Dear Trader Joes,

We love your stores, the products you offer, and your splendid staff. But you’re not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about an excitotoxin found in your products.

When we come in and ask about foods without MSG, we’re looking for products that do not contain manufactured free glutamate. That’s the name of the toxin in monosodium glutamate that causes our adverse reactions. Maybe you knew that and maybe you didn’t. But now you do. So please help us avoid these additives that make us ill.

Here’s a list of the ingredient names in which MSG is hidden.

Names of ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid:
Glutamic acid (E 620)
Glutamate (E 620)
Monosodium glutamate (E 621)
Monopotassium glutamate (E 622)
Calcium glutamate (E 623)
Monoammonium glutamate (E 624)
Magnesium glutamate (E 625)
Natrium glutamate
Anything “hydrolyzed”
Any “hydrolyzed protein”
Calcium caseinate, Sodium caseinate
Yeast extract, Torula yeast
Yeast food, Yeast nutrient
Autolyzed yeast
Textured protein
Whey protein
Whey protein concentrate
Whey protein isolate
Soy protein
Soy protein concentrate
Soy protein isolate
Anything “protein”
Anything “protein fortified”
Soy sauce
Soy sauce extract
Anything “enzyme modified”
Anything containing “enzymes”
Anything “fermented”

Names of ingredients that often contain or produce processed free glutamic acid during processing:
Carrageenan (E 407)
Bouillon and broth
Any “flavors” or “flavoring”
Natural flavor
Citric acid, Citrate (E 330)
Anything “ultra-pasteurized”
Barley malt
Malted barley
Brewer’s yeast
Pectin (E 440)
Malt extract
The following work synergistically with MSG to enhance flavor. If they are present for flavoring, so is MSG:
Disodium 5’-guanylate (E 627) / Disodium 5’-inosinate (E-631) / Disodium 5′-ribonucleotides (E 635)

If you lose this list, you can replace it at our website here. And take a look around while you’re there. You just might be able to help a friend avoid asthma, a-fib, seizures or migraine headache.

Thanks for the help. Thanks for caring.


Protein powders: healthy additions or brain-damaging toxin?

Adding a scoop of a protein powder to a shake or smoothie sure sounds like a good idea. After all, proteins are essential nutrients for the human body. They are one of the building blocks of body tissue and can also serve as fuel sources.

But there’s a very important distinction to be made between the protein in meat, fish, poultry (and other whole-food sources) and the powder that comes out of that box, bag, or jar. Read this post carefully before you touch another protein-fortified drink, snack bar or supplement. Your brain will thank you!

Amino acids

Proteins are polymer chains made of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. During human digestion, proteins are broken down in the stomach to smaller polypeptide chains via hydrochloric acid and protease enzyme actions.   

When protein is ingested and then broken into individual amino acids, those individual amino acids proceed slowly through the human digestion processes. Unless one is allergic or sensitive to the food that contains the protein, its amino acids continue along to be digested without adverse effect.

But if protein is broken into individual amino acids before it is ingested, those free amino acids take on a toxic potential that they would never have ingested as part of a whole protein.

Take glutamic acid (glutamate).  When released from protein during digestion, glutamate is vital to normal body function. Often referred to as “a building block of protein,” it is the major neurotransmitter in the human body, carrying nerve impulses from glutamate stimuli to glutamate receptors throughout the body.

Yet, when freed from its protein source (be it from milk, peas, soy, etc.) and then consumed in amounts that exceed what the healthy human body was designed to accommodate, glutamate takes on “excitotoxic” properties. What was a normally functioning neurotransmitter turns hostile, firing repeatedly and damaging receptor cells in the brain and elsewhere until they die.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes a labeling distinction between whole protein foods and potentially excitotoxic processed protein products that are made up of individual amino acids.

FDA rules say that an unadulterated tomato is to be called a “tomato.” A “pea” is required to be called a “pea” and whey is called “whey.” Those are their common or usual names. No reference is made to the fact that these protein-containing foods contain protein.  

In contrast, when amino acids are freed from proteins such as peas, the resulting ingredients will be called “pea protein,” or “isolated pea protein,” “pea protein concentrate,” or “hydrolyzed pea protein.” And you’ll find these ingredients in all kinds of food products, including a popular dairy-free drink called Ripple.

Other food ingredients that have the same excitotoxic properties have names that include the words “hydrolyzed,” “autolyzed,” “amino acid,” “L-glutamate,” “glutamic acid,” and “L-glutamic acid.”

So, why haven’t you come across this information before? Why are products containing these brain-damaging excitotoxins even allowed on the market?   

The answers lie in the dark history of an unregulated industry – “policed” by an FDA that chooses to look the other way. That history can be read in The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A study in Suppression of Information. Accountability in Research. 1999(6):259-310; by A. Samuels.

To learn more about how the FDA cooperates with Ajinomoto, the world’s largest producer of monosodium glutamate, check out this page at our website.  

Recipe for deception

Monosodium glutamate is produced in the United States by the Ajinomoto, Co., Inc., which happens to be the world’s largest manufacturer of monosodium glutamate.

You may not appreciate the product that they sell, but you really should appreciate the ingenuity of their marketing — their sure-fire recipe for deception. This rich and powerful corporation twists the truth, misrepresents what is true and tells half-truths so very cleverly that its deceptions go largely unnoticed. Monsanto, the corn refiners (the high fructose corn syrup people), and the companies that made the artificial sweetener aspartame before Ajinomoto took it over, haven’t been nearly as clever as Ajinomoto in keeping their products from being the subjects of negative publicity.

As an example, here are nine “game plans,” tactics that have proven to be pure genius in the way they’ve managed to hoodwink consumers into believing MSG is a safe and natural product:

# 1:  MSG is a poison that those in the flavor-enhancer industry maintain is perfectly safe. And here’s one way they skirt an out-and-out lie to do it — they never say that research shows that their product is safe, but rather claim that “Another study has failed to find that monosodium glutamate is harmful.”  What they don’t tell you is that they’ve rigged all their studies to produce favorable results (failing to find…), going so far as to lace their placebos with aspartic acid, an excitotoxin found in aspartame.  And if those studies don’t come out as planned, they are simply not published.

# 2: Research presented as evidence that monosodium glutamate is a harmless food additive has often been characterized as the “gold standard” — that is, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.  But if you review those studies, you’ll find that the subjects were not drawn randomly from a defined population (a necessary condition given the statistical tests used), and that, in fact, the only random factor in those studies might have been the order in which subjects who were administered both test and placebo materials were given those materials.

It is a known fact that since 1978, if not before, placebos used in Ajinomoto’s double-blind studies had been laced with aspartic acid (in aspartame), an additive that kills brain cells and causes virtually the same adverse reactions as the glutamic acid in monosodium glutamate.  One could, therefore, say with certainty, that the outcomes of the studies were skillfully manipulated — “controlled” — through the use of such placebos.

# 3: Chinese Restaurant Syndrome was the name given by editors to a 1968 article in the New England Journal of Medicine. In that article, Dr. Ho Man Kwok noted that after eating in a restaurant serving Northern Chinese food, he suffered three adverse reactions: numbness, tingling, and tightness of the chest that lasted for approximately two hours. Ajinomoto seized on this one man’s report of adverse reactions, and proceeded to act as though these were the only reactions caused by monosodium glutamate.  For example, when subjects in certain double-blind studies did not react to monosodium glutamate treatment with numbness, tingling, or tightness of the chest, researchers would claim that once again it had been showed that monosodium glutamate is a harmless food additive. Other adverse reactions known to follow monosodium glutamate ingestion, rapid heartbeat, brain fog, and seizures, for example, would not have been considered.

# 4: A number of glutamate-industry studies used “well subjects” in their experiments, without defining “well subjects.’’  Only careful reading of a number of those studies will reveal that “well subjects” are people who have never experienced any of the reactions known to be caused by ingestion of MSG.  These aren’t just healthy subjects — these are people who don’t react to monosodium glutamate (at least at the levels given to them).  These people will be given monosodium glutamate and, as expected, won’t react.  And glutamate-industry researchers running the study will claim that “Another study has failed to find that monosodium glutamate is harmful.” 

# 5: A number of glutamate-industry studies were alleged to have been done using subjects who were sensitive to monosodium glutamate. In truth, subjects in these studies were volunteers, often university or medical school students, paid handsomely to participate — but only if they claimed to be sensitive to monosodium glutamate. 

# 6: While companies like Monsanto represent themselves in defending the value of their products, until relatively recently Ajinomoto, a Japanese company, had Americans acting on their behalf, without mentioning Ajinomoto by name. Subtle though it may be, it’s not easy to criticize, or even think about something that doesn’t have a name.

# 7: It is said that authoritative bodies around the world have agreed that monosodium glutamate is a harmless food additive – and that’s true — sort of.  Not revealed is the fact that those authoritative bodies did no research of their own. Instead, with rare exception, they were given material that had been produced and approved by the glutamate industry, and delivered by the glutamate industry’s International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC), or its agents. That includes material provided by the FDA, an agency with close ties to the glutamate industry.

# 8: Glutamate-industry agents take every opportunity to make legitimate research look bad.  They will refer to studies wherein glutamate was administered to laboratory animals with phrases such as “…animal studies … often consisted of injecting super concentrated doses of MSG directly into creature’s abdomen…,” ignoring the fact that there are many studies that demonstrate that when monosodium glutamate is fed to laboratory animals, it causes brain damage and endocrine disorders such as obesity and infertility.

# 9: As of this writing, it is quite prevalent for MSG propaganda to say that “It all started with a 1968 letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine” (the letter from Dr. Ho Man Kwok mentioned above).  In actuality, Ajinomoto’s defense of monosodium glutamate did begin in 1968, but it wasn’t about anything as benign-sounding as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” It was in response to research done by John Olney, M.D. of Washington University in St. Louis, which demonstrated that monosodium glutamate causes brain damage and endocrine disorders in unborn and newborn mice. 

Although Olney’s findings were not published until 1969, he had shared them with Ajinomoto prior to publication.