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The Truth about the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

Many years ago, the Truth in Labeling Campaign approached the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), led by its director, Michael Jacobson, to ask for their help and support in making people aware of the toxicity of MSG and to require full disclosure of MSG on food labels.  We approached this nonprofit agency because the agency is well known in congress, and well known by many health conscious people.

At that time, the people at CSPI claimed to be well aware of the dangers of MSG, and gave us the impression that they would be supportive of our work.  However, as time passed, Michael Jacobson and his staff began to defeat our cause.  In one case, a respected independent journalist was going to cover testimony at a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) meeting organized to hear testimony on the subject of the safety of MSG in food.  He told us he was going to prepare an extensive article on MSG for publication in one or more respected magazines and/or newspapers.  However, on the day before the meeting, the journalist called CSPI’s Michael Jacobson for his thoughts about MSG, and Jacobson told the journalist that MSG was a non issue and that he would be wasting his time by attending the meeting.  He apparently stated it strongly since the reporter called me that evening to cancel his coverage of the MSG issue.

(It was surprising to find that the first speaker at the FASEB meeting was a CSPI staff member.)

On another occasion when we believed that the FDA was moving toward action on the MSG issue, a staff member of CSPI wrote to advise the FDA that more research on the subject needed to be done before any action should be taken on the issue.  Their letter totally ignored the fact that there are large numbers of peer reviewed studies that have concluded that MSG is dangerous while, at the same time, studies supporting the safety of MSG are industry funded and flawed to the point of being worthless.

It is of interest to note that all during this time, CSPI was championing the use of no fat foods, foods that, with relatively few exceptions, need some form of MSG to make them palatable.  Also, CSPI newsletters regularly promote foods that contain hidden forms of MSG with no mention of its presence.

Most recently, in the December 8-9. 2007 weekend edition, The Wall Street Journal published a two page article promoting the use and safety of MSG.  In that article, we read Michael Jacobson’s view on glutamate.  Jacobson stated “I don’t see normal amounts of MSG as posing a risk to the vast majority of people.”

Perhaps Jacobson will better understand the scope and severity of the MSG issue if every MSG sensitive person who subscribes to his newsletter immediately cancels his or her subscription.

Jack Samuels   
Truth in Labeling Campaign