WUI: Writing under the influence

How our perceptions of what’s safe to eat are swayed by the PR industry
Guest blog by Linda Bonvie

For two days in September 2018, the Conrad Hotel in New York City hosted an invitation-only shindig where large quantities of wine flowed, lunch and dinner were served, chefs whipped up dishes in cooking presentations and experts gave talks and demonstrations — all extensively photographed and videotaped.
Leading the event was the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” celeb chef, Andrew Zimmern, who posed with guests for untold numbers of photos wearing his trademark round spectacles perched low on his nose.

If you took a casual look at the goings-on, it might appear to have been any other well-planned, fancy corporate convention. But it wasn’t. This was more of a boot camp for journalists and bloggers to help them effectively spread the messaging of Ajinomoto, the world’s largest producer of monosodium glutamate.

Dubbed the “World Umami Forum,” the affair took place at the mid-point in a ten-million dollar campaign spearheaded by PR giant Edelman Public Relations. Among the goals of Edelman’s client Ajinomoto is to have the press (and eventually, they hope, everyone else) start replacing the tainted name of MSG with the more pleasing umami.


From left, Gary Beauchamp, PhD, Mary Lee Chin, MS, RD, Dr. Kumiko Ninomiya, Executive Fellow Ajinomoto, Chef Chris Koetke, Takaaki Nishii, CEO and President Ajinomoto, Tia M. Rains, public relations director Ajinomoto, Ali Bouzari, Sarah Lohman, Harold McGee.

Public relations blitzes, of course, are nothing new. There were plenty of tricky PR tactics spun for the benefit of Big Tobacco. Edelman, in fact, was behind such a campaign, as detailed in the tobacco industry cache of papers uncovered during decades of litigation. Its 1978 document called “Taking the initiative on the smoking issue – a total program,” designed for RJ Reynolds, outlines several ways that “another point of view on the cigarette question” could be promoted. One plan was the creation of a “National Smokers’ News Bureau” in New York, which would “set up interviews, organize editorial briefings…and engage in extensive personal contact with media to develop specific storylines.”

What makes a modern-day Edelman storyline travel much further than those in the past, however, is reflected by the sheer number of outlets to which they’re deployed, along with a media that seems more ready, willing and able to cooperate than ever before.

Dishing out disinformation over dinner and drinks

Celeb chef Andrew Zimmern and World Umami Forum guest. (Photo Loren Wohl/AP Images)

The articles and blogs that were published as a result of the umami gathering all had an amazingly similar ring to them. Authors always seemed to drop in a mention of “Chinese restaurant syndrome,” referring to a letter sent to the New England Journal of Medicine back in 1968 as the main reason why MSG got a bad rap in the U.S. (one of Edelman/Ajinomoto’s most oft repeated, fabricated storylines).

Some of the pieces were done more creatively than others, but all managed to drive home specific key points emphasized at the umami event, dutifully repeated by writers of all stripes. But no doubt it was the headlines that made the Edelman folks smug with the satisfaction of a job well done – most especially the one that ran in the Wall Street Journal.

The story, by WSJ writer River Davis, originally appeared in the April 27, 2019 print edition of the paper under the headline “Rescuing MSG’s Unsavory Reputation” — one quickly changed online to read, “The FDA Says It’s Safe, So Feel Free to Say ‘Yes’ to MSG.”

Even the subhead was altered, adding the word “healthy” in for good measure.

Realize for a moment that here we have a top-tier newspaper switching a headline and subhead so it contains a positive string of word parings (safe, healthy, MSG, yes), and ending with a long-used PR/marketing tactic known as a call to action. That’s when the consumer is instructed to do something that will help sales, e.g., “ask your doctor,” “click here,” “call now,” or in this case, “say yes.”

Why would the WSJ do that? I attempted to find out.

Asking the question in an email to Colleen Schwartz, a communications executive at Dow Jones, I continued to poke around online, soon finding a string of shared MSG stories at the Linkedin page of Edelman SVP of Food & Beverage Gennifer Horowitz.
She had posted several of the articles published after the umami forum, most to rave reviews from colleagues. But what caught my eye was the WSJ one with the “yes” headline, commented on by a Linkedin connection of Horowitz (who previously worked with the Andrew Zimmern “brand”): “What a huge win for Ajinomoto and MSG! Congrats to the whole team!”

Hmm, what could this huge win be? Might the comment be referring to the headline swap?

I took that question directly to Schwartz, asking if the change was made at the behest of Edelman Public Relations. Schwartz emailed back almost immediately, saying she would have a response for me the next day. When the next day rolled around, she said that she needed more time, as she was “coordinating with colleagues in APAC.”

The statement she finally came back to me with was simply: “Wall Street Journal articles regularly run with different headlines in print and digital due to independent editorial preferences and space constraints. In this case, the difference in headlines is noted in the tag online: ‘Appeared in the April 27, 2019, print edition as ‘Rescuing MSG’s Unsavory Reputation.’”

Asking further questions of Schwartz proved useless. “Our statement stands – I won’t have any further comment for you,” she wrote back.

Too close for comfort

For the casual reader to know the difference between true news reporting or a writer simply giving coverage to a PR firm’s storyline isn’t easy. In the case of Edelman, its connection to the WSJ is a long and established one, even where its employees are concerned.

For example, it’s no secret that Edelman NYC brand director Nancy Jeffrey spent 10 years as a WSJ writer. Nor is Edelman’s warm and fuzzy relationship with the paper hush-hush.

As quoted in an Edelman website blog, Jeffrey recalls how Richard Edelman (son of founder Dan) would call her during her time at the paper “to meet with a client with a story to tell.” The “Edelman ethos,” Jeffrey says, is that “no one at Edelman ever rises too high to pitch a reporter.”

As for headlines, getting your messaging above the actual story may even outperform whatever the article says.

In a New Yorker story titled How headlines change the way we think, writer Maria Konnikova tells about an Australian study that found a reader’s take-away from an article is, in fact, dictated by the headline.

“By its choice of phrasing,” she writes, “a headline can influence your mindset as you read so that you later recall details that coincide with what you were expecting.”

Utilizing that concept in the digital media age can warp your mindset even more. An article that appeared in the online publication Vox a few months after the umami affair, although headlined “But what does umami taste like?” contained a snippet of code in the page so that when it’s shared online, the headline is replaced with “MSG is the purest form of umami…,” a line also used in an Ajinomoto MSG “fact sheet” and by the Glutamate Association.

Owned media, or a media owned?

Richard Edelman during an interview at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Mainstream media, said Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman during an interview recently at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, is on its way out. He calls the “notion” that media will continue on as we know them today “fallacious.” And what will replace them? According to Edelman, that will be “owned media,” meaning outlets – whether they be websites, blogs or even Facebook or Twitter accounts – over which businesses have complete control of content.

As newsrooms shrink, he says, companies are realizing “they have to tell their own stories.”

But considering how firms such as Edelman can enable companies that can afford a big PR tab to tell their own story anyway, will that really make much of a difference?

If Edelman has a catchphrase, it would probably be the Edelman Master Narrative, a.k.a. “the most important story you have to tell.”

Of course, when your client is Ajinomoto, that “story” will never include mention of the fact that MSG – a totally manufactured additive – is “excitotoxic,” meaning it can cause brain damage. It won’t disclose how MSG can trigger lifelong adverse reactions in an unborn child when a pregnant woman consumes food that contains the additive. Or that MSG, which always comes along with impurities in the finished product, is not identical to the glutamate in the human body and does not occur naturally in unprocessed foods. You won’t hear that MSG can cause a long list of adverse events (at levels that vary considerably from person to person), which can affect organs from the brain, to the heart, to the lungs to the bowels.

Do the folks at Edelman know this? Perhaps.

As reported in Gawker a decade ago, an unnamed PR executive “tipster” told how at an Edelman upper-management training session, attendees were told: “Sometimes you just have to stand up there and lie. Make the audience or the reporter believe that everything is OK.”

This is an excerpt from “A Consumer’s Guide to Toxic Food Additives: How to Avoid Synthetic Sweeteners, Artificial Colors, MSG, and More,” by Linda and Bill Bonvie, to be released March, 2020, Skyhorse Publishing.

The insanity of using MSG as a salt-substitute

Did the people at Edelman Public Relations (who currently have a multi-million dollar Ajinomoto account) dream up substituting MSG for salt to cut down on sodium intake, or is this a Glutamate Association original to promote sales of MSG?

Plenty of “salt is bad for you” articles can be found, such as this one at SFgate that states: “… if you consume too much sodium, over time this can lead to potentially serious health problems. Managing your sodium intake is of key importance to maintaining your health and well-being.”

On the other hand, glutamate-industry propaganda almost always contains at least a line or two claiming that MSG contains less sodium than table salt – without mentioning that MSG contributes to brain damage, obesity, infertility, a-fib, migraine headache, asthma, seizures and more.

So, if you’re trying to manage your sodium intake for health reasons, why on earth would you purposefully ingest products that are loaded with brain-damaging, obesity-producing, infertility-causing 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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

MSG isn’t made from natural products

Contrary to what you’ll hear from industry (which includes the majority of Internet and news stories as well as YouTube videos), monosodium glutamate (a.k.a. MSG) isn’t made from natural products like sugar cane and tapioca, corn starch, sugar beets or molasses. That’s not how Ajinomoto – the world’s largest producer of MSG – has been making it in the U.S. since 1957. For over 60 years MSG has been produced using carefully selected genetically modified bacteria that excrete glutamic acid through their cell walls.

And, contrary to Glute propaganda, that’s not how wine, beer, vinegar and yogurt are made.

Glutamic acid (a.k.a. glutamate) is the active ingredient in MSG. It’s glutamate that triggers glutamate receptors in the mouth and on the tongue, causing them to swell, so to speak, giving the food with which the MSG is ingested a bigger, more robust, taste, than it would have without it.

There’s nothing natural about MSG. It’s manufactured.

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.

Why are there no laws to protect our children from brain damage caused by neurotoxic food, drug, and vaccine additives?

There are car seat laws and seatbelt laws. There are helmet laws to protect the brain from a blow to the head. Why are there no laws to protect our children from brain damage caused by neurotoxic food, drug, and vaccine additives?

Football players wear helmets. The NFL won’t allow a player on the field without an approved one. Many bicycle riders do, too. In fact, this simple method of protecting the brain from damage following a blow to the head is required by law almost everywhere in the U.S. for kids under a certain age. Sure, it’s a bother to make certain that your helmet is in the right place, and that it’s fastened properly over your head – or your kid’s head. But to prevent brain damage? That’s certainly worth a little inconvenience.

So, why are we feeding our children and grandchildren food that is known to damage their brains instead of taking the time to feed them real food?

Doctors who practice mainstream medicine are trained to cure diseases. They’re not in the business of preventing illness. They could, of course, be taught prevention – if the establishment would allow it. But if there was prevention, how would Big Pharma make its billions? And think of the mega-rich who are Big Pharma stockholders. They have to profit, too.

Big Food is in business to make money. But it doesn’t seem to be satisfied with simply making huge profits when a king’s ransom could easily be had. Certainly, they advertise to make the consumer want to buy more and more of what they’re selling. You can’t fault that unless the things that they’re advertising – often directly to children – don’t tell the whole truth about their products, Sadly, there are many advertisers that can be faulted, including those who advertise that MSG, an excitotoxic, brain damaging flavor enhancer is a harmless food additive.

So, why are we feeding our children and grandchildren food that is known to damage their brains?

For those who care about the little ones in their lives, here are the tools you’ll need to help them:

Hidden sources

Adverse reactions

The Young are particularly at risk

Excitotoxins

For those who care about our civilization, these are things you need to know about the glutamate industry and the people who openly run it and their comrades behind the scenes:

MSG

Data from the 1960s and 1970s demonstrate that MSG causes brain damage.

Flawed industry studies

Label Lies

Six Big Fat Lies

Recipe for deception

MSU

The Whopper

Propaganda 101: The 8 ingredients in cutting edge propaganda

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

Sometimes you just have to stand up there and lie.

Industry’s FDA

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.

It’s the MfG in MSG that’s the culprit

Strictly speaking, MSG has gotten a bad rap.

No, not because it’s safe to eat. When ingested in quantity (and there’s plenty of it around to create that quantity), it causes brain damage, obesity, infertility, a-fib, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, seizures, asthma and more.

MSG has a bad rap because it’s actually the manufactured free glutamate (MfG) in MSG that causes all those terrible reactions — and there are 40+ food ingredients besides MSG that contain MfG, which are just as toxic as MSG. But no one except the Truth in Labeling Campaign is talking about those excitotoxic ingredients being brain damaging, endocrine disrupting, reaction-causing food additives. It’s just MSG that’s being publicly exposed for being toxic.

Guilty as MSG is for causing disease and disability, there are numerous other ingredients that should be sharing MSG’s negative notoriety. Those are the MfG-containing ingredients you’ll find in most processed foods claiming “No MSG Added” or “No added 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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

‘If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?’

This question has been a favorite of the Glutes, one you’re bound to see every so often.

And the answer is ….

1) Not everyone in Asia (or anywhere else, for that matter) will get an MSG-headache because while MSG triggers glutamate receptors related to headache in some people, others react to too much MSG with pain, asthma, fibromyalgia, a-fib, tachycardia, skin rash, seizures and more.

2) In Asia, at least until recently, the large amounts of MSG needed to trigger headaches and other reactions following ingestion of MSG were not available. Manufactured free glutamate (MfG), the toxic ingredient in MSG, was found only in MSG, and MSG was typically used sparingly. When used in Asia, small amounts of MSG are traditionally added to food at the end of cooking.

3) In contrast, in the U.S., and to a lesser degree in Europe, MfG is used in great quantity in processed and ultra-processed foods, snacks, protein-fortified foods, protein drinks, shakes, and protein bars. It’s found in flavor enhancers, protein substitutes, ingredients such as hydrolyzed proteins, yeast extracts, maltodextrin, and soy protein isolate, all in addition to 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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

The road to deception

The road to deception is paved with blocks of badly flawed research and propaganda designed to sell man-made excitotoxic glutamate to an unsuspecting public.

It was built by money-hungry industrialists, maintained by journalists and public servants who put personal profit before integrity, and traveled by consumers who have been deceived every step of the way.

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.

14 myths about MSG

The myth that MSG is a harmless food additive that can trigger a limited number of insignificant reactions was launched in 1968 when the New England Journal of Medicine carried a letter from Dr. Ho Man Kwok that the journal titled Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. Glutamate industry agents hyped the fact that Kwok reported minor reactions to food eaten in a Northern-Chinese restaurant. And the myth was propelled forward along an unmuddied path as the myriad of scientific studies done in the 1970s showing MSG-induced brain damage, obesity, and infertility were suppressed, and all reactions other than those mentioned in Kwok’s letter were denied.

Myth: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a harmless food additive. Scientific research has shown that MSG is a harmless food additive because study after study have failed to show that MSG causes adverse reactions.

Fact 1: The studies cited by the Glutes as evidence of MSG safety are studies in which MSG was fed to volunteers who were given test material containing MSG at one time, and at another time given a placebo that contained (without disclosure) an excitotoxic amino acid — one that would trigger the exact same reactions as those caused by MSG. When subjects reacted to both test material and placebo, which they did, researchers claimed to have again failed to demonstrate MSG toxicity. More on this subject can be found at https://www.truthinlabeling.org/flawed.html.

Fact 2: Studies showing MSG-induced brain damage were challenged by the Glutes in the 1970s, but the challenges were refuted. Now, MSG-induced brain damage is never mentioned by industry.

Myth: The FDA has investigated some of the claims of reactions to MSG and has never been able to confirm that the additive caused the reported effects.

Fact: By law, the FDA is required to investigate claims of serious reactions to the products they regulate, but they rarely do so. The reports of at least two FDA investigators who examined reports of serious reactions following ingestion of MSG did not reflect the data that had been given them by the persons reacting to MSG or by their physicians. More on this subject can be found at https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/it_wasnt_az.pdf.

Myth: The FDA commissioned a group of independent scientists from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) to examine the safety of MSG in the 1990s, and FASEB determined that MSG is safe.

Fact: At least 3 of the alleged “independent” scientists had clear-cut conflicts of interest.

Myth: The extensive body of research which exists about glutamate has been reviewed by independent scientists and regulatory authorities around the world — all have found MSG to be safe.

Fact: The scientific authorities from around the world often cited by the Glutes, (which included the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the United Nations World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization’s Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), the European Communities’ (EC) Scientific Committee for Food, and the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association) considered only those documents submitted to them by Ajinomoto’s International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) or their agents, or their glutamate-industry friends at the FDA.

Myth: MSG is made from corn starch, sugar cane, sugar beets or molasses by a natural method that has been used for centuries. This is known as the fermentation process. It is similar to how wine, beer, vinegar and yogurt are made.

Fact: In 1956, the Japanese succeeded in producing glutamic acid by means of bacterial fermentation, and after considerable research to identify suitable strains of microorganisms for starting the requisite cultures, large-scale production of glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate through fermentation began. In this fermentation process, genetically modified bacteria are grown aerobically in a liquid nutrient medium. These bacteria have the ability to synthesize glutamic acid outside of their cell membranes and excrete it into the medium to accumulate there.

This is a new process, not one used over centuries. And certainly not how wine, beer, vinegar and yogurt are made.

Myth: The glutamate in unprocessed/ unadulterated/ unfermented protein is the same as the glutamate in MSG. The glutamate that naturally occurs in many foods and the glutamate added in monosodium glutamate (MSG) are exactly the same.

Fact 1: The glutamate found in unprocessed/unadulterated/unfermented protein is L-glutamate only. Whereas MSG used in cosmetics, drugs, vaccines, dietary supplements, and processed food is manufactured, and always contains L-glutamate plus D-glutamate (an unwanted byproduct of L-glutamate production) plus other unwanted by-products of production that industry calls impurities. And since industry has not found a way to remove the unwanted impurities from processed free L-glutamate, the glutamate in MSG always comes with impurities.

Fact 2: It is glutamic acid that has been manufactured that causes brain damage and adverse reactions. Glutamic acid found in unadulterated protein causes neither brain damage nor adverse reactions.

Myth: There is no difference between the toxicity of food that is high in glutamate, and processed food that contains MSG.

Fact: Food that is unprocessed, unadulterated and unfermented, no matter how much glutamate it contains will not cause adverse reactions in MSG-sensitive people. Food that contains MSG will cause MSG-reactions in MSG-sensitive people if the amounts ingested exceed individual tolerances for MSG.

Myth: Monosodium glutamate has been in use for over 2,000 years.

Fact: Monosodium glutamate was invented in 1908 and reformulated in 1957.

Myth: The reactions to monosodium glutamate are mild and transitory.

Fact: Asthma, migraine headache, depression, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, and seizures are just a few of the abnormalities known to be triggered by MSG.

Myth: The glutamic acid in monosodium glutamate is identical to the glutamic acid in unadulterated protein.

Fact: Glutamic acid found naturally in protein is L-glutamic acid, only. Glutamic acid in MSG, i.e., processed/manufactured glutamic acid, is always made up of both L-glutamic acid and D-glutamic acid, and is always accompanied by impurities in addition to the D-glutamic acid that is invariably produced when attempts are made to produce L-glutamic acid.

Myth: No one reacts to less than 3 grams of MSG.

Fact: Published studies by Scopp and Allen and hundreds of comments by MSG-sensitive people affirm that less than 3 grams of MSG may cause reactions.

Myth: Reactions to MSG occur within 10 minutes of ingesting MSG and last for less than 2 hours.

Fact: Reactions to MSG have been known to occur as long as 48 hours after ingestion and last for days.

Myth: MSG is naturally occurring.

Fact 1: By FDA definition, arsenic and hydrochloric acid would be “naturally occurring” along with MSG. Industry gets mileage from talking about MSG being “naturally occurring.” And the FDA cooperates by refusing to define the term.

Fact 2: In the United States, MSG is manufactured in Ajinomoto’s plant in Eddyville Iowa. MSG is a product of manufacture. It doesn’t occur naturally anywhere or in anything.

Myth: The blood brain barrier protects the brain from excesses of monosodium glutamate.

Fact: The blood brain barrier, once thought to prevent glutamate from sources outside of the body from entering the brain, is not fully developed until puberty, is easily damaged by such conditions as high fever, a blow to the head, and the normal course of aging. In the area of the circumventricular organs (which includes the area of brain damaged by MSG), it is leaky at best during any stage of life.

The brains of the young are most at risk from ingestion of MSG. More on this subject can be found at https://www.truthinlabeling.org/young.html.

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.

Another MSG YouTube propaganda video

How much do you think Abbey (from Abbey’s Kitchen) got paid by Ajinomoto for her YouTube production “The truth about MSG safety?” It’s presented as a “simple video” that will break down “the real truth about MSG safety with science.”

She hasn’t covered all of the favorite “MSG is safe myths,” but in 13+ minutes, she’s incorporated most of the propaganda pieces now being used in the $10,000,000 PR campaign being run by Edelman Public Relations for Ajinomoto.

There are versions of Ajinomoto’s stock boldfaced lies, such as “MSG” (a totally manufactured product) “occurs naturally in many protein-rich foods.”

There are Abbey’s criticisms of Dr. Vincent Bellonzi, attacking his statements that MSG is neurotoxic (which it is), or that it can cross the blood brain barrier (which it can).

And in good glutamate-industry fashion, she lands a negative term or two in her discussion of those who claim that MSG is toxic. ”Racist” is a favorite one. We haven’t seen “vague, arm-waving” previously.

Finally, she gets in the bit about MSG being a good way to lower sodium in food. That seems to be the big push right now, following closely on the umami flavor of excitotoxic glutamate.

For those who care, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about MSG can be found at www.truthinlabeling.org.

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 the ‘dose makes the poison’ there’s more than enough MSG and MSG-aliases in processed food to cause brain damage as well as serious observable reactions

There’s more than enough excitotoxic glutamic acid (a.k.a. free glutamate) in processed foods to create the excesses needed to cause brain damage, obesity, reproductive dysfunction, migraine headache, heart irregularities, irritable bowel, nausea and vomiting, asthma, seizures and more. In fact, excitotoxic glutamate has been known to trigger all the reactions listed as side effects of prescription drugs.

It hasn’t always been that way.

Prior to 1957, free glutamate available to people in the U.S. came largely from use of a product called Accent, which is pure MSG marketed as a flavor enhancer. In 1957, however, Ajinomoto’s method of glutamate production changed from extraction from a protein source (a slow and costly method), to a technique of bacterial fermentation wherein carefully selected genetically modified bacteria secreted glutamate through their cell walls — which enabled virtually unlimited production of MSG, allowing Ajinomoto to market its product aggressively.

It wasn’t long before Big Food discovered that increased profits could be generated by liberally using flavor enhancers (which all contain free glutamate) in every processed food product imaginable. And over the next two decades, the marketplace became flooded with manufactured/processed free-glutamate added to processed foods in ingredients such as hydrolyzed proteins, yeast extracts, maltodextrin, soy protein isolate, and MSG.

Today, more free glutamate than ever before will be found in ingredients used in processed and ultra-processed foods, snacks, and protein-fortified foods, protein drinks and shakes, and protein bars. And hydrolyzed proteins such as pea protein powder and mung bean protein isolate contain all three excitotoxic (brain-damaging) amino acids: aspartic acid (as in aspartame) and L-cysteine (used in dough conditioners), as well as glutamic acid. On top of that, excitotoxins marketed as “protein” sources have become increasingly available and extremely popular.

Recently we have seen excitotoxic amino acids in products such as Real Egg (mung bean protein isolate, the enzyme transglutaminase, and natural flavors), the Impossible Burger (textured wheat protein, potato protein, natural flavors, yeast extract, and soy protein isolate), Beyond Meat Beast Burger (pea protein isolate, natural flavoring, yeast extract, and maltodextrin), and the Lightlife Burger (water, pea protein, expeller pressed canola oil, modified corn starch, modified cellulose, yeast extract, virgin coconut oil, sea salt, natural flavor, beet powder (color), ascorbic acid (to promote color retention), onion extract, onion powder garlic powder) as well as excitotoxins added to an increasing array of ultra-processed foods. Most ultra-processed foods are made exclusively of chemicals and poor-quality ingredients to which glutamate-containing flavor enhancers have been added.

Prior to the time that Ajinomoto reformulated its method of MSG production (now over 60 years ago), accumulating excesses of glutamate through food sufficient to turn it excitotoxic would have been nearly impossible. But in the decades that followed Ajinomoto’s reformulation of MSG, obesity and infertility escalated to epidemic proportions.

The names of ingredients that contain manufactured free glutamate (MfG) can be found at this link.

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.