a link to an FDA Backgrounder (1995) that says many similar things in more detail to the FDA article above, "FDA and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)."

Take it with a grain of salt! Consider your diet, how you feel on routine basis and particularly how you feel after meals. Examine the labeling of what you are eating -- look for any of the ingredients above or the types of foods/beverages above. For the record, per the FDA's and its affiliates' conclusion that the reactions to MSG are centered on asthmatics and, or, those consuming MSG in large amounts (or on an empty stomach), I am not asthmatic, nor was I consuming MSG in "large" amounts for a single meal, nor was I necessarily eating on an empty stomach.

The FDA's stance is dubious at best. The best you can do for yourself is to examine as I suggested above.

After reading all the info, I have come to the conclusion that MSG in our food can cause problems and if the only benefit of MSG is to want us to eat more, why is it in the food. Even the FDA site says there are side effects to MSG. Also with the obesity problem, do we really need to eat more? Think about this for a minute...if you have to doctor something up to make it tasty to the pallet, is it really good for you? 

Apples, oranges, grapes...good healthy food doesn't need any added ingredients. What processed food do they add natural favors to?  You got it...they are mostly the foods that need something to enhance the taste to cover up the bad and cheap unhealthy ingredients.  So, in conclusion, does it not seem feasible for us to consider eating more whole food...the way they were created by nature?

"You Are What You Eat"

Have A Wonderful MSG Free Day / Evening!

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