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FDA considers foods whose labels say "No MSG" or "No added MSG" to be misleading if the food contains ingredients that are sources of free glutamates, such as hydrolyzed proteins

 
 
 

March 20, 2002

Ms. B.
Columbia City, IN  46725

Dear Ms. B.

Thank you for your letter of February 24, 2002, expressing concern over the food use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and potential sensitivity to the ingredient. You asked whether there were other names of MSG that you should look for on food labels.

As you know, foods containing MSG must declare it as an ingredient on their labels.  While MSG is only one of several forms of free glutamate used in foods, consumers frequently use the term MSG to mean all free glutamate.  Because of this, FDA considers foods whose labels say "No MSG" or "No added MSG" to be misleading if the food contains ingredients that are sources of free glutamates, such as hydrolyzed proteins.

Hydrolyzed proteins, or protein hydrolysates, are acid-treated or enzymatically-treated proteins from certain foods.  They contain salts of free amino acids, such as glutamate, at levels of 5% to 20%.  Hydrolyzed proteins are used in the same manner as MSG in many foods, such as canned vegetables, soups, and processed meats.

Processed foods also may contain other ingredients that contain significant levels of free glutamate.  In addition to hydrolyzed proteins, the following ingredients contain glutamates (including MSG) with the percentages of glutamate content indicated in the parenthesis:

Autolyzed yeast extract (1% to 12%)

Sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate (~ 1%)

Aged cheese, such as Parmesan and Roquefort (~ 1%)

The following ingredients MAY contain glutamates (including MSG), but the amount of glutamate can range from very small to significant:

Flavoring
Natural Flavoring (including natural beef, chicken and pork flavoring)
Bouillon
Broth
Stock
Tomato paste
Textured protein
Whey protein
Dried yeasts, torula years, and yeast nutrients

These ingredients, like any other ingredients, are declared on the label by their names.

If you have any further questions concerning this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.