Author: Chelsea Caito, RD, LD and Dr. Huber

MSG gets "hidden" on food labels going by numerous aliases. Don't get fooled into buying this brain toxin that is used to make cheap food taste good.

Monosodium Glutamate or ‘MSG’ is a food additive marketed as a ‘flavor enhancer.’ It is added to foods to give them a richer, more savory and “meatier” taste. Appealing to our taste for savoriness, glutamate sensitizes receptors on our tongue tied to one of the 5 basic tastes. This taste is called Umami, a Japanese word meaning “savory” or “deliciousness.” Thus Umami is a term commonly describing MSG’s taste enhancing quality. MSG is one of the major ingredients in proccessed foods that can cause a variety of adverse reactions when consumed, such as migraines, upset stomach, and asthma and mental fog. What's worse? The manufacturing process creates impurities and byproducts, many of which are carcinogenic (cancer causing). 


The typical American Diet is LOADED with processed foods, making MSG a staple for many people in their breakfast, lunch and dinner. A serving of processed food typically contains 0.5 g of Monosodium Glutamate. While any amount of MSG is harmful, most people notice negative side effects after consuming 3 g of MSG. Symptoms can range from nausea, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea, flushing, numbness, drowsiness, weakness to more long term effects such as cardiac arrhythmias, brain/ neurological damage, eye damage, obesity and learning difficulties. In order to avoid MSG, your best bet is to of course eat as many WHOLE, REAL foods as possible.

If there is one thing food manufacturers are GREAT at, it is hiding harmful ingredients in their food labels. How do they do this? Most often it is through alternative names in the ingredient list. Check out this list below, which includes 40 other “nicknames” MSG can hide under. 


Names of ingredients that always contain MSG:

Glutamic acid                   Glutamate    

Monosodium glutamate     Monopotassium glutamate  

Calcium glutamate            Monoammonium glutamate

Magnesium glutamate      Natrium glutamate    

Anything “hydrolyzed”      Calcium caseinate 

Sodium caseinate            Yeast extract

Yeast food                       Autolyzed yeast

Gelatin                            Textured protein

Whey protein isolate        Whey protein concentrate 

Soy protein                    Soy protein concentrate

Soy protein isolate          Anything “protein fortified”

Soy sauce                      Soy sauce extract

Enzyme modified            Anything “fermented”

Vetsin                            Umami


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

Carrageenan (E 407)       Bouillon and broth

Natural flavor                 Any “flavors” or “flavoring”

Maltodextrin                   Oligodextrin

Citric acid, Citrate           Anything “ultra-pasteurized”

Barley malt                    Malted barley

Brewer’s yeast               Pectin 

Malt extract                   Seasonings