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Myths and Misconceptions: MSG

Every week I see dozens of myths and misunderstandings about food and our company come across my desk, confused thoughts ranging from "Everything Whole Foods sells is organic" to "Canola oil is a secret poison" to "Whole Foods Market is owned by Paul Newman." This is the first in a series of posts aimed at sharing - and clearing up - some of the more popular misunderstandings floating around out there. Through these examples, I'd like to illustrate the lengths we go to "do the homework" about natural foods and to make sure that there's nothing in our products that you'd be surprised to find there. If you have any particular questions or topics you want to see covered, post a comment down below and let me know what you want to hear about.

Who we are and what we do Look around near the doors of any one of our stores and you'll likely find our commitment to "Selling the Highest Quality Natural and Organic Products Available" painted directly on the wall. This promise, the first of our company's core values, seems simple at first glance, but becomes complicated once you start to consider the words "natural" and "organic" and what they really mean. I'll save "organic" for another post, but what does "natural" mean, and who decides? Well, we do, and we take the job very seriously. I work as part of our Global Quality Standards Team. We set the company's standards for what we sell in our stores, including food ingredients, body care products, dietary supplements, meat, seafood, and virtually every other category of products in our stores. Our jobs are a sort of a hybrid of food science, chemistry and philosophy, as we review the ingredients, products and practices that go into our products. We're not just studying the nitty gritty of how the ingredients are made, but how they fit into our belief that minimally processed food is better, and our promise to only sell natural food. We consider ourselves buying agents for our customers, rather than as sales agents for our suppliers, which in my mind is one of the best descriptions of what we do. Our work always starts with our promise to sell "the highest quality natural and organic products;" no matter how deep we get into the chemistry of how a given ingredient is made, the questions we're trying to answer are "is this natural" and "would our shoppers be surprised to find this in a natural product?" Is it natural? How is it made? How is it extracted? Is it legal? Is it safe? Our buyers and stores are only allowed to bring in products that meet our strict standards.

Myth: There's Hidden MSG lurking in our aisles And now to this post's aforementioned myth and/or misconception: Ever since the TV show 60 Minutes aired a story about MSG in the early 1990s, we've been getting calls and emails from customers concerned that there's secret MSG hidden behind our labels. The short answer is that MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is an unacceptable ingredient at Whole Foods Market, thus not allowed in any of our products. We don't allow it because it's an artificial flavor enhancer that's inconsistent with the idea of natural food. But the ongoing confusion about the ingredient is complicated, and requires us to look at some of the chemicals responsible for food tasting good. The term "glutamate" refers to a number of forms of glutamic acid, an amino acid found naturally in many foods (and in our bodies). Cheese, milk, meat, peas, seaweed and mushrooms are a few of the foods containing the highest levels of natural glutamate, and this substance is largely responsible for the phenomenon of umami, the "fifth taste" of savory, meaty foods. In fact, the discovery of the link between glutamates and savory flavors led the Japanese food scientist Kikunae Ikeda in 1908 to the commercial development of monosodium glutamate. MSG is a synthetically derived and highly concentrated flavor enhancer that is almost completely made up of glutamates. It's so powerful that just a few drops can drastically change the flavor of a dish. As the 60Minutes story exposed, it's also so powerfully concentrated that it can cause severe reactions in people who are hypersensitive to it. While the scientific basis of the set of symptoms known as "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" has been debated and doubted by many, the phenomenon has caused a lot of people to carefully and diligently avoid MSG. A number of consumer groups have claimed that certain food ingredients, such as autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed protein, are MSG in disguise. They are not. Autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed proteins, among other ingredients, are completely natural ingredients that happen to be have substantial amounts of glutamates, but nowhere near the concentration found in MSG. While a small subset of people may be sensitive to even these small levels of glutamate, these ingredients are always clearly identified on the labels so that, as with all food sensitivities and allergies, people can be aware of ingredients they'd like to avoid. These are natural ingredients that are definitely of grave concern for people who are sensitive to them, but they are not MSG. We draw a clear line between natural glutamate-containing foods, which we allow, and highly concentrated MSG, which we don't.

For further MSG reading: The New York Times ran a good story on this issue back in March, although I wish they'd made a clearer distinction between MSG and the other glutamate containing additives. Jordan Sands article "A Short History of MSG: Good Science, Bad Science, and Taste Cultures" appeared in the Fall 2005 Issue of Gastronomica (my very favorite food magazine). It's not available online, but I'd recommend getting your hands on it if you can - hopefully your library has a copy floating around.

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151 comments

Comments

bob says …

why can't you just be an organic store? it seems you're expansion has gone the way of mainstream and money. if you were truly, honestly, and seriously concern about the needs of your patrons you'd just become organic and stop with conventional and natural double talk.

Vicky Collins says …

I have read that Soy Protein Isolate and "vegetable broth" (in tuna) is a form of MSG. Is that true? MSG gives me bad migraines. So according to your article, if it doesn't say MSG in the ingredients it is pretty safe for me to eat. Correct?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@VICKY - Under current FDA regulations, when MSG is added to a food, it must be identified as “monosodium glutamate” in the label’s ingredient list. Each ingredient used to make a food must be declared by its name in this list. While technically MSG is only one of several forms of free glutamate used in foods, consumers frequently use the term MSG to mean all free glutamate. For this reason, FDA considers foods whose labels say “No MSG” or “No Added MSG” to be misleading if the food contains ingredients that are sources of free glutamates, such as hydrolyzed protein. As mandated by the Code of Federal Regulations, 21CFR101.22 Subpart B: Foods: Labeling of Spices, Flavorings, Colorings, and Chemical Preservatives, the terms “flavors”, “natural flavors”, or “flavorings” may not include MSG, hydrolyzed proteins, and autolyzed yeast. Each of these must be declared on the label by its common or usual name rather than hidden within another blanket term.

Helena McHugh says …

Thank you for clearing up ths confusion about MSG. I believe I have a serious problem with it. However over the past year in an effort to avoid MSG I have read many reports about hidden MSG which have left me frustrated as to what to eat ! Also I have noticed that some foods I have eaten for years don't seem to bother me yet are now suspect due to their ingredients .Your article has explained away the confusion for me . I do believe I have an allergy , which creates singnificent symptoms ,to MSG itself .. Beyond that I may have a sensitivity to some glutamates which may or may not cause mild symptoms . Bottom Line : I will still be reading labels for foods containing MSG and avoid them at all costs , also I will seek out Whole Foods Stores to further understand and purchase more natural foods.

Lisa says …

You can't have it both ways: have food that is minimally processed and include autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed proteins in the list of acceptable ingredients. This debate is similar to the FDA not mandating the removal of formaldehyde producing preservatives and allowing 1,4-dioxine in SLS because these toxic chemicals are a byproduct and produced in the products and industrial chemical process. More comprehensive labeling would solve this issue. Personally I do not use canola oil because there is no such thing as a canola plant. Canola oil is the product of genetically modifying the rapeseed plant to lower the levels of toxins that the plan naturally produces. "Lower toxins" and GMO is enough for me not to consume it. Sunflower and olive oils are great tasting and not GMO. Works for me. I cringe when I see "Organic Canola" oil - no such thing, all canola oil is GMO.

joyce meadows says …

I still like it if what you say is true: Then put "no MSG in the labels, especially where there is the words "natural flavoring. (It is a known fact that "natural flavorings could mean "Bugs" in the flavoring!) And, what about that next horrible thing GMO? That should be labeled "NO GMO, too!

Debbie says …

so what's the skinny on yeast extract?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DEBBIE - Are you asking in reference to MSG being hidden under the term yeast extract? If so, in processed foods containing other ingredients with significant levels of free glutamate, such as hydrolyzed proteins, autolyzed yeast, and soy sauce, manufacturers must declare these ingredients like any other ingredient on their labels.

Shelley says …

You will never convince me that glutamic acid is not another name for MSG. It's poison and I have had reactions to this additive in some of Whole Foods products, especially anything containing sea salt, miso in the sesame ginger dressing, for example. I love Whole Foods but wish they'd just be honest. Glutamic acid is poison.

Jennifer Walters says …

This article is informative. My husband has many allergies to msg,nitrates, and nitrates all resulting in migraines. Any info you can give me would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, Jennifer Walters

Teresa Neff says …

I'm looking to help clarify the MSG confusion on my blog also. Do you have references for scientific articles supporting that foods like autolyzed yeast do not contain MSG?

Vicki says …

I recently purchased a large bag of Crispy Sea Salt non-GMO gluten free crackers from Coscto. They were so delicious that I couldn't stop eating them. Since most gluten free crackers and breads are not very good, I was impressed and ate quite a few. Later that day, I started with a mild but nagging headache (uncharacteristic) and then over the next few days had a lot of odd muscle stiffness and pain. This morning I grabbed the bag and read the ingredients again and noticed hydrolyzed yeast as the only questionable ingredient. So it makes me wonder about the glutamates. I will have to do more research, but just a thought.

Elaine j Connor says …

Hi, I'm very confused about citric acid , found in almost all of your products, even you're organics. Every site I have come across say it is a GMO made from mold. Please clear this up Thank you

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ELAINE - Citric acid can be derived from high risk GMO crops. In regards to certified organic products, the USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs so they cannot contain GMO ingredients. You can find more info about other derivatives from high risk GMO crops at http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/.

Kelly says …

When someone says autolyzed yeast extract is a "hidden" name for MSG it's like saying OJ is a hidden name for water or sugar (since OJ naturally contains water and sugar). If MSG has to be on the label for a product containing autolyzed yeast extract (or other natural forms of glutamates) then the ingredients label for OJ and all other juices should contain "water" and "sugar" even if extra water and sugar isn't added during processing. And that would be silly. Furthermore, those who say autolyzed yeast extract is not a "natural" ingredient (because it is not in its original whole food form) must then also agree that table sugar and even raw sugar are not natural ingredients because they do not naturally occur in the form its packaged in - they have to be made by man (processed). And that would be silly too. People have to learn there is a difference between chemical ingredients (for example, msg) and processed natural ingredients (for example, autolyzed yeast extract). Here's another example of this type of silliness: Virtually every plant humans eat contain some type of sugar, therefore every processed foods that contains veggies, grains, or fruit, and ever whole plant food (even an apple) must have an ingredient label letting consumers know it contains sugar. See how silly this argument is? Those complaining about so-called hidden forms of msg need to cocentrate on educating themselves and others on the difference between man made (chemical) foods, proccessed foods, and whole food ingredients (the legal definition). And lastly, while some people might consider procssed foods/ingredients to be man made, they are not legally considered to be man made (chemical) foods/ingredients.... On a related subject, the name Whole Foods market is what I consider misleading because "whole foods" are foods that are not processed and WF sells plenty of processed foods.

Gina Milliron says …

So if a person is gluten intolerant or at least gluten sensitive could a product with autolyzed yeast extract still be considered "gluten free"? Thanks

Lisa Rollins says …

For people who are hypersensitive to glutamates, even the autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed proteins are still poison. In order for something to be called MSG, it has to have a 95% concentration. So a food ingredient could have 94% MSG and not be required to be labelled as MSG!! This problem becomes insidious when manufacturers have 4 or 5 ingredients in one food product that are below the 95% threshold but collectively can add up to even more. The result in sensitive people is a "ribo-rash" with a horrible itch that can only appear up to 3 days AFTER ingesting the food making it difficult for people to isolate what food triggered it. Whole Foods does try and keep the amount of processed ingredients low, but to sensitive people autolyzed yeast and hydolyzed proteins ARE a problem and even one ingredient in a food is too much. MSG is an excitotoxin that kills brain cells-why do you even want anything that is less than 95% MSG in your body?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@GINA - If you're looking for gluten free products I would suggest looking for certified gluten free products that have gone through verification.

Scott says …

This whole discussion begs a different question and I didn't read the whole comment thread so I apologize if it's been discussed BUT... if it's a naturally-occurring glutamate, that's one thing. But the real question is, "Why is it an ingredient in the first place?" If you add enough naturally-occuring amounts of glutamate in several ingredients, you're essentially adding a lot more than trace amounts. I follow this same logic with my desire to eat preservative and chemical-free food. If it's safe in small amounts but not larger, then it all adds up. I don't buy the "natural" argument okaying addition of these naturally-occurring glutamates.

James says …

So what this article says is that as long as the company doesn't call it MSG, and refer to it by another name such as "yeast extract" or "except glutamates that are naturally occurring in yeast" --which glutamates, no matter the source, when in solution with salt are in fact monosodium glutamate--you are totally fine with selling it in your stores.

Gary says …

Very deceptive Joe. MSG is naturally occuring, can be naturally derived. Some may be fooled your father knows best explaination of the FDA's definition of natural, & how MSG cannot fall into such a category. You are mistaken. A generic phrase like natural flavors is all about manipulation. I certainly bought items without concern when I first noticed the descriptive. Now I realize it's simply a way to hide flavor enhancers. Flavor enhancers is the same trick junk foods employ. At least with junk food, we all no the lack of nutrition involved. WF has established on marketed itself on the basis of leading people to believe they are providing real food with good nurtient value for themselves. it turns out WF is just fancy marketing ploy,

concerned consumer says …

Do you actually know your chemistry? You use technical language to describe your concentrations but do you know the actual percent differences of these"natural" concentrations? Do you know how those proteins are actually changed? Do you know what is done? Glutamine is healthy, high levels of glutamate such as in these products you defend are not.

Madonna says …

I think Allie sums the complete issue beautifully. Children and now many adults don't know what real food tastes like because they have eaten so much of the flavor-enhanced offerings on grocery shelves and in restaurants. This is very sad, because 1) the health benefits of real food make it worth eating and 2) the subtlety and multi-layered flavor in a real piece of fruit vs. the flat, overpowering, boring flavor in a "flavor additive" is remarkably worth procuring. Ersatz is never as good as the thing it is trying to copy. And the health-destroying properties of additives are becoming more generally accepted.

Mary Jo Straub says …

I believe Whole Foods, on this particular site, is wrong about autolyzed yeast extract not being msg. I have seen a documentary about 15 years ago put on by physicians who were concerned about all their patients who had difficulty sleeping. Autolyzed yeast extract was listed as one of the substances that contributed to insomnia. These doctors wanted to inform the public about the menace autolyzed yeast extract can pose to some people. I was so grateful to learn this because I was having great difficulty with insomnia. After checking with every fast-food restaurant in the Twin Cities of Mn I was informed that they all used autolyzed yeast in their foods. Almost every canned soup has it in; many frozen foods as well. Non fast-food restaurants can also use it. Heidi Wiesenfelder received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, and since 1990 has published research papers in the Journal of Neuroscience, Visual Neuroscience, and Visual Perception. And she lists this in her writings: "Autolyzed yeast extract is a substance that results when yeast is broken down into its constituent components. It naturally contains free glutamic acid, or monosodium glutamate, and is often used as a less expensive substitute for MSG " So if autolyzed yeast contains free glutamic acid, or msg, how can Whole Foods say that autolyzed yeast is Not msg? It certainly CONTAINS msg therefore Whole Foods should not use it just to make their food taste better when they know it's causing serious health problems to many people who have no idea why they can't sleep after consuming it or have no idea why they have headaches, or any of the other reactions many many people get from msg. No more excuses, Whole Foods! Rid your foods from this substance. Other than this problem, I LOVE your store and do shop there a lot.

Marisa says …

Semantics aside. I have a HIGH sensitivity level to glutamates and any and all derivative, primarily those that are added to chicken and vegetable stocks in powdered, paste or boullion form. I don't care what the label says,they are ALL forms of glutamate and are genetically altered. I always check my sources, and went to get soup at Whole Foods one afternoon. I asked for the manager and explained my issues. I told him I could not have MSG in ANY FORM. He advised me that the store contains NO MSG at all. I ate the soup and reacted. I immediately went to management and asked them to go in the back and pull out the labeling, and OF COURSE, hydrolyzed and autolyzed ingredients paragraphs long lined the back of the powdered stock envelope. SORRY, BUT NO MSG IS NO MSG. And saying that is both misleading and detrimental. I ENDED UP EDUCATING YOUR MANAGEMENT ON THESE INGREDIENTS.

Brenda Andersen says …

I had breakfast this morning from the hot bar at your Miller Avenue, Mill Valley store. After 10 years of Lyme Disease neurotoxins, I am sensitive to neuro-stimulants & neuro-toxins. There was so much neuro-stimulant in my breakfast, it will probably take me a couple of days to recover. I think this was more than just "natural glutamate-containing foods". I've had breakfast twice in the last week at your San Rafael store and not had the same problem. Perhaps you'd like to check what's going into the food at the Miller Ave store? Thank you.

M M says …

I can clear up the MSG misconception, commercial MSG is made of D-glutamic acids which are the glutamates separated from their protein bond. This does not occur in nature frequently enough to be considered "natural". It is a freak accident, also called an impurity, which usually results from chemically separating the proteins from the glutamates. This results in a potent excitotoxin - (Excitotoxins are a class of chemicals (usually amino acids) that overstimulate neuron receptors. Neuron receptors allow brain cells to communicate with each other, but when they're exposed to excitotoxins, they fire impulses at such a rapid rate that they become exhausted. -Google searched the definition) - that causes the brain to lose the ability to feel sated, and thus people who eat the food keep going back for more even if they are so full they are about to burst. The other result is addiction, which food companies tend to love, if people are addicted to their food, they will keep buying it in massive quantities. The glutamate found in naturally-derived ingredients is L-glutamic acid, it just gives off Umami, and that's about it. People who are allergic to MSG will not have a reaction to it, or at least not a violent reaction, because it does not overload and exhaust the neurons in the brain. If they reacted to it they would have to avoid all protein, as it is in everything with protein, even beans. The MSG found in commercial foods is always the poisonous kind. The kind made from preparing protein foods is not D-glutamic acids. There are many informational references to find, even scientific, but be wary of them. Some are just there to scare people into avoiding everything because it all causes cancer or some random disease or another. I hope this helps clear things up about MSG and the science behind how it works.

Marcia Carlan says …

My husband suffers from horrific migraines when he eats anything with MSG. We have no Whole Foods near us & I am constantly reading labels. Are there certain brands that I can look for that are free from this? I especially want ranch dressing liquid & the powder mix. Every brand I see has it in the list. More and more companies are taking it out but it would help us a lot if they would put it on the label in big letters that it is MSG free.

Danielle says …

MSG may not be chemically named just that in things like "Natural Flavors", or "Yeast Extract", but my body has the same retain to it!!! SO if it man made or "naturally derived" it has the same neuro-toxic affect and possibly just as addictive! So if Whole Foods wants to stand by the way-side that's their business, but more and more people are figuring out that the symptoms the doctors can't explain are due to such ingredients and preservatives. I would hope that Whole foods would at least work to give us a selection of foods without those MSG-like ingredients.

Noella says …

So Whole Foods doesn't sell food that has MSG? I'm confused. I just went to WF to get away from preservatives and MSG and the next thing I know I'm getting MSG poisoning from a bag of chips that I just purchased. "Natural flavors" is not an acceptable "ingredient" and it really seems to me that WF isn't putting that much responsibility in what they're putting on their shelves if they're going to let that one slip by.

Bob Goldfarb says …

Since this was written in 2008 , I'm not sure if I'll get a reply. Unfortunately the lack of Msg in products purchased by corporate or regional buying is not a reality. Please reply and I'll elaborate. Thank you Bob Gotleib

Katie says …

I like your store because it's one of the few grocery stores that I can source 'clean' food, BUT PLEASE don't mislead your customers. Your shelves are filled with products that contain MSG in concentrated form or not. Just because the concentration in a pure crystal MSG is 100% MSG and hydrolyzed proteins is 20% does not negate the fact that there's glutamate or MSG in the product and people have the right to know that. MSG used to made by hydrolyzing gluten from wheat and is now made through a fermentation process. So now manufacturer's don't purify the MSG but it's still there in significant quantities (that should be labeled). This is why soy sauce, cheese (especially hard cheeses), and yeast extract contains MSG. Please don't be like the rest of the food industry and mislead the public on this issue. Glutamate blocker drugs are a trillion dollar industry treating the epidemic of glutamate diseases. You could be part of the solution by informing your customers of what ingredients do contain MSG (glutamate). Call it natural (as natural flavors ingredient) but the total amount in the diet is overload. Vague labels like 'spices', 'natural flavors' 'cultured dextrin' 'vegetable stock' should be required to list contents. I recently asked one of your employees what was in WF vegetable stock to make sure there was no hydrolyzed soy protein. Not a single employee was able to answer the question.

Sharon says …

MSG

nikki grace says …

I still don't understand why products such as Near East rice add autolyzed yeast to their products, what is its purpose as an additive and what is the source of autolyzed yeast?

Lorkap says …

MSG can be found in citric acid and citric acid is used as a processing agent on practically all carcasses (beef & poultry including organically raised animals). USDA law requires the use of these antimicrobial acids unless the processors use ozone which is costly and used infrequently. If you are very sensitive to MSG (which I am) you can get reactions to all meat and poultry regardless of organic or non-organic. Chlorine is also used as an antimicrobial rinse for the carcasses and it does not rinse off the carcass. Between the MSG (from citric acid) and chlorine (allergic to both) I am having great difficulty getting a good source of protein that does not make me ill. Note: Chlorine and/or acid rinses are used on vegetables as well.

Brian Sommers says …

are completely natural ingredients that happen to be have substantial amounts leave the word 'be' out, yes?

Andrew says …

So...MSG is bad because it's not natural...but hydrolyzed proteins are natural? Okay. Also, these 'high in glutamate' additives/foods (hydrolyzed whatever, etc.) aren't just 'high in glutamate'. They are high in FREE glutamate, which occurs because of a human cooking/fermenting/preserving process. Which is...NOT natural...at ALL. Free glutamate is the danger here, not foods 'high in glutamate'. Take organic chicken, a meat that is high in glutamate. You will not react to this glutamate because it is in its NATURAL, BOUND form. Not free. But I get why you wrote this. If you cut out all forms of free glutamate additives, you'd have nothing to sell!

Marybhall says …

Is glutamate the same as L-glutamine?

Michelle Mader says …

Hi, was reading about MSG. I'm wondering if you can suggest something natural to replace the MSG I have in my seasoning that I make? Thanks for you help!

LaVerne says …

Thanks for the information on natural glutamate and the msg that is put into out foods.

Elin says …

In re: MSG in Whole Foods items, as someone who is EXTREMELY sensitive to MSG (can't even use L-glutamine because I get the same horrible symptoms), I feel I must point out that not all the items you sell are clearly labeled if they contain glutamate. For one example, Westsoy organic unsweetened vanilla soy milk contains "natural vanilla flavor" and "other natural flavors". I would not have suspected these to be hidden msg ingredients, but upon further research, I have discovered that unless it actually says, for example, "vanilla" instead of "vanilla flavor" it likely contains glutamate. I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out what the heck in my daily diet was causing the msg-like reactions I was experiencing, and when I isolated the problem to this product, the symptoms disappeared within hours. Using the plain Westsoy that is just made from soybeans and water does not cause any reaction. There are many products on your shelves that are similar in how they hide glutamate. I don't feel this is your fault. The list of ingredients that are "code" for msg grows longer by the day. If you look it up, you'll see that the list is far too extensive for any supermarket to be able to manage and still keep foods on their shelves. Truth un labeling laws would help, but as it stands, there is no warning for the sensitive on these products, and name changes keep getting approved that help manufacturers use glutamates in their foods without having to explicitly say so. I am lucky in that I am a careful shopper and know what to avoid (basically, just about anything processed), but someone not understanding this could easily be fooled by "natural flavors" for example. I don't expect you to do anything about this - it is not your responsibility. But, maybe make your msg disclaimer a little more clear regarding what the sensitive should look out for? Thanks for your time. Sincerely, Elin

uslugi reklamowe says …

Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARYBHALL - You can find more info about the difference at http://www.livestrong.com/article/512239-what-is-the-difference-between-glutamate-glutathione-glutamine/.

cheryl says …

I am one of those subset people who are sensitive to glutamates. Not all bad ingredients are listed on products!! I have found products that just list 'spices' (Sukhi indian food) and do not clarify ingredients I am sensitive to. You also put these products on the hot bar and do not list all of the ingredients . I have gotten migraines as a result of this. ALL ingredients including 'spices' should be clarified.

Charles Hazen says …

You are absolutely wrong about the forms of glutamates you claim are natural and acceptable. Yeast extract, maltodextrin, carrageenan, malted barley etc are all highly processed forms of free glutamates and are considered excitotoxins because of the affect they have on the brain's glutamate receptors. If Whole Foods was serious about avoiding potentially dangerous additives you would require your suppliers to avoid processed free glutamates as an additive. You focus way to much on gluten which is only a problem for a very few people because it is trendy and marketable. There are numerous scientific papers on the dangers of free glutamates however you MUST ignore the industry science because it is obviously biased.

Joseph Duffey says …

This article is NOT true at all. Autolyzed yeast extract is artificially added to foods for the exact same purpose as MSG and is DEFINITIVELY used, historically, to CLOAK MSG... even the U.S. government's FDA will DIRECTLY admit this... http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm328728.htm

Lars Day says …

All of Goya Foods Products imported into this country from mexico contain MSG and the labels clearly state that one ingredient is MSG. So why does our government allow these products to be imported. GOYA foods is not hiding this ingredient but since we discovered a long time ago that this artificial MSG additive is very harmful in so many ways then why do we allow imports of products from other countries with MSG ?

Dude says …

Most of the folks getting "MSG reaction" are actually getting a sodium overdose! The glutamate occurs naturally in MANY foods. If folks figured out the sodium dosage they are getting in some of the foods blamed for "MSG reaction"..... They would be shocked!

Bree says …

This article is full of misinformation! Are you seriously getting your science from an early 1990's episode of "60 Minutes"?! More reasons not to shop at Whole Paycheck. They'll say anything to charge you top dollar for the same food you can get at Trader Joe's or Safeway without all the nonsense pseudoscience and for much less money.

Lauren says …

If you look into how yeast extract is made, it doesn't seem very "natural". I am one of those "hypsersensitive" people who gets terrible 4 day migraines from MSG so I have to be careful and the misleading labeling allowed by the FDA is a problem for me. For those who aren't "hypersensitive" though, MSG is still causing them to eat more food that would otherwise taste bad or bland at best. I just don't see how yeast extract and autolyzed yeast extract can be called natural. I expect my food to have ingredients like salt, pepper, garlic, onions, cinnamon, coriander... That's food. That's flavor. If you just google how yeast extract or autolyzed yeast extract is made, it still sounds highly processed and chemical, quite frankly. Also, if you don't know the history of MSG. It was invented/synthesized in Japan during the war to make rations (canned, old, bland food) palatable. Think about why they must use it now. I buy my food at the farmer's market and cook at home. I understand people think they need convenience, but the difference between five minutes microwaving and ten minutes steaming or sauteeing isn't enough to make it worth the processed, unneccesary ingredients. Sorry Whole Foods, keep your overpriced junk food.

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