Better or Worse
Jack L. Samuels
From a quarterly commentary on food ingredient issues
Another Concern for the MSG-Sensitive Individual
Effective July 9, 2002, the FDA approved the use of Neotame as a nonnutritive sweetener in food. Neotame is nothing more than a reformulated aspartame that will require smaller amounts than aspartame to achieve the same sweetness. Since Neotame will be protected under a new patent, it provides its producer with new patent protection. (The patent on aspartame has run out.) Neotame, like aspartame, contains aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and a methyl esther.
Neuroscientists have found, in animal studies, that aspartic acid and glutamic acid load on the same receptors in the brain, cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, and act in an additive fashion. People who are sensitive to processed free glutamic acid (MSG) experience similar reactions to aspartame, and people who are sensitive to aspartame experience similar reactions to MSG, providing that they ingest amounts of the substances that exceed their tolerances for MSG/aspartame.
People who currently react to MSG and/or aspartame should expect to react similarly to Neotame.
The FDA reports that the first application for approval of Neotame was filed by Monsanto on February 10, 1998. Around that time, my wife requested a copy of the application under the Freedom of Information Act. We were advised that the information could not be sent to us, but that we could review the file if we went to Washington, DC. We went to Washington, DC, and did review the file on a very hot day, in a small room that had no windows or air conditioning. FDA staff checked on us every few minutes.
At the time of our review of Monsanto’s application, three human studies on the safety of Neotame were presented. The studies had few subjects, all of whom were employees of the company. Some of the subjects reported headaches after ingesting Neotame, but the researcher concluded that the headaches were not related to Neotame ingestion. Not mentioned in the studies was the fact that migraine headache is, by far, the most commonly reported adverse reaction to aspartame in the files of the FDA. The FDA has over 7,000 reports of adverse reactions to aspartame. The reported reactions include death.
In this writer’s opinion, the FDA’s approval of Neotame provides one more example of how the FDA has changed its mission over the years. The FDA was established to protect consumers, but apparently now sees its mission to be the protection of industry.
When, in the 1970s, application for approval of aspartame was first submitted to the FDA by Searle Laboratories, the application was rejected. Aspartame was not approved until President Reagan’s appointment as head of the FDA, Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, unilaterally, and against the previous recommendations of FDA staff, approved aspartame. Within six months, Hayes left the FDA to join the public relations firm under contract to Searle Laboratories. At the time, a former employee at the White House, Donald Rumsfeld, was the head of Searle Laboratories, manufacturer of aspartame.
How could the FDA find aspartame to be unsafe prior to Dr. Hayes unilateral approval, and now find a similar product, Neotame, to be safe?
How Blind Can Scientists Be?
As I write this column, Time magazine has had two recent articles on the subject of obesity in children, and it is difficult to read a newspaper or watch television for seven days in a row without reading or hearing something about the growing number of people who are obese. If one stands on a busy corner of Main Street, USA for a relatively short period of time, they likely will see more than one grotesquely obese young person. I am speaking of young people who are over 250 or 300 pounds.
As one advancing in years, I can assure you that these grotesquely obese young people were not seen when I was young. What is causing grotesque obesity? The experts are trying to tell us that our young people are eating too much fast food and not exercising enough. Why don’t the experts mention that many peer reviewed studies on laboratory animals have determined that MSG causes brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, including grotesque obesity? Many of the researchers used the same MSG that we give to infants and children in infant formula, vaccines, and table food.
I invite you, legislators, and any scientists interested in the study of obesity in the young to go to www.pubmed.gov and type in “glutamic acid, obesity.” Request that 100 records be shown, which will take you back beyond 1969, when John W. Olney, M.D., determined that mice being fed MSG had become grotesquely obese due to lesions in the hypothalamus area of the brain. The records shown on this Web site clearly demonstrates that Dr. Olney’s findings have been replicated many, many times over the years. Today, some scientists use MSG as an ablative tool to kill brain cells in some of their studies.
Isn’t it time to look at the possibility that the ever increasing use of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in our society in infant formula, vaccines, and table food is a contributing factor in the occurrence of obesity? The same government Web site will demonstrate that glutamic acid can pass the placental barrier, and, especially in the young, can pass the blood brain barrier in certain regions and under certain circumstances.
Are scientists afraid of the glutamate industry? Isn’t it time for
governmental health agencies to look at MSG as a possible cause of obesity?
Attention Deficit Disorder
On May 22, 2002, the Cox News Service reported that nearly 7.0 percent of elementary-age children in our country (more than 1.6 million children), have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD). This number was released in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, based on a 1997 and 1998 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. The nationwide survey was based on 78,041 households in which parents were asked if any of their children of 6-11 years of age had ever been diagnosed with ADD by a physician or other health professional or diagnosed with a learning disability by a health care professional or school official.
The study also found that 7.7% (1.8 million children), suffer from learning disabilities. However, since ADD and learning disabilities overlap in some children, the total number of children affected by one or both of the conditions was found to be 2.6 million.
I submit that scientists and government funded researchers should be looking at processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as a contributing factor to ADD and learning disabilities . If you believe that this is nonsense, as the glutamate industry would contend, go to wwwpubmed.gov and type in “glutamic acid, learning disabilities.”
For Better or Worse
Jack L. Samuels
A quarterly commentary on food ingredient issues
The Truth Is Out
In late September, I was privileged to address the annual meeting of the Celiac Sprue Association. People with Celiac Sprue, a genetic disease that results in malabsorption of grains, have some of the same problems with food labels that MSG-sensitive people have. Grains are often hidden in food under names other than wheat, rye, barley, or oats.
I wish to share with you what was presented by Samuel Page, Ph.D., Scientific Director, Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (the Joint Institute), Washington, DC, one of the other invited speakers. Dr. Page presented a talk entitled "Toxins in Human Foods." The Joint Institute is a cooperative effort between the University of Maryland and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to pool specialized knowledge, equipment, and facilities. It is clear that the Institute has a direct connection with the FDA.
During the course of Dr. Page's presentation, he discussed the eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) outbreak of 1989 related to use of the essential amino acid, L-tryptophan, as a supplement. During this outbreak, over 35 people died and over 1,000 people became ill, many with life long debilities.
Dr. Page explained that L-tryptophan is found in many of the foods that we eat. Turkey, for example, is known to be high in L-tryptophan. That is why many people become sleepy following a big turkey dinner. Many people who had difficulty sleeping bought L-tryptophan as a supplement to help them sleep. Although it is reported to have been effective in improving sleep, it was found to be causing severe health problems.
In the investigation that followed, it was determined that most of the L-tryptophan used in our country came from one Japanese firm, Showa Denko. Laboratory analysis of the Showa Denko product, involving chromatography, indicated that their L-tryptophan product contained a contaminant or contaminants. Although the FDA made no final determination, word spread that L-tryptophan was generally safe, and that only the product produced by Showa Denko contained a contaminant, and the contaminant caused EMS. Today, if you ask your health store operator about L-tryptophan, he/she will repeat this story, and inform you that L-tryptophan, though available through prescription from some compounding pharmacies, is banned as a dietary supplement.
The FDA continues to have a number of unanswered questions regarding L-tryptophan, including why some people who were affected with EMS used an L-tryptophan product that was not produced by Showa Denko.
During Dr. Page's talk, he clearly stated that although the FDA has found contaminants in L-tryptophan supplements, they have not been able to identify what specific contaminant caused EMS. He clearly stated that the researchers are now beginning to believe that some people are sensitive to the contaminants found in the L-tryptophan that is found in supplements, a manufactured product. Dr. Page went on to explain that people vary in their tolerances to substances and that, therefore, some people can react to minute amounts of a substance that they are not able to tolerate.
Well, isn't that interesting? A number of years ago, my wife, Adrienne, and I shared with the FDA the fact that MSG-sensitive people typically only react to glutamic acid that has been freed from protein through a manufacturing process (like L-tryptophan), and that MSG-sensitive people refer to such processed free glutamic acid as "MSG." Furthermore, we pointed out that this processed free glutamic acid (MSG) ALWAYS includes contaminants (like L-tryptophan). In the case of glutamic acid, the contaminants include D-glutamic acid, pyroglutamic acid, carcinogenic propanols (in cases of acid hydrolysis), and, carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (in some, if not all, reaction flavors). (See http:www.truthinlabeling.org/manufac.html)
As you know, The FDA currently refuses to acknowledge that MSG contains anything besides L-glutamic acid, and maintains that MSG is identical to the L-glutamic acid found naturally in unadulterated, unprocessed higher organisms (which is truly L-glutamic acid, only). The FDA further contends that no one will react to less than three grams of MSG, ingested on an empty stomach. The FDA refuses to acknowledge the fact that some of us suffer SEVERE reactions to processed free glutamic acid (MSG) and that some of us react to minute amounts of the substance. On the other hand, Dr. Page made it very clear in his talk that people vary in their tolerances to substances and that, therefore, some people can react to minute amounts of a substance that they are not able to tolerate.
Dr. Page's statements are very significant. They indicate to me that the FDA has the technology to determine why we react to processed free glutamic acid (MSG), and that the FDA knows that some people can react to minute amounts of a substance to which they are intolerant. The FDA's experience with L-tryptophan, an amino acid, demonstrates that it is understandable why some people are suffering debilitating and/or life threatening reactions to another amino acid, glutamic acid.
The time has come for the FDA to stop misleading the public about the safety of MSG. Its time for all processed foods to me measured for free glutamic acid, post production, and to require that processed foods that are found to contain free glutamic acid list the term "MSG" on the label, with the amount present in the product stated in milligrams.
Court Decision Regarding Bioengineered Foods
In 1992, the FDA adopted a policy of "inaction" regarding bioengineered foods, in disregard to warnings from its own experts about unique health hazards and disagreement among other scientists regarding the safety of such foods. Since that time, the FDA has insisted that it is not necessary to label bioengineered products, in spite of the fact that other countries have mandated full disclosure.
In 1998, a coalition of public interest groups, scientists, and religious leaders, coordinated by the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, filed suit against the FDA. The suit challenged the FDA's presumption that bioengineered foods are safe, its refusal to require that bioengineered foods be tested for safety. and its refusal to require that such foods be labeled.
As occurred in the suit against the FDA in which the Truth in Labeling Campaign participated in a suit to force full disclosure of MSG on processed food labels, the FDA was only required to submit evidentiary material that the FDA wanted to submit. In this case, that meant that the FDA only provided the court with the written record of the agency when it made its decision in 1992, omitting all additional information that the FDA has received since that time.
On October 2, 2000, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that despite "significant" scientific dispute, the FDA's decision not to regulate bioengineered foods is technically legal. Although the court recognized that the FDA's own scientists warned about unintended side effects from bioengineered products and that there was a lack of scientific basis for the FDA's policy, the court held that the FDA's political appointees were legally entitled to disregard such expert input.
In 1994, the Truth in Labeling Campaign suit ended similarly.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
An August 25, 2000 Associated Press article indicated that Lotronex, a new drug for irritable bowel syndrome, could cause severe intestinal side effects, including, in some cases, the need for surgery. Reports of side effects were apparently only from women. The article included the fact that irritable bowel syndrome now affects up to 15% of the population.
In response, the FDA ordered Glaxo Wellcome Inc., to attach a "plain English" pamphlet to their product, explaining the risk, and stating that women should stop taking it at the earliest sign of a problem.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disease that is diagnosed solely from symptoms that are presented to a physician. As an MSG-sensitive physician friend of ours in Ohio who has suffered from the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome recently stated, "There is no such thing as irritable bowel syndrome. I had over 50 patients with symptoms of the disease who were totally cured through avoidance of MSG."
How sad it is that millions of people have to suffer from unnecessary maladies because the FDA refuses to acknowledge that MSG can cause adverse reactions in some people. Avoidance of MSG should help people who believe that they suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. It won't help Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., producer of Lotronex.
Asthma rates have more than doubled since 1980. Although the rise mostly includes inner-city poor, upper-income suburbanites are also included. The nonprofit Pew Environmental Health Commission predicts that some 19 million Americans will suffer from asthma by 2020.
As stated in an October 17, 2000 Associated Press article, "Scientist from Maryland to Michigan are studying humble house dust to find ways to reduce allergens that leave over 17.3 million asthma sufferers wheezing." Although less than half of the states track asthma cases, the article points out that, each year, 5,000 Americans die from asthma and 500,000 asthma sufferers are hospitalized.
Scientists continue to study dust mites, cockroach dander, pet dander, mold, and pollen as asthma triggers. That confuses me greatly since it seems to me that all of these "suspected triggers" existed long before we had an explosion in the incidence of asthma.
When will scientists realize that the growing use of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) and aspartame is likely contributing to the increase in asthma? There are many signs to support this claim. Certainly, the inner-city poor are less able to afford fresh foods than are upper-income suburbanites. There are peer reviewed studies that have concluded that MSG can cause an asthma attack, and the few glutamate industry sponsored studies that attempt to refute these claims are flawed to the point of being worthless. It is known that high school kids eat a great deal of junk foods, foods that typically contain some MSG. Large numbers of high school athletes suffer from exercise induced asthma. Although we have no data, we are told that some Arab countries are experiencing a growing incidence of asthma in the young who have turned to junk (convenience) foods.
The incidence of diabetes has increased 33% from 1990 to 1998, jumping over 70% in the past decade among people in their 30s. Type 2 diabetes affects 16 million Americans, based on 1993-94 data. This form of diabetes typically occurs as an adult and is associated with the body not producing enough insulin or not using insulin effectively.
In a study published in the September, 2000 issue of Diabetes Care, an endocrinologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated, in part, "We're now beginning to see the consequences of physical inactivity and weight gain that go well beyond feeling good about yourself or cosmetic issues."
Why don't we begin to look at the cause of obesity. The toxicity of MSG was first published in professional journals in 1969 when John W. Olney, M.D., Washington University, St. Louis, MO, noted that laboratory animals being fed MSG were becoming grotesquely obese. He found that the animals had lesions in the hypothalamus region of the brain and that MSG caused endocrine disorders later in life. Dr. Olney's findings have been replicated over and over through the years. At this time, some scientists use MSG in animal studies as an ablative tool to kill brain cells.
Clearly, something in our environment is contributing to the increase in diabetes. We are not saying that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is the cause of diabetes, but it is known that MSG can result in obesity in animals and affects hormone levels and metabolism.
A quarterly commentary on food ingredient issues
Is Anyone Listening?
I have previously reported that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) had delayed approval of AuxiGro WP Metabolic Primer (AuxiGro), a product that contains 29.2% processed free glutamic acid (MSG), for use on grapes as a fungicide. The CDPR reported that over 90 people wrote to oppose the use of AuxiGro on grapes, citing health concerns related to MSG. I sent in abstracts of over 500 peer reviewed studies regarding the toxic effects of MSG. Yet, without a public hearing, CDPR approved this use of AuxiGro.
In giving its approval, CDPR, like federal governmental entities, gave nonsensical reasons for their approval, reasons that could not possibly stand up to scientific scrutiny. For example, CDPR indicated that scientists in their medical and toxicology departments reviewed all negative comments and scientific data. They acknowledged "...potential human health effects that MSG can cause in sensitive individuals..." but concluded "...that the small amount of L-glutamic acid being applied [to grapes] would not have an adverse effect on people consuming treated grapes." Their conclusion conflicts with the fact that any competent physician or toxicologist knows that people who suffer allergic or sensitivity reactions vary in their tolerances to substances that cause their reactions, with some people having virtually no tolerance at all.
The CDPR also claimed that the L-glutamic acid in AuxiGro is the same as found in the body and a wide range of foods, including grapes. Using that false premise, the CDPR went on to state that "...the amount of glutamic acid naturally present in grapes far exceeds the allowable use rate on the [AuxiGro] product label."
In truth, however, the substance in AuxiGro referred to as L-glutamic acid
is different from the L-glutamic acid found in the body and in unadulterated,
unprocessed foods, including grapes. The L-glutamic acid found in AuxiGro is
accompanied by contaminants, as is always the case when L-glutamic acid has
been freed from protein through processing. The glutamic acid found IN
unadulterated grapes is ONLY L-glutamic acid.
(See http://www.truthinlabeling.org/manufac.htm for an explanation.)
The CDPR added that "...there is little likelihood of residues remaining on the grapes at time of harvest." However, AuxiGro is sprayed on crops with a silicon surfactant to keep it from washing off after application. If AuxiGro did not absorb into the grape plant, it would not work.
I would expect physicians and scientists at the CDPR to know the difference between the glutamic acid that is BOUND to other amino acids in unadulterated protein (L-glutamic acid, only) and the glutamic acid that has been FREED from protein through a manufacturing process (L-glutamic acid plus contaminants). I find it very unsettling, therefore, that when discussing processed free glutamic acid (MSG), as found in AuxiGro, the CDPR has used one of The Glutamate Association's favorite deceptive and misleading statements, a statement that fails to differentiate between BOUND and FREE glutamic acid, including processed free glutamic acid (MSG). The statement made by CDPR is:
"...an average adult consumes approximately 10.4 grams per day
[of L-glutamic acid] in foods..."
Since there are serious adverse reactions from MSG, and alcohol exacerbates the effects of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) on many MSG-sensitive people, I have concern that there will be some cases of serious illness and possibly cases of death from California wines made from AuxiGro sprayed grapes. I, for one, will buy no California wines without being assured that AuxiGro has not been used on the wine grapes.
Citric Acid Use Increases – New Source For Starch
Tate & Lyle, a world leader in the production of starch and citric acid, announced in June that they are now using wheat rather than corn in the production of starch. They also noted that world wide demand for citric acid is increasing 5% annually.
In making starch and citric acid, processors do not take the time or go to the expense of removing all protein from their products. That remaining protein is hydrolyzed, at least in part, during production, resulting in some processed free glutamic acid (MSG). Wheat is higher in glutamic acid than is corn.
Some MSG-sensitive individuals who have little tolerance for MSG have reported adverse reactions from products containing starch and/or citric acid.
Is Anything Sacred?
TLC remains concerned over the increasing use of genetically modified products. We are concerned that profit motives often override common sense and that the drive for money may cause some serious problems related to genetic modification. We also feel that it is unconscionable for genetically modified products to be marketed in the United States without disclosure to consumers. It is unexplainable that companies, including such big names as Kellogg's, agree to disclose the use of genetically modified ingredients in Europe where it is demanded, but refuse to offer full disclosure in the United States.
We have learned that the University of Idaho is experimenting with the injection of Prosilac (Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine somatotropin used to increase milk production in cows) into trout and catfish. The Prosilac treated fish mature two to three times faster than untreated fish.
We have also learned that a supplier of salmon eggs to the fish farming industry has developed genetically modified salmon eggs that introduce growth hormones into the fish, doubling the rate of growth. The producer of the genetically modified salmon eggs claims that the salmon will not contain more growth hormone than usual, but will merely retain a constant hormone level year round rather than only having such a level in warm weather months, as they contend is the case in untreated salmon. The producer also claimed that genetically modified salmon sold to farms will be infertile, an important issue since some salmon farms are penned in areas of the ocean and tens of thousands of fish are known to escape from ocean based salmon farms.
What are the concerns about genetically modified salmon? Some scientists claim that 100% success in infertility of genetically modified salmon can not be attained. If that is true, some escaped fish will almost certainly be fertile and reproduce in the wild, affecting the salmon specie as we know it today. Also, some believe that increased exposure of humans to growth hormones may result in increased levels of hormone related cancers.
The producer of the genetically modified salmon eggs claims to have orders for 15 million genetically modified salmon eggs. Delivery is planned within the next year.
A Safe Food?
The April issue of the Journal of the American College if Nutrition included a study by Dr. Lon R. White in which the safety of tofu was brought into question. Dr. White reported on a study that included over 3,000 subjects and included interviews from 1965-67 and examinations from 1991-93.
It was concluded that high tofu consumption at midlife, (two or more
servings per week),
resulted in poorer cognitive performance, lower brain weight, and larger ventricles than found in individuals with low tofu consumption. The researcher stated, in part, that "We found that poorer cognitive test performance in later life was weakly associated with a more oriental midlife diet." He went on to say that "...it became evident that the relationship with oriental diet could be attributed almost entirely to a single food item: tofu."
There has been considerable press recently regarding autism. Some scientists believe that 1 in 500 children now suffer from some form of autism. This includes a condition known as Asperger's Disease, a form of autism that differs from profound autism in that the affected individuals are less severely impaired. However, they have difficulty interacting with other children and are difficult to control in the home and in school. Sadly, many children with Asperger's Disease go unidentified as being mildly autistic, and are labeled as troublemakers or outcasts.
The condition of autism is now getting increased attention in the scientific community. Even the United States Congress showed an interest in autism when Congressman Dan Burton, the grandfather of an autistic child, held hearings, and continues to hold hearings on autism.
There is some concern that the increase in the occurrence of autism may be
related to vaccinations, particularly the combination vaccine for mumps,
measles, and rubella. In regard to vaccines, there has been concern expressed
that vaccines contain mercury. However, I have never heard anyone mention that
most, if not all vaccines contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG). MSG is a
known neurotoxic material.