Yeast Extract, Now with More Toxic, Brain Damaging ‘Food Flavor Enhancement’

Yeast extract might well be called the darling of the processed food industry, and the straw that breaks the camel’s back for MSG-sensitive people. Like MSG it’s manufactured (not “natural”), and also like MSG it contains toxic manufactured free glutamic acid.

Yeast extract is one of those “clean label” ingredients, often used in products such as soups and fake proteins that state “No added MSG” on the label (which is actually against FDA regulations, but enforcing that rule is no longer bothered with by the FDA).  Also qualifying as a “clean label” ingredient would be any ingredient other than MSG that contains free glutamate.  (Check out over 40 ingredient names that contain varying amounts of free glutamate here.)

Now we’re learning of a recent invention, a method for “large scale” production of a yeast extract product with nearly triple the brain damaging “glutamic acid content” of other yeast extracts.  Its patent describes how this new and improved yeast extract “possesses more delicious flavor and improved capability for food flavor enhancement.” Glutamic acid, the patent states, in free form can “strengthen the delicate flavour of food.” We’re being told in this official document that the more free glutamate an ingredient contains, the more flavor it will impart to any food it’s added to.

The patent was applied for and owned by Angel Yeast Co., which calls itself a “high-tech yeast company in China” with 10 “advanced” manufacturing facilities in China, Egypt and Russia. Angel provides yeast extract to food manufacturers for use in everything from soup to snacks, promising its product provides a “magic flavor explosion.”

It’s a “magic flavor explosion” that comes with brain-damaging – excitotoxic – glutamate.

When consumed in excess (which differs from person to person), free glutamate becomes excitotoxic, with the capacity to overstimulate glutamate receptors in the body, causing them to fire rapidly and die. In simple terms, it causes brain damage.

We know that the new and improved yeast extract will contribute to the accumulation of toxic free glutamate.

What we don’t know is how much it will take to cause an excitotoxic “explosion.”

What are the Secret Ingredients in Popeyes Chicken?

Placing an ad in the Super Bowl for the first time, Popeyes is going big for national exposure, but where its ingredients are concerned, it’s hush-hush.

Do fast-food customers care about what’s in the food they eat?

It appears that Restaurant Brands International, which owns both Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, thinks they do. So much so that both brands have announced to the media how they have been hard at work shifting to “clean” ingredients.

Burger King promoted a list of 120 “non-essential artificial ingredients” that it planned to remove from its menu items back in 2021. That was followed by Popeyes’ announcement of going “clean” by 2025, with a focus on one additive in particular, monosodium glutamate (MSG). As reported in Fortune in 2022, Popeyes is “… currently testing all-clean ingredients in our batter, breading and sandwiches in a few U.S. markets and we expect to be on track to an all-clean menu nationwide by 2025.”

Deciding to take a look at the ingredient list for Burger King and Popeyes food to see just how “dirty” or “clean” it might be, we found something curious. Both chains keep the ingredients for their menu items a deep, dark secret.

We called a Popeyes restaurant and asked if we could see a list of ingredients. That appeared to be quite baffling to the manager. who said that no such thing existed.

Thinking that he just didn’t understand the request, we went to corporate “guest care” and asked there. The supervisor sent back this response: “We do not have a publicly available ingredient list for our U.S. locations at this time.”

We were told that our request would be escalated to the “internal nutrition team,” and information would eventually be provided. We are, however, still waiting.

“We do not have a publicly available ingredient list for our U.S. locations at this time.”

Popeyes customer service, 2/13/24

So, whether Popeyes or Burger King has indeed removed “non-essential artificial ingredients” or even MSG in particular from its food is a secret. All we do know is that even by Restaurant Brands International’s admission, “globally” its ingredients comprise tons of nasty additives.

The moral of this story is that if the food ingredients are kept secret, there’s a reason. And of course, you can’t believe everything Big Food tells you.


Just as this blog was about to be published, Popeyes managed to come up with the ingredients for four of its menu items, which we’ve listed below. Apparently, not only haven’t they done away with MSG, but it’s used quite extensively in the chicken, shrimp, and rice and bean items. Also included in Popeyes food are a bevy of preservatives, so-called “natural flavors,” emulsifiers such as carrageenan (a cause of gastric problems for many people), and artificial colorings — including the infamous FD&C red #3, a synthetic coloring derived from petroleum that was found to be carcinogenic in animals. Banned from use in cosmetics decades ago, it’s curiously still permitted by the FDA to be added to food.

And that’s another thing Popeyes wanted us to know – that its “natural flavor(s)” consist of ingredients “… Approved For Use in a Regulation Of Food And Drug Administration or Are Listed as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) on a Reliable Published Industry Association List.”

If you check out the list of ingredients below, it seems obvious why it’s so hard to find out what’s actually in Popeyes’ food.

Classic Chicken Tenders
Marinated Chicken: Chicken, Contains up to 30% solution of water, seasoning blend[seasoning(modified corn starch, salt, natural flavor, monosodium glutamate, onion powder, garlic powder, maltodextrin), modified food starch, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, chicken broth], mild seasoning[food starch modified(corn), monosodium glutamate, salt, seasoning mix of dried onion, dried garlic, dried celery and spices including paprika, natural flavor (oleoresin capsicum, polysorbate 80 added for emulsion and stability)].
Flour: Bleached wheat flour enriched (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, malted barley flour.
Batter: Enriched bleached wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, s-pack [enriched bleached wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, sugar, FD&C yellow #5 (may also contain yellow #6, red #40, grape color extract, blue #1, blue #2, beet color extract, annatto extract and / or turmeric extract), soybean oil, spices including mustard, dried whole eggs, nonfat dried milk, leavening (sodium bicarbonate and/or sodium aluminum sulfate), microcrystalline cellulose, natural flavor (all flavor ingredients contained in this flavor are approved for use in a regulation of food and drug administration or are listed as generally recognized as safe on a reliable published industry association list. This product also contains corn syrup solids)].
Shortening (Beef Tallow): Beef Fat with BHT and citric acid added to help protect flavor. Dimethylpolysiloxane, an antifoaming agent, added.
Spicy Chicken Tenders
Chicken: Chicken, containing a solution of water, seasoning (selected blend of capsicums including paprika, salt, garlic, monosodium glutamate, cumin & mustard), seasoning (modified food starch, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, monoglycerides, chicken broth, oleoresin (natural flavoring and coloring, cottonseed oil, mono and diglycerides, soybean oil, tocopherol (antioxidant)).
Flour: Bleached Wheat Flour Enriched (Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Malted Barley Flour.
Batter: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Enriched With Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Salt, S-Pack [Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Enriched With Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid),  Salt, Sugar,  Fd&C Yellow #5 (May Also Contain Yellow #6, Red #40, Grape Color Extract, Blue #1, Blue #2, Beet Color Extract, Annatto Extract  And / Or Turmeric Extract), Soybean Oil, Spices Including Mustard, Dried Whole Eggs, Nonfat Dried Milk, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate And/Or Sodium Aluminum Sulfate), Microcrytalline Cellulose, Natural Flavor (All Flavor Ingredients Contained In This Flavor Are Approved For Use In A Regulation Of Food And Drug Administration Or Are Listed As Generally Recognized As Safe On A Reliable Published Industry Association List. This Product Also Contains Corn Syrup Solids)].
Shortening (Beef Tallow): Beef Fat with BHT and Citric Acid added to help protect flavor. Dimethylpolysiloxane, an antifoaming agent, added.
Popcorn Shrimp
Shrimp, Breader (Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Salt, Leavening [Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate], Seasoning [Sugar, Spices], Soybean Oil), Water, Batter Mix (Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, And Folic Acid], Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Methyl Cellulose, Seasoning Mix [Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Salt, Sugar, Tartrazine (FD&C Yellow 5) [May Also Contain Sunset Yellow FCF (FD&C Yellow 6), Allura Red (FD&C Red 40), Grape Color Extract, Brilliant Blue FCF (FD&C Blue 1), Indigotine (FD&C Blue 2), Beet Color Extract, Annatto Extract Or Turmeric Extract], Spices, Dried Whole Eggs, Nonfat Dried Milk, Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Microcrystalline Cellulose, Natural Flavor, This Product Also Contains Corn Syrup Solids]), Cottonseed And/Or Soybean Oil, Shrimp Seasoning (Spices Including Paprika, Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Soybean Oil [Partially Hydrogenated], TBHQ and Citric Acid [To Protect Flavor], Dimethylpolysiloxane [Antifoaming Agent]), Sodium Tripolyphosphate (To Retain Moisture), Salt, Sodium Metabisulfite (As A Preservative).
Shortening (Beef Tallow): Beef Fat with BHT and Citric Acid added to help protect flavor. Dimethylpolysiloxane, an antifoaming agent, added.
Red Beans & Rice
Red Beans: Water, red kidney beans, pork fat [cured with water, salt, smoke flavor (sunflower oil and wood smoke flavors), sodium phosphate, sugar, brown sugar, sodium nitrite (salt, sodium nitrite {6.25%}, FD&C red #3)], red bean seasoning mix (salt, spices including paprika and parsley, dried garlic, and monosodium glutamate), dried onions. May contain food starch-modified.
Long Grain White Rice: Pre-cooked parboiled long grain rice enriched with niacin, ferric orthophosphate (iron), thiamin mononitrate (thiamin) and folic acid.
Red Rice Seasoning: Salt, seasoning (dried onion, dried garlic), spices including paprika, not more than 2% silicon dioxide or sodium aluminum silicate added to prevent caking. Less than 2% palm oil.
Liquid Margarine: Liquid and hydrogenated soybean oil, water, salt, contains less than 2% of palm and palm kernel oil, vegetable mono & diglycerides, soy lecithin, sodium benzoate (a preservative), citric acid, natural & artificial flavors, calcium disodium EDTA added to protect flavor, beta carotene (color), vitamin A palmitate added.
The information provided regarding our food is as complete as possible at the time of this email and is based on ingredient lists provided by our suppliers. Variations may occur depending on the season, supplier, and/or product preparation at your local restaurant. Please also note that normal kitchen operations can involve shared cooking, preparation areas, and utensils, and the possibility exists that your food may come in contact with other food products, including other allergens and ingredients. Popeyes recommends that you always consult your healthcare provider for questions regarding your diet.

Another deceptive marketing term to watch out for

“Delicious,” “hearty,” “nutritious,” and “wholesome,” are just some of the buzz words used to catch your eye in the supermarket. But nothing is as overused and fraudulent as the term “all natural.” 

Since all natural has no official definition, Big Food uses it without the least little concern on anything it cares to, including products that are so blatantly unnatural that companies have been sued for using the term. Kashi brand, owned by Kellogg’s, is one example. While the company settled several cases instead of going to court and paid out close to $9 million (much of it going to “reimburse shoppers” a small fraction of their purchase price), Kellogg’s only promised to clean up its language, not the Kashi ingredients.

The Kashi California class-action lawsuit, settled in 2014, involved falsely advertising cereals, bars, cookies and crackers as “all natural” or made with “nothing artificial” when they contained,  according to the complaint, “an array of chemicals.”

The court documents also stated that Kashi shakes are “composed almost entirely of synthetic and unnaturally processed ingredients…” many of which are “shocking.”  Also mentioned in the complaint was this interesting tidbit: “Defendants (Kashi) also added several highly process excitotoxins to its products that are hidden sources of monosodium glutamate, a.k.a. ‘MSG.’”

We recently checked out some Kashi products starting with Kashi GO Original cereal. The very first ingredient is soy protein concentrate, which always contains manufactured free glutamate, the very same excitotoxic, brain damaging, glutamic acid found in all flavor enhancers including MSG.

Kashi GO dark cocoa contains even more free glutamate-containing ingredients, namely lentil protein, pea protein and natural flavors. Many in the “GO” lineup, in fact, contain soy, lentil or pea protein – all sources of free glutamate.

The Kashi Go Protein Waffles aren’t any better, containing whey protein concentrate (said to be organic, so that makes it an organic excitotoxin!), and natural flavors.

Soon after the class-action cases were settled, an odd array of feel-good Kashi stories started circulating. “Eat This, Not That!,” for example bragged about the “10 things you don’t know about Kashi,” such as how they “help farmers” and are “friends to honey bees.” Other articles focused on their whole grains and that they are “health-conscious foods.” Of course, it could have been a coincidence, but we’ve observed that it’s common for PR firms to plant such favorable press after getting negative publicity.

As shoppers are becoming leerier of “all-natural” claims, Big Food is looking for other ways to deceive consumers. One expert in food labeling said “I think we’re seeing the end of the golden age of natural. We’ll see more words like ‘Simply’ instead.”

So, now we know another deceptive marketing term to watch out for.

The ‘soup wars’ are over, but the ‘clean label’ fraud lives on

Over a decade ago Progresso and Campbell’s duked it out over whose soup contained less MSG. Called the “soup wars,” the first shot was fired by Campbell’s in a 2008 ad that said more Progresso soups contained monosodium glutamate than Campbell’s. Soon after, Progresso took out a full-page ad in the New York Times stating that “Campbell’s has 95 soups made with MSG.”

Now, those big brands tell different stories about the MSG in their products.

Campbell’s has decided to focus on how safe MSG is. They tell us that “MSG occurs naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheeses,” while in fact MSG is manufactured.  It does not appear “naturally” anywhere.

Along with that, “for those looking to avoid MSG,” Campbell’s has “clean label” soups. Those are soups that contain the same toxic manufactured free glutamate that’s in MSG, which will be found in ingredients such as yeast extract, whey protein concentrate and natural flavoring, without any mention of the toxic glutamate in them.

Progresso has taken it a step further, claiming that its “focus on quality ingredients” means they’ve ditched using this excitotoxic additive all together.

Not exactly.

Progresso New England clam chowder is advertised as “no MSG added,” yet it contains natural flavor, yeast extract and whey protein concentrate. The brand’s Chicken & herb dumpling soup also states “No MSG added,” but contains natural flavor, corn protein (hydrolyzed), soy protein isolate and a second listing of natural flavor. Those are just two examples, we could go on and on, but you get the idea. All of those ingredients contain free glutamate.

Considering what’s contained in those soups, and how big and bold Progresso makes the claim of “No MSG added” one might think there’s no FDA regulation against such fraud. But there is.

Over 25 years ago the FDA issued this statement:

“While technically MSG is only one of several forms of free glutamate used in foods, consumers frequently use the term MSG to mean all free glutamate. For this reason, FDA considers foods whose labels say “No MSG” or “No added MSG” to be misleading if the food contains ingredients that are sources of free glutamates, such as hydrolyzed protein.”

Unfortunately, long ago the FDA stopped punishing or even scolding those who violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act – but that doesn’t make this any less a violation of FDA rules.

Campbell’s and Progresso are far from the only food manufacturers who engage in this “clean label,” “No MSG added” trickery. And soups are not the only products promoted this way.

So, when you pick up a product that states “No MSG” or “No added MSG,” you’ll know that you don’t even need to read the ingredient label.

Just put it back on the shelf.

The slow, steady, thought-altering drip of propaganda

A tip sheet to help fight back when you encounter the glutes’ ‘mishmash’ of altered facts

Effective propaganda doesn’t just hit once and disappear. It works best as a steady stream, most effectively coming at you from all directions. It puts a grain of sand in your oyster of belief, slowly eroding what you thought to be true.

One of the best propaganda campaigns currently out there is being hosted by Ajinomoto, the world’s largest manufacturer of monosodium glutamate. We’ve seen videos, blogs and “news” stories touting the safety of MSG. We’ve been told that avoiding this brain-damaging additive is somehow “racist.” We’ve been informed that it all started with a 1968 letter sent to the New England Journal of Medicine, and that any idea that this toxic substance is dangerous has been debunked by decades of scientific testing. All this disinformation being orchestrated by those in the glutamate industry who don’t mind spending multi-millions to keep generating their ill-gotten billions.

For that reason, we have prepared the following tip sheet for you. Since most of what is circulating is amazingly similar, you can use it for practically any glute hype that comes your way – and that includes articles in newspapers and magazines, Youtube videos and most especially talks on MSG by celebrity chefs and famous foodies.

Tip sheet to cut through the toxic fog of glutamate fiction

Fiction: MSG is made from corn, wheat, and beets

Truth: Since 1957 monosodium glutamate has been manufactured by using genetically modified bacteria to synthesize glutamic acid outside of their cell membranes and excrete it into a medium to accumulate. This “reinvention” has allowed for huge amounts of the additive to be made and used in previously unheard-of amounts in processed foods of all kinds.

Fiction: Avoiding MSG is somehow racist because of the term “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”

Truth: As you likely know, Chinese Restaurant Syndrome was the title given to a letter written by a physician and sent to the New England Journal of Medicine seeking information about reactions suffered after eating in a Chinese restaurant in the U.S. Why would avoiding this additive – generally done because of personal experiences such as migraines, asthma, depression, heart-rhythm abnormalities, pain, and even seizures – smack of racism?

Fiction: MSG is known to be perfectly safe – “nobody has come up with any science that says there is a problem with it.”

Truth: The studies cited by the Glutes as evidence of MSG safety are ones in which MSG was fed to volunteers who were given test material containing MSG at one time, and at another time given a placebo that contained (without disclosure) an excitotoxic amino acid — one that would trigger the exact same reactions as those caused by MSG. When subjects reacted to both test material and placebo, researchers claimed to have again failed to demonstrate MSG toxicity. More on this subject can be found here.

Ever vigilant in promoting its views, the glutamate industry has declared that both the FDA and regulators around the world have found monosodium glutamate to be safe. In fact, however, neither independent scientists nor independent regulators have found monosodium glutamate to be safe. FDA studies, which were actually reviews, always have been staffed by persons with ties to the glutamate industry. The regulators and/or authoritative bodies referred to by the glutamate industry did no research of their own. And studies to be reviewed were delivered by industry agents. Studies of MSG-induced brain damage were never shown to these authoritative bodies. It’s known that MSG when fed to very young laboratory animals kills brain cells in the area of the hypothalamus, and, through that damage, causes a number of endocrine disorders. One of those disorders is gross obesity. Another is infertility.

Fiction: The glutamate that naturally occurs in many foods and the glutamate in monosodium glutamate are exactly the same

Truth: The glutamate found in unprocessed, unadulterated and unfermented protein is L-glutamate only. The MSG used in cosmetics, drugs, vaccines, dietary supplements and processed food is manufactured, and always contains L-glutamate plus D-glutamate and pyroglutamate (unwanted byproducts of L-glutamate production) plus other unwanted by-products of production all called impurities. And since industry has not found a way to remove the unwanted impurities from processed free L-glutamate, the glutamate in MSG will always come with impurities.

Only manufactured glutamic acid causes brain damage and adverse reaction when ingested or otherwise used. Glutamate contained in unprocessed, unadulterated and unfermented protein, no matter in what quantities, will not cause reactions in MSG-sensitive people.

MSG reactions aren’t allergies!

Reactions to MSG and other sources of manufactured free glutamate are reactions to poison. They’re not allergic reactions, and the rules for allergies don’t apply.

You may hear people refer to an “MSG allergy,” but that’s incorrect. And allergists aren’t the ones to ask about your reactions to MSG.

Something Fishy Is Going on with Canned Tuna

The latest fake tuna is TUNO in a can.

In 2022 we told you about a product put out by a company called Good Catch given the absurd name “fish-free tuna.”

Concocted out of pea protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, and several other brain-damaging, free glutamate ingredients, this product is one of several brands of fake “tuna” on supermarket shelves.

While most are in pouches, the latest faux tuna, TUNO, is deceptively marketed in a can to look as much like the real deal as possible. And that brings us to another tuna topic, one that’s a sucker punch to consumers. Only this time it’s aimed at those who eat actual tuna that came from a real fish.

Identity Theft

While researching the TUNO product we came across a curious Federal Register notice, a proposed rule issued by the FDA titled in part, “Canned Tuna Standard of Identity…”

A standard of identity, or SOI, is (or was) a way for consumers to be able to have assurances that certain foods are indeed what they claim to be. These FDA-enforceable rules were established way back in 1939 to make sure that peanut butter is made from peanuts and jam contains fruit.

The FDA currently has a legally binding SOI for foods ranging from pasta to bread to cheese and condiments, consisting of a detailed description of that food and what it can (or must) contain. Canned tuna is one of 250 items with a SOI.

The first SOI for canned tuna went into effect in 1958. According to the National Fisheries Institute, not a whole lot has changed since that time. But in 2015, three major manufacturers of canned tuna, StarKist, Chicken of the Sea, and Bumble Bee, filed a citizen petition with the FDA asking for alterations to that SOI.

Now to the casual observer, this FDA-proposed rule that was published in the Federal Register last August appears to be just a lot of industry lingo on how to weigh canned tuna, such as what the “standard of fill,” should be based on, and to utilize “drained weight” instead of “Pressed cake” weight.

But if you look carefully at what the FDA is proposing to do, based on that nine-year-old industry petition, there’s a lot in there about “flavorings.” In essence, this would allow for canned tuna to contain “any flavoring.” The FDA even proposed marking the words “seasonings and flavorings” for deletion, to be replaced with “optional ingredients.”

Now it’s not as if canned tuna was perfect to begin with. Plenty of noxious ingredients such as MSG are already allowed (if you haven’t read The Perfect Poison yet, get a copy and read chapters one and two). But this appears to go beyond what we’ve learned to look for when buying tuna, creating a mystery list of “flavorings” that could go unnamed in a canned tuna product.

Reading both the published notice and the industry petition doesn’t give much clarity. One section says: (except if flavoring is added, this paragraph applies only to the terms “_____ flavored” or “with _____ flavoring,” not to the constituent ingredients of that flavoring or to any optional solubilizing or dispersing ingredient used in connection with such flavoring ingredients)

That seems to indicate what comprises these unidentified flavorings or “optional ingredients” and their dispersing agents will not be disclosed, known only to the manufacturer. To try and further understand what this means, we reached out to the companies who gave the FDA this modified language.

Here’s what we found out!

Chicken of the Sea, which is represented by a publicity firm called Hunter PR, said our questions were too technical and we should take them to the FDA.

StarKist and Bumble Bee have yet to respond at all. At The National Fisheries Institute, it appears no one is yet available. And the FDA sent one email just saying they received our questions.

‘Evolving tastes and consumer preferences’

Of course, according to industry and the FDA, this is all for the benefit of the consumer! The FDA says that it will help “better meet evolving tastes and consumer preferences.” Industry says that this will “allow manufacturers to use flavorings that match the public’s changing tastes (and) help consumers increase their intake of seafood.”

Of the meager 17 comments on this notice, most were from industry partners applauding the changes. The National Consumers League (which calls itself “America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization”) commended the FDA for this rulemaking saying it “greatly appreciates” all the trouble the agency went to for consumers and thanking them several times.

Only one commenter appeared to recognize the risks, stating that the “optional ingredient” provision could create “potential safety and allergen issues for consumers who may not be aware of what ingredients are added to canned tuna,” and “impair consumer rights.”

If we do get any of our questions answered on this, we’ll update it here. In the meantime, it appears that the FDA has not just handed over the keys to its headquarters to Big Food, it has stopped locking the doors entirely.

Brain Damage, a Mouthful at a Time

Long before 1969, when Olney first demonstrated the toxic effects of free glutamic acid, it was observed that on occasion glutamic acid would accumulate in the space between neurons referred to as interstitial tissue, and that would be followed by brain damage.

It has long been understood that acute increases in extracellular glutamate levels can lead to over-stimulation of glutamate receptors, resulting in a cascade of excitotoxic-related mechanisms culminating in neuronal damage.

Recognition of the significance of the role played by glutamic acid was slow in coming.  Indeed, for a long time, it was not realized that glutamate was a neurotransmitter. The presence of glutamate in every part of the body as a building block for protein made its special role in the nervous system difficult to recognize. Its function as a neurotransmitter was not generally accepted until the 1970s, decades after the identification of acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin as neurotransmitters. 1.

Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter with several types of receptors found throughout the central nervous system, and its metabolism is important to maintaining optimal levels within the extracellular space.

“Over the past three decades, researchers have learned that glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter of the healthy mammalian brain, as the most profuse free amino acid that happens to sit at the intersection between several metabolic pathways (Watkins and Jane, 2006Zhou and Danbolt, 2014). Glutamate is stored in synaptic vesicles of nerve terminals until it is released by exocytosis into the extracellular fluid, where it can quickly become highly concentrated (Zhou and Danbolt, 2014). Additionally, micromolar concentrations of basal extracellular glutamate, originating from non-vesicular release from the cystine-glutamate antiporter, continue to circulate in the space outside the synaptic cleft (Baker et al., 2002). Maintaining optimal levels in this space is essential, as low levels can deplete energy whereas excess levels can lead to cell death (Zhou and Danbolt, 2014). Glutamate transporters located on the outside of astrocytes and neurons quickly act to remove excess glutamate (Zhou and Danbolt, 2014). Receptor proteins at the surface of cells detect glutamate in the extracellular fluid and receive it (Zhou and Danbolt, 2014).” 2.

In the meantime, the incidence of neurodegenerative disease and disease states such as autism was growing, and myriads of studies of “glutamate-induced” abnormalities were published and chronicled in It is well documented that glutamic acid is implicated in kidney and liver disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and more. By 1980, glutamate-associated disorders such as headaches, asthma, diabetes, muscle pain, atrial fibrillation, ischemia, trauma, seizures, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), epilepsy, addiction, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), frontotemporal dementia and autism were on the rise, and the scientific community generally accepted evidence of the toxic effects of glutamate.

A January 15, 2023 search of the National Library of Medicine using returned 4276 citations for “glutamate-induced.”

In 1969 and the decade that followed, it was demonstrated that ingestion of free glutamate of various dosages and routes of administration would produce excess amounts of free glutamate in such quantity as to cause brain damage in every laboratory animal available. In 1969, Olney coined the term “excitotoxin” to describe the brain-damaging actions of glutamic acid. 3.

Olney was a neuroscientist interested in such things as amino acids and brain function and had no interest in food science.

In the late 1960s, he became suspicious that obesity in mice, which was observed after neonatal mice were treated with monosodium glutamate for purposes of inducing and studying retinal pathology, might be associated with hypothalamic lesions caused by monosodium glutamate treatment; and in 1969 he first reported that monosodium glutamate treatment did indeed cause brain lesions, particularly acute neuronal necrosis in several regions of the developing brain of neonatal mice, and acute lesions in the brains of adult mice given 5 to 7 mg/g of glutamate subcutaneously.

Research that followed confirmed that monosodium glutamate, which was routinely given as the sodium salt, monosodium glutamate (brand name Accent), induces hypothalamic damage when given to immature animals after either subcutaneous or oral doses.

At the time, Olney and others were using inexpensive, off-the-supermarket shelf Accent brand monosodium glutamate for their studies instead of using more expensive pharmaceutical grade glutamic acid. 

Those who manufactured and profited from the sale of MSG had a different agenda. They knew that their product, monosodium glutamate, had been used as the source of free glutamate that caused brain damage in laboratory animals.  And they made it their mission to do whatever it might take to convince the public that MSG was a harmless, or even beneficial, food additive. 

After Olney’s 1969 discovery, the existence of free excitotoxic amino acids present in food became the best-guarded secret of the food and drug industries. The U.S. producer of monosodium glutamate established an organization, hired researchers and PR firms that produced non-stop propaganda, and successfully censored anything that suggested that MSG might be harmful. This is how it was and how it continues to be done. 

1) Start with a well-funded organization

In 1969, the International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) was founded. Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D. took credit as its founder.  Ajinomoto’s role was not publicly disclosed.

The IGTC sponsored, gathered, and disseminated research on the use and safety of monosodium glutamate; designed and implemented research protocols and provided financial assistance to researchers; promoted acceptance of monosodium glutamate as a food ingredient; and represented members’ collective interests. Those collective interests were to sell monosodium glutamate. Ajinomoto was its principal sponsor.  There is every indication that its financial resources were unlimited.

2) Identify and employ MDs and PhDs to conduct research designed and supervised by your organization – research from which readers will conclude that monosodium glutamate is a harmless food additive.

By and large, those who have represented the glutamate industry have produced research relative to the safety of monosodium glutamate only in response to encouragement (payment of some sort) from the glutamate industry.

3) Identify and employ prestigious universities and medical schools to host your research. Universities and medical schools profit from hosting research.

4) Identify and befriend FDA, USDA, EPA, and NIH staff who will work actively to support the position that monosodium glutamate should be accepted as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).  It is well understood that those who work for government agencies and do nothing to challenge the industries that they are employed to regulate will be rewarded with industry jobs from time to time (the revolving door policy) or with government retirement.

5) Use a variety of strategies.

Vary the details of the individual research studies so the studies give the appearance of being independent of one another.  (When asked for the details of their studies, IGTC-sponsored researchers know little or nothing of the details.)

Suppress unfavorable information

Disseminate seemingly unlimited amounts of deceptive and/or misleading information. 

6) Disrupt the activities of those who oppose you.

7) Convince both appointed and elected officials to endorse monosodium glutamate as a harmless food additive.

They’re called lobbyists.  They do most of Ajinomoto’s work in this area.

8) Legitimize the need for the existence of monosodium glutamate. 

After years of funding studies aimed at renaming glutamate receptors in the mouth and on the tongue – calling them taste receptors — Ajinomoto had some of those studies published and reported on by the media. From that point, the concept of “umami” as a fifth taste was picked up by the food industry, and its friends at the FDA. That was how Ajinomoto moved the concept of “umami” into the vernacular.

What is “umami?”  It’s a hypothetical construct invented by Ajinomoto to legitimize and promote the use of MSG in food.  Think about it. MSG is a neurotoxic flavor enhancer.  By referring to MSG as umami and promoting its new name, Ajinomoto is working to sell MSG to the public as a way to provide an ‘exciting’ fifth taste.

By and large, the IGTCs human studies commenced in 1980 with research that “failed to produce any evidence that monosodium glutamate causes asthma or Chinese restaurant syndrome.”  And coming to that conclusion was a slam dunk. All they had to do was look at the wrong thing, at the wrong time, in people who were not sensitive to MSG. For good measure, they laced their placebos with excitotoxic aspartame and/or ingredients other than monosodium glutamate that contained excitotoxic processed free glutamic acid. Then the propaganda people would spin the story that monosodium glutamate is safe.

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. 

Leaving nothing to chance, Andrew Ebert supplied all industry researchers with placebos that caused reactions identical to those caused by MSG test material.  That practice started in 1978 and remained in operation until it was made public.

Adverse reactions

Despite the fact that the Glutes are in control of mainstream media and social media, individuals continue to share information about their adverse reactions following eating things that contain free glutamate.

The growing literature on control of glutamate release testifies to this increasing awareness — awareness of glutamate-induced brain damage, but without focus on the benefits of reducing the availability of free glutamate.  This growing literature on control of glutamate release focuses on the development of drugs with which to treat glutamate-induced brain damage, giving little attention to actually reducing free glutamate.

At last search, there were 5778 articles listed on PubMed on the subject of “control of glutamate release,” with titles such as “Influence of glutamate and GABA transport on brain excitatory/inhibitory balance” 4. and “Astrocytes Maintain Glutamate Homeostasis in the CNS by Controlling the Balance between Glutamate Uptake and Release.” 5.

Each studied the subject through the review of potential remedies (drugs) that might reduce whatever abnormality was being studied. 

In contrast, I have found only one article that suggests the way to prevent adverse reactions following ingestion of foods that contain free glutamate might be to stop eating things that contain it.

Today, excitotoxins present in food remain largely ignored or unknown, mostly because the rich and powerful food and pharmaceutical industries want it that way. A great deal of food industry profit depends on using excitotoxins to “enhance” the taste of cheaply made food. And a great deal of pharmaceutical industry profit depends on selling drugs to “cure” the diseases and disabilities caused by the excitotoxins in the food supply.

It may be that industry’s ability to censor anything that might suggest that MSG might be harmful continues to be effective, for no one has yet come out and said, “The way to prevent adverse reactions following ingestion of foods that contain free glutamate might be to stop eating things that contain it.”

Adrienne Samuels


1. Watkins JC. l-glutamate as a central neurotransmitter: looking back. Biochem Soc Trans. 2000;28(4):297-309. PMID: 10961913.

2. Pal MM. Glutamate: The Master Neurotransmitter and Its Implications in Chronic Stress and Mood Disorders. Front Hum Neurosci. 2021 Oct 29;15:722323. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2021.722323. PMID: 34776901; PMCID: PMC8586693.

3. Olney JW. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Science. 1969 May 9;164(3880):719-21. doi: 10.1126/science.164.3880.719. PMID: 5778021.

4. Sears SM, Hewett SJ. Influence of glutamate and GABA transport on brain excitatory/inhibitory balance. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2021 May;246(9):1069-1083. doi: 10.1177/1535370221989263. Epub 2021 Feb 7. PMID: 33554649; PMCID: PMC8113735.

5. Mahmoud S, Gharagozloo M, Simard C, Gris D. Astrocytes Maintain Glutamate Homeostasis in the CNS by Controlling the Balance between Glutamate Uptake and Release. Cells. 2019 Feb 20;8(2):184. doi: 10.3390/cells8020184. PMID: 30791579; PMCID: PMC6406900.

It’s worth thinking about

It’s worth thinking about.  There’s always been Alzheimer’s disease, but not in the numbers we’re seeing today.  In fact, the same is true of every neurodegenerative disease.  Prior to 1950, the incidence of neurodegenerative disease was unremarkable. 

What happened to change that?