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The following was written in response to an inquiry from a visitor to our web page.

M:

The dietitian who claimed that MSG was not in milk needs to be better informed.  Clearly, she is using the glutamate and food industry improper approach wherein they consider the term "MSG" to only refer to the food ingredient "monosodium glutamate."

Many MSG-sensitive individuals consider the term "MSG" to include any and all glutamic acid that has been freed from protein through a manufacturing process or through fermentation because they experience the same adverse reactions from such glutamic acid as they do from the processed free glutamic acid found in the food ingredient "monosodium glutamate," providing that they ingest amounts that exceed their tolerances for such substances.  (There are currently over 40 ingredients that include such free glutamic acid.)  This fact is acknowledged by the FDA in their "FDA Backgrounder," dated August 31, 1995, a document that is still in use and available on Internet.

You will note on our Web site (http://www.truthinlabeling.org/) that, when referring to the term "MSG," we define it as "processed free glutamic acid."  You will also note that published peer reviewed studies clearly show that the glutamic acid found in unprocessed, unadulterated products is different from processed free glutamic acid (MSG).  See www.truthinlabeling.org/manufac.html

There is processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in many dairy products.  We strongly suspect that the presence of MSG in many dairy products has resulted in adverse reactions in many people, leading many of them to erroneously believe that they are lactose intolerant.  It is our strong belief that if the dairy industry would eliminate the use of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) from dairy products, reports of lactose intolerance would drop dramatically, and dairy sales would increase.

Now, a discussion of where MSG is found in dairy products.

Powdered milk includes some processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as an inevitable result of the way in which the powder is manufactured.  Many, but not all reduced fat milks are made from powdered milk.  Also, if a milk does not meet state requirements, a dairy will fortify its milk with a powdered milk to bring the milk within state requirements.  This is most common in California, a state with very high milk standards, particularly during heat spells when cows tend to drink more water.

The dairy industry appears to be rapidly turning to a pasteurization process identified on product labels as "ultra pasteurized."  The higher heat used in this process appears to break down more of the milk protein than occurs in normal pasteurization, resulting in a level of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) that is causing adverse reactions in a number of MSG-sensitive individuals.

Any fermented product will contain some processed free glutamic acid because fermentation will break down protein. If citric acid is used in the yogurt and the citric acid is made from corn (the most common source of citric acid), there will be some MSG introduced into the product because in manufacturing citric acid, a remnant of protein remains and that remnant is broken down during production.  If the yogurt includes aspartame (about 40% aspartic acid), the product is contraindicated for MSG-sensitive people since aspartic acid, based on animal studies, works in the body in the same way as does glutamic acid.

Many MSG-sensitive people find that they suffer adverse reactions from domestic cheeses that use pasteurized milk in place of raw milk, and enzymes instead of rennet.  Apparently, the new, more powerful enzymes break down more of the milk protein than was the case in earlier years.

The most common problem for MSG-sensitive people in dairy products appears to be the use of a food ingredient identified on food labels as "carrageenan."  Carrageenan may interact with the milk protein in dairy products or may act independently, resulting in some processed free glutamic acid (MSG).  Carrageenan is found in most whipping cream, chocolate milk, buttermilk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and ice cream.

You are welcome to use this E-mail in any manner that you wish.

Jack Samuels
President
Truth in Labeling Campaign
http://www.truthinlabeling.org/
 

 

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This page was last updated on February 27, 2006

 

IF MSG ISN'T HARMFUL, WHY IS IT HIDDEN?