Was the Center for Science in the Public Interest ever really interested in the public?

It’s not unheard of for corporate propagandists to hijack grassroots organizations to further their agendas. Of course, the bigger, more respected and highly financed a non-profit group is, the better.

From what we’ve learned in dealing with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), led until three years ago by its salt-and-fat fighting guru Michael Jacobson, we can’t help but wonder when CSPI lost its way, promoting industry strategies instead of the “public interest.”

When Jacobson stepped down as president of CSPI in 2017 (although still said to be serving as a senior scientist with the organization), he was hailed as a “pioneer of food activism.” CSPI got big media buzz on crusades such as the movie-theater popcorn “Godzilla” campaign and the fettuccini Alfredo “heart attack on a plate” press release – leading to the group frequently being referred to as the “Food Police.”

But as Jack Samuels (co-founder of the Truth in Labeling Campaign) discovered many years ago, asking for CSPI’s involvement in what we thought would make more people aware of the dangers of MSG ended up going in the other direction.

Science in the corporate interest?

When Jack first approached CSPI back in the early 1990s, it seemed the group was aware of both the health risks of consuming MSG as well as the fact that the FDA was refusing to provide full disclosure of manufactured free glutamate (MfG) on food labels (still true to this day).

In 1993 he received a letter from Margo Wootan (recently promoted to CSPI vice president for nutrition) that indicated CSPI knew full well there is a difference between natural and “synthesized MSG,” as she called it. “It is a question that does not seem to be adequately addressed,” she wrote, accurately stating that manufactured MSG contains both D and L glutamic acid, which might explain why some people “react only to synthesized/added MSG but not to naturally occurring glutamate” that contains only “L.” (For more on that topic, go here).

While that might seem like a negligible point, it’s key to the glutamate industry’s spin that there is zero difference between unadulterated glutamic acid (including what’s found in the human body) and manufactured glutamic acid.

Jacobson and CSPI had the power to turn that into headlines. But they didn’t. Perhaps it wasn’t as sexy as “heart attack on a plate,” but it sure would be as important to the public.

After Jack received that initial note, which made him think we had found allies in our efforts to inform consumers, CSPI’s attitude mysteriously changed.

Jack described one case where an independent journalist was planning to cover a meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), organized to hear testimony on the safety of MSG. The writer canceled, however, after talking to Jacobson and being told MSG was a “non-issue,” and that he would be wasting his time.

Later, when Jack had high hopes that the FDA was taking notice and might act on unlabeled MfG in food, a CSPI staffer wrote to the agency saying that not enough was known about MSG to take any action. Jacobson even went so far as to tell the Wall Street Journal in an interview in 2007, “I don’t see normal amounts of MSG as posing a risk to the vast majority of people.”

Jacobson continued to practically parrot the glutamate industry when he told a writer in 2013 that he has been “waiting 30 years to see any decent studies, especially of people who claim to be extremely sensitive to MSG…”

And, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Currently CSPI actively promotes food products that contain MSG and MfG, such as Campbell’s Vegetable Soup with beef stock, loaded with yeast extract, hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed wheat gluten and monosodium glutamate. The group has a photo of the can with a green box around it indicating the soup’s superiority to other, higher-salt brands on its Pinterest page.

For anyone who still believes that CSPI is a consumer watchdog, ferociously guarding your best interests, it’s time to take another look. That reputation is certainly what supports the group, which is said to have an annual income of over $17 million, mostly from newsletter subscriptions and to a lesser degree, donations. And with the new CSPI president, Peter Lurie, coming straight from the FDA, it doesn’t seem too likely that the group will change its tune anytime soon.

As was said in an editorial over 20 years ago: With enemies like CSPI, the industrial barons squeezing the life out of our natural bounty need no friends.

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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com 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: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/questions-and-answers-monosodium-glutamate-msg 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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.


Are the plant-based diets you’re thinking about eating made with plants or in plants?

Don’t be taken in by the con artists whose “plant based” products are made out of chemicals in chemical factories with virtually nothing added that’s grown in water or in the ground.

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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

If MSG is ‘natural’ why have hundreds of patents been issued for methods of producing it?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in an animal, vegetable, or mineral was manufactured and then ingested or added in some manner.

Below are just three examples of patents pertaining to the manufacture of MSG. There are literally hundreds more. MSG is man-made.

1. US3281247A – Process for producing monosodium glutamate


2. CN104211611A – New fermentation technology of sodium glutamate


3. WO1996031459A1 – A process for the preparation of monosodium glutamate


Below are general discussions pertaining to methods used in production of MSG (written by scientists, not by Ajinomoto’s hired hands).

1. Optimization of glutamic acid production by Corynebacterium glutamicum using response surface methodology

Naiyf S. Alharbia, Shine Kadaikunnana, Jamal M. Khaleda, Taghreed N. Almanaaa,Ganesh Moorthy Innasimuthub, Baskar Rajooc, Khalid F. Alanzia, Shyam Kumar Rajaram.

Journal of King Saud University – Science. Volume 32, Issue 2, March 2020, Pages 1403-1408.


2. Tasty waste: industrial fermentation and the creative destruction of MSG

Sarah E. Tracy

Food, Culture & Society (2019). 22:5, 548-65,


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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

If you’re wondering what the umami flavor is, be confused no more

Umami is often described as that marvelous flavor experience you get when foods are at their peak, or served with a little something that gives the taste buds a boost to enhance that already delicious flavor.

Kikunae Ikeda discovered that little something early in the 20th century when he realized that pairing foods with a touch of seaweed could create a desirable taste sensation. It has also been observed by foodies that there is something about mushrooms and tomatoes that accomplishes the same thing. Start with good fresh food, pair it with seaweed, mushrooms, or tomatoes, and with those flavor-enhancers you can get heaven on a plate.

There are other ways to make food tasty. Garlic and onions have been recognized for centuries along with a multitude of other spices and seasonings. But they aren’t flavor enhancers. They don’t improve the flavor of foods, they simply add to it.

Ikeda, who was a chemist, did more than just notice the flavor-enhancing capacity of seaweed. That something else he found was chemically analyzed, put into a bottle, patented, and is now known as monosodium glutamate or MSG. Ikeda had discovered that it was glutamate, an amino acid found in considerable quantity in seaweed, that gave taste buds a boost, enhancing the flavor of foods seaweed was paired with.

The story of how that works differs depending on the source. Is it being told by those who profit from the sale of MSG, or by independent scientists? Ajinomoto has developed a PR narrative built around changing MSG’s identify from a pre-1969 flavor-enhancer to a post-2000 fifth taste. According to Ajinomoto, MSG has a taste of its own. According to Ajinomoto, there are MSG receptors just as there are receptors for sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.

Independent scientists are more likely to point out that what Ajinomoto’s people refer to as MSG-receptors, are actually glutamate receptors. Glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter, stimulates glutamate receptors in the mouth and on the tongue causing the cells on which those receptors are located to swell, so to speak. And these larger, swollen surfaces triggered by MSG stimulation cause food consumed with MSG to be perceived as having a “bigger” taste than it would otherwise.

In 1969, John W. Olney, M.D., published the first of several papers that detailed the facts of MSG-induced toxicity. A year earlier, the New England Journal of Medicine had published a letter titled “Chinese-restaurant Syndrome.” Since that time Ajinomoto has worked vigorously to refute the findings of Olney and others or simply make sure they don’t have public exposure, downplay the reactions reported by individuals who are poisoned by MSG, or do whatever else is necessary to convince consumers that MSG is a harmless product. (That subject is dealt with in detail elsewhere.)

Possibly Ajinomoto’s most successful marketing tool has been to pair the acronym “MSG” with the word “umami.” Just as Pavlov’s dogs learned to anticipate food when a bell was sounded, so are humans being conditioned to associate the feel-good word “umami” with the food additive MSG.

Responding to the growing awareness that the ingredient called monosodium glutamate causes obesity and infertility, along with adverse reactions like tachycardia, migraine headache, asthma, and seizures, Ajinomoto has been striving to fool consumers by giving that ingredient a new name. Don’t reduce its toxicity (if indeed that could be done). Just covertly rebrand MSG.

The rebranding process has evolved slowly, and because Ajinomoto’s narrative changes from time to time depending on the PR firm employed and the marketing plan being executed, the details are not necessarily crystal clear. In hindsight it appears that the first step was to get people to believe that monosodium glutamate was more than the flavor enhancer previously described by Ajinomoto in food encyclopedias. That was before the game plan was changed to get people to believe that monosodium glutamate was a basic taste, and that there were specific taste receptors for MSG in the human body.

To facilitate that change, researchers were encouraged to conduct studies underwritten (directly or indirectly) by Ajinomoto for the purpose of finding something from which they could conclude the MSG had a taste of its own. Discussion of that research is beyond the scope of this paper, but it consists in large part of doing multiple studies, publishing only the one in a hundred that comes out as desired by industry and reporting none of the others. There are indeed numbers of published studies that Ajinomoto will point to as evidence that MSG is a fifth taste. (There are also published studies that Ajinomoto will point to as evidence that MSG is a harmless food additive – studies that included use of placebos containing excitotoxic aspartic acid which causes brain damage and adverse reactions identical to that caused by the excitotoxic glutamic acid component of MSG.) And there are no studies that would dispute the industry-sponsored ones because, at least in part, there would be no funding for such research.

With studies alleging that MSG has a taste of its own, different from salty, sweet, bitter, and sour, wordsmiths began spinning industry’s tale. Slowly, in story after story, MSG would be referred to as an ingredient – like sugar and salt are ingredients. Not a flavor enhancer. An ingredient with a taste of its own.

And then that ingredient, which had, and still has a bad name, would be rebranded. The new name would be “umami,” a word that has been in the Japanese vocabulary for over a century meaning “delicious taste.”

Today, the word “umami” means different things to different people. A chef concerned with use of wholesome ingredients may brag that his creations are flavorful — are the essence of umami.

But to those who manufacture and sell MSG, “umami” is a marketing tool used to sell their product. Clearly lots of people have bought into Ajinomoto’s story (or maybe it’s more correct to say that Ajinomoto has bought lots of people). But if you delve deeply into market reports, or have friends in the industry, you will find that their propaganda isn’t working the way they had anticipated, and Ajinomoto is losing money.

The rigged research, the deceptive and misleading statements, and the bold-faced lies haven’t stemmed the tide of reports of MSG-induced reactions. Not even Edelman’s multimillion-dollar campaign to clear MSG’s bad name seems to have made a difference. It will be interesting to see how quickly chefs and other celebrities who now talk about “umami” realize that they are being used by Ajinomoto to promote a toxic product.

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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

Bless you Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych for speaking out

Animal studies tell us that the glutamic acid in MSG, autolyzed yeast, maltodextrin, glutamic acid and the 40+ other ingredients that contain manufactured free glutamic acid causes brain damage – kills brain cells. Those who manufacture and sell the products that contain excitotoxic glutamic acid tell us that those were just animal studies and they don’t matter.

Ajinomoto, world’s largest producer of MSG tells physicians, the FDA, the World Health Organization, the media and everyone else that there are hundreds of studies showing that MSG is harmless. I’ve read all of them and can tell you that their animal studies were rigged to look for the wrong thing in the wrong place, at the wrong time, making their report of “no brain damage” meaningless.

The ways in which human studies were rigged are too numerous to discuss here, but basic to most has been use of excitotoxic aspartic acid as a placebo in double-blind studies of excitotoxic glutamic acid. In those studies, both the excitotoxic monosodium glutamate test material and the placebo which contained excitotoxic aspartic acid, triggered the same reactions (as they always do). In other words, not only did subjects react to MSG, they reacted to a “placebo” that contained an excitotoxin known to cause the same reactions as those caused by MSG. It is on these studies (which actually describe reactions caused by MSG), that the Glutes base much of their claim that MSG does not trigger reactions.

Read what immunologist Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych tells us about vaccines. It appears those who profit from the sales of vaccines have the same teachers and/or use the same PR firms as those in the glutamate industry, Big Tobacco, the purveyors of toxic pesticides and fertilizers and the corporations that spew cancer-causing pollutants into the air. Individual welfare can’t hold a candle to the economic welfare of the rich and powerful.

Adrienne Samuels

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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

Dietary guidelines for Americans. An ongoing food industry joke.

It was thirty years ago, but it seems like just yesterday. Despite an allergy to petrochemicals that was so bad I couldn’t tolerate reading a newspaper, on that particular Thursday I picked up Jack’s Chicago Tribune, turned to an inside section and read the announcement that the FDA was holding hearings and asking for input on nutritional labeling that would soon be appearing on food labels.

Over the weekend I worked nonstop to convince Jack he had no choice but to attend. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. He had to give testimony to the fact that monosodium glutamate used in food causes adverse reactions. And on Monday he called the FDA Chicago office requesting permission to testify.

Dr. George Schwartz flew in from Santa Fe to take part in the hearings. We had read his book, In Bad Taste: the MSG Syndrome, but had not yet met him. We also met Barbara Mullarkey, who introduced us to the horrors of vaccines as well as various toxic foods. But it was Big Food that stole the show. They were there, all of them, representatives of major food companies each pretending to suggest labeling that would benefit consumers, while actually pushing ways to hide the salt, sugar, trans fats and any of the other undesirables that permeated their products.

I hadn’t thought about those days for years. Then a press release issued by the Nutrition Coalition titled “Member(s) of USDA committee blow whistle on serious flaws in dietary guidelines process,” arrived in my inbox. The first sentence summed it up, saying: “One or more Members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Suggest Process Lacks Scientific Integrity and Rigor.” (The Dietary Guidelines are promoted by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services as “information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families.”)

Could it be? Isn’t Big Food still in charge of safeguarding the many secrets of those harmful ingredients used in food, typically well hidden from consumers? Did someone object to the fact that while the Dietary Guidelines spoke of nutritional value and healthy eating patterns, they didn’t mention avoidance of toxic food additives?

The whistle-blowing letter was dated June 2, 2020, addressed to Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The critic(s) provided details of reviews that were unreliable and scientific evidence that was excluded. “Ensuring that all the best and most current science is properly reviewed for the purposes of establishing the 2020 DGA (Dietary Guidelines for Americans) is fundamental, and any action to rely upon unreliable reviews or exclude scientific evidence must be considered flawed. The thought that many dozens, if not hundreds of scientific studies are being excluded by the DGAC (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) is unconscionable.”

Who are these people, the 20 nationally recognized experts chosen to serve on the independent 2020 DGAC? Their charge is to review scientific evidence on topics and questions identified by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services and provide a report on their findings to the Secretaries.

The DGAC chairperson and one other are at the University of California, Davis, home of one of our finest programs for food technology, serving the interests of Big Food. One is at the Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor being on record as hosting research initiated by glutamate-industry interests. One is at the University of Iowa, seat of the original industry-sponsored deceptive and misleading studies of the safety of MSG and aspartame. Possibly all belong to the Institute for Food Technologists, professional designers of chemical-laced foods.

Why would some of these people provide reviews that are unreliable and/or omit relevant studies from consideration? Do some or all of these people serve the interests of Big Food just as Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D., toxicologist, respected member of the Institute for Food Technologists, and unacknowledged chairman of Ajinomoto’s International Glutamate Technical Committee served the glutamate industry until he was exposed for supplying placebo material containing excitotoxic aspartic acid to researchers doing industry’s double-blind studies of the safety of MSG?

The question remains unanswered. Did someone object to the fact that while the Dietary Guidelines spoke of nutritional value and healthy eating patterns, they didn’t mention avoidance of toxic food additives?

Adrienne Samuels

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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

Some basic truths about MSG toxicity that the people at NutritionFacts.org don’t seem to want you to know

A friend for whom I have the greatest respect is a big fan of Michael Greger M.D. FACLM. To hear her talk, you’d think he walked on water. Personally, I didn’t much care for his style of presentation, and he seemed somewhat shallow on matters I know a bit about. But with several best-selling books and posts with catchy headlines such as “Does Cholesterol Size Matter?” and “Eat More Calories in the Morning than the Evening,” he has a legion of followers.

The announcement that Dr. Greger was going to do a series of video posts on obesity, really caught my attention. I’ve been interested in obesity for over 50 years. That’s how long I’ve known that MSG causes obesity. And I was excited that Dr. Greger might be going to share facts about the toxic effects of MSG. How MSG causes a-fib, migraine headache, fibromyalgia, skin rash, seizures, infertility, brain damage and more, not just that it causes obesity.

My excitement, however, was short-lived. Seems that even suggesting that MSG might cause obesity isn’t on Dr. Greger’s agenda. How do I know? Because I went to great lengths to contact him and suggest that MSG-related obesity was something he should look into. And on May 5, 2020 Christine Kestner, MS, CNS, LDN (Health Support Volunteer) responded:

“Hi, Adrienne Samuels! You can find everything on this site related to MSG here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/msg/ While it is true that this topic has not been updated in a while, a quick look at the lates research indicates that nothing has really changed in the last decade or so. We base our videos on the research, and not on industry influence. If you are aware of quality, peer-reviewed research that contradicts our positions, please share it with us.”

So, I did. I sent her pages of fully-referenced information. And then I waited. And waited. And then I sent a “You did get my letter, didn’t you?” note. And I’m still waiting.

Below is a copy of the material on MSG toxicity that Dr. Gregor ignored – or maybe Christine Kestner never showed it to him. Could be. Such is the power of the glutamate industry.

You’ll find the references for all this material at the end of the letter.

May 6, 2020

Thank you Christine,

The opportunity to provide accurate information about the toxicity of manufactured/processed free glutamate acid is much appreciated.

But first, two clarifications are in order. We generally speak of “MSG reactions,” but those reactions are actually caused by the Manufactured/processed free Glutamate (MfG) component of MSG. MfG is found in more than 40 food ingredients in addition to MSG. The animal studies listed below were done using MSG to inflict brain damage.

Second, glutamic acid will either be bound with other amino acids in protein or free. Bound glutamate does not cause brain damage or adverse reactions. Only glutamate in its free form causes brain damage and adverse reactions. This distinction is an important one, because failing to make it enables the fabrication of disinformation.

You said that a quick look at the latest research indicates that nothing has really changed in the last decade or so, but that is not entirely true.

I. MSG-induced brain damage. The seminal and definitive studies of MSG-inflicted brain damage were done in 1969 and the 1970s, and there is no need to replicate them.

In the late 60s, Olney became suspicious that obesity in mice, which was observed after neonatal mice were treated with L-glutamate for purposes of inducing and studying retinal pathology might be associated with hypothalamic lesions caused by L-glutamate treatment; and in 1969 he reported that L-glutamate treatment caused brain lesions, particularly acute neuronal necrosis in several regions of the developing brain of neonatal mice, and acute lesions in the brains of adult mice given 5 to 7 mg/g of glutamate subcutaneously (12). Research that followed confirmed that L-glutamate induces hypothalamic damage when given to immature animals after either subcutaneous (13-31) or oral (19,25-26,28,32-36) doses.

This work demonstrated that when there is a vulnerable target (a brain or portion of the brain that is unprotected or vulnerable to attack from toxins), and there is glutamic acid (glutamate) in quantity sufficient to cause it to become excitotoxic, glutamate fed in quantity to immature animals causes acute neuronal necrosis in several regions of the developing brain including the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, followed by behavior disturbances and endocrine disruption which includes obesity and infertility.

A recent review suggests that glutamate/MSG passed to fetuses and neonates by pregnant and/or lactating women causes brain damage, disrupting the endocrine system (99).

It will be argued by agents of the glutamate industry that these studies of brain damage were animal studies not human studies, and that is true. But studies wherein possible toxins are fed to pregnant women and brains of their offspring are examined would certainly be questionable at best on ethical and moral grounds. Researchers rely heavily on animal studies to suggest solutions to problems of human dysfunction.

II. Industry’s unfounded claims of MSG safety

From 1968 until approximately 1980, Ajinomoto mounted a vigorous attack to refute the studies that demonstrated MSG-induced brain damage. Beginning in 1968 and throughout the 1970s, glutamate-industry agents mounted alleged replications of independently done glutamate-induced brain damage studies, but their procedures were different enough to guarantee that toxic doses had not been administered, and/or that all evidence that neurons had died would be obscured. Industry-sponsored researchers claimed to be replicating studies, but did not do so (5).

When it could no longer be denied that animal studies showed that MSG caused brain damage in infant animals – when researchers were using models of MSG-induced obesity to study abnormalities associated with excess glutamate — industry interests decreed that studies done on animals did not reflect the human condition and were, therefore, meaningless.

Industry-sponsored human studies followed in the 1980s. None were studies of brain damage.

III. Availability of sufficient potentially excitotoxic manufactured/processed free glutamate (MfG) in food and elsewhere to cause MfG to become excitotoxic (to kill brain cells)

Evidence of MSG-induced neonatal brain damage has not changed in the last four decades, but availability of sufficient glutamate in the U.S. food supply to cause that glutamate to become excitotoxic has.

Prior to 1957, the date that Ajinomoto reformulated MSG, the amount of free glutamate in the average diet had been unremarkable. But in 1957 production of the free glutamate that makes up the excitotoxic ingredient in MSG changed from extraction of glutamate from a protein source, a slow and costly method, to a method of bacterial fermentation which enabled virtually unlimited production of free glutamate and MSG (7), and the large amounts of glutamate needed to cause excitotoxicity became widely available.

Shortly thereafter, food manufacturers found that profits could be increased by producing other flavor-enhancing additives that contained free glutamate. Over the next two decades, the marketplace became flooded with manufactured/processed free glutamate in ingredients such as hydrolyzed proteins, yeast extracts, maltodextrin, soy protein isolate, and MSG (8). And ingredients that contained free glutamate became readily accessible.

There are no data on the amount of excitotoxic material in food. Analyses from Olney’s lab and others provided some insight into amounts of MSG in processed foods in the 1980s and 1990s (half a gram of MSG in certain canned soups, for example); and according to anecdotal reports from MSG-sensitive people, that would be enough to trigger an asthma attack or a migraine headache in some MSG-sensitive people. Reports from MSG-sensitive consumers also suggest that the amount of MfG in a single serving of processed food might be similar to that found in various cans of soup. None of this, however, speaks to the amount of MfG needed to produce either brain damage or adverse reactions.

Important to remember is the fact that it is not the amount of MfG in any one product that is pertinent to determining if there is sufficient MfG available to cause neonatal brain damage or adverse reactions. To cause neonatal brain damage, it is the amount of MfG consumed by a pregnant or lactating subject and passed to fetus and/or neonate that is relevant to determination of excitotoxicity.

IV. MSG-induced adverse reactions

There are few published reports of MSG-induced human adverse reactions. Funding for studies of the safety of MSG comes primarily from the glutamate industry, and only those industry-sponsored studies with negative results have been published.

Some years ago, Samuels compiled a list of studies wherein adverse reactions to MSG were noted (1-4, 175, 179-236). The article can be accessed at https://www.truthinlabeling.org/adverse.html .

No attempt has been made to identify all of the more recent studies. A PubMed search for “MSG-induced OR monosodium glutamate-induced AND toxicity” done on May 5, 2020 elicited 93 citations (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=MSG-induced+OR+monosodium+glutamate-induced+AND+toxicity).

V. Warnings

By 1980, glutamate-associated disorders such as headaches, asthma, diabetes, muscle pain, atrial fibrillation, ischemia, trauma, seizures, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), epilepsy, addiction, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), frontotemporal dementia, and autism were on the rise.

By and large, the glutamate in question was, and still is, glutamate from endogenous sources. The possible toxicity of glutamate from exogenous sources such as glutamate-containing flavor-enhancers has generally not being considered. But Olney and a few others have suggested that ingestion of free glutamate might play a role in producing the excess amounts of glutamate needed for endogenous glutamate to become excitotoxic (34-53).

VI. Suppression of information

The request to which I am responding was for quality peer-reviewed research that contradicts your positions. A list of those studies has been submitted with this letter.

Let me just mention that the videos you offered as the information on MSG safety came, directly or indirectly, from the glutamate-industry. The “update on MSG” is delivered by an unidentified person (as is “Is MSG Bad for You”) who speaks of scientific consensus and decades of research. The “scientific consensus” mentioned is the consensus of people brought together by Ajinomoto for the purpose of concluding that MSG is harmless. The “decades of research” were discussed earlier in this letter as negative studies that failed to demonstrate a clear and consistent relationship between MSG and adverse reactions. “Is MSG bad for you?” speaks only of consensus meetings. No sound scientific studies there. I would be happy to send you a link by email to my early notes on Williams and Woessner and on “the consensus meeting” should you have interest.

Equally important for you to appreciate are the studies that have been rigged by glutamate industry interests, and the tactics that have been used by glutamate-industry interests to promote sales of MSG. A 1999 published, peer-reviewed article speaks to that subject (101).

In addition, I have taken the liberty of enclosing the link to a file from my webpage titled “Designed for Deception.” Among other things, it details the tactics that Ajinomoto has used to rig its double-blind studies. (They stopped doing double-blind studies after we exposed the fact that they were lacing what they called “placebos” with aspartic acid, the excitotoxic amino acid used in aspartame. Aspartame and free aspartic acid cause the same brain damage and adverse reactions as those caused by MSG and free glutamic acid (32, 46, 102).

Additional reference

Neurobehav Toxicol. 1980 Summer;2(2):125-9.
Brain damage in mice from voluntary ingestion of glutamate and aspartate.
Olney JW, Labruyere J, de Gubareff T.

If there is anything else you would like me to provide to demonstrate that MSG kills brain cells and causes adverse reactions, please do not hesitate to contact me again.


Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D.
Truth in Labeling Campaign
Chicago, IL USA


Reference used in this material

I. MSG-induced brain damage. The seminal and definitive studies of MSG-inflicted brain damage were done in 1969 and the 1970s, and there is no need to replicate them.


12. Olney JW. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Science. 1969;164(880):719-721.

13. Olney JW, Ho OL, Rhee V. Cytotoxic effects of acidic and sulphur containing amino acids on the infant mouse central nervous system. Exp Brain Res. 1971;14(1):61-76.

14. Olney JW, Sharpe LG. Brain lesions in an infant rhesus monkey treated with monosodium glutamate. Science. 1969;166(903):386-388.

15. Snapir N, Robinzon B, Perek M. Brain damage in the male domestic fowl treated with monosodium glutamate. Poult Sci. 1971;50(5):1511-1514.

16. Perez VJ, Olney JW. Accumulation of glutamic acid in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus of the infant mouse following subcutaneous administration of monosodium glutamate. J Neurochem. 1972;19(7):1777-1782.

17. Arees EA, Mayer J. Monosodium glutamate-induced brain lesions: electron microscopic examination. Science. 1970;170(957):549-550.

18. Everly JL. Light microscopy examination of monosodium glutamate induced lesions in the brain of fetal and neonatal rats. Anat Rec. 1971;169(2):312.

19. Olney JW. Glutamate-induced neuronal necrosis in the infant mouse hypothalamus. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1971;30(1):75-90.

20. Lamperti A, Blaha G. The effects of neonatally-administered monosodium glutamate on the reproductive system of adult hamsters. Biol Reprod 1976;14(3):362-369.

21. Takasaki Y. Studies on brain lesion by administration of monosodium L-glutamate to mice. I. Brain lesions in infant mice caused by administration of monosodium L-glutamate. Toxicology. 1978;9(4):293-305

22. Holzwarth-McBride MA, Hurst EM, Knigge KM. Monosodium glutamate induced lesions of the arcuate nucleus. I. Endocrine deficiency and ultrastructure of the median eminence. Anat Rec. 1976;186(2):185-196.

23. Holzwarth-McBride MA, Sladek JR, Knigge KM. Monosodium glutamate induced lesions of the arcuate nucleus. II Fluorescence histochemistry of catecholamines. Anat Rec. 1976;186(2):197-205.

24. Paull WK, Lechan R. The median eminence of mice with a MSG induced arcuate lesion. Anat Rec. 1974;180(3):436.

25. Burde RM, Schainker B, Kayes J. Acute effect of oral and subcutaneous administration of monosodium glutamate on the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus in mice and rats. Nature. 1971;233(5314):58-60.

26. Olney JW, Sharpe LG, Feigin RD. Glutamate-induced brain damage in infant primates. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1972;31(3):464-488.

27. Abraham R, Doughtery W, Goldberg L, Coulston F. The response of the hypothalamus to high doses of monosodium glutamate in mice and monkeys: cytochemistry and ultrastructural study of lysosomal changes. Exp Mol Pathol.1971;15(1):43-60.

28. Burde RM, Schainker B, Kayes J. Monosodium glutamate: necrosis of hypothalamic neurons in infant rats and mice following either oral or subcutaneous administration. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1972;31(1):181.

29. Robinzon B, Snapir N, Perek M. Age dependent sensitivity to monosodium glutamate inducing brain damage in the chicken. Poult Sci. 1974;53(4):1539-1542.

30. Tafelski TJ. Effects of monosodium glutamate on the neuroendocrine axis of the hamster. Anat Rec. 1976;184(3):543-544.

31. Olney JW, Rhee V, DeGubareff T. Neurotoxic effects of glutamate on mouse area postrema. Brain Res. 1977;120(1):151-157.

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

33. Lemkey-Johnston N, Reynolds WA. Nature and extent of brain lesions in mice related to ingestion of monosodium glutamate: a light and electron microscope study. J Neuropath Exp Neurol. 1974;33(1):74-97.

34. Takasaki, Y. Protective effect of mono- and disaccharides on glutamate-induced brain damage in mice. Toxicol Lett. 1979;4(3): 205-210.

35. Takasaki, Y. Protective effect of arginine, leucine, and preinjection of insulin on glutamate neurotoxicity in mice. Toxicol Lett. 1980;5(1):39-44.

36. Lemkey-Johnston, N, Reynolds WA. Nature and extent of brain lesions in mice related to ingestion of monosodium glutamate: a light and electron microscope study. J Neuropath Exp Neurol. 1974;33(1):74-97.


99. Samuels A. (2020). Dose dependent toxicity of glutamic acid: A review. International Journal of Food Properties. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10942912.2020.1733016

II. Industry’s unfounded claims of MSG safety


5. Samuels A. The toxicity/safety of processed free glutamic acid (MSG): a study in suppression of information. Accountability in Research.1999;6:259-310. https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/manuscript2.pdf Accessed 4/14/2020.

III. Availability of sufficient potentially excitotoxic manufactured/processed free glutamate (MfG) in food and elsewhere to cause MfG to become excitotoxic (to kill brain cells)


7. Hashimoto S. Discovery and History of Amino Acid Fermentation.
Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. 2017;159:15-34.

8. Sano C. History of glutamate production. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90(3):728S-732S

IV. MSG-induced adverse reactions


1. Reif-Lehrer, L. A questionnaire study of the prevalence of Chinese restaurant syndrome. Federation Proceedings 36:1617-1623,1977.

2. Kenney, RA and Tidball, CS Human susceptibility to oral monosodium L-glutamate. Am J Clin Nutr.25:140-146,1972.

3. Kerr, G.R., Wu-Lee, M., El-Lozy, M., McGandy, R., and Stare, F. Food-symptomatologyquestionnaires: risks of demand-bias questions and population-biased surveys. In: Glutamic Acid: Advances in Biochemistry and Physiology Filer, L. J., et al., Eds. New York: Raven Press, 1979.

4. Schaumburg, H.H., Byck, R, Gerstl, R, and Mashman, J.H. Monosodium L-glutamate: its pharmacology and role in the Chinese restaurant syndrome. Science 163:826-828,1969.

175. Kwok, R.H.M. The Chinese restaurant syndrome. Letter to the editor. N Engl J Med 278: 796, 1968.

179. Schaumburg, H. Chinese-restaurant Syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1122, 1968.

180. McCaghren, T.J. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1123, 1968.

181. Menken, M. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278, 1123, 1968.

182. Migden, W. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1123, 1968.

183. Rath, J. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1123, 1968.

184. Beron, E.L. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1123, 1968.

185. Kandall, S.R. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1123, 1968.

186. Gordon, M.E., Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1123-1124, 1968.

187. Rose, E.K. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1123, 1968.

188. Davies, N.E. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 278: 1124, 1968.

189. Schaumburg, H.H. and Byck, R. Sin cib-syn: accent on glutamate. N Engl J Med 279: 105, 1968.

190. Ambos, M., Leavitt, N.R., Marmorek, L., and Wolschina, S.B. Sin cib-syn: accent on glutamate. N Engl J Med 279: 105, 1968.

191. Schaumburg, H.H., Byck, R., Gerstl, R., and Mashman, J.H. Monosodium L-glutamate: its pharmacology and role in the Chinese restaurant syndrome. Science 163: 826-828, 1969.

192. Upton, A.R.M., and Barrows, H.S. Chinese-restaurant syndrome recurrence. N Engl J Med 286: 893-894, 1972

213. Gann, D. Ventricular tachycardia in a patient with the “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” Southern Medical J 70: 879-880, 1977.

214. Asnes, R.S. Chinese restaurant syndrome in an infant. Clin Pediat 19: 705-706, 1980.

215. Cochran, J.W., and Cochran A.H. Monosodium glutamania: the Chinese restaurant syndrome revisited. JAMA 252: 899, 1984.

216. Freed, D.L.J. and Carter, R. Neuropathy due to monosodium glutamate intolerance. Annals of Allergy 48: 96-97, 1982.

217. Ratner, D., Esmel, E., and Shoshani, E. Adverse effects of monosodium glutamate: a diagnostic problem. Israel J Med Sci 20: 252-253, 1984.

218. Squire, E.N. Jr. Angio-oedema and monosodium glutamate. Lancet 988, 1987.

219. Pohl, R., Balon, R., and Berchou, R. Reaction t chicken nuggets in a patient taking an MAOI. Am J Psychiatry 145: 651, 1988.

220. Reif-Lehrer, L. and Stemmermann, M.B. Correspondence: Monosodium glutamate intolerance in children. N Engl J Med 293: 1204-1205, 1975.

221. Andermann, F., Vanasse, M., and Wolfe, L.S. Correspondence: Shuddering attacks in children: essential tremor and monosodium glutamate. N Engl J Med 295: 174, 1975.

222. Reif-Lehrer, L. Letter: A search for children with possible MSG intolerance. Pediatrics 58: 771-772, 1976.

223. Reif-Lehrer, L. A questionnaire study of the prevalence of chinese restaurant syndrome. Fed Proc36:1617-1623, 1977.

224. Reif-Lehrer, L. Possible significance of adverse reactions to glutamate in humans. Federation Proceedings 35: 2205-2211, 1976. 225. Colman, A.D. Possible psychiatric reactions to monosodium glutamate. N Engl J Med 299: 902, 1978.

226. Neumann, H.H. Soup? It may be hazardous to your health. Am Heart J 92:, 266, 1976.

227. Gore, M.E., and Salmon, P.R. Chinese restaurant syndrome: fact or fiction. Lancet 1(8162): 251, 1980.

228. Sauber, W.J. What is Chinese restaurant syndrome? Lancet 1(8170): 721-722, 1980.

229. Allen, D.J., and Baker, G.J. Chinese-restaurant asthma. N Engl J Med 305: 1154-1155, 1981.

230. Allen, D.H., Delohery, J., & Baker, G.J. Monosodium L-glutamate-induced asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 80: No 4, 530-537, 1987.

231. Moneret-Vautrin, D.A. Monosodium glutamate – induced asthma: Study of the potential risk in 30 asthmatics and review of the literature. Allergic et Immunologie 19: No 1, 29-35, 1987.

232. Smith, J.D., Terpening, C.M., Schmidt, S.O.F., and Gums, J.G. Relief of fibromyalgia symptonsfollowoing discontinuation of dietary excitotoxins. The Annals of Pharmacoltherapy. 35: (6) 702-706.

233. Scopp, A.L. MSG and hydrolyzed vegetable protein induced headache: review and case studies. Headache. 31:107-110, 1991.

234. Martinez, F. et al. Neuroexcitatory amino acid levels in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid during migraine attacks. Cephalalgia. 13: 89-93, 1993.

235. Scopp, A. Personal communication. June 17, 2002.

236. He K, Zhao L, Daviglus ML, et al. Association of Monosodium Glutamate Intake With Overweight in Chinese Adults: The INTERMAP Study. Obesity. 16(8): 1875-1880, 2008. Epub 2008 May 22.

V. Warnings


34. Hermanussen M, Tresguerres JA. Does high glutamate intake cause obesity? J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2003;16(7):965-8.

35. Hermanussen M, García AP, Sunder M, Voigt M, Salazar V, Tresguerres JA. Obesity, voracity, and short stature: the impact of glutamate on the regulation of appetite. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006;60(1):25-31.

36. Stover JF, Kempski OS. Glutamate-containing parenteral nutrition doubles plasma glutamate: a risk factor in neurosurgical patients with blood-brain barrier damage? Crit Care Med. 1999;27(10):2252-6.

37. Castrogiovanni D, Gaillard RC, Giovambattista A, Spinedi E. Neuroendocrine, metabolic, and immune functions during the acute phase response of inflammatory stress in monosodium Lglutamate-damaged, hyperadipose male rat. Neuroendocrinology. 2008;88(3):227-34.

38. Gill SS, Mueller RW, McGuire PF, Pulido OM. Potential target sites in peripheral tissues for excitatory neurotransmission and excitotoxicity. Toxicol Pathol. 2000;28(2):277-84.

39. Zautcke JL, Schwartz JA, Mueller EJ. Chinese restaurant syndrome: a review. Ann Emerg Med. 1986;15(10):1210-3.

40. Hermanussen M, Tresguerres JA. How much glutamate is toxic in paediatric parenteral nutrition? Acta Paediatr. 2005;94(1):16-9.

41. Nakanishi Y, Tsuneyama K, Fujimoto M, Salunga TL, Nomoto K, An JL, Takano Y, Iizuka S, Nagata M, Suzuki W, Shimada T, Aburada M, Nakano M, Selmi C, Gershwin ME. Monosodium glutamate (MSG): a villain and promoter of liver inflammation and dysplasia. J Autoimmun. 2008;30(1-2):42-50.

42. He K, Zhao L, Daviglus ML, Dyer AR, Van Horn L, Garside D, Zhu L, Guo D, Wu Y, Zhou B, Stamler J; INTERMAP Cooperative Research Group. Association of monosodium glutamate intake with overweight in Chinese adults: the INTERMAP Study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008;16(8):1875-80.

43. Niaz K, Zaplatic E, Spoor J. Extensive use of monosodium glutamate: A threat to public health? EXCLI J. 2018;17:273-278.

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

45. Mondal M, Sarkar K, Nath PP, Paul G. Monosodium glutamate suppresses the female reproductive function by impairing the functions of vary and uterus in rat. Environ Toxicol. 2018;33(2):198-208.

46. Olney JW. Excitotoxic food additives–relevance of animal studies to human safety. Neurobehav Toxicol Teratol. 1984;6(6):455-62.

47. Onaolapo OJ, Onaolapo AY, Akanmu MA, Gbola O. Evidence of alterations in brain structure and antioxidant status following ‘low-dose’ monosodium glutamate ingestion. Pathophysiology. 2016;23(3):147-56.

48. Dixit SG, Rani P, Anand A, Khatri K, Chauhan R, Bharihoke V. To study the effect of monosodium glutamate on histomorphometry of cortex of kidney in adult albino rats. Ren Fail. 2014;36(2):266-70.

49. Zheng C, Yang D, Li Z, Xu Y. Toxicity of flavor enhancers to the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Ecotoxicology. 2018;27(5):619-626.

50. Olney JW. The toxic effects of glutamate and related compounds in the retina and the brain. Retina. 1982;2(4):341-59.

51. Olney JW. Excitatory neurotoxins as food additives: an evaluation of risk. Neurotoxicology. 1981;2(1):163-92.

52. Hashem HE, El-Din Safwat MD, Algaidi S. The effect of monosodium glutamate on the cerebellar cortex of male albino rats and the protective role of vitamin C (histological and immunohistochemical study). J Mol Histol. 2012;43(2):179-86.

53. Iamsaard S, Sukhorum W, Samrid R, Yimdee J, Kanla P, Chaisiwamongkol K, Hipkaeo W, Fongmoon D, Kondo H. The sensitivity of male rat reproductive organs to monosodium glutamate. Acta Med Acad. 2014;43(1):3-9.

VI. Suppression of information


101. Samuels A. The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A study in Suppression of Information. Accountability in Research.1999(6):259-310 (https://bit.ly/2P4ICtd).