Today I came across a 2018 article in the U.S.News & World Report health section titled “Scientists Have Known MSG Is Safe for Decades. Why Don’t Most Americans?” by Toby Amidor.
Toby Amidor, according to U.S News, has a string of credentials five lines long including Adjunct Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and Hunter School of Urban Public Health, where she teaches food service management. The magazine advises us to follow her “cutting edge nutrition information” at various online outlets.
In her U.S. News article, Tony Amidor first tells the reader that MSG’s bad reputation isn’t deserved. She then proceeds to spew out the glutamate-industry propaganda we have seen over and over again in the last two years as part of Ajinomoto’s multi-million-dollar campaign trying to prove that MSG got a bad rap and is safe for everyone.
The best of Ajinomoto’s sound bites are all in this piece, such as MSG is “naturally present in many everyday foods like tomatoes…” (ignoring the fact that MSG is manufactured, not grown in foods such as tomatoes and mushrooms).
And she learned what she knows about MSG from THE experts at a conference sponsored by Ajinomoto. According to Toby Amidor, this negative impression of MSG started with a letter that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968 that the editors titled Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. I guess they didn’t mention at that conference that right around the same time studies had shown that MSG causes brain damage when fed to infant mice. And that there were U.S. Senate hearings calling for removal of MSG from baby food – which industry promised to do.
In her article, Toby Amidor didn’t skip a beat. There’s the line “…when they injected extremely high doses of MSG directly into newborn mice’s abdomens, the mice were likely to develop health issues including obesity, stunted physical development and disturbances in brain development.” (Toby Amidor referred to it as “brain development” instead of what it really was — brain damage. And she left out infertility.) Ignored were the many MSG feeding studies that produced brain damage, obesity, learning and behavior deficits along with reproductive disorders.
The article claims that in the 1990s American scientists started questioning the validity of Chinese restaurant syndrome. Note, however, that if you actually look up the articles, those scientists were all supported, directly or indirectly by Ajinomoto, or one of their agents, such as the International Food Information Council (IFIC).
And finally, there are the so-called “independent studies” done by glutamate industry researchers who used placebos that caused reactions identical to those caused by MSG. Placebos that contained the excitotoxic aspartic acid found in aspartame. And the not so surprising results? “…those who had been given MSG didn’t experience any more ‘Chinese restaurant syndromes’ than those who’d taken the placebo.”
Maybe more a-fib, nausea and vomiting, asthma, or seizures, but those aren’t included in Chinese restaurant syndrome, And, guess what? Toby Amidor didn’t bother to mention those reactions either.
But this is all business as usual for Toby Amidor. Her list of published articles spreading the glutes’ catchphrases is quite lengthy, as is the list of her clients and corporate sponsors. She even advertises services such as “corporate and social media messaging,” saying that she “teams up with food companies and organizations as their media spokesperson.” One client listed is Ketchum Public Relations, a huge PR firm headquartered in NYC. And on a Ketchum client list you’ll find mega-MSG producer Ajinomoto.
And that is certainly no surprise. Especially when one can rattle off the glutamate party line as glibly as Toby Amidor can.
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