MSG on 60 Minutes got people riled up 30 years ago. Could it do the same thing today?

Thirty years ago this 60 Minutes program (video below) on MSG was the second most-watched show of the year. Despite that, the show’s creator Don Hewitt caved to glutamate-industry pressure and refused to air it a second time.

Since then the Glutes have kept a tight wrap on information about the toxic effects of MSG, filling the Internet, newspapers and TV with cleverly crafted propaganda that carries the falsehood MSG is a harmless ingredient. Advertising studies have been rigged to conclude that nothing was found to suggest that MSG is anything other than safe, diverting funding from research that might concluded that MSG is harmful, enlisting the support of celebrities and professionals who vouch for the safety of their excitotoxic – brain damaging – product and keeping any mention of possible MSG-toxicity out of FDA files.

But it’s a new day. And as much as we may disagree about our politics and even what truth is, no one will disagree with the notion that it’s wrong to poison people, most especially our children. And so, through a Citizen Petition addressed to FDA Commissioner Hahn, I have asked the people at the FDA (who have kept the myth of the safety of MSG alive no matter what) to weed out the lies that the FDA is telling at the behest of the glutamate industry and officially stop calling the excitotoxic manufactured glutamic acid and the MSG that contains it generally recognized as safe — GRAS.

To comment on and support that petition, simply go here and then click the blue “comment now” button at the top of the page.

And be sure to share this message with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn friends.

Who are the ‘Glutes’?

For years, the Truth in Labeling Campaign has been calling them the “Glutes,” a name that many now recognize as being those who make money selling their poisons hidden in food. We gave them a name because we want you to know them and start talking about them, and it’s hard to talk about someone or something if it doesn’t have a name.

The founder and chief operating officer of this loosely knit operation is Ajinomoto, the world’s largest producer of monosodium glutamate. Ajinomoto designs and bankrolls its research, bragging of the millions it’s spending on public relations to “clear MSG’s bad name.” Their goal is to counter the fact that every day more and more people are suffering reactions to MSG and other flavor enhancers that contain MSG’s toxic manufactured free glutamate (MfG) by plastering the world with propaganda that MSG has gotten a bad rap.

Without the researchers who execute their double-blind studies using excitotoxic, brain damaging placebos, without the food technologists who incorporate MfG into thousands of processed foods, without the manufacturers that use MSG in their products so they can skimp on quality — aided by the grocery outlets that sell their products — and without the “public servants” at the FDA who for 50 years have turned their backs on research that clearly demonstrates MSG has toxic potential while endorsing the out and out lie that MSG is safe for use in food, MSG would have long ago been banned. And it can be done. As recently as 2018 the FDA acted to no longer allow the use of seven flavoring substances and flavor enhancers deemed dangerous.

Those are the Glutes: the people who work to keep MSG flowing without mentioning that they work for the producer of MSG when signing off on their work.

If MSG is ‘natural’ why have hundreds of patents been issued for methods of producing it?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in an animal, vegetable, or mineral was manufactured and then ingested or added in some manner.

Below are just three examples of patents pertaining to the manufacture of MSG. There are literally hundreds more. MSG is man-made.

1. US3281247A – Process for producing monosodium glutamate

2. CN104211611A – New fermentation technology of sodium glutamate

3. WO1996031459A1 – A process for the preparation of monosodium glutamate

Below are general discussions pertaining to methods used in production of MSG (written by scientists, not by Ajinomoto’s hired hands).

1. Optimization of glutamic acid production by Corynebacterium glutamicum using response surface methodology

Naiyf S. Alharbia, Shine Kadaikunnana, Jamal M. Khaleda, Taghreed N. Almanaaa,Ganesh Moorthy Innasimuthub, Baskar Rajooc, Khalid F. Alanzia, Shyam Kumar Rajaram.

Journal of King Saud University – Science. Volume 32, Issue 2, March 2020, Pages 1403-1408.

2. Tasty waste: industrial fermentation and the creative destruction of MSG

Sarah E. Tracy

Food, Culture & Society (2019). 22:5, 548-65,

Scientific fraud carried out by the pros

Scientific fraud is one of the things the U.S. manufacturer of MSG specializes in, although according to the working definition of “scientific fraud,” what they do doesn’t fit the accepted definition of scientific fraud. 

That’s because the Glutes don’t plagiarize, fabricate (make up) data, or falsify data by manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. Instead, the Glutes design and implement studies guaranteed to fail to find evidence of MSG toxicity.  This is discussed in part in the book, The Perfect Poison.

“By the time I’d completed my research, having reviewed all the IGTC-sponsored studies, I understood just how the IGTC produced study after study that found no association between ingestion of monosodium glutamate and adverse reactions. I’d observed that while a variety of researchers worked on the various studies, and the work was produced at different universities and medical schools, the designs of each study were essentially the same, only the details varied. While the flaws of each study could be dismissed as shoddy science, sloppy scholarship, or inadvertent error, taking the group of studies as a whole, it appeared that there was clear intent to deceive the public about the safety of monosodium glutamate.

Intent to deceive? Could it be otherwise? Given the methodological flaws inherent in their work, and their unwillingness to change their protocols after those flaws were pointed out to them, we were drawn to the notion that it was with intent that IGTC researchers moved from a predetermined conclusion (that their product is ‘safe’) to design and implementation of research guaranteed to bring readers back to that predetermined conclusion. And remember, they brought their study protocols to the FDA, where they were approved. If they haven’t been ‘accidentally’ destroyed, the records are housed at the FDA’s Dockets Management and obtainable through a Freedom of Information request.”

The subject is also addressed in the website, Seven Lines of Evidence (human studies rigged to produce negative results)

I Didn’t Realize I Didn’t Know How to Eat until I Was Pregnant

Guest blog by Shamyah

This is for all the moms who are currently pregnant and facing problems with the ability to be healthy and make better choices.

I am currently 19 weeks and six days pregnant.

I started a spiritual journey in the spring of 2021 that lasted almost two years. This required me to start off by eating raw vegan food for a week. Then I started exploring all the processed vegan foods to make my journey easier.

As I got deeper into this journey, I learned that most of these companies, such as Impossible, Beyond Meat, Violife, etc., were overly processed and contained a lot of wheat, soy protein powder, and so on. That made the diet no better than eating meat. Another problem is most well-known vegan food brands were owned or had something to do with Bill Gates — and everyone knows I wouldn’t say I like Bill Gates.

Once I got to follow other people on social media who are true vegans, I noticed that they made food with mushrooms, homemade powders from veggies, different herbs, and nutritional yeast instead of readymade vegan cheese.

Then the journey got discouraging. I felt like the good thing that I was trying to do knocked me down a few steps again because everything that I had just learned I had to relearn for the better. Then I couldn’t afford the vegan diet anymore. I had to sacrifice it. But I realized I could afford it if I were doing it the right way by buying fresh fruits and veggies, frozen fruits, less seasoning and herbs.

But was I willing to give up the good taste that I had become used to? That was the most significant question! I did start eating small amounts of meat again because we didn’t have enough money to buy both vegan and regular food. I was the only vegan in the house, so I sacrificed.

I didn’t realize I didn’t know how to eat until I was pregnant. When I’m hungry I’ll eat whatever I got a taste for, or just something not to be hungry. We learned about the food pyramid in like 3rd or 4th grade, and never bought it up again. Then being anemic plays a significant role in everything, and I didn’t realize how important that was until my second trimester. I learned from some doulas that it’s common and should be taken more seriously than we realize. It’s a learning process and an eye-opener. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you are a first-time mom, because the whole process is new, and you’ll be more prepared for the next time!

Is your brain ‘switch’ broken?

There’s a “switch” in your brain that’s supposed to turn off your desire to eat when you’ve had enough.  Is yours broken? 

If you were born after 1957 and your mom ate a fair amount of processed or ultra-processed food, there’s a good chance you suffer from Type 2 Obesity — obesity that is:

◼ produced in a fetus by something a pregnant woman “feeds” to her fetus before birth,

◼ not caused by lack of willpower, laziness, or genetic deficiency,

◼ something you — and your health care provider – are probably not aware of.

MSG and aspartame – ‘friends’ on the top ten

MSG and aspartame have a lot in common. Both contain an essential ingredient that is an excitotoxic — brain damaging — amino acid. And you’ll find both on more and more “top ten” lists of food additives to avoid.

The editors of Prevention list MSG and aspartame on their 10 food additives to never ever eat, calling FDA loopholes for “testing and approval“just plain dangerous.”

The website Food Matters includes MSG and aspartame on its Top ten food additives to avoid list, saying MSG is a “known excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death.”

Dr. Sears says to avoid MSG and aspartame “for the brain health of your family,” also noting that “excitotoxins can alter the chemistry of the brain.”

And a blog done by The Underground Health Reporter also notes MSG and aspartame as number one and two on their list of The 10 worst food ingredients.

It’s not just coincidental that they appear together, because the essential ingredient in each is an excitotoxic – brain damaging – amino acid.

Glutamic acid: initiator of the obesity epidemic

Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D., March, 2022 

NOTE: Studies confirming that the free glutamate in MSG causes brain damage, intractable obesity, infertility and more were done before it was understood that excitotoxic free glutamate would be found in ingredients other than MSG.


Obesity is the excessive or abnormal accumulation of fat or adipose tissue in the body that impairs health through its association with numerous serious diseases and health conditions.  It is a public health epidemic with an economic burden estimated to be about $100 billion annually in the United States alone (1).  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who are obese, compared to those with a healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:    

  • All-causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Many types of cancers
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning (2).

There are countless factors that contribute to obesity, but only one that by itself can explain the ongoing obesity epidemic:the fact that excitotoxic amino acids (EAA) ingested by pregnant women are passed via the placenta to their fetuses where they cause brain lesions in the arcuate nucleus – brain damage that is followed by gross obesity as these children approach maturity.

A series of studies from 1969 and the decade that followed demonstrated that three conditions had to be met in order to produce food-induced neurotoxicity:  

  • A vulnerable brain (immature or damaged). 
  • A sufficient quantity of excitotoxic material to cause that material to become excitotoxic.   
  • A way for that excess material to be delivered to the vulnerable brain.

Damage caused by manufactured free glutamate delivered by pregnant women to the vulnerable brains of their fetuses meets all three of these conditions.  A sufficient quantity of excitotoxic material became available and accessible in 1957 when vast amounts of free glutamate began to appear in processed food.


Undisputed is the fact that there are high concentrations of glutamate in the brain.  When present in protein or released from protein in a regulated fashion (through routine digestion) glutamate is vital for normal body function. Glutamate is the principal neurotransmitter in humans, carrying nerve impulses from glutamate stimuli to glutamate receptors throughout the body.

Disputed by some producers of free glutamate is the assertion that glutamate is an excitotoxic amino acid.  This Jekyll and Hyde amino acid becomes toxic when present in greater quantity than a healthy human needs for normal body function. Then, as an excitotoxic neurotransmitter, it fires repeatedly, damaging targeted glutamate receptors and/or causing neuronal and non-neuronal death by over exciting those glutamate receptors until their host cells die (3-8).

Glutamate-induced brain damage

The first study to address the possibility that glutamate from exogenous sources (from eating, for example) might cause brain damage was published in 1969. At the time, it was demonstrated that glutamate-induced brain damage to the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus of neonatal animals was followed by obesity, reproductive dysfunction, behavioral disturbances and more (9).  In the decade that followed, research confirmed that glutamate given as monosodium glutamate administered or fed to neonatal animals causes hypothalamic damage, endocrine disruption, and behavior disorders after either subcutaneous (10-31) or oral (17,23,24,26,32-36) doses. 

Developmental dysfunction or abnormalities in growth and behavior were also noted in a number of studies. Animals treated with glutamate as neonates or in the first 12 days of life suffer neuroendocrine disturbances including obesity and stunting, abnormalities of the reproductive system, and underdevelopment of certain endocrine glands (9,18,20,36,37-54) and possible learning deficits either immediately or in later life (40,43,44,55-61).

In addition, Bhagavan and others reported behavioral reactions including somnolence and seizures (62-69; tail automutilation; (42,56) and learned taste aversion (58). Irritability to touch was interpreted as conspicuous emotional change by Nemeroff (42). Lynch (70) reported hyperglycemia along with growth suppression. He noted that hyperglycemia did not occur when subjects were given intact protein that contained a large amount of glutamate.

Since the 1980s, researchers have focused on identifying and understanding human abnormalities associated with free glutamate, often for the purpose of finding drugs that would mitigate glutamate’s adverse effects.  Invariably, those have been studies of the glutamate from endogenous sources.  The possibility that glutamate from exogenous sources might contribute to those abnormalities and/or might cause brain damage in humans leading to gross obesity, was not considered.

The case for the safety of MSG

Brain lesions

In the 1960s and 1970s, research done by people not employed by the glutamate industry demonstrated that monosodium glutamate fed to laboratory animals causes brain lesions, endocrine disorders, and observable adverse reactions.

In response, glutamate-industry researchers pretended to replicate those animal studies; but changed the methodology enough to make certain that there would be nothing negative to report.  

 These investigators made no attempt to replicate the methods of the independent scientists, and used entirely different (and inappropriate) methods for preservation and staining brain tissue in the analysis of results. 

On occasion, I had the privilege of visiting with John W. Olney, MD, the man who coined the term “excitotoxin” to describe the effects he had seen free glutamate have on neonatal animals.  And while he didn’t dwell on criticizing the research of others, he was generous in answering my questions.  He told me that when he first found that glutamate (given as MSG) caused brain damage in infant mice, he searched out or was put in touch with Dr. W. Ann Reynolds, and either Reynolds or someone sent by Reynolds spent a great deal of time in Olney’s laboratory, learning the detail of how his experiments had been conducted.  By and large, it was Reynolds and coworkers Filer, Stegink, and Lemkey Johnson who failed to replicate Olney’s findings.  Other industry scientists producing similar results using similar methodology were affiliated with laboratories that did contract work for the glutamate industry.

Adverse reactions

Glutamate-induced adverse reactions may or may not involve the brain.  There has been no study of that issue. But since the subject of this paper is glutamate-induced obesity second to brain damage caused by glutamate ingested in quantity by pregnant women and passed to fetuses through the placenta, the subject of glutamate-induced adverse reactions has not been considered.

Establishment of excess free glutamate

It is necessary for a substantial amount of free glutamate to be ingested for that free glutamate to become excitotoxic.  For glutamate to be excitotoxic, there must be an accumulation of free glutamate greater than needed for normal body function.  

In 1957, bacterial fermentation was introduced as a new and improved method for production of free glutamate for use in food. From that point forward, with genetically modified bacteria secreting free glutamic acid through their cell walls, unlimited production of free glutamic acid was virtually assured (71).

It wasn’t long before competing manufacturers added dozens more excitotoxic food additives to the American diet. Following MSG’s surge in production and its manufacturer’s aggressive advertising, there was broad recognition that profits could be increased if a company produced its own flavor-enhancing additives. Since that time, the market has been flooded with flavor enhancers and protein substitutes that contain manufactured free glutamate such as hydrolyzed pea protein, yeast extracts, maltodextrin and soy protein isolate, as well as MSG. 

Although there have been studies that mention the fact that there are substantial amounts of free glutamic acid in processed food (72-80) there has been no systematic study. There are, however, numerous market reports with promotional materials that speak of manufactured glutamate history and forecast.  Market reports for monosodium glutamate focus on that commodity.  Market reports for glutamic acid generally take into account all flavor enhancers (81-87). 

You only have to compare the ingredients listed on the labels of processed and ultra-processed foods to a list of the hidden sources of manufactured free glutamate to realize just how much manufactured free glutamate there is in the food supply. Table 1 lists the food ingredients that contain free glutamate as an ingredient or a constituent of an ingredient. By virtue of the fact that ultra-processed foods are typically made with inferior foods and/or chemicals, every ultra-processed food contains flavor-enhancers, which will contain manufactured free glutamate regardless of the ingredient names on the labels describing those ingredients.   

Today, there is sufficient excitotoxic free glutamate in processed foods, dietary supplements, snacks, protein powders and protein drinks, protein substitutes, fake meat, enteral care products, and pharmaceuticals for a person to consume in a day’s time the quantity necessary for that free glutamate to become excitotoxic.  Only a portion of that comes in an ingredient called monosodium glutamate or E621. 

Since the 1957 change in method of MSG and manufactured free glutamate production, there are so many products that contain excitotoxic ingredients that it is easy for a consumer to ingest an excess of excitotoxic material during the course of a day.   

Effective delivery of excitotoxic free glutamateA way for that excess of glutamate to be delivered to the vulnerable brain.

Effective delivery of excitotoxic free glutamate would depend in large part on the integrity/health of the brain to which it is being delivered.

In children and adults with mature brains, delivery can be accomplished by providing the subject with free glutamate to ingest in sufficient quantity to cause it to be excitotoxic.

Delivery of excitotoxic free glutamate to a fetus and/or neonate will be accomplished when a pregnant or lactating female passes excess free glutamate to a fetus or neonate through the placenta or in mothers’ milk.

Nourishment (and not so nourishing material) is delivered to the fetus in the form of material ingested by a pregnant woman and passed to the fetus through the placenta. MSG can cross the placenta during pregnancy (88-90), can cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) in an unregulated manner during development (91-94), and can pass through the five circumventricular organs which are leaky at best at any stage of life (92,95).  Glutamate is an ingredient that passes to the fetus. The placenta does not filter out glutamate (88).   Moreover, the BBB is easily damaged by fever, stroke, trauma to the head, seizures, ingestion of MSG, and the normal process of aging (66,96). 

And the fetus will be more vulnerable to glutamate-insult than the newborn.

Similar to drugs and alcohol, free glutamate can also be passed to infants through mothers’ milk. Newborn humans will receive glutamate through mothers’ milk or through infant formula, both of which routinely contain free glutamate (97).

The glutamate in mothers’ milk, however, will not be excitotoxic unless lactating mothers ingest excessive quantities of free glutamate – quantities sufficient to cause free glutamate to become excitotoxic.

Onset of the obesity epidemic 

According to the Surgeon General’s “Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation,” the prevalence of obesity changed relatively little during the 1960s and 1970s, but increased sharply over the ensuing decades (98).

That information is consistent with information that comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) which periodically collect measured height and weights in representative samples of the population.  The first records of weight came from the CDC’s 1960-1962 report with subsequent reports confirming that the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008 (99).

Summary and conclusions 

We have briefly discussed excitotoxicity, the phenomenon underlying the obesity epidemic, drawing attention to the fact that a possible role for excitotoxins from exogenous sources has not previously been considered. 

We have reviewed the studies that present evidence of glutamate excitotoxicity. Underscoring the recognition that glutamate-induced brain damage leads to obesity, is the fact that since 1980, it has been common practice to use monosodium glutamate or glutamic acid to produce brain-damaged obese animals for use in studies of various glutamate-related abnormalities.

We have described the way in which excitotoxic free glutamate can be delivered by pregnant women to fetuses and neonates, causing brain damage and subsequent obesity.

The single challenge to the assertion that the brains of the fetus and neonate are vulnerable to the toxic effects of glutamic acid from exogenous sources has been mounted by the International Glutamate Committee (IGTC) based on a paper Richard Hawkins presented in September 2008 at the IGTC’s 100th Anniversary Symposium of Umami Discovery: “The Roles of Glutamate in Taste, Gastrointestinal Function.”  

In 1969, the IGTC was organized to represent the interests of Ajinomoto, the U.S. producer of MSG and manufactured free glutamate. Hawkins received both travel expenses and an honorarium from the IGTC, and acknowledged the sharing of ideas and advice from Andrew Ebert, Ajinomoto’s agent in charge of providing test and placebo materials to their researchers doing double-blind studies on the safety of MSG.  It was Ebert who provided his researchers with placebos containing aspartic acid, an excitotoxic amino acid known to cause adverse reactions and brain damage identical to that caused by the excitotoxic glutamic acid in MSG test material. 

Without taking into consideration the unique properties of an immature brain, Hawkins asserted that the human brain is impervious to glutamate damage.

It has been demonstrated that following the 1957 modernization of glutamate production, there has been sufficient free glutamate available and accessible in processed and ultra-processed foods to cause accumulated glutamate to become excitotoxic.

From National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) documenting the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity, we have observed increased incidence of obesity dating from 1960, as well as the demonstration of racial disparities. In the 2012 article “The Nation’s childhood obesity epidemic: Health disparities in the making,” Suzanne Johnson makes a case for the obesity epidemic being, in part, a product of an environment that promotes overeating — over time having changed the type and quantity of food we eat.  She cites less time for in home food preparation, the consumption of a plethora of fast food and convenience food, and the fact that fast-food restaurants are more common in ethnic minority neighborhoods (100).

The reader has only to connect the dots between 1) the vulnerable brain of the fetus and neonate receiving excitotoxic amino acids in processed and ultra-processed food, and 2) the fact that prior to the surge in production of glutamic acid triggered by the modernization of manufacture of the glutamic acid in MSG, there was no obesity epidemic.  Then trace the unfolding of the obesity epidemic from reformulation of free glutamate in 1957 to the early 1970s when those made obese by the influx of free glutamate began to become noticeable.  

Thus, it has been demonstrated that obesity can be caused by excitotoxic amino acids ingested by pregnant and/or nursing women and delivered to fetuses and neonates who exhibit obesity as they reach maturity.

No discussion would be complete without considering why this information has not been discussed previously by others.  With the first suggestion that MSG might have toxic potential, those with financial interest in promoting MSG as a valuable flavor-enhancer launched well-funded, well-articulated campaigns to promote their product and deny its toxicity. That included rigging studies to come to the foredrawn conclusion that MSG is a harmless food additive and securing the active cooperation of regulators as well as the help of medical professionals (101).

That might account for the fact that to date, the roles of MSG and manufactured free glutamate in the obesity epidemic have been overlooked.

Recognition of the fact that glutamate-induced brain damage in fetuses and neonates lies at the root of the obesity epidemic should serve as a valid starting point for new ground-breaking research. It should put an end to the shame and blame that have long been associated with obesity, and facilitate appropriate counseling and medical interventions for those who are afflicted. 

Excitotoxic amino acids delivered to fetuses and neonates by pregnant and nursing women should be included as recognized risk factors for obesity.  

References can be found here.