The ‘G’ in MSG stands for ‘excitotoxic’

The FDA has been representing the interests of the glutamate industry for over 50 years, literally publishing industry’s propaganda on its official website at They really want you to believe that MSG isn’t even “controversial,” and that it’s “safe” and “natural.”

Here’s a better way to think about it: the “G” in “MSG” stands for the excitotoxic – brain damaging – glutamate that plays a role in obesity and reproductive disorders (infertility) and causes heart irregularities such as atrial fibrillation and tachycardia, asthma, migraine headache, irritable bowel, light-headedness, mood swings, skin rash, seizures and more.

Was the FDA ever a protector of human health?

It is the FDA that makes and enforces food labeling laws, and it is the FDA that determines whether or not MSG, or any other chemical, will be approved for use in food. Thus, the FDA holds the keys to life and death for many Americans, many of whom still believe that it is the welfare of consumers, not the profits of the food and/or drug industries, that concern the FDA. A great deal of industry’s success in keeping excitotoxic amino acids hidden (unlabeled) in processed foods can be attributed to their campaign against identifying toxic substances through labeling. In the 1970s, growing numbers of consumers realized that they reacted with things like asthma, migraine headache or seizures when they consumed something that contained monosodium glutamate (MSG). But it wasn’t until 1988 when George Schwartz, M.D. published “In Bad Taste: the MSG Syndrome,” that consumers began to understand that it was the Manufactured Free Glutamate in MSG that was causing their reactions.

This fact is relevant to the FDA’s role in sustaining Ajinomoto’s push to keep the truth about the toxic effects of their product, MSG, from the public. The FDA’s failure to distinguish between the product called MSG, and the other products that contain MSG’s toxic manufactured free glutamate (MfG) has been used continuously to confuse and deceive consumers. But that’s just a pimple on the face of things that the FDA does for Ajinomoto.

In 1988, consumers were used to referring to their reactions to MfG as “MSG-reactions” even if there was no ingredient called monosodium glutamate in the offending product. And the FDA allowed manufacturers to claim “no MSG” or “no MSG added” to products that contained MfG but not MSG.

The glutamate industry, led by Ajinomoto, understood that if all MfG in all processed food was labeled, consumers would be able to determine whether or not an MfG-containing ingredient or product caused them to have irritable bowel, skin rash, migraine headache, seizures or any other adverse reaction.

Why would that be important? Because if consumers were able to identify the MfG in the things they used and food they consumed, the fact that asthma, dizziness, and/or depression, for example, always followed use of MfG use might become obvious. The glutamate industry wouldn’t like that at all. It might make it difficult to continue selling consumers—or maybe even the medical community—on the idea that MfG is harmless.

The FDA has never dealt with the toxicity of MfG. They’ve only focused on confirming the safety of Ajinomoto’s product, MSG. To that end, the FDA has cooperated with the glutamate industry at every turn. Its cooperation can be traced back to September 1969, when then FDA Commissioner Ley testified before the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Health, presenting evidence from four studies that, he alleged, demonstrated MSG was safe. It was later disclosed that two of those studies were incomplete, and two didn’t even exist.

The big picture


There have never been any meaningful regulations for identifying MSG or the amount of MSG in any product. The FDA’s refusal to identify MSG through labeling is central to the success of the glutamate industry in promoting its toxic product.

The FDA has ignored evidence of monosodium glutamate toxicity.

The first study of MSG toxicity, actually MSG-induced brain damage, was published in 1969. There was a congressional inquiry into the possible danger of using MSG in baby food, which resulted some ten years later in industry “voluntarily” removing MSG from baby food, and replacing it with other sources of MfG. The FDA took no action.

The flawed nature of Ajinomoto’s International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) research was exposed in 1993 when evidence from the files of the FDA that the IGTC used aspartame in their placebos was brought to the attention of the FDA. In that year, FDA Commissioner Kessler was asked to investigate the FDA’s use of badly flawed studies in their determination that monosodium glutamate is safe. The request was ignored. (They do that a lot. Don’t deny. Don’t respond. Just ignore.)

In its 1995 report to the FDA, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) acknowledged that it was inappropriate to use aspartame in placebos used in double-blind studies of the safety of MSG and the FDA did not dispute FASEB’s conclusion. Nonetheless, the FDA still allows the unregulated use of MSG in processed food.

The FDA has ignored the fact that studies presented to it by the IGTC as evidence that MSG was a harmless food additive used MSG-containing ingredients other than monosodium glutamate as well as neurotoxic aspartic acid (found in aspartame) in their placebos. (Don’t deny. Don’t respond. Just ignore.)

The FDA cooperated with Ajinomoto in designing studies from which the industry would claim to have demonstrated that MSG was a safe food additive. Evidence to that effect exists (or existed) in the files of the FDA:A July 13, 1990 letter from IGTC chairman Ebert to Walter Glinsmann, M.D., Associate Director of Clinical Nutrition, Division of Nutrition, FDA, reads, in part “…attached are three [double-blind] protocols for your use…IGTC would be interested in your views, especially on the proposed work by Drs. Kirby and Kjos.”

A January 2, 1991 letter from IGTC chairman Ebert to Fred R. Shank, Ph.D., Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA, requested a scientific review session on MSG with FDA scientists. IGTC chairman Ebert elaborated on what the IGTC wanted covered at the meeting, and offered the names of FDA personnel who should attend. “In the past, IGTC has requested meetings with FDA staff for purposes of informal reviews of MSG research. Scientists who have carried out studies on MSG, usually in university laboratories or clinics, have presented their data to agency scientists for review and discussion….If Dr. Donald Kirby, who is currently carrying out research on MSG at the Medical College of Virginia, has sufficient clinical data by the time of an FDA meeting we would propose inviting him also.”

After elaborating on what the IGTC wanted covered at the meeting, the chairman continued: “As FASEB plans a one day Hearing on Free Amino Acids on February 4, 1991, it seems advisable to complete an FDA meeting prior to that date….FDA scientists who have participated in MSG research discussion in the past included among others: Drs. Shank, Hattan and Scheuplein. Others who would be key attendants include Drs. Rulls, Lin and Bailey…Members of the IGTC/TGA Executive Committee also would plan to join the meeting.”A December 9, 1991 FDA Memorandum of Conference notes that “The IGTC requested the meeting to discuss a protocol that they are currently developing for a proposed food allergy study involving MSG. We informed the visitors that we will provide our comments only after they have submitted a written protocol to us with some detailed description of the proposed study.”

A September 4, 1992 FDA Memorandum of Conference reads: “Dr. Kimura gave me a copy of the [IGTC] request (dated 8/20/92) for a meeting with the Commissioner and a copy of the Bob MacLeod’s brief response (dated 9/3/92) to the IGTC. We both agreed that once a description of their research plan (or protocols) is given to us, a meeting will be scheduled for their scientists to discuss with our review staff regarding their research plan aimed to resolve scientific issues surrounding adverse reactions allegedly caused by monosodium glutamate consumed in food.”

On October 23, 1992, the FDA hosted a conference at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA. Present were Geha (Harvard Medical School), Saxon (UCLA Medical School), Patterson (Northwestern University Medical School), Ebert, (Chairman IGTC), Yoshi-hisa Sugita (IGTC), Takeshi Kimura (IGTC); and Hattan, Tollefson, Glinsmann, Bailey, and Lin of the FDA. Protocols for the Geha, Saxon, Patterson study called for use of aspartame in placebos, as had all other double-blind studies receiving FDA approval.

The FDA has suppressed information pertaining to the toxic potential of MSG.

In 1992, the FASEB study on the safety of amino acids in dietary supplements had warned about the use of MSG in them. That information was never shared with the public.

As early as 1990, the FDA became aware that MSG produced through acid hydrolysis of proteins contains carcinogenic mono and dichloro propanols. That information has never been shared with the public.

MSG produced through acid hydrolysis of proteins contains carcinogenic mono and dichloro propanols. If enzymes were used to produce hydrolyzed proteins, this wouldn’t be the case, but since using enzymes is more costly than using acid, most of the hydrolyzed protein products found on grocers’ shelves contribute to the development of cancer. The FDA has been thinking about sharing that information with the public since 1990.

In 1992, the FDA commissioned FASEB to do an independent review of research on the safety (never toxicity) of monosodium glutamate in food. The FDA has admitted, in reports of adverse reactions on file at the FDA, that headache (they don’t call it migraine headache) has been reported as an adverse reaction by over 43 per cent of the people reporting reactions to monosodium glutamate. With possible rare exception, monosodium glutamate is acknowledged as a migraine headache trigger by every headache clinic in this country.

In 1991, Alfred Scopp published a study entitled “Monosodium glutamate and hydrolyzed vegetable protein induced headache: review and case studies”. But neither Scopp’s study nor the subject of migraine headache are discussed in the August 31,1995 FASEB report.

In FASEB’s “independent” study, questions were posed by the FDA to which FASEB responded. FASEB ignored all others. Panel members suffered from conflicts of interests; failed to consider all data relevant to the safety/toxicity of monosodium glutamate; dismissed, or attempted to dismiss, data that did not fit well with a conclusion that monosodium glutamate is safe. The FDA rejected FASEB’s September, 1994 final draft report (of the allegedly independent investigation); shared the contents of that September, 1994 final draft report with agents of the glutamate industry–but no one else; and made the final FASEB report available to glutamate industry agents–but to no one else–prior to distribution. Requests to FASEB, to the FDA’s Dr. David Hattan, and to Freedom of Information for copies of the report have been ignored.

The FDA has actively promoted the safety of MSG

The FDA has published and distributed material attesting to the safety of monosodium glutamate in the FDA Medical Bulletin and more in the FDA Backgrounder.

The FDA reinforces the misinformation put out by the glutamate industry, distortions of fact like, “The glutamic acid in monosodium glutamate is identical to the glutamic acid in whole protein.”

The FDA tells people that the free glutamic acid in processed food is identical to the free glutamic acid found in unprocessed food and in higher organisms, without reference to the fact that the free glutamic acid in processed food is invariably accompanied by impurities.

The FDA-sponsored investigations into the safety of monosodium glutamate have always been rigged. Material reviewed by FDA reviewers has been limited largely to industry-produced studies, with just enough independent research for investigators to point to and say “we’ve looked at that.” Moreover, the reviewers themselves have had industry affiliations.

When the glutamate industry wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of an FDA investigation, the final report of that investigation would be rewritten. That was obvious of the 1978 FASEB report rewritten and republished in 1980, and in the 1994 FASEB report rewritten and published in 1995.

The FDA has done original research for the benefit of the glutamate industry.

We knew that in all of this, the FDA parrots the words of Ajinomoto’s The Glutamate Association, the IGTC, and whatever other front groups they have established. (Since IGTC Chairman Ebert was exposed for overseeing double-blind studies using excitotoxic aspartic acid (in aspartame) in placebos used in MSG-safety studies, the IGTC is rarely spoken of by Ajinomoto.)

Bits and pieces of FDA/industry collusion

The FDA has allowed “monosodium glutamate” to be given as an illustration of a common safe food:

“It is impracticable to list all substances that are generally recognized as safe for their intended use. However, by way of illustration, the Commissioner regards such common food ingredients as salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, baking powder, and monosodium glutamate as safe for their intended use.” (CFR 21 582.1)

The FDA has acknowledged that to advertise products as “No MSG,” “No Added MSG,” or “No MSG Added” when they contain ingredients that are sources of free glutamic acid such as hydrolyzed protein, was in direct violation of Section 403(a)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Yet, the FDA has allowed the words “No added MSG” and “No MSG added” to be used, illegally, on labels of foods that contain MSG.

The FDA Adverse Reactions Monitoring System (ARMS) established to record reports of adverse reactions to sulfites, aspartame, and MSG never solicited information on MSG or aspartame. The FDA disbanded the ARMS when the lawsuit against the FDA was settled, and the need to pretend it was interested in the toxic potential of MSG and aspartame lessened. At the time, the statement was made that everyone knew that MSG and aspartame were harmless, and there was no sense in keeping reports of reactions.When legislators receive inquiries or calls for help from constituents, they are forwarded to the FDA which, in turn, assures both legislator and constituent that there is no cause for concern.

On the rare occasion that the FDA acknowledged the question of MSG’s safety, evidence of possible MSG toxicity would be submitted to representatives of the glutamate industry for evaluation, in order to allow them to confirm its safety.

When the FDA/HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was petitioned to investigate the charge that the behavior of the FDA was inappropriate, the OIG turned the investigation over to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), thereby guaranteeing that the petition would be killed. The ORI oversees and directs many Public Health Service research integrity activities on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, but does not oversee regulatory research integrity activities of the FDA. Therefore, under no circumstances would the ORI have jurisdiction in this matter.

In May, 1992, the Journal of Dental Hygiene cited the FDA’s David Hattan as saying “The FDA’s findings were based on the scientific studies provided by the Glutamate Association. The work has been supported by people with an interest in glutamate: consortiums and manufacturers.” Earlier Hattan had told a toxicology forum in Aspen Colorado that glutamic acid was implicated in a number of disease conditions. According to Hattan, “‘developing data on exogenous and endogenous excitogens or excitotoxins has been the primary spur to the Food and Drug Administration’s review of monosodium glutamate.” Hattan was central to the debate on the safety/toxicity of MSG, being Deputy Director for the Division of Toxicological Review and Evaluation, at the FDA, and the FDA liaison to FASEB relative to the 1995 FASEB analysis of adverse reactions to monosodium glutamate (MSG). Yet there is no evidence that Hattan raised any question about the propriety of the research being submitted to the FDA by the IGTC as evidence that MSG is safe.

Minutes of FDA meetings with consumers were changed when it served the purposes of the glutamate industry.

Medical evaluations of MSG-sensitive people were altered by the FDA.

In 1992 the FDA chose Ajinomoto’s International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) Chairman Andrew G. Ebert and Kristin McNutt another IGTC operative, to serve as consumer advocates on its Food Advisory Committee.

The FDA refused to be discovered when sued over its failure to require identification of MSG through labeling. When challenged in a suit over full and clear labeling of MSG, the Court considered nothing but the Administrative Record presented by the FDA. Studies that demonstrated the MSG had toxic potential were not allowed as evidence because they were not submitted to the Court by the FDA as part of its Administrative Record. The Administrative record was made up of material that the FDA needed in order to win its case, plus a smattering of material from the opposition that had no bite to it, but to which the FDA could point and say, “we looked at that.”

When FDA Dockets Management copied material that the Truth in Labeling Campaign requested they made extra copies, which we suspected were being sent to those who wanted to know what we were up to.

The FDA approves the use of glutamate-blocking pharmaceuticals while encouraging industry to pour processed free glutamate into processed food.

The FDA refuses to provide consumers with lists of ingredients that contain MfG.

The FDA allows the term “natural” to be used in reference to excitatory amino acids.

The FDA allows the glutamate industry to create and use sources of MfG that contain carcinogenic mono and dichloro propanols and heterocyclic amines.

Confirmation of FDA/industry cooperation will be found in the files of the FDA.

A look at the future

It had been suggested that with the Obama administration, care might be taken to turn the FDA back to its original charge of guaranteeing the safety of both food and drugs. But with the appointment of Michael R. Taylor, former partner in the law firm of King & Spalding, and former vice president for public policy of Monsanto Company, to Obama’s transition team and from there to the post of FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, all hope for a return to concern for consumers disappeared. Michael Taylor is a cousin (maybe second cousin) of Tipper Gore, the wife or former wife of Al Gore, vice president under President William Clinton. The work experience he brings to his most recent job at the FDA comes from years of dedicated service to Monsanto.

Michael Taylor is the man from President Clinton’s FDA who oversaw FDA approval of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), and thereby subjected citizens of this country, and many others, to increased risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer. rBGH is a genetically engineered, potent variant of the natural growth hormone produced by cows. Its use forces cows to increase their milk production by about 10%, makes cows sick, and facilitates the production of milk that’s chemically and nutritionally different than natural milk.

Michael Taylor has additional glutamate industry credits. He was instrumental in securing FDA approval of aspartame.

MSG-sensitive people may remember Michael Taylor from his November 3, 1991 performance on “60 Minutes,” where he represented the interests of the FDA and Ajinomoto (close friend of Monsanto) by answering Mike Wallace’s questions. All Taylor would say was that the FDA was looking into labeling. The FDA doesn’t even pretend to do that anymore.

On January 14, 2010, Lyndsey Layton wrote an article on Michael Taylor for the Washington Post. It was an excellent article, covering every aspect of his professional career, and included the following information: “Taylor is a familiar figure at the FDA. He began his career as a staff attorney at the agency in 1976. Then he worked for a decade at King & Spaulding, which represented Monsanto Corp., the agribusiness giant that developed genetically engineered corn, soybeans and bovine growth hormone.

“He returned to the FDA in 1991 as deputy commissioner for policy and pushed through requirements that producers of seafood and juices adopt measures to prevent bacterial contamination. During the same period, the FDA approved Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone, and Taylor was partly responsible for a controversial policy that said milk from BGHtreated cows did not have to be labeled as such.

“In 1994, Taylor went to the U.S. Agriculture Department to run its food safety program. He required meat and poultry producers to take measures to prevent bacterial contamination, despite strong opposition from those industries. Observers expect Taylor to impose those same kinds of preventive controls on all the foods regulated by the FDA.

“After the USDA, Taylor went to work for Monsanto as a vice president for public policy. He moved on to a think tank and then a teaching stint at George Washington University.”

“He is the quintessential revolving door,’ said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. Taylor’s support for BGH and Monsanto’s other genetically modified products at the FDA was ‘questionable,’ she said. ‘On the other hand, when he went to USDA, what he did there was absolutely heroic. He’s been very strong on food safety.”

You might notice that the measures Michael Taylor took at the USDA to promote food safety didn’t negatively impact Monsanto. Similarly, nothing acted on by Taylor as FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods impacted Monsanto negatively. In cases other than those where the negative role of big business is so gross as to be undeniable, regulation will be aimed at small, generally independent, businesses.

At the FDA, protecting the American public from toxic additives intentionally added to processed food won’t be considered. Enforcing regulations prohibiting deceptive and misleading labeling, such as claims that there’s no MSG added to products that contain it, is something that will never happen.

The FDA holds incredible power. It is considered an expert in the areas of food, drug, and cosmetic safety by all branches of government; so in any argument over matters of science, the word of the FDA will, with rare exception, be the final word. In addition, the files of the FDA are privileged. Under the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, the FDA need disclose to the public, or the Courts, only that information which is part of the Administrative Record for the matter in question; and it is the FDA that determines what the Administrative record for any question shall be.

It doesn’t matter who is US president, or even FDA Director. The industry rule of the FDA is expressed in every agent. It’s a secure job as long as you don’t disturb either food or drug industry giants. Some look forward to taking a pension after 20 years of service and moving through the revolving door into industry – and whistle-blowers are punished.

The FDA is “a lap dog, not a watch dog.” And neither the president nor the Congress ever walks the dog.

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 and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling

A truly grand scheme for deceiving the public

It’s not an allergen as defined by the FDA, so it won’t be singled out on ingredient labels of processed foods as something vulnerable consumers have to watch out for. It’s also not identified as an artificial flavor by the FDA. Rather, when referred to as a flavor enhancer it’s called “natural” or “naturally occurring.”

But all that has nothing to do with the product’s safety and everything to do with the wealth, power and political connections of the people who manufacture and market the excitotoxic – brain damaging – amino acid that the glutamate industry declares is just a harmless ingredient used in a multitude of food additives.

You know it best as monosodium glutamate (MSG), but the world is slowly catching on to the fact that autolyzed yeast, calcium and sodium caseinates, maltodextrin, and the hydrolyzed protein products, for example, contain excitotoxic glutamate just as MSG does. And it’s the manufactured free glutamate (MfG) in MSG and in these other ingredients that causes brain damage, gross obesity and infertility, and plays a role in triggering asthma, fibromyalgia, migraine headache, skin rash and seizures as well.

MSG is a man-made product composed of L-glutamic acid (L-glutamate), sodium, moisture, D-glutamic acid (D-glutamate), pyroglutamic acid, and other impurities (unwanted and unavoidable by-products of the manufacture of L-glutamate). MSG is manufactured in plants throughout the world. In the United States, MSG is produced in Ajinomoto’s factory in Eddyville, Iowa. Its principal ingredient is its excitotoxic – brain damaging — glutamate.

L-glutamate is the L enantiomer of glutamic acid (glutamate), an amino acid which when present in protein or released from protein in a regulated fashion (through routine digestion) is vital for normal body function. It is the principal 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 — an amount now readily available in a diet of processed foods — 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.

It’s truly a grand scheme for deceiving the public. There’s a toxic substance used in scores of processed foods, and because it’s a constituent of an ingredient (like arsenic in rice would be), poisonous or not, it won’t be disclosed on food labels.

FDA/industry cooperation goes back to 1958, when “monosodium glutamate” was first deemed “safe” by the FDA. Deemed to be safe because prior to the institution of the GRAS classification in 1958, there had been no record of adverse reactions to “monosodium glutamate,” which had not been tested for safety. Looking back, with hindsight as our guide, we now understand what took place. In 1957, the method for producing monosodium glutamate had been changed from the slow and costly method of extracting glutamate from protein (for which there were no reports of adverse reactions) to a method of bacterial fermentation which not only created a different product, but allowed for virtually unlimited production of glutamate and MSG.

The first record of FDA/industry cooperation/collusion that we have in our files is from September of 1969, when then FDA Commissioner Ley testified before the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Health, presenting evidence from four studies that, he alleged, demonstrated that MSG was safe. It was later disclosed that two of the studies Commissioner Ley cited were incomplete and two did not even exist.

Before 1969, there had been no need for FDA/industry cooperation/collusion. It was not until 1968 that the first report of adverse reactions to monosodium glutamate was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, and not until 1969 that the first evidence that monosodium glutamate caused brain lesions and endocrine disorders in experimental animals was published in Science.

The FDA has built and then reinforced its case for the “safety” of MSG on misleading and deceptive studies sponsored by the glutamate industry. FDA regulations require that those who manufacture food additives must provide evidence demonstrating that they are “safe.” The glutamate industry has, indeed, presented evidence, but they have falsified data — not by changing test scores or research results, but by rigging the procedures used in conducting their studies so that only after careful scrutiny would one discern that their studies were flawed to the point of being fraudulent.* Glutamate industry studies are generally methodologically inadequate, statistically unsound, and/or irrelevant to the safety/toxicity of MSG. Researchers have gone so far as to use aspartame and/or MSG in placebos to cause subjects to respond to placebos just as they would respond to monosodium glutamate test material. In addition, industry’s researchers have been known to draw conclusions that did not follow from the results of their studies.

Over the course of the last 46 years, the FDA has summarily dismissed much of the research that clearly demonstrates that MSG places humans at risk. They don’t counter it. They simply ignore it. Reports of adverse reactions to MSG collected by its own Adverse Reactions Monitoring System have been dismissed because “they could have been caused by something else.”

The FDA has suppressed results of studies that might suggest that use of MSG places humans at risk. The FDA suppressed results of its own study that suggested that use of free glutamic acid in supplements is unsafe. In a July 1992, report to the FDA, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) had concluded, in part, that: “…it is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, and children…. and…by women of childbearing age and individuals with affective disorders.” (MSG is called L-glutamic acid when used in supplements.) Mention has not been made of those recommendations – not to the medical community or anywhere else.

Yes, a truly a grand scheme for deceiving the public.

*The term ‘fraud’ is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. [Fraud may also include an omission or intentional failure to state material facts, knowledge of which would be necessary to make other statements not misleading.] Accessed on 11/4/2010 at the ‘Lectric Law Library’s Lexicon.

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 and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling

Samuels A. (2020) Dose dependent toxicity of glutamic acid: a review, International Journal of Food Properties, 23:1, 412-419, DOI: 10.1080/10942912.2020.1733016

Excitotoxicity and cell damage

Ischemia-Triggered Glutamate Excitotoxicity From the Perspective of Glial Cells

Snake in the GRAS

When you hear that the FDA considers monosodium glutamate GRAS – or, generally recognized as safe – what does that mean? It’s certainly one of the “selling points” that industry likes to toss around a lot as evidence that monosodium glutamate is harmless.

But that GRAS designation is inherently deceiving.

Sixty-two years ago, following passage of the Food Additives Amendment of 1958, the FDA grandfathered monosodium glutamate into a category of additives called GRAS. There was no testing done or even reviewed by the FDA to determine if monosodium glutamate was indeed safe. The GRAS classification was solely based on monosodium glutamate having been in use without objection prior to 1958. The actual safety of pre-1958 monosodium glutamate was not then, and never has been, established.

But to make using a GRAS label for monosodium glutamate even more farfetched, is the fact that the monosodium glutamate in use in the U.S. today is not even the same as the monosodium glutamate that was grandfathered as GRAS in 1958. From 1920 until 1956, the process underlying production of glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate in Japan had been one of extraction, a slow and costly method (1). Then, around 1956, Ajinomoto Co., Inc. succeeded in producing glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate using genetically modified bacteria to secrete the glutamic acid used in monosodium glutamate through their cell walls, and cost saving, large-scale production of glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate through fermentation began (2,3).

Approximately ten years later, the first published report of an adverse reaction to monosodium glutamate appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (4), and a study demonstrating that monosodium glutamate was excitotoxic, causing brain damage, endocrine disorders and behavior disorders, was published in the journal Science in 1969 (5). Of interest to note is the fact that by the time ten years had gone by, grocery shelves were overflowing with processed foods loaded with monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed protein products, autolyzed yeasts and lots of other ingredients that contained the same toxic free glutamic acid found in monosodium glutamate.

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


  1. Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 6th ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983:1211-2.
  2. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 3rd ed. Vol 2. New York: Wiley, 1978:410-21.
  3. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 4th ed. New York: Wiley, 1992:571-9.
  4. Kwok RHM. The Chinese restaurant syndrome. Letter to the editor. N Engl J Med. 1968;278(14):796.
  5. Olney JW. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Science. 1969;164:719-721.

MSG in your canned veggies? The FDA says it’s a good idea!

How do you know if a food you’re intending to eat contains risky food additives?

Here’s an easy tip: if it comes in a box, bottle, or can, it likely has MSG in it. And if not MSG, then one of the 40 or so other flavor enhancers or fake proteins that contain the excitotoxic glutamic acid found in MSG.

To get an idea of how much MSG and MfG (manufactured free glutamate) is being promoted for use in processed foods, take a look at what the FDA calls a “Standard of Identity” (SOI), which are rules established to define what makes up a particular processed food.

There are over 280 of these regulations covering everything from canned mushrooms to tomato sauce to beef stew. They are said to be in the “interest of the consumer” to provide them with a “reasonable definition” and a “reasonable standard of quality.”

Here’s an example: in the SOI for canned green beans, corn, peas, asparagus, artichokes, lima beans, beets, cabbage, kale, mushrooms and many more, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and autolyzed yeast extract (the last two being prime sources of MfG) are prominently listed as “safe and suitable” optional ingredients.

Along with those “safe” additives, Disodium inosinate and Disodium guanylate are also permitted ingredients in all those veggies. Those two additives work synergistically with MSG and are always a tip-off to the presence of MSG in a food.

The more you know the more you’ll begin to notice that the FDA seems to bend over backwards to promote the use of MSG.

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

There’s no such thing as ‘natural’ MSG

The FDA is fond of saying that there are “naturally high levels” of MSG in some foods, notably tomatoes and processed tomato products. That’s simply not true. MSG is manufactured. There’s no such thing as “natural” MSG.

This is a picture of the plant in Eddyville Iowa where Ajinomoto manufactures monosodium glutamate (MSG). What do you think Ajinomoto had to do to get the FDA to parrot its fiction that “MSG is naturally occurring?”

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

What does wine have in common with MSG?

Fermentation, according to wine aficionados, is “the magic at play in the making of wine.” Must (freshly cut fruit juice with skin and seeds) or juice will start fermenting on its own in half a day helped along with wild yeast. Winemakers, however, are very choosy about the strains of yeast used to produce any particular type of wine, and wine fermentation is an art – a “welcome phenomenon” helped along by vintners with skill and expertise.

MSG, on the other hand, is made using genetically modified bacteria that excrete glutamate through their cell walls. It’s been made that way by Ajinomoto since 1957.

No thinking person (and certainly no wine lover), would dare to compare the two. The FDA, however, is quite willing to put the yeast used in creating a carefully tended merlot or pinot noir in the same class as carefully selected genetically modified bacteria that excrete glutamic acid from their cell membranes. According to the FDA, “…MSG is produced by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses. This fermentation process is similar to that used to make yogurt, vinegar and wine.”

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

Being the number one producer of MSG didn’t just happen

Ask successful business people and they’ll tell you that while it’s great to have a decent product, it’s really the marketing that counts. And there’s no better marketing tool than having the FDA follow your script, broadcast the virtues of your product, and ignore all data that say your product kills brain cells. Brain cells that if not obliterated would have regulated appetite (preventing obesity) and reproduction function (preventing infertility).


Industry’s FDA:

Samuels, A. (2020). Dose dependent toxicity of glutamic acid: A review:

Olney, J.W. (1969). Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Science 164: 719-721.

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

Industry’s FDA

It’s no secret that the FDA represents the interests of Big Food and Big Pharma – not consumers. Here is a small example of its allegiance to large corporations that we hadn’t noticed before. Unfortunately, many people still believe that if the FDA says something it must be true.

The following comes from the FDA page called “Questions and Answers on Monosodium glutamate (MSG)” found here: accessed on 7/22/2020.

What is MSG?

The FDA says that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of the common amino acid glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is naturally present in our bodies, and in many foods and food additives.

How is it made?

The FDA says that MSG occurs naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheese. People around the world have eaten glutamate-rich foods throughout history. For example, a historical dish in the Asian community is a glutamate-rich seaweed broth. In 1908, a Japanese professor named Kikunae Ikeda was able to extract glutamate from this broth and determined that glutamate provided the savory taste to the soup. Professor Ikeda then filed a patent to produce MSG and commercial production started the following year.

What is MSG?

Mono (single) sodium glutamate in science-speak is glutamate tied to a sodium ion, just as monopotassium glutamate would be glutamate tied to a potassium ion. That’s the makeup of the mono sodium glutamate occurring naturally in our bodies. (Glutamate is rarely found “free,” but is ordinarily tied to an ion such as sodium or potassium.)

The monosodium glutamate that Ajinomoto is selling is made up of manufactured glutamate, the impurities that invariable accompany manufactured glutamate, and sodium.

How is it made?

MSG doesn’t occur naturally anywhere — it’s made – manufactured! The monosodium glutamate that Ajinomoto is selling is a product made in Ajinomoto’s plant in Eddyville Iowa where glutamate is produced by genetically modified bacteria that secrete glutamate through their cell walls, which is then mixed with sodium. (The process for manufacturing MSG has been patented, and as the process is improved over time new patents are awarded.)

Want to learn more about how the FDA cooperates with industry? You’ll find it on the webpage of the Truth in Labeling Campaign, on Pinterest, in It Wasn’t Alzheimer’s, It Was MSG, in The toxicity/safety of processed free glutamic acid (MSG): A study in suppression of information, and in countless books such as White Wash by Carey Gillam, and Eating May Be Hazardous To Your Health – The Case Against Food Additives by J. Verrett and J. Carper.

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

It wasn’t Alzheimer’s. It was MSG

This is the story of one man’s battle to survive unlabeled poisons in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and dietary supplements — poisons found even in infant formula. It’s a book for those who care about the toxic potential of MSG and/or aspartame, and those who would like to understand FDA/industry collusion.

Part memoire, part history, part exposé — you will meet the men and women who manufacture and market toxic chemicals poured into food. Meet those who are payed to do research that is rigged to conclude MSG is safe for all, and how they get the government, media and medical community to do their bidding.

Meet the individual who supplied researchers with study designs and neurotoxic aspartame to use in placebos. And meet his friends at the FDA — friends like Michael R. Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food and Tipper Gore’s cousin, who for years has moved through the revolving door between Monsanto, the USDA, the industry law firm of King and Spalding, and the FDA.

Click here to download a free PDF version of the book or purchase a Kindle edition at

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

The Truth in Labeling Campaign: Who we are and why you should follow us

In a world filled with instant information coming at you from all directions, it has become increasingly difficult to tell fact from fiction, PR from journalism and reality from advertising.

This is where the Truth in Labeling Campaign, which is marking its 25th anniversary, can make a difference.

We are a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the complete and clear labeling of ingredients in processed foods. We don’t rent space for fancy offices or pay our officers or directors a salary. We are beholden to no organization, advertiser, PR firm, donor or university. Our small budget comes entirely from contributions from volunteers.

Since the Truth in Labeling Campaign was incorporated in 1994, we have been providing fact-based information to consumers, many of whom have been trying to unravel mysterious health problems for years. Our focus has been on glutamic acid (glutamate), the excitotoxic (brain damaging) amino acid found in monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed proteins, autolyzed yeast, caseinates, maltodextrin, and some 40 additional ingredients used in quantity in processed foods, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals.

Over the past 25 years we’ve learned a lot about propaganda techniques used to benefit those who profit at the expense of human life and suffering. Ajinomoto, possibly the world’s largest producer of MSG, as well as the low-calorie sweetener known best as aspartame (or Equal), is only one among many. The cigarette, pharmaceutical, sugar, oil and chemical industries, as well as those who manufacture and sell GMOs, pesticides, and fertilizers, use similar tactics.

What we do
Our first challenge was to expose the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about MSG. But it wasn’t long before it became obvious that we had more to do than simply provide useful information to our followers. We found that there was, and still is, a large and extremely well-funded campaign purposely designed to keep consumers deceived and in the dark about the toxic effects of MSG, and the names of the many additives we’re ingesting on a daily basis that contain MSG and the excitotoxic manufactured free glutamate (or MfG) found in it.

TLC was founded by Jack Samuels, a health-care professional and his wife, Adrienne Samuels, an experimental psychologist by training, proficient in research methodology, statistics, research design and test construction – vital skills to have if you’re going to notice and unravel design flaws, detect fraudulent research and spot skewered study conclusions.

Long before either thought of putting up a web page, Adrienne was searching for answers that would help her understand Jack’s life-threatening sensitivity to MSG, which could put him into anaphylactic shock.

Finding those answers proved to be inordinately difficult, for the people to whom she was at first referred simply assured her that no one was sensitive to MSG. Richard Cristol, then executive director of Ajinomoto’s Glutamate Association, even sent her a book that he said would prove it.

The answers eventually came from individual consumers, manufacturers, food chemists, food technologists, food encyclopedias, trade magazines, people Jack met on airplanes, and above all, intuition. And over time, Jack and Adrienne found discrepancies between 1) scientific articles produced by independent scientists who found that MSG had toxic potential, and 2) claims made in seriously flawed studies by glutamate industry researchers that declared that MSG was harmless. (Details can be found at the TLC website here.)

Possibly the most flagrant violation of ethics has been use of double-blind studies wherein the number of reactions to MSG test material would be compared to those of a “placebo” containing excitotoxic amino acids. Aspartame, which contains excitotoxic aspartic acid, was the placebo material of choice, but glutamic acid in ingredients with names other than MSG were also used. Then, when subjects reacted to both test material and placebos, industry researchers claimed that was proof MSG was harmless.

The studies in question were approved by the FDA prior to their implementation.

Shortly after the Truth in Labeling Campaign was formed, it was joined by 29 doctors, researchers and parents of MSG-sensitive children, in filing a Citizen Petition asking that the FDA mandate labeling of all MfG added to processed foods.

When the Citizen Petition was denied, TLC filed a lawsuit requesting the same labeling standards. The FDA’s response was to invoke the Administrative Procedures Act, a rule allowing government agencies to refuse to disclose any evidence contained even in their own files that industry wanted withheld.

Realizing that the chances were slim to none that the hold the glutamate industry has over our “watchdog” and other regulatory agencies would ever allow potentially life-saving changes to be made in food labeling, TLC has focused on telling the public the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about MSG and MfG – one person at a time if necessary.

Do you care?
Chances are somewhere down the road that you or a loved one will encounter a glutamate-associated disorder, which can range from problems such as headaches, muscle pains, asthma, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to diabetes, atrial fibrillation, ischemia, trauma, seizures, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, epilepsy, addiction, frontotemporal dementia, autism, and even cancer.

Then there is brain damage. Glutamate (and aspartate and L-cysteine) kill brain cells — and one would not notice a few brain cells gone missing today and a few more gone missing tomorrow.

So, wouldn’t it be smart to avoid the trio of excitotoxins that are associated with those abnormalities and brain damage? It includes not only glutamate, but aspartate (found in aspartame), and L-cysteine (often used in bakery products) that are excitotoxic. The Truth in Labeling Campaign will help you to do that.

To learn more, click here for a free download of the book, It wasn’t Alzheimer’s, it was MSG, and the peer-reviewed published article The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A Study in Suppression of Information.

We also invite you to visit TLC’s webpage at, follow TLC on twitter (@truthlabeling), join TLC on Facebook and read our blogs.