Hidden MSG in Your Food: The Many Names of This Repeat Offender

The verdict is in: monosodium glutamate (MSG) is bad for you. This flavor enhancer is widely used in many different foods, in particular Chinese food, canned soup mixes, canned vegetables, and processed meats. Although this food additive is found in a variety of different foods, that doesn’t mean that it’s not destroying your health. In fact, researchers have identified severe symptoms that people with sensitivities to MSG develop—together, they’re called MSG symptom complex. Why does a food additive—one the Food and Drug Administration considers safe—cause so many negative side effects?

If you’re sensitive to MSG, then you’ll experience many of these symptoms:

• Headaches


• Flushing

• Sweating

• Numbness or tingling and burning in your face and neck

• Chest pains


• Nausea

• Weakness

How can you avoid these symptoms? Simply put: avoid MSG. It’s easier said than done, because MSG is hidden in your food under multiple names. For example, low-fat milks and zero-fat milk products will usually contain MSG to enhance flavor, as do many protein powders (look for the words “glutamic acid”). Zero-calorie drinks and chewing gums often contain aspartame, which can also cause the same symptoms in people sensitive to MSG. If you avoid MSG in food, then you want to do the same for products you use on your body, too. Many shampoos, soaps, cosmetics, hair conditioners, and sunscreen have MSG hidden in them, if they have ingredients that are “hydrolyzed” or if they contain amino acids or proteins.

Here’s a (long) list of the hidden MSG in your food:

Ingredients to Avoid

• Glutamic acid

• Monosodium glutamate

• Anything “hydrolyzed”

• Calcium caseinate

• Textured, whey, or soy protein

• Anything “enzyme-modified”

Many people will suffer from severe reactions to MSG. Protect yourself by avoiding the hidden MSG in your food.

“Names of ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG),” Truth in Labeling web site, May 2013; http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html, last accessed June 25, 2013.
“Nutrition and healthy eating?” Mayo Clinic web site; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/monosodium-glutamate/AN01251, last accessed June 25, 2013.