Giving credit where credit is due: Writers engaged in spreading the Glutes’ propaganda and the outlets that enable them

The fiction that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a harmless food additive has several key components:

  • Rigged studies and bold-faced lies.
  • A vigorous PR effort (currently being conducted by Daniel J. Edelman Public Relations).
  • Paid media, in the form of “sponsored” content (that you may not realize is bought and paid for).
  • “Earned” media – meaning legitimate journalists with access to top-tier outlets (think Wall Street Journal) who have been enlisted to write up articles that look and sound like real news, but are simply industry’s messaging done in the “voice” of the publication. This method also works with celebrities (especially chefs), bloggers and anyone else who has a big social media following.

And if you think that the flood of glutamate-industry propaganda has been torrential lately, you’re absolutely right. Ajinomoto, the world’s largest manufacturer of monosodium glutamate, is in the middle of a 10-million-dollar PR blitz (according to Ajinomoto), to “persuade Americans that MSG is safe—and maybe even good for you…”

We can’t always say for sure who is responsible for spreading the Glutes’ words so far and wide, but it seems only appropriate to share the names of some of the authors and outlets that enable them. For more about glutamate-industry propaganda, look here and here.

Rachael Ray Every Day, May, 2019
“Surprise: MSG Has Been Completely Safe to Eat All This Time”
Author: Hillary Maglin
https://www.rachaelraymag.com/whats-new/why-msg-is-safe-to-eat

BBC future, May, 2019
“The man who discovered umami”
Author: Veronique Greenwood
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190503-the-mystery-taste-that-always-eluded-us

BBC Future, November, 2015
Is MSG as bad as it’s made out to be?
Author: Bianca Nogrady
www.bbc.com/future/story/20151106-is-msg-as-bad-as-its-made-out-to-be\

The Wall Street Journal, April, 2019
“The FDA Says It’s Safe, So Feel Free to Say ‘Yes’ to MSG”
Author: River Davis
https://www.wsj.com/articles/rescuing-msgs-unsavory-reputation-11556337610

WebMD, February, 2019
“Is MSG really so bad?”
Author: Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
https://blogs.webmd.com/food-fitness/20190219/is-msg-really-so-bad

Lifehacker Skillet, January, 2019
“Put MSG in everything, you cowards”
Author: Claire Lower
https://skillet.lifehacker.com/put-msg-in-everything-you-cowards-1831721707

Men’s Health, January, 2019
“Is MSG Bad for You? No – and Here’s Why”
Author: Chris Mohr, Ph.D, RD
https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a26006305/msg-not-bad-for-you/

fivethirtyeight, January, 2016
How MSG Got A Bad Rap: Flawed Science And Xenophobia
Author: Anna Maria Barry-Jester
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-msg-got-a-bad-rap-flawed-science-and-xenophobia/

Decoding Delicious, March, 2013
What is MSG, and is it safe to eat? –
Author: Amanda Green
www.decodingdelicious.com/what-is-msg/

Lifehacker, December, 2018
“Stop being afraid of MSG”
Author: Beth Skwarecki
https://vitals.lifehacker.com/stop-being-afraid-of-msg-1831011967

Esquire, October, 2018
“It’s time for America to fall back in love with MSG”
Author: Joanna Rothkopf
https://www.esquire.com/food-drink/food/a23566452/its-time-for-america-to-fall-back-in-love-with-msg/

The Seattle Times, October, 2018
“Avoiding MSG? Look beyond the myths”
Author: Carrie Dennett
https://www.seattletimes.com/life/wellness/avoiding-msg-look-beyond-the-myths/

Berkeley Wellness, October, 2018
“Is MSG Safe?”
Author: Keng Lam MD
https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food-safety/article/msg-safe

US News & World Report, October, 2018
“Scientists Have Known MSG is Safe for Decades. Why Don’t Most Americans?”
Author: Toby Amidor
https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2018-10-10/scientists-have-known-msg-is-safe-for-decades-why-dont-most-americans

Business Insider, August, 2014
Is MSG Sodium In Chinese Food Safe To Eat?
Author: Kevin Loria
https://www.businessinsider.com/is-msg-sodium-in-chinese-food-safe-to-eat-2014-8

Business Insider, February, 2017
Everyone should cook with MSG, says food scientist
Author: Gus Lubin
https://www.businessinsider.com/cooking-with-msg-supersalt-2017-2

BuzzFeed, August, 2013
The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success
Author: John Mahoney
https://www.buzzfeed.com/johnmahoney/the-notorious-msgs-unlikely-formula-for-success

Slate, May, 2006
Could MSG make a comeback?
Author: Sarah Dickerman
https://slate.com/human-interest/2006/05/could-msg-make-a-comeback.html

Reader’s Digest, August, 2018
“What is MSG – and how bad is it, really?
Author: Denise Mann, MS
https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/what-is-msg-and-how-bad-is-it-really/

Blog: MyFitnessPal, September, 2016
Is MSG Safe?
Author: Monica Reinagel
https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/is-msg-safe/

Skeptical Raptor, July, 2018
“MSG myth – debunked with real science”
https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/msg-myth-versus-science/

Self, June, 2018
“We all really need to stop freaking out about MSG”
Author: Yvette d’Entremont
https://www.self.com/story/we-all-really-need-to-stop-freaking-out-about-msg

The Guardian, May, 2018
“Chinese restaurant syndrome: has MSG been unfairly demonized?”
Author: Joanna Blythman
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/may/21/chinese-restaurant-syndrome-has-msg-been-unfairly-demonised

The Guardian, July 2005
If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?
Author: Alex Renton
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2005/jul/10/foodanddrink.features3

Financial Times, May, 2015
OMG I love MSG
Author: Tim Hayward
Not available online

Smithsonian.com, November, 2013
It’s the Umami, Stupid. Why the Truth About MSG is So Easy to Swallow
Author: Natasha Geiling
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/its-the-umami-stupid-why-the-truth-about-msg-is-so-easy-to-swallow-180947626/

We’ve merely skimmed the surface of what’s out there. If other articles catch your eye, please send their links to us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com, or post them on our Facebook page. We like to give credit where credit is due.

The contrived controversy over MSG-safety

If you Google “monosodium glutamate” and the word “controversy,” you come up with over 800,000 results. Does that mean there are legitimate opposing viewpoints about whether monosodium glutamate is safe or not – a true controversy?

Clearly there are two sides to every story, and we should be told both. But when the side claiming “controversy” offers nothing more than rigged research, name calling, and out and out lies, what they’re delivering is more akin to propaganda than it is to controversy. And in the case of MSG-safety, that’s all there is. There is no honest MSG-is-safe science. There are no scrupulous studies that demonstrate that MSG is a “harmless” food additive.

So if you’re wondering where the “facts” about MSG-safety are coming from, we have listed some of the arguments on which those ”facts” are based:

Purported evidence that MSG is a harmless food additive:

  1. Animal studies that falsely claimed to be replications of studies demonstrating brain damage in laboratory animals.
  2. The argument that animal studies demonstrating MSG-toxicity are invalid, because animals do not represent the human condition.
  3. The lie that humans can’t eat enough manufactured free glutamate (MfG) to cause the brain damage, endocrine disorders, and assorted reactions that laboratory animals experienced in the 1960s and 1970s – a claim that is particularly interesting in light of industry claims one and two above.
  4. Human studies that have nothing to do with MSG safety
  5. Human double-blind studies rigged to concluded that research has failed to demonstrated that monosodium glutamate or MfG had toxic potential. Lacing placebo materials used in those studies with an excitotoxic amino acid that causes the same reactions as caused by MSG (the aspartic acid in aspartame) has been just one of the many devices used to facilitate industry’s claim that “research has failed to demonstrated that L-glutamate has toxic potential.”

Bold-faced lies, including:

6. Glutamate contained in MSG is identical to glutamate in the human body.

7. MSG is very well researched and has been found to be safe.

8. MSG must be safe since the FDA has said so.

9. MSG has been used for over a century without adverse reactions.

10. MSG is naturally made, similar to yogurt, vinegar and wine.

11. Monosodium glutamate occurs naturally in food.

12. Humans can’t eat enough manufactured free glutamic acid (MfG) to cause the brain damage, endocrine disorders, and assorted reactions that the laboratory animals experienced.

And all this is packaged by the largest independently owned PR firm in the world, Daniel J. Edelman Public Relations (now working for Ajinomoto, the largest manufacturer of monosodium glutamate in the world). Edelman is reported to have told employees that “Sometimes, you just have to stand up there and lie. Make the audience or the reporter believe that everything is OK.”

Is “controversial” the right term to describe a situation where one side tells the truth about a subject while the opposing side resorts to rigging research, calling names, and telling lies?

About MSG-toxicity, there really is no controversy.

RESOURCES

Data
https://www.truthinlabeling.org/data.html

Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate.
Olney JW. Science. 1969 May 9;164(3880):719-21. PMID: 5778021
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5778021

Excitotoxic food additives–relevance of animal studies to human safety.
Olney JW. Neurobehav Toxicol Teratol. 1984 Nov-Dec;6(6):455-62. Review. PMID: 6152304
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6152304

Brain damage in mice from voluntary ingestion of glutamate and aspartate.
Olney JW, Labruyere J, de Gubareff T. Neurobehav Toxicol. 1980 Summer;2(2):125-9. PMID: 7290308
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7290308

Brain damage and oral intake of certain amino acids.
Olney JW. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1976;69:497-506. No abstract available. PMID: 821314
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/821314

Brain-damaging potential of protein hydrolysates.
Olney JW, Ho OL, Rhee V. N Engl J Med. 1973 Aug 23;289(8):391-5. No abstract available. PMID: 4198222
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4198222

Brain damage in infant mice following oral intake of glutamate, aspartate or cysteine.
Olney JW, Ho OL. Nature. 1970 Aug 8;227(5258):609-11. No abstract available. PMID: 5464249
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5464249

Neonatal exposure to monosodium glutamate induces morphological alterations in suprachiasmatic nucleus of adult rat.
Rojas-Castañeda JC, Vigueras-Villaseñor RM, Chávez-Saldaña M, Rojas P, Gutiérrez-Pérez O, Rojas C, Arteaga-Silva M. Int J Exp Pathol. 2016 Feb;97(1):18-26. doi: 10.1111/iep.12157. Epub 2016 Jan 21. PMID: 26799547
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26799547

What is monosodium glutamate
https://www.truthinlabeling.org/whatismonosodiumglutamate.html

The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A study in Suppression of Information.
https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/manuscript2.pdf

Flawed industry studies
https://www.truthinlabeling.org/flawed.html

Six big fat lies
https://www.truthinlabeling.org/lies.html

Propaganda 101: The 8 ingredients in cutting edge propaganda
https://www.truthinlabeling.org/blog/2019/05/01/propaganda-101-the-8-ingredients-in-cutting-edge-propaganda/

https://www.edelman.com/insights/edelman-ad-age-best-places-work-2019

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Edelman

https://gawker.com/356220/sometimes-you-just-have-to-stand-up-there-and-lie

Umami: the con of the decade?

It has always been my opinion that the concept of umami was developed to promote the sale of monosodium glutamate, with a very large enterprise developed to promote the fiction.

When I was first introduced to “umami” I had a creeping suspicion that the concept of umami had been promoted in an effort to legitimize the use of monosodium glutamate in food, drawing attention away from the fact that monosodium glutamate is a neurotoxic amino acid which kills brain cells, is an endocrine disruptor (causing obesity and reproductive disorders), and is the trigger for reactions such as asthma, migraine headache, seizures, depression, irritable bowel, hives, and heart irregularities.

It’s common knowledge that there are glutamate receptors in the mouth and on the tongue. Could researchers be hired to produce studies demonstrating that glutamate containing food can stimulate those glutamate receptors, and then declare to the world that a fifth taste has been discovered — calling it umami? I wondered.

Never mind that for years monosodium glutamate was described as a tasteless white crystalline powder. Never mind that Julia Child, who in her later years was recruited to praise the use of monosodium glutamate, never once mentioned the additive in her cookbooks. Never mind that if there was taste associated with monosodium glutamate, people who are sensitive to MSG would be highly motivated to identify that taste and thereby avoid ingesting MSG – which they claim they cannot do.

It certainly would be wonderful, I thought, if the glutamic acid in processed free glutamic acid (MSG) had a delicious, robust, easily identifiable taste of its own. Even if the taste was unpleasant instead of delicious, it would still be wonderful — at least the adults who are sensitive to MSG could identify the additive in their food and avoid eating it. MSG-induced migraine headaches, tachycardia, skin rash, irritable bowels, seizures, depression, and all of the other MSG-induced maladies, could become nothing more than bad memories.

Sometime after Olney and others demonstrated that monosodium glutamate was an excitotoxin — killing brain cells and disrupting the endocrine system — Ajinomoto, Co., Inc. began to claim that their researchers had identified/isolated a “fifth taste.” The “fifth taste,” they said, was the taste of processed free glutamic acid. This alleged fifth taste was branded “umami.”

The word “umami” has been in the Japanese vocabulary for over a century, being in use during the Edo period of Japanese history which ended in 1868. In the 1990s, it was written that “umami” can denote a really good taste of something – a taste or flavor that exemplifies the flavor of that something. It was said that the taste of monosodium glutamate by itself does not in any sense represent deliciousness. Instead, it is often described as unpleasant, and as bitter, salty, or soapy. However, when monosodium glutamate is added in low concentrations to appropriate foods, the flavor, the pleasantness, and the acceptability of the food increases.

For years, certainly up to the turn of this century, monosodium glutamate had been thought of as a flavor enhancer – like salt. Something that enhances the taste of the food to which it is added. Early encyclopedia definitions of monosodium glutamate stated that monosodium glutamate was an essentially tasteless substance. The idea (advanced by Ajinomoto) that monosodium glutamate has a taste of its own, as opposed to being a flavor enhancer, is relatively recent. Not just a taste of its own, mind you, but something newsworthy that could attract national or international attention. A fifth classification of taste added to the recognized tastes of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.

The idea that monosodium glutamate has a unique taste can be tracked in the scientific literature if you read vigilantly. I don’t know whose brainchild it was, but it certainly was a brilliant move on the road to marketing monosodium glutamate – a move precipitated by a growing public recognition that monosodium glutamate causes serious adverse reactions. And even one step farther up the brilliance chart, this monosodium-glutamate-taste-of-its-own was given a name. Naming things makes them easy to talk about and gives them respectability. The monosodium-glutamate-taste-of-its-own was named “umami.”

We started writing about umami years ago. We were already familiar with the research that the glutamate industry used to claim that umami was a fifth taste, and we knew that, with possible rare exception, all of that research had been funded by Ajinomoto and/or their friends and agents. We also sensed that researchers outside of the direct employ, or outside of the indirect largess of the glutamate industry, found the idea of a fifth taste to be without merit.

We thought that we should begin by making the case that what was called the “taste” produced by monosodium glutamate is not a taste, per se, but is little or nothing more than the vague sensation that nerves are firing. We would start by reminding our readers that what industry calls the “taste” of monosodium glutamate is its manufactured free glutamic acid; that glutamic acid is a neurotransmitter; and that as a neurotransmitter, glutamic acid would carry nerve impulses to nerve cells called glutamate receptors, and trigger responses/reactions. Then we would explain that there are glutamate receptor cells in the mouth and on the tongue, and that monosodium glutamate could trigger reactions in those glutamate receptors — leaving the person who was ingesting the monosodium glutamate with the perception that food being ingested with it had a bigger, longer lasting taste than it would have had if there was no monosodium glutamate present.

Ask Ajinomoto, and they will tell you that there are studies that prove that umami is a fifth taste. Review of those studies has proved to be extremely interesting, but when read carefully, offers no proof that monosodium glutamate does anything more than stimulate receptors in the mouth and on the tongue and promote the perception of more taste than the ingested food would otherwise provide.

I actually spoke with one of the umami researchers on the phone, a Dr. Michael O’Mahoney, Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis. He was doing research for the glutamate industry and, therefore, could certainly provide information.

Dr. O’Mahoney was warm and friendly, but said that because he had a contract with Ajinomoto to study the taste of monosodium glutamate he was not able to share information with me. An academician who refused to share information was an animal I had not met before.

Based on personal observations and conversations with MSG-sensitive friends, I have become increasingly certain that monosodium glutamate has no taste; that in stimulating the glutamate receptors in the mouth and on the tongue, glutamate causes the person ingesting monosodium glutamate to perceive more taste in food than the food would otherwise have; that umami is a clever contrivance/device/public relations effort to draw attention away from the fact that processed free glutamic acid and the monosodium glutamate that contains it are toxic.

And taste? A savory taste? Given what I know about Ajinomoto’s rigging studies of the safety of monosodium glutamate, I couldn’t help but wonder if they might have done something unsavory to support their claim that monosodium glutamate has a savory taste.

  • They certainly have studies allegedly demonstrating that monosodium glutamate has a savory taste. Were those studies rigged?
  • Did Ajinomoto feed something to the genetically modified bacteria that excrete their glutamic acid that would cause the glutamic acid to have a taste? A savory taste?
  • When the L-glutamic acid used in monosodium glutamate is produced, there are unavoidable by-products of production. Does one of those by-products contribute a savory taste?
  • Is some savory flavoring added to the monosodium glutamate product before it leaves the Eddyville plant?
  • Is “savory taste” a fiction invented by Ajinomoto and reinforced through repetition of the concept?

When it comes down to what really matters, whether there are four or five tastes is irrelevant.

When it comes down to what really matters, whether monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer or a flavor itself is inconsequential.

What really matters is that chemical poisons are being poured into infant formula, enteral (invalid) care products, dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and processed foods — and one of those chemical poisons is manufactured free glutamic acid, found in monosodium glutamate and four dozen or so other ingredients with names that give no clue to its presence. That’s my opinion.

Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D.
Director, The Truth in Labeling Campaign

Ingredient Names Used to Hide Manufactured free Glutamate (MfG)

MSG has been used as an acronym for “monosodium glutamate” for years, with people who reacted to it referring to their “MSG reactions.” So, it isn’t surprising that over time, consumers started using the acronym “MSG” to stand for the ingredients that trigger what they identified as “MSG reactions.” Largely because those in the glutamate industry have built on the confusion caused by using “MSG” incorrectly, we thought it time that there be a proper acronym for consumers to use when talking about what’s contained in monosodium glutamate that causes their pain and suffering – distinguishing between the product called “monosodium glutamate” and the toxic ingredient contained in it.

We propose to use MSG just as the Glutes do, to stand for the flavor enhancer, “monosodium glutamate,” but will now refer to the amino acid in monosodium glutamate that causes brain damage, endocrine disorders and adverse reactions, by its more factual name – Manufactured free Glutamate or MfG.

Names of ingredients that contain Manufactured free Glutamate (MfG) *1

Everyone knows that some people react to the food ingredient monosodium glutamate (MSG). What many don’t know, is that more than 40 different ingredients contain the chemical in monosodium glutamate — Manufactured free Glutamate (MfG) — that causes these reactions. The following list has been compiled over the last 20 years from consumer reports and information provided by manufacturers and food technologists.

Names of ingredients that always contain MfG:

  • Glutamic acid (E 620) *2
  • 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
  • Gelatin
  • 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
  • Protease
  • Anything “enzyme modified”
  • Anything containing “enzymes”
  • Anything “fermented”
  • Vetsin
  • Ajinomoto
  • Umami
  • Zinc proteninate

Names of ingredients that often contain or produce MfG during processing:

  • Carrageenan (E 407)
  • Bouillon and broth
  • Stock
  • Any “flavors” or “flavoring”
  • Natural flavor
  • Maltodextrin
  • Oligodextrin
  • Citric acid, Citrate (E 330)
  • Anything “ultra-pasteurized”
  • Barley malt
  • Malted barley
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Pectin (E 440)
  • Malt extract
  • Seasonings

The following are ingredients suspected of containing or creating sufficient processed free glutamic acid to serve as MfG-reaction triggers in HIGHLY SENSITIVE people:

  • Corn starch
  • Corn syrup
  • Modified food starch
  • Lipolyzed butter fat
  • Dextrose
  • Rice syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Milk powder
  • Reduced fat milk (skim; 1%; 2%)
  • most things “low fat” or “no fat”
  • anything “enriched”
  • anything “vitamin enriched”
  • anything “pasteurized”
  • Annatto
  • Vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • certain amino acid chelates (Citrate, aspartate, and glutamate are used as chelating agents with mineral supplements.)
*1 Glutamic acid found in unadulterated protein does not cause adverse reactions. To cause adverse reactions, the glutamic acid must have been processed /manufactured or come from protein that has been fermented.
*2 E numbers are use in Europe in place of food additive names.

The following work synergistically with the ingredient monosodium glutamate (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)

Reminders

Low fat and no fat milk products often contain milk solids that contain MfG and many dairy products contain carrageenan, guar gum, and/or locust bean gum. Low fat and no fat ice cream and cheese may not be as obvious as yogurt, milk, cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc., but they are not exceptions.

Protein powders contain glutamic acid, which, invariably, will be Manufactured free Glutamate (MfG). Individual amino acids are not always listed on labels of protein powders. If you see the word “protein” in an ingredient label, the product contains MfG.

At present there may be an FDA requirement to include the protein source when listing hydrolyzed protein products on labels of processed foods. Examples are hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed pea protein, hydrolyzed whey protein, hydrolyzed, corn protein. If a tomato, for example, were whole, it would be identified as a tomato. Calling an ingredient tomato protein indicates that the tomato has been hydrolyzed, at least in part, and that Manufactured free Glutamate (MfG) is present.

Disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate are relatively expensive food additives that work synergistically with inexpensive MSG. Their use suggests that the product has MSG in it. They would probably not be used as food additives if there were no MSG present.

Reactions have been reported from soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, and cosmetics, where MfG is hidden in ingredients with names that include the words “hydrolyzed,” “amino acids,” and/or “protein.” Most sun block creams and insect repellents also contain MfG.

Drinks, candy, and chewing gum are potential sources of hidden MfG and/or aspartame, neotame. and AminoSweet (a relatively new name for aspartame). Aspartic acid, found in neotame, aspartame (NutraSweet), and AminoSweet, ordinarily causes reactions in MfG sensitive people. (It would appear that calling aspartame “AminoSweet” is industry’s method of choice for hiding aspartame.) We have not seen Neotame used widely in the United States.

Aspartame will be found in some medications, including children’s medications. For questions about the ingredients in pharmaceuticals, check with your pharmacist and/or read the product inserts for the names of “other” or “inert” ingredients.

Binders and fillers for medications, nutrients, and supplements, both prescription and non-prescription, enteral feeding materials, and some fluids administered intravenously in hospitals, may contain MfG.

According to the manufacturer, Varivax–Merck chicken pox vaccine (Varicella Virus Live), contains (or contained) L-monosodium glutamate and hydrolyzed gelatin, both of which contain Manufactured free Glutamate (MfG) which causes brain lesions in young laboratory animals, and causes endocrine disturbances like OBESITY and REPRODUCTIVE disorders later in life. It would appear that most, if not all, live virus vaccines contain some ingredient(s) that contains MfG.

According to the CDC, as listed in its Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary (Appendix B of the “Pink Book”), there are 37 vaccines presently in use that obviously contain ingredients that contain MfG. Reactions to MfG are dose related, i.e., some people react to even very small amounts. MfG-induced reactions may occur immediately after ingestion or after as much as 48 hours. The time lapse between ingestion and reaction is typically the same each time for a particular individual who ingests an amount of MfG that exceeds his or her individual tolerance level.

Remember: By food industry definition, all MfG is “naturally occurring.” “Natural” doesn’t mean “safe.” “Natural” only means that the ingredient started out in nature like arsenic and hydrochloric acid.

‘Sometimes, you just have to stand up there and lie’

It’s hard to keep up with glutamate-industry propaganda, as they clearly have some of the most creative minds in the business. The latest to handle PR for Ajinomoto Co, Inc. (the leading producer of monosodium glutamate) is none other than Daniel J. Edelman Public Relations, the largest independently owned PR firm in the world.

At the beginning of this year, Richard Edelman (son of founder Daniel), when writing about how honored he was that his namesake agency was listed as a “best place to work” by Ad Age, proudly told how they are now working with Ajinomoto to “set the record straight about long-misunderstood monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the U.S.”

And that explains a lot about the bold new propaganda campaigns we’ve been seeing lately — significantly different approaches. One in particular masquerades as an announcement of a newsworthy event to be featured in business sections of some top-name newspapers.

“Rescuing MSG’s Unsavory Reputation” was carried by the Chicago Tribune, the Latin American Herald Tribune, and the Wall Street Journal among others, with lots of “feel- good” words paired with “monosodium glutamate.”  Psychologists might call it conditioning; we call it brainwashing. The same piece was also posted in Food Processing, which calls itself “the information source for food and beverage manufacturers,” under the headline, “Ajinomoto Wants to Repair MSG’s Reputation.”

Now we’ve seen “The man who discovered umami,” by Veronique Greenwood, in no less a program than BBC’s “Future”. This time, the message that MSG is a harmless flavor enhancer is encased in a pleasant story about the glories of “umami.”  And in this friendly, good-natured, affable little tale is inserted the message that the consumer is supposed to take away:

“The product, a monosodium glutamate (MSG) powder called Aji-No-Moto, is still made today. (Although rumuors have swirled periodically that eating too much MSG can give people headaches and other health problems, the US Food and Drug Administration has found no evidence for such claims. It just makes food taste more savoury.)”

It’s clever, for sure. But Edelman has a long history of clever propaganda techniques. One that it terms “litigation PR,” was used to stop a dozen state attorneys general from joining the anti-trust actions taken against Microsoft in the late 1990s. Other efforts of theirs have included representing the American Petroleum Institute at a reported fee of $52 million a year in an “astroturfing” venture (a fake grass-roots campaign typically industry funded) to promote fracking, as well as other climate-change-denial crusades, and working with Big Tobacco to help “slow or reverse” public opinion regarding smoking. One document from the late 1970s, produced by Edelman for RJ Reynolds, states that their purpose is to “begin the process of establishing that there is another point of view on the cigarette question.”

But nothing describes Edelman’s MSG “set the record straight” effort better than a story that appeared in Gawker ten years ago. According to an unnamed, top-level marketing executive, an Edelman senior management training session included this quote: “Sometimes, you just have to stand up there and lie. Make the audience or the reporter believe that everything is OK.”

We can’t wait to see what these propaganda artists will have in store for us next. 

References:

https://www.edelman.com/insights/edelman-ad-age-best-places-work-2019

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Edelman

https://gawker.com/356220/sometimes-you-just-have-to-stand-up-there-and-lie

https://www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=mybm0104

Is this propaganda hiding in the business section of your newspaper?

The people who manufacture and sell monosodium glutamate are rich, powerful, and terribly creative. A noteworthy strategy used these days is to parade “monosodium glutamate” before the public as many times as possible along with positive words or phrases. This seemingly simple approach has created some amazingly powerful propaganda.

Glutamate industry propaganda has traditionally been based on Six Big Fat Lies, along with The Whopper, all bound up in beautifully wrapped consumer-friendly rhetoric.  But at the end of April newspapers everywhere began publishing “news” releases in their business sections, announcing Ajinomoto’s $10 million campaign to “Rescue MSG’s Unsavory Reputation.” (Ajinomoto is the world’s largest producer of monosodium glutamate). What a great way to deliver its fiction that “monosodium glutamate is safe – and maybe even good for you…”

And those who read these “news releases” don’t even realize that they are being brain washed by carefully chosen words and images that, they are told, describe MSG.

For example:

safe, good for you, eat less salt, proudly, a chubby panda, traditional Japanese broth, MSG for foods like chicken noodle soup, MSG’s merits, knowledge that it is healthy

Then, for good measure, they add a few words about the people who say that the excitotoxic free glutamic acid (glutamate) in MSG, in the quantity now in processed foods, kills brain cells, is an endocrine disruptor, and causes reactions like a-fib, nausea and vomiting, tinnitus, asthma, migraine headache and seizures:

fake news, xenophobia not science, stereotypes about Asians, prejudice

If you’re new to the subject of MSG toxicity, please know that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth can be found on the webpage of the Truth in Labeling Campaign.  You might find the sections on “data” and “label lies” to be of particular interest.

Excitotoxins in processed food: The best guarded secret of the food and drug industries

Excitotoxicity is the pathological process by which nerve cells are damaged or killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamic acid (glutamate).

In 1969 when researcher Dr. John Olney of Washington University in St. Louis observed that process in his laboratory, it should have resulted in sweeping changes in how food additives are regulated. 

He noted that glutamate fed as monosodium glutamate (MSG) to laboratory animals killed brain cells and subsequently caused gross obesity, reproductive dysfunction, and behavior abnormalities.

Before that, the world knew nothing of what Dr. Olney had dubbed “excitotoxins.” And after Olney’s discovery, the existence of free excitotoxic amino acids present in food became the best-guarded secret of the food and drug industries.

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.

What are excitotoxins?

Excitotoxins are always amino acids, but not all amino acids are excitotoxins. The amino acid with the greatest excitotoxic footprint is glutamate. When present in protein or released from protein in a regulated fashion (through routine digestion), glutamate is vital to normal body function. It is the major neurotransmitter in humans, carrying nerve impulses from glutamate stimuli to glutamate receptors throughout the body. Yet, when present outside of protein in amounts that exceed what the healthy human body was designed to accommodate (which can vary widely from person to person), glutamate becomes an excitotoxic neurotransmitter, firing repeatedly, damaging targeted glutamate-receptors and/or causing neuronal and non-neuronal death by over exciting those glutamate receptors until their host cells die.

Technically speaking, neurotransmitters that over-stimulate their receptors to the point of killing the cells that host them are called excitotoxic neurotransmitters, and the resulting condition is referred to as excitotoxicity. Glutamate excitotoxicity is the process that underlies the damage done by MSG and the other ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid (MfG). 

Glutamate is called a non-essential amino acid because if the body does not have sufficient quantities to function normally, any needed glutamate can be produced from other amino acids. So, there is no need to add glutamate to the human diet. The excitotoxins in MSG and other ingredients that contain MfG are not needed for nutritional purposes. MSG and many other ingredients have been designed to enhance the taste of cheaply made food for the sole purpose of lining the pockets of those who manufacture and sell them.

Glutamate neurotransmitters trigger glutamate receptors both in the central nervous system and in peripheral tissue (heart, lungs, and intestines, for example). After stimulating glutamate receptors, glutamate neurotransmitters may do no damage and simply fade away, so to speak, or they may damage the cells that their receptors cling to, or overexcite their receptors until the cells that host them die.

There’s another possibility. There are a great many glutamate receptors in the brain, so it’s possible that if a few are damaged or wiped out following ingestion of MfG, their loss may not be noticed because there are so many undamaged ones remaining. It is also possible that individuals differ in the numbers of glutamate receptors that they have. If so, people with more glutamate receptors to begin with are less likely to feel the effects of brain damage following ingestion of MfG because even after some cells are killed or damaged, there will still be sufficient numbers of undamaged cells to carry out normal body functions.

That might account for the fact that some people are more sensitive to MfG than others.

Less is known about glutamate receptors outside the brain – in the heart, stomach, and lungs, for example. It would make sense (although that doesn’t make it true) that cells serving a particular function would be grouped together. It would also seem logical that in each location there would be fewer glutamate receptors siting on host cells than found in the brain, and for some individuals there might be so few cells with glutamate receptors to begin with, that ingestion of even small amounts of MfG might trigger asthma, atrial fibrillation, or irritable bowel disease; while persons with more cells hosting glutamate receptors would not notice damage or loss.

Short-term effects of excitotoxic glutamate (such as asthma and migraine headache) have long been obvious to those not influenced by the rhetoric of the glutamate industry and their friends at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hopefully, researchers will soon begin to correlate the adverse effects of glutamate ingestion with endocrine disturbances such as reproductive disorders and gross obesity. It is well known that glutamate plays an important role in some mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, but the fact that ingestion of excitotoxic glutamate might contribute to existing pools of free glutamate that could become excitotoxic, still needs to be considered. Finally, a few have begun to realize the importance of glutamate’s access to the human body through the mouth, nose and skin.

There are three excitotoxic amino acids used in quantity in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, protein drinks and powders, and dietary supplements:

1) Glutamic acid — found in flavor enhancers, infant formula, enteral care products for invalids, protein powders, processed foods, anything that is hydrolyzed, and some pesticides/fertilizers.

2) Aspartic acid — found in low-calorie sweeteners, aspartame and its aliases, infant formula, protein powders, anything that is hydrolyzed, and

3) L-cysteine — found in dough conditioners.

According to Dr. Edward Group, the six most dangerous excitotoxins are: MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartate, domoic acid, L-BOAA, cysteine, and casein.

Resources

Dr. Edward Group The 6 Most Dangerous Excitotoxins. Global Healing Center.  (accessed 8/20/2016)

Blaylock RL. Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Health Press; 1994.

Olney JW. Brain Lesions, Obesity, and Other Disturbances in Mice Treated with Monosodium Glutamate; Science. 1969;164:719-21.  

Olney JW, Ho OL. Brain damage in infant mice following oral intake of glutamate, aspartate or cystine. Nature. 1970;227:609-611.

Olney, J.W. Excitatory neurotoxins as food additives: an evaluation of risk. Neurotoxicology 2: 163-192, 1980.

Olney JW. Excitotoxins in foods. Neurotoxicology. 1994 Fall;15(3):535-44.

Gudiño-Cabrera G, Ureña-Guerrero ME, Rivera-Cervantes MC, Feria-Velasco AI, Beas-Zárate C. Excitotoxicity triggered by neonatal monosodium glutamate treatment and blood-brain barrier function. Arch Med Res. 2014 Nov;45(8):653-9.

Verywellhealth.com.  An Overview of Cell Receptors and How They Work https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-a-receptor-on-a-cell-562554   (Accessed 5/5/2019)

Why you and not me? Why me and not you?

“Everyone’s different.” How many times have you heard that when investigating the cause of your MSG-sensitivity?  Perhaps it has to do with genetics. But others in your family aren’t affected. Why you?

Vulnerability

Everyone is sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the manufactured free glutamic acid (MfG) in MSG if they get enough of it. To be toxic, it must either target glutamate receptors that have become weakened or vulnerable to its attack, or be in such strong concentrations that no glutamate receptor can resist it. 

Vulnerability may be caused by:

  • Brain cells that are unprotected by a blood-brain barrier (BBB)
  • Preexisting brain damage or damage to the BBB, possibly from a stroke, a blow to the head, or previously consuming a large quantity of MfG at one sitting
  • Preexisting damage done to cells that host glutamate receptors – making them vulnerable. In asthmatics, for example, certain cells in the lungs may have previously become vulnerable.
  • Eating enough MfG at one sitting to trigger glutamate receptors on vulnerable cells; or eating enough to trigger glutamate receptors on cells that had not previously been damaged
  • Accumulating stores of glutamate In the body

When you react to glutamate, you’re reacting to excess free glutamate. Of course, what is an excess for you will not necessarily be excess for me. While excess might be defined as “more than is needed for normal body function,” that doesn’t seem to be the case with glutamate-sensitivity. Rather, excess seems to be related to any amount of glutamate that will damage or kill your vulnerable glutamate receptors. (And as a side note, glutamate is classified as a non-essential amino acid, meaning that there is no need for a human to ingest glutamate as the body will produce what it needs from other available amino acids).

Understanding glutamate receptors

Glutamate receptors receive the glutamate sent to them by glutamate neurotransmitters. Although glutamic acid (glutamate) is essential to normal body function, when present in excess outside of intact protein it becomes excitotoxic, firing repeatedly and causing cell death and/or damage to targeted cells.

If cells are protected from excess glutamate, as the brain may be protected at least in part by a robust BBB, a little excess glutamate sent their way may not harm them. But if the BBB can’t do its job, targeted cells die. Outside of the brain and central nervous system, glutamate-receptors may have no protective shield from excitotoxins at all.

Relatively recently, researchers discovered glutamate-receptors outside the brain and central nervous system.  These include, but are not limited to peripheral receptors in the stomach, heart, lungs, kidney, liver, immune system, spleen, and testis. And cells associated with each may be damaged or killed if glutamate sent from glutamate neurotransmitters reaches them. It’s possible that these peripheral receptors may have some type of protection system, but if so, scientists have not yet identified it.

Years ago we had thought it remarkable that glutamate-toxicity worked through the brain – since glutamate could produce an immediate migraine headache. Glutamate eaten – brain triggered – headache happened within seconds. Today we know that glutamate can move directly to peripheral receptors without traveling through the brain.

It appears that cells that host glutamate receptors can be damaged if exposed to a little glutamate, but not enough to kill them outright. There might be times when one ingests enough MfG to damage a cell, but not enough to kill it, or damage some of the cells in a group that control a particular function but not enough to knock out all of them. Ingest more glutamate on a second occasion, however, and those cells may die. Some MfG-sensitive people report that they can knowingly ingest MfG in a favorite food on one occasion without noticing a reaction, but react when that same food is consumed several days in a row.

What would make your glutamate-receptors more vulnerable?

One reason, of course, is damage to the BBB. We know that lack of blood-brain barrier development in the fetus and infant make them extremely vulnerable to exposure to MfG passed through their mothers’ diets.

Damage done to the BBBs of mature humans through use of drugs, from seizures, stroke, head trauma, hypoglycemia, hypertension, extreme physical stress, high fever, and the normal process of aging, can render them more vulnerable than others.

Individual sensitivity may also be related to the integrity of cells or groups of cells that control a particular function. A person who has experienced heart problems might very well be predisposed to having glutamate receptors in the heart vulnerable to insult by glutamate. A person with asthma, is likely predisposed to having an asthma attack after consuming glutamate.

Reports from consumers tell us that intensity or severity of reactions appear to be affected by alcohol ingestion and/or exercise just prior to, or immediately following MSG ingestion, and some women report variations in their reactions at different times in their menstrual cycles. 

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.  And if you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, we’ll put them up on Facebook.  You can also reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling

PROPAGANDA 101: The 8 ingredients in cutting edge propaganda

Monosodium glutamate contains manufactured free glutamic acid (glutamate), a free amino acid that can kill brain cells, disrupt the endocrine system, and cause adverse reactions such as migraine headache, asthma, a-fib, tachycardia, and seizures.

The first data pertaining to toxicity of manufactured/processed free glutamate (MfG) can be found in studies going back to the 1940s, with the first ones related to glutamate-induced retinal degeneration dating from the 1950s. The first research to rock the boat for Ajinomoto, Inc. (the world’s largest producer of MSG), came from John Olney’s study “Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate,” shown to Ajinomoto in 1968, and published in 1969 in Science.

The 1969 report of brain damage was followed by five decades of research where it was demonstrated repeatedly that ingestion of MfG will cause brain damage, endocrine disorders, and observable adverse reactions; that free glutamate accumulated in inter-cellular spaces in the brain will cause brain damage; and that accumulations of free glutamate are associated with abnormalities such as addiction, stroke, epilepsy, degenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease, for example), brain trauma, neuropathic pain, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression, jointly referred to as the “glutamate cascade.”

Data that confirm that free glutamate, monosodium glutamate, and hydrolyzed proteins cause brain damage and neuroendocrine disorders can be accessed at the Truth in Labeling website.

Discussion of flawed glutamate-industry studies can also be found at the TLC site. The story of glutamate-industry suppression of data, “The toxicity/safety of processed free glutamic acid (MSG): A study in suppression of information,” published in 1999 in Accountability in Research, can be read online by clicking here.

Since 1968, the glutamate industry has vigorously denied monosodium glutamate toxicity. Their use of scientists-for-hire, rigged research, infiltration of government agencies, control of major media, and a propaganda campaign second to none, has paid off for them as witnessed by the fact that so many are buying into the fiction that the toxicity of monosodium glutamate, and the toxicity of its glutamic acid are controversial.

On January 28, 2019, the SciShow on YouTube, hosted by Stefan Chin, gave us one of the finest examples of glutamate-industry propaganda seen to date, designed to convince its audience that monosodium glutamate is a harmless food additive. Chin’s recipe for deception is classic. 

Ingredient 1.  Talk fast.  Say positive things about monosodium glutamate. Some of those good things may contradict one another, but it doesn’t matter because the audience will hear a series of confident statements and won’t have time to notice the inconsistencies.  

Ingredient 2.  Acknowledge that research on monosodium glutamate’s “safety” has been found questionable by some.  Don’t make an issue of it, just acknowledge the criticism so no one can say that you ignored critical studies.  Then simply say that science disagrees.  No need to offer evidence.  Just plant the seed that science says monosodium glutamate is safe.

Ingredient 3.  Paint a glowing picture of monosodium glutamate.  Use affirmative words and phrases in your discussion.  Whether they are relevant or not makes no difference.  Whether they make sense or are random phrases does not matter.  Make no mention of any negatives.  Your audience should have positive thoughts and take away positive images of monosodium glutamate.

Some of the phrases, statements, and images that Chin associates with monosodium glutamate include:

“Purified MSG”
“Glutamate-rich”
“MSG is umami in its purest form”
“For love of MSG”
“Savory taste”
“The savory taste that’s taking over the culinary scene”
“A building block of protein”
“Culinary gold”
“Ubiquitous in kitchens”
“Gone global”
“A staple”
“Universal love for MSG”
“Team umami”
“You’ve been team umami from the get-go”
“Love of MSG comes from biology”
“In vertebrates”

While mentioning the positive roles that glutamate plays when not present in amounts needed to produce excitotoxicity, its role as an excitatory neurotransmitter is subtlety mentioned and goosed over.  There is no mention of the fact that this excitatory neurotransmitter kills brain cells, disrupts the endocrine system, causes adverse reactions like migraine headache, seizures, a-fib, tachycardia, asthma and more, and is known to play a role in neurodegenerative diseases including ALS and Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, and all the other abnormalities considered to be part of the glutamate cascade.

Ingredient 4. Once the picture has been drawn and the scene has been set, begin to twist the truth in a fashion that isn’t obvious.  Chin starts by pairing the terms monosodium glutamate and umami, glutamate and umami, and glutamate and monosodium glutamate.  Psychologists call this process “conditioning.”  Others might call it “brain washing.”

“Umami” is a word used for centuries by the Japanese to denote a really good taste of something – a taste or flavor that exemplifies the flavor of a food.  Umami is a descriptive term.  It’s an adjective.  It’s not a “thing,” it describes a thing.  Chin builds the case for using the word “umami” as a synonym for “monosodium glutamate.” He also uses “umami” as a synonym for “glutamate,” calling “glutamate receptors” “umami receptors.”  Throughout the balance of his presentation, Chin uses “glutamate,” “monosodium glutamate,” and “umami” almost interchangeably.

From twisting the truth, Chin moves to misrepresentations, half-truth, and blatant lies. 

Ingredient 5. Misrepresentations

To make a “misrepresentation” simply means to state as a fact something which is false or untrue.  To be considered fraudulent, a misrepresentation must be false, and it must be material in the sense that it relates to a matter of some importance or significance rather than a minor or trivial detail.

Ingredient 6. Half-truths.

The legal definition of a “half-truth” is to omit or withhold a statement of fact, knowledge of which is necessary to make other statements not misleading. It would be a material omission if it relates to a matter of some importance or significance rather than a minor or trivial detail.  A material omission is one of the components of fraud.

Ingredient 7.  Blatant lies.   

The following are examples of misrepresentations, half-truths, and lies, taken from Chin’s “The truth about MSG and your health” propaganda piece.  These are common to glutamate-industry propaganda.

“Glutamate is an important building block for protein.  And it also helps nerve cells send signals to other cells in the body.  It’s the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in vertebrates.  Since it’s so important for our bodies…”

OMITTED: Since 1957, and particularly since 1968, there have been growing numbers of studies documenting brain damage, endocrine disorders, and adverse reactions following ingestion of MSG. The glutamate cascade has been implicated in such disease conditions as addiction, stroke, epilepsy, degenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease), brain trauma, neuropathic pain, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.

“Purified MSG wasn’t a thing until 1908” when a Japanese chemist realized that the base made from kombu seaweed in his soup imparted a delicious flavor ….”

MISREPRESENTATION: What is “purified MSG?”  The flavor enhancing component of monosodium glutamate is the L-glutamic acid that was once extracted from protein-rich foods and is now produced in large part by genetically modified bacteria which excrete glutamic acid through their cell walls.  When L-glutamic acid is produced/manufactured by either method, unwanted by-products of manufacture (impurities) inevitably accompany the sought-after L-glutamic acid. Two of those impurities are D-glutamic acid and pyroglutamic acid.  Other impurities depend on the source material used in producing the L-glutamic acid and the method of production.  Moreover, to date, efforts to remove the impurities accompanying L-glutamic acid have been unsuccessful.  Which begs the question, what exactly is “purified MSG?”

“Studies have shown that umami functions as a flavor enhancer, creating a harmony between various flavors ….”  “A 2007 study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience….wherein the brain activity map lit up more from the combo of drinks….”

OMITTED: Studies demonstrating that monosodium glutamate and other products that contain processed free glutamic acid cause brain lesions, endocrine disorders, and observable adverse reactions.

“It’s an amino acid that the human body can synthesize glutamate, but that we also get from our food.”

OMITTED: There is no need for humans to ingest glutamate should the body be deficient, because glutamate can be synthesized from other amino acids. 

“While you’ve might have been told that it’s bad for you, or causes the so called Chinese restaurant syndrome, Science disagrees.”

FACT: Independent scientists have either read the scientific literature and concluded that monosodium glutamate kills brain cells, is an endocrine disruptor, and causes adverse reactions, or have no opinion on the subject.  It is only those scientists who are employed by the glutamate industry who maintain that monosodium glutamate is a harmless food additive.

“MSG stands for monosodium glutamate, the sodium salt of glutamate”

FACT:  Monosodium glutamate is a manufactured ingredient/product.  Glutamate is the sodium salt of glutamic acid.  Monosodium glutamate contains glutamate, the sodium salt of glutamic acid.

“Since it’s so important for our bodies, it’s not surprising we’ve evolved a taste for it.”

MISREPRESENTATION: “evolved a taste for it” as in “evolution?”

FACT:  Certain glutamate receptors on the tongue have been called “umami receptors by Ajinomoto.  As marketing professionals would say, they’ve been given a name and been branded.

“We have umami-specific receptors on or tongues and in our stomachs”

FACT:  There are glutamate receptors throughout the human body.  In 2009, Chaudhari, Pereira, and Roper stated that “Over the past 15 years, several receptors have been proposed to underlie umami detection in taste buds.”

“And these drive our love for foods that contain glutamates”

FACT:  This is so irrelevant it isn’t even a misrepresentation.

“And umami-rich foods have been staples in human diets forever.”

FACT:  Glutamate-rich foods (which would necessarily be protein-rich foods) have been staples in human diets for centuries.  Umami is an adjective that means flavorful or delicious.

“It all started with a 1968 letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.”

FACT: In 1968, the same year that Dr. Ho Man Kwok published his letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine, John Olney, M.D., determined that monosodium glutamate administered to mice caused brain damage and endocrine disruption. Olney reached out to Ajinomoto U.S.A., Inc. to discuss his findings.  In response, Ajinomoto established a nonprofit corporation, recruited scientists and others to defend the safety of its product, and unleashed a powerful public relations campaign.  Ajinomoto’s researchers claimed to be replicating the animal work of Olney and others who found monosodium glutamate-induced toxicity, but their researchers did not actually replicate. Although it had been established that brain lesions could not be identified if examination was not done within 24 hours after insult, glutamate-industry researchers routinely examined the brains of test animals after 24 hours had elapsed. They also used inappropriate methods and materials for staining the material they were examining.

In the 1980s, human double-blind studies were undertaken, from which glutamate-industry researchers would claim they found no adverse effects from ingestion of monosodium glutamate.  For these studies, glutamate-industry researchers used of a variety of techniques virtually guaranteeing negative results — lacing placebos with aspartame being their fail-safe.

“The idea took hold, spurring years of biased science based on the flawed assumption that CRS was a real thing, and that MSG caused it.”

FACT: The idea that monosodium glutamate causes adverse reactions such a migraine headache followed the fact that a great number of people suffered migraines and other abnormalities after eating something containing monosodium glutamate.

FACT: “biased science,” “flawed assumption,” and “flawed assumption that CRS was a real thing” are some of the undefined negative phrases used in glutamate-industry propaganda to paint a negative image of those who challenge the safety of monosodium glutamate.

“Double-blinded placebo controlled studies…have failed to find a reproducible response to ingesting foods with MSG.”

FACT: Glutamate-industry studies have been rigged to “fail to find” responses to ingesting foods with MSG.  For further details look here.

Following recitation of misrepresentations, half-truths, and blatant lies, Chin moved to degrading those who have observed that monosodium glutamate and other ingredients that contain excitotoxic glutamic acid have toxic potential.  The following paragraph was taken from the video.  Emphasis has been added to point to negative references.

“While our love of MSG comes from biology, a lot of people’s aversion to it seems to have roots in something else entirely. Racism.  It all started with a 1968 letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine…. The idea took hold, spurring years of biased science based on the flawed assumption that CRS was a real thing, and that MSG caused it.  Subsequent animal studies seemingly confirmed the idea, but these often consisted of injecting super concentrated doses of MSG directly into creature’s abdomen, which isn’t exactly a scientific approach to determining the effects of MSG sprinkled into saucepans.  More recently research on MSG aversion has taken into account the xenophobia and racism that fueled it.  And over the last 3 decades, a number of double-blinded placebo-controlled studies, including studies of subjects with reported sensitivity to MSG, have failed to find a reproducible response to ingesting foods with MSG.”

Chin’s last sentence is priceless.  Those double-blind placebo-controlled studies were certainly “placebo controlled.”  The placebos used invariably contained excitotoxic aspartame (in aspartame) or another excitotoxic amino acid, making it inevitable that there would be as many reactions to the placebo as there were to the monosodium glutamate test material.  As early as 1978, Ajinomoto’s placebos were being laced with aspartame.

And those “subjects with reported sensitivity to MSG”?  They were college students and/or medical school students who were paid generously to participate in the studies provided that they said they were sensitive to MSG. No one verified that they were actually sensitive to MSG.

Ingredient 8.  Conclude with discussion of some positive thing that the glutamate industry is doing.  Chin tells the audience that “Investigation into the potential health benefits of MSG is ongoing…”

The only ingredient that Chin seems to have failed to include in his recipe for deception was The Whopper — the lie that we aren’t exposed to enough MfG in processed foods to cause us any harm.

The Whopper: the ultimate MSG propaganda

At the Truth in Labeling Campaign website there’s a page called “Six Big Fat Lies.”  That’s where we revealed what we thought were the favorite propaganda tactics of the glutamate-industry. But we failed to tell you about The Whopper, arguably the biggest, most often repeated and most damaging lie of all.

Unwrapping The Whopper

On April 8, I spoke to Dr. Nancy Turner, Professor and Chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University. I had called to ask her how the damage done by Robin Tucker’s statements in MSU’s Serving Up Science: “Umami: The Most Complex Taste” podcast was going to be redressed.

It was following that conversation that the light finally dawned on me. Turner was telling me that humans couldn’t eat enough Manufactured free Glutamic acid (MfG) to cause the brain damage, endocrine disorders, and assorted reactions that the laboratory animals had experienced. That MfG in that quantity wasn’t available. It was then I finally got it. That was the lie that now permeates glutamate-industry propaganda. That was the lie they were using to sell the American public on the notion that MfG is a harmless food additive – and to make money from selling monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed proteins, autolyzed yeast, maltodextrin, etc.

There will always be Six Big Fat Lies. But all six together can’t hold a candle to the brilliance and the selling power of The Whopper: The lie that we aren’t exposed to enough MfG in processed foods to cause us any harm.

Here’s a little test you can do. Take along a list of the names of ingredients that contain MfG to any store (health-food stores included) and simply read the ingredients listed on the labels of processed foods. I challenge you to find 10 products that don’t contain at least one of the ingredients on that list. And every one of them contains MfG. Think about it. In the course of a day consider how many of those MfG-containing products are in the meals and snacks you enjoy. Include restaurant foods in your tally.

For those who want to get into the science of MfG toxicity consider the following:

An individual’s reaction to MfG depends on both the vulnerability and sensitivity of his or her glutamate receptors. Lack of blood-brain barrier(BBB) development in the unborn (fetus) and the infant make them extremely vulnerable to exposure to MfG passed through their mothers’ diets. Damage done to the BBBs of mature humans through use of drugs, seizures, stroke, trauma to the head, hypoglycemia, hypertension, extreme physical stress, high fever, and the normal process of aging render them more vulnerable than others.

Individual sensitivity may also be related to the integrity of cells or groups of cells that control a particular function. There might well be times when one ingests enough MfG to damage a cell, but not enough to kill it, or damage some of the cells in a group that control a particular function but not enough to knock out all of them. Some MfG-sensitive people report that they can knowingly ingest MfG in a favorite food on one occasion without noticing a reaction, but notice a reaction when that same food is consumed several days in a row.

Reports from consumers tell us that intensity or severity of reactions appear to be affected by alcohol ingestion and/or exercise just prior to, or immediately following MSG ingestion; and some women report variations in their reactions at different times in their menstrual cycles.

The bottom line is that Dr. Turner has no idea whatsoever how much MfG an individual is taking in on a daily basis, nor how sensitive he or she might be at any given time to MfG’s effects. Turner bought into the glutamate-industry line that there isn’t enough MfG available in processed food to cause brain damage and adverse reactions. She’s helping spread The Whopper. And shamefully, she didn’t do the very thing that a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University must certainly teach her students: “Check it out.”

Be aware. Be informed. Check it out. Don’t buy into The Whopper.

Adrienne