The Truth about MSG Monosodium Glutamate Clinical Nutrition
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is one of several forms of glutamic acid found in foods, in large part because glutamic acid, being an amino acid, is pervasive in nature. Glutamic acid and its salts can also be present in a wide variety of other additives, including hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate, which must be labeled with these common and usual names. Since 1998, MSG cannot be included in the term “spices and flavorings”. The food additives disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, which are ribonucleotides, are usually used in synergy with monosodium glutamate-containing ingredients. However, the term “natural flavor” is now used by the food industry when using glutamic acid (MSG without the sodium salt attached). Due to lack of FDA regulation, it is impossible to determine what percentage of “natural flavor” is actually glutamic acid. The FDA considers labels such as “No MSG” or “No Added MSG” to be misleading if the food contains ingredients that are sources of free glutamate, such as hydrolyzed protein. In 1993, the FDA proposed adding the phrase “(contains glutamate)” to the common or usual names of certain protein hydrolysates that contain substantial amounts of glutamate.