WWW.truthinlabeling.org -- Home page

Reducing the Cost of Health Care

Studies published in medical journals during the 1970s tell us that more than 25 per cent of the population of the United States suffered adverse reactions following ingestion of the food ingredient called monosodium glutamate in amounts then commonly used.  Today, in addition to monosodium glutamate, there are well over 40 food ingredients found in processed foods that contain processed free glutamic acid -- the toxic component of monosodium glutamate – all of which consumers refer to as MSG.  One or combinations of these ingredients will cause reactions identical to those caused by monosodium glutamate if enough is consumed.  We estimate, therefore, that in 2010, well over 25 per cent of the population will suffer adverse reactions following ingestion of processed free glutamic acid (MSG).

During the 1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compiled a list of adverse reactions reported to the FDA by MSG-sensitive consumers.  Reports included:

headache (17.9%)

vomiting and nausea (7.7%)

diarrhea (5.9%)

abdominal pain and cramps (5.4%)

change in mood (5.3%)

change in heart rate (5.1%)

dizziness or balance problems (3.6%)

difficulty breathing (3.4%)

fatigue/weakness (3.1%)

localized pain and tenderness (2.6%)

sleep problems (2.5%)

change in sensation (numbness, tingling) (2.4%)


change in body temperature (2.3%)

change in vision (2.3%)

change in activity level (2.0%)

chest pain (1.9%)

local swelling (1.8%)

difficulty swallowing (1.4%)

joint and bone pain (1.3%)

blood pressure changes (1.2%)

changes in skin and nail coloration (1.2%)

other neurological (1.2%)

other symptoms (18.8%)

If only 25 per cent of our population suffered from these conditions, the impact of MSG consumption on the cost of health care would be incalculable.  But with the ever increasing use of MSG in food and elsewhere, we find it not unreasonable to estimate that as many as 40% of our population now reacts to MSG.  Every day the Truth in Labeling Campaign receives thank-you letters from consumers whose medical bills ran into hundreds or thousands of dollars without solving their medical problems -- before they tried eliminating MSG from their diets.


That could all change if the MSG in processed food was identified on the labels of processed food.  If consumers could tell what products contained MSG, and which didn’t, they would be better able to tell if MSG was causing their adverse reactions – and with that knowledge, reduce their occurrence.   And if the amounts of MSG present were specified -- accurately and honestly given in milligrams -- a consumer might learn how much MSG could be consumed before it caused a reaction – allowing consumers to plan meals that would not cause adverse reactions, again reducing the occurrence of adverse reactions.

The savings in health care dollars?  Incalculable!  The power of the glutamate industry?  Enough to keep MSG in processed food hidden.  Why?  Because if consumers could easily identify the fact that MSG was causing their adverse reactions, consumers might stop buying food that contained MSG.  And industry might be forced to go back to using better quality ingredients in their processed foods.