The ‘New’ MSG – Is it even more deadly than MSG itself? Ribonucleotides & The Ribo Rash

I like to call this additive the ‘New’ MSG, or monosodium glutamate, because many food manufacturers want to be able to market their product as having ‘No MSG,’ but of course they have to add flavor somehow…so they are using these other flavor enhancers more than ever before. We are being led from one nasty chemical to another with these additives in our foods.

This additive is salty and savory just like MSG. It is found in many of the same foods as MSG. The chemical name is Ribonucleotide, and often the reaction people get from eating it is an extremely itchy, irritable rash which we call the ‘Ribo Rash.’ Below is my personal story of suffering from the ‘Ribo Rash.’

In 2004 I arrived in Australia and I started to develop a very itchy red rash on my body. It started under my arms, in my inner arms, on my lower back, on my breasts and around my eyes.

An unhappy sufferer of the Ribo Rash - - - Reclaiming my health (no more rash!)

An unhappy sufferer of the Ribo Rash – – – Reclaiming my health (no more rash!)

The rash quickly got worse. It seemed to spread like fire actually, itching like crazy and making me mental. I had never experienced anything like it before, and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what would trigger it. Creams seemed to make it worse – somehow they felt like they were ‘trapping’ the rash inside of me. I could not control my desire to tear my skin off from the itching; I especially enjoyed scalding my skin with hot water – what a sick feeling of relief that provided!! I also started getting heart palpitations…at any time my heart-rate would increase from 60 beats per minute to 140, and I had no history of anxiety whatsoever. I was generally eating quite healthy (at least so I thought); I didn’t smoke, barely drank, exercised (obviously), so how could I be so sick?

Friends told me to meditate. Doctors told me it was a simple case of excema. I had a complete round of testing done and everything came up fine. I was tested for heavy metal poisoning, various viral infections, standard food allergies (milk, wheat, eggs, gluten, etc); I had chest x-rays and EKG’s done – and they found nothing. The only thing that came up suspect during that time is my URIC ACID levels were high. The doctor suggested that I go on medication to bring down the uric acid; he said I was in danger of having gout. (I now know that food additive #635 Ribonucleotide can cause uric acid levels to rise.)

At the best of times, the rash was mainly around my eyes

At the best of times, the rash was mainly around my eyes

Eventually, out of desperation, I started my own ‘elimination diet’ in an effort to narrow down the possibility of it being a food allergy. I just had this feeling that the rash was being caused by something I was eating. I had tried all the changes of soaps, washing powders, etc etc, and I felt like I had no other option to even try. It was at least 1 year of suffering with the rash at this stage, not always as bad as the photos mind you, but always present and always itching like hell. The elimination diet was worth a try.

I started off by telling people at my new job that I was a celiac (i.e. no wheat or gluten). I also started keeping a food diary, writing down what I ate daily and when I had an outbreak. The wheat and gluten-free diet helped tremendously, and now I know it is because ribonucleotides are often found in products containing wheat. About once a month or so I would still have an outbreak, but it seemed manageable – I kind-of got to the point where I accepted the rash as a part of my life and decided I could tolerate it in the small amounts I was getting.

Puffed out after a nice anaphylactic reaction to #635

Puffed out after a nice anaphylactic reaction to #635

At the same time though I started to get more of an anaphylaxis reaction in addition to the rash, so when I had an outbreak, my lips and throat would swell. I started to take anti-histamines and I carried them with me where-ever I went. It is crazy to think back now how I just carried on living through all of that!

Finally the day of reckoning came to me. I hadn’t eaten anything the previous day and I made a salad using the cheap salad packets at work. About an hour later I started to feel the itchiness start in my face, eyes and lips. Somehow I just knew it was the salad dressing. I quickly did an internet search on ‘food additives itchy rash’ and instantly found Sue Dengate’s site. Actually I sobbed tears of joy while I read countless stories of others who had suffered with the SAME EXACT symptoms as me, and I KNEW that I was not crazy, I knew at that moment that I had found the cause of my suffering. There was no doubt in my mind that I was suffering from the Ribo Rash. I noted the list of foods on her site that contain 635, and when I checked my food diary, EVERY SINGLE TIME I HAD A REACTION I had eaten #635. Even on the wheat-free gluten-free diet, I realized that I had eaten seaweed-flavored rice crackers, the veggie burger at Hungry Jack’s (with no bread), cheap salad dressings, and other flavored tofu products which were causing my outbreaks. Sometimes when I try to tell people what happened to me, they cut me off and say, well I don’t eat any of that crap…and I say YOU HAVE NO IDEA THE CRAP THAT YOU ARE EATING!!

I was not eating junk food. If you think seaweed crackers are healthy you are wrong!! If you think flavored tofu is healthy you are wrong!! We are being poisoned slowly by these additives. It was 9 months into the elimination diet when I finally made this life-altering discovery.

This additive, can be ANY of the following 3 names or numbers on a food label and they are universal, i.e. the same in every country in the world:

Ribonucleotide – #635 – E635

Disodium Guanylate – #627 – E627

Disodium Inosinate – #631 – E631

It is often used in combination with MSG, monosodium glutamate or #621 (E621).

Foods to Avoid, All Containing Artificial Flavoring

Foods to Avoid, All Containing Artificial Flavoring

It took about 3 months from the time I eliminated #635 from my diet for the rash to go away entirely. It did not itch whatsoever during that time, it just slowly but surely started to clear up.

After 3 months I finally contacted Sue Dengate personally to thank her and tell her my battle with the Ribo Rash so she could include my story on her site. She told me I had one of the worst cases she had ever seen. Since then I have worked with her to help educate people to the dangers of this chemical. My photo is on her site and is also in her DVD entitled ‘Fed Up with Children’s Behavior – How Food Additives Affect Behavior.’

When the DVD was released in Australia in 2006, I was featured on Today Tonight, a 30-minute news program, to discuss my story.

NO ONE should go through what I went through. It it so obvious to me now that I was suffering from an extreme allergic reaction, and it angers me that doctors are so completely ignorant! How could any medical professional shrug off such an extreme reaction and say it was stress?? I went to many different doctors during that time. It is unfortunate that they are not being educated about the dangers of food additives.

It’s been 5 years now since I eliminated #635 from my diet. I have no rash whatsoever, not even the tiniest spot anywhere on my body. People often compliment me now telling me I have ‘amazing skin.’ Sometimes I tell them, ‘You have NO IDEA how much that compliment means to me.’ I think they think I’m crazy, but they just have no idea what I’ve been through. For 2 years I was embarrassed to go out in public; I felt unattractive and uncomfortable all the time. Now I have beautiful skin which radiates from the inside out.

I still have to watch labels and always be aware of what I am eating.

Eating Natural, Whole & Pure means NO RASH for me!

Eating Natural, Whole & Pure means NO RASH for me!

You can now imagine why the thought of an all-raw food diet started to appeal to me. Perhaps this allergy was a blessing in disguise for me because it was really after this whole experience that I decided to try eating all raw. In fact, I started to see the raw food diet in a completely different way – to me it now represents safe and healthy eating in a way that I could have never comprehended before. I now understand first-hand the poison that is in our processed foods and I am so happy to be able to make the choice to not continue to poison myself anymore.

On occasion I have been accidentally exposed to some ribonucleotide, especially when eating out at restaurants. It happens less and less to me now as I learn from experience what foods it is in and what foods are ’safe.’ But if I do have a reaction, I go home and immediately take about 10-12 charcoal tablets. That seems to absorb the toxins and chemical and usually after about 30 minutes I started to feel better. If after 45 minutes I still feel itchy or hot, I take another 3-4 tablets. It is much more natural on the body to do this rather than even think about taking any anti-histamines.

If you think you are having a reaction to ribonucleotides or you want to ask me specific questions about my rash, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Also please be sure to read Sue Dengate’s site and educate yourself on the dangers of all of the nasty additives.

If you know anyone who has a child suffering from ADHD or Autism, please refer them to this site as well; we are only now just discovering the links between food additives and behavioral problems in children.

If you have been affected by the ribo rash, please leave a comment and include your story below so that we can continue to educate others and hopefully prevent more suffering!

More information on what foods to avoid: List of foods that contain 635, 627 and 631.
To learn about food labeling, go to: The Truth in Food Labeling – Food Additives to Avoid & Hidden Sources of MSG

More on Food Allergies:

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Jennifer Thompson has been working with raw food, juices, smoothies and detox for over two decades to help people heal. Today, she shares her expertise worldwide, offering lectures, workshops, training and one-on-one consultations at various health and detox retreat centers. She provides Iridology Readings & Health Coaching via Skype and Phone to clients and continues to educate, motivate and inspire others on their journey of healing. When she’s not working, you’ll find her hiking in the mountains, power-walking along the sea or globe-trotting to a new and exotic health destination.
56 replies
  1. Simon
    Simon says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Do you ever check your IGE levels during these outbreaks?
    I am have symptoms resembling allergies but my IGE levels are normal.


    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Simon,

      I’m not a medical doctor and so I may not be answering this correctly…but it is my understanding that the IgE levels go up for true allergies, but not for a food intolerance. You can still have a nasty reaction to something but if it is only an intolerance than you will NOT be tested positive in an allergy test. That is, your iGe levels will not go up enough to classify it as an allergic reaction even though you are clearly suffering!

      Further, in this article I am writing about food additives, or chemical additives in the food, not the food itself. You cannot get allergy tested for food additives (hmmm, I wonder why…too many people would come up positive forcing massive changes in the food industry, perhaps?).

      It would seem then that you could still have very normal IgE levels on paper but have definite and real reactions that fall under the radar of allergy.

      In all of the medical tests I had done during my 2.5 years of outbreaks, I cannot recall that I had any high iGe levels. Several times I had allergy testing done and everything came back normal for food (only outdoor grass was high). The one test that did come up for me was that I had elevated uric acid levels. The doctor recommended that I go on a uric acid medication for the rest of my life (no thanks!). I now know that the ribonucleotide additives (635, 627 and 631) CAN raise uric acid levels so it makes perfect sense that my levels were raised while I was having those awful itchy rashes.

      For legal purposes, I must state that all of the information above is for informational purposes only. For any medical-related questions, please consult your medical doctor.

      I hope that helps! Good luck and happy healing!


  2. Lyn
    Lyn says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    When traveling and eating out, what steps do you take to avoid MSG, Ribo, etc.? I have many food allergies, including msg. I get terribly itchy rashes all over my body. It’s gotten where I rarely ever go out and hesitate to travel at all in the last few years. But staying home all the time is no way to live.

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Lyn,

      It’s definitely not easy eating out with food allergies, and even more difficult when you have food additive issues. In my experience, you can never leave it up to the staff or chef to know about your food additive. They are just not trained on that level and will too often say “this has no MSG or no XYZ” only for you to land in bed for 2 days after with a screaming headache and every joint in your body aching!

      With that in mind, I guess I choose to look at things a bit differently…. because for me feeling bad all the time is no way to live. And that’s the most important thing for me – to not feel sick. Eating out is not as important to me anymore, and especially now because to be totally honest, the food we make at home always tastes better anyway (secret ingredient: love!).

      Traveling is a complicated one because it does require eating away from home. I suppose it’s a question of – are you ready to make some changes to the way you travel and eat out? If yes, then it’s totally doable!

      What my husband and I do now when we travel is we look for apartments or airbnb rentals WITH a kitchen. Thats pretty much a standard for us. Having a kitchen gives us the freedom to buy and prepare our own food. Even when we are traveling! The destination is important, but for us..we always research the food too. If we can get fresh local fruits & veggies, then we’re in!

      We also look for salad bars, fresh food (salads, smoothies, etc) and if we can’t find that, then we order PLAIN steamed veggies or a simple dish with no sauces or dressings. I will research what farmer markets are happening and we incorporate that into our visit just as much as anything else. Not every country is easy and not every place is a place we would go back. But we made a decision to be pro-active and make things work for us, despite having limitations on what we eat.

      I have a good friend who is a travel writer and journalist, and she also happens to be extremely sensitive to MSG. At the moment she is in India actually…and was just in Peru and Hawaii before that! We can relate to each other a lot because we both understand what it’s like and that you always have to be on your toes with your food when you have allergies. That said, she still manages to live her life.

      What places did you want to travel to and where do you call home?

      Good luck!

      My best,

      To your health,


  3. Mikayla Andrews
    Mikayla Andrews says:

    Thank you so much for this article ! I have always known I was allergic to MSG (Flavour Enhancer 621) but I always wondered why when I ate Subway for instance or McDonalds, (even some asian flavoured sauces) why I would react in the exact same way as you when I was staying away from MSG, that it is because I must have an allergy to the other flavour enhancers as well ! Will definitely be watching what I eat and Googling first with things . I always get it really bad around my eyes as well and get a very itchy face that I can even pierce the skin .
    Thank you SO much for this article !

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Mikayla,

      I’m so happy for you to have found an answer! I would also have a flare around my eyes and face if I would eat that food. I feel your pain and frustration for sure.

      Good luck and here’s to clear skin and no itching – YAY!

      My best,

      To your health,


  4. Tess
    Tess says:

    I have a rash for the second time after eating Ramen noodles. The rash started every time about 10 minutes after eating them. It’s a rash mainly on my hands and feet that comes (when I’m cold) and goes. It lasted up to three days. I thought I was going crazy at the beginning, I couldn’t seem to figure out what it was from (I thought about things like hot tub, fish and seafood). Now I’m pretty sure that it must be from MSG and/or the Ribonucleotides. Scary! No more of that crap for me!

  5. Wendie
    Wendie says:

    Stopped MSG years ago … so I thought !
    Just finished eating Seaweed & tofu a dim sim from a new local
    “healthy” Sushi shop.. Could not STOP itching mainly between my left hand fingers & knuckles .. Thanks to your thread I have now discovered ALL the hidden numbers 635 627 631 and 621 .. plus the word seaweed came up ..No more Asian foods for me .. Good luck to everyone else with itchy parts ..PS . MOST chicken additives have MSG ( for those who don’t know )

  6. Malia
    Malia says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for sharing this information! I normally eat really healthy, but a week ago I caught the flu and indulged in some Top Ramen. I haven’t eaten Ramen in about 25 years, and don’t eat much processed food. I have now had a rash around my eyes, nose and mouth (in patches) and my left under eye area is swollen, for a week. My question to you is, how long is this going to last? It was a one time thing! I am so frustrated. I live in Hawaii an need to wear sunscreen but anything I put on top I it makes it even more itchy and Benedryl isn’t really helping much. I hate walking around looking sickly. :( Do you think a cleanse could speed up the detox process? Should I just drink tons more water? Thank you so much for any suggestions!

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Malia,

      Sorry to hear that you suffered. I actually rate Ramen noodles as the worst food of all time. Now you know why :)

      Definitely a cleanse could help speed up the detox process. We may also need to focus on your liver and kidneys. Please contact me about setting up a consult and I can help personalize your program to get you the fastest results so you can feel and look your best asap.



  7. Kim
    Kim says:

    Unreal! I hate this! MSG sensitive for YEARS and now they make stuff that is WORSE and cover it up with a different name! Angry doesn’t begin to describe what I feel. Inside my EYELIDS itch right now! I went to a new AMISH BBQ place tonight. Awesome food and I ate a LOT! My itching is UNREAL right now. In defense of the restaurant, I didn’t ask and now I am paying for it. My chest hurts but no trouble breathing so I will survive but I’m mad. Every sensitive place, skin wise, itches and I have the headache. Plans tomorrow are probably off. Thanks for letting me vent and for providing the most VALUABLE website I have ever read.

  8. Jules
    Jules says:

    Thank you so much for trying to make people aware! You poor thing! I suffer extremely itchy skin from anything that contains these chemicals…. my face swells, I get a shocking headache, and it feels like something is crawling under my skin. I don’t get the rash as bad as you, but as soon as I’ve eaten it I can see my arms and cheeks get rashy and spotty. I’m also like a hyperactive child (and I’m in my late 30’s). This goes on for a couple of days. What a hideous chemical it is! I get the same effect from aspartame, but worse! The harm it must be doing to children is alarming!!! Food tasted fine WITHOUT this rubbish in it :/

  9. Laura
    Laura says:

    Thank you for this information! I just started researching this very same thing that has been happening to me. I was presenting at a conference over the weekend and I was unable to perform as usual thinking i was starting to redevelop an anxiety attack issue I had in my earlier years. However, I am starting to suspect that I was having a reaction to the huge amount of MSG that was in the buffet food at the hotel. I had couscous and rice at lunch and then presenting an hour later I had choking and breathing issues while trying to present to a small group of 4 people. I confused it with anxiety but it was a physical experience that I am starting to related to an immune response. A normal amount of adrenaline that typically presents during a presentation turned into me not being able to talk and breathe at the same time. I thought I had chosen well when eating during the conference and had a reasonable expectation that rice and couscous would be made simply with water to boil the rice. I now suspect it had more. I am sensitive to MSG and Nitrates. I also have autoimmune issues such as type 1 diabetes. I had noticed a slight itchy sensation in my arms that afternoon as well. So your information is very helpful in my research. I didn’t have the visual allergic reaction but a respiratory one! Thank you.

  10. Vedita
    Vedita says:

    Thanks a ton for that educative article on the web.

    We as a family sufferred through the similar symtoms around 10 days back and it’s so very true that the doctors seems to be clueless (at least apparently about the reasons for such symtoms) . Even though we are a vergetarian family, we all were having rashes and were going crazy trying to treat them.

    Now with the awareness of the reasons behind the story, I am comitted to spread the awareness in my society and community. thanks once again

  11. Brett
    Brett says:

    Have you been medically tested for allergy to 635 or taken it in pure form to prove you are allergic to it?

    Unless you have done that you have not proven that 635 has caused your problems.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Brett,

      There are no medical tests for food additives. The only way to know you are intolerant to it is to do an elimination diet. That’s your “proof.” Thank you!

  12. Lois Falk
    Lois Falk says:

    This has been the best news I have read in a while. I have been on 2 cruises and both times I contracted this horrible rash on my face and neck. I am somewhat of a health nut and fitness trainer and knew it had to be food additives but couldn’t seem to find out what it was. Since I have only been back a week and it was Thanksgiving I hadn’t started my testing. You have done my testing for me. THANKS SO MUCH. I can’t wait to teach this at my class.

  13. paul
    paul says:

    same here, surprise surprise. its taken me years of elimination, and unfortunately 635, that beautiful wonderful flavour enhancer that seemed to be an amazing alternative to 627 and 631 themselves, turns out to be even worse. i have a particularily frustrating and itchy rash on my right hand (among others) that wont leave, is dry and itchy, but yes, for some reason feels wonderful to scold under hot water.
    complete reduction of 635 from chips i was eating every day, reduced this to nothing,
    eating subway twice this week has falred it up again, incredibly itchy, i had on both occassions (in nz) little dressing but mayo on the one of the days, honey oat bread, and chicken fillet. i suspect the 635 lies in the chicken, but could be in any of it. i flippin hate the shiz now. its got to be stopped.
    doctors also tried everything, couldnt define the rash. i isolated it and focused in on the causes from reading articles like this. it worked.
    if your suffering from a rash that is incredibly irritating, especially at night, creams dont work and nothing bar itching it will suffice, check the label of everything you eat, remove all enhancers and msg from your diet, and it will go. after a month or so, you wont want to go back.

  14. Catherine Cunningham
    Catherine Cunningham says:

    Thank you for such an informative website which has aided me and my skin on the road to recovery. I’ve had the ribo rash permanently on my eyelids and back of my neck for approximately 3 years and have found it to be the flavouring in crisps that cause me to itch and have unsightly red skin.

    I had never considered that this issue might have been food-related as there had been lots of other things going on in my life at the time, such as going on the contraceptive pill for the first time ever, being surrounded by cats for the first time in years etc.

    It was only after not eating crisps for approximately one week, (not intentionally – just hadn’t been shopping) that I noticed my skin had improved and that I was less itchy, but when I ate a bag of cheesy wotsits not long after, my eyes started to itch like mad and the red inflamed skin started to re-appear.

    Needless to say, this made me come straight on line and search for allergies related to crisps / snacks and I found your site. I am now so much more enlightened with regards to additives and flavour enhancers and shall make sure I recommend your site further. Thank you so much.

  15. Sean
    Sean says:

    Did the same thing as you! Have had this problem off and on since I was 15 years old. The most embarrassing thing I ever had to deal with in high school..ruined my confidence. It went away on its own eventually but then reared its ugly head again now that I’m 22. Half a year ago it started when I moved in with my sister and I was on a cheap diet of Mr. Noodles and other cheap foods. Was also eating a lot of Subway with all the various sauces plastered on my subs. These sauces happen to be filled with garbage as well. (I stick with only Mayo, Heinz Ketchup and Deli Mustard for now..they don’t give me any problems)

    I finally decided to start eating really clean because I had thought maybe I had an allergy to gluten or MSG. I was having a huge breakout and so I started with a week of no MSG foods what so ever. That week past and I had the clearest itch free skin I’d had in almost a year. Couldn’t believe I had found the source to this horrible problem. So I figured it was just MSG but now I’ve read your story and your stating these other chemicals that go along with MSG as a problem too. This is just the greatest thing I’ve ever read…I finally have some closure and some reassurance that there are other people out there suffering with this and getting told it’s just “eczema”…

    So glad I can finally put that container of cortisone cream down for once!

  16. ken coombs
    ken coombs says:

    I just found your site, I have a rash below my knee’s on both legs I wondering if it could from food it seems to clear up every once in a while
    then comes back, I spray peroxide on the rash and it takes away the itch.
    We eat out a lot at Dennys, could be what they put in their food.

  17. Cedah
    Cedah says:

    What an excellent article, I have just finished reading your other one that goes through all the foods and a guide to steering clear of hidden MSG. I made a stir fry tonight and I used done Oyster sauce that in had bought recently. I now feel like all the cells in my body are like mini nuclear reactors. I’m tired but buzzing and was sensing an anxiety attack coming on. I feel guilty for feeding my kids this crap tonight but its in the rubbish now and tomorrow is a new meal!!
    Thanks again very informative and really appreciate your plight to make people aware of these sneaky additives and enhances etc.

  18. tina
    tina says:

    Thank you for this website. For the last few years I’ve had intermittent bouts of a similar reaction to yours,Jennifer. Waves of hives and itchiness over the whole body, including ears! Once or twice the face rash became so bad my cheeks ended up a strange leathery texture. Sometimes bloating, stomach malaise, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, flu-like symptoms, often lasting days. Often seemed to come on when on holiday, so I did start to suspect it was from a food additive eaten in a restaurant. But my pattern seems to be that the symptoms come on at least 24 hours after eating the whatever so it has always been impossible to trace the culprit–hard to know which meal, let alone which ingredient!
    However, thanks to my husband’s not noticing (?!) a sticky note I’d left on some stock cubes he bought once (I never would have bought this kind, you’ll see why) and making soup with them, I think I have identified the culprit! They are Knorr chicken broth cubes and include “glutamates, inosinate and guanylate of sodium.” (This is why I’d never have bought them.) He used them once before and I got a reaction days later and thought it might be them, hence the sticky note, which said” Beware! possible allergy!”
    I should have thrown them away, but again, I wasn’t sure this was the culprit–and in a way I’m glad I didn’t. I’d never have willingly tried them again, but as hubby used them, and now, two days later I have the rash and some other symptoms, I think this is the culprit–and what a relief to know!!! (Especially as I was worried it might be sulfites in some wines—eek!).
    It seems that glutamates in, eg, Marmite–English version, which I adore-, and Parmigiano cheese, and mushrooms, don’t bother me, but these chemical flavour enhancers which so magnify the glutamate effect do.
    That’s why I couldn’t understand the problem–if it were simply all glutamates I should have been having reactions much more often.
    I was losing hope of ever finding the cause but I think I have found it now, and want to add to the many voices saying AVOID DISODIUM INOSINATE AND DISODIUM GUANYLATE!!!
    Thank you.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Tina, I am really happy to hear you found the culprit, and I thank you for taking the time to share your story. You are not alone! We really need to get this info out there to stop others from needless suffering. Many blessings to your health!

    • Chatterbug
      Chatterbug says:

      MSG is bad bad bad for me. I can gain 8 lbs in water weight over a 3 day time span. the Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate are even worse! They hit me almost immediatly. Asthma, General redness and itching on my face (not as bad as I’ve seen on some people, but not fun.) I thought I was having heart failure or something it was so bad. I had a Dr tell me Aspartame is somehow related to MSG and it gives me trouble as well. Nasty nasty stuff!

  19. Michael
    Michael says:

    Good information, thanks! I would like to inform you however that the Squid-brand fish sauce I buy in the Netherlands as well as locally in Thailand is completely free of artificial additives.

    It contains : Fermented fish, salt, sugar. That’s it.

    It is however listed on your “bad” list (the picture).

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Michael, I’m very sorry to tell you that all fish sauce has MSG. It’s added in the process of fermenting the fish. Therefore, the ingredient of ‘fermented fish’ is correct but they are not listing the ingredients in the fermented fish. This is a classic case of a legal loophole in labeling foods, used by food manufacturers all the time…that is, they are legally allowed to list an ingredient, like ‘natural flavor’ or ‘vinegar powder’ or ‘fermented fish’ without disclosing what ingredients are in that ingredient. Crazy but true!

  20. Jillian
    Jillian says:

    Thank you so much for this post. As I sit here tonight I am once again dealing with a full body rash 48 hours after eating at PF Changs. I’ve had this happen to me four times now. The first two times I wasn’t sure what exactly caused it. But the third time I started to put two and two together and realized it has to be something I ate at PF Changs since it happened about 2-3 days after I ate there. I assumed it was in the mixture of sauces they used on the lettuce wraps. When I saw my doctor the last time she said it could be anything since PF Changs uses so many spices and ingredients in their foods. I ate at PF Changs so infrequently and after every time I had the same reaction a little worse every time. The last time it was so bad I had to take prednisone after two weeks of suffering at home. It was awful. Well since the last time I broke out in hives I ate there again (which I was very apprehensive about) but made sure that I ate a basic meal with no sauce on the lettuce wraps. I did not break out in hives. So I thought as long as I stayed with what I had eaten last time I would be fine. Well 2 nights ago I went again (keep in mind these visits are at least 6 months to a year apart). I ordered what I ordered last time since I didn’t have a reaction. On the drive home from the restaurant I started to get a raging headache. I never get headaches but I would compare this to a migraine. It was unbearable. And now, as of a few hours ago (two days later) I am breaking out in the same horrible rash I had before. It’s everywhere but my face, hands, and feet at this point. I am miserable so I took some Benadryl which didn’t seem to help at all last time. My doctor had no helpful suggestions for what it might be, and just suggested that I eliminate foods and products at first. I hadn’t (and haven’t) started using any new detergents or body washes. She suggested I avoid PF Changs which I did for a long time and since I didn’t have the reaction last time I thought I was safe. Boy, was I wrong. I did many Internet searches about this and only tonight was I able to find your post. I feel another visit to the doctor (without medical insurance, sigh) coming soon. I wish there was something I could do to help relieve this at home. Anyways, thank you for the post, at least it gives me something to watch out for and try to avoid in the future. I will not chance this anymore!

  21. Karyn
    Karyn says:

    I have been avoiding MSG for years because it triggers my seizures (I have epilepsy). Last week I ate some pre-cooked, seasoned turkey from Trader Joe’s. Normally I wouldn’t have bought such a product, but the label said no MSG, and Trader Joe’s is usually pretty good about using healthy ingredients. I didn’t have a reaction right away, but I had leftovers two days later and the day after that, my face broke out in a horrible, weird, blotchy, itchy rash. Every other thing I ate that week was homemade and prepared from fresh ingredients that I had eaten many times before, except for the turkey and some plum sake. I suspected the sake at first, but then I did a google image search for “itchy rash on face,” scanned through the pictures until I found two that looked like mine: yours and Sue Dengate’s! After reading your article I realize it must’ve been the turkey. I saw my doctor yesterday and he was horrified. I showed him the printouts of your article and some other pages, and I’m happy to say that he was very supportive. He put me on five days of prednisone because the itch is so extreme. Hopefully this will take care of it, along with avoidance of anything suspicious in the future. You can bet that I’m writing to Trader Joe’s later today. Please email me if you would like me to send you some pictures that I took yesterday.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Karyn,
      Thank you for sharing your story – this information is so very important to get out there so we can help other people avoid needless suffering! With your permission, if you would like to include your photos in this article, I’d be happy to add them so people can see what your react looked like. I wish you well and hope you have a speedy recovery! (I will try to do some sleuthing at a Trader Joe’s store soon!)


  22. mark adolphus
    mark adolphus says:

    This is my story too and your site is the one i found after googleing Hungry Jacks burger itchy face!!!! Thankyou so much 😀 finaly i am getting some relief but its hard because the damn stuff is in everything! (thanks hungry jacks too for slapping on the 635 real thick and helping us nail it)

  23. Julie
    Julie says:

    I was so very happy to find this article. I had suffered for the last 2 years with th exact symptoms you describe Jennifer (my photo’s of my face looked exactly the same). I finally have it under control (for the most part) having reach this stage pretty much the same as yourself. Elimination dieting,GF diet, pretty much staying away from ALL pre packaged foods. I still have the occasional monthly outbreak which I narrowed down as something to do with my horomones. Even though I have been better I still did not know what it had all been caused by and continued to search. I found your article tonight and will share it with my family & friends as well because they all think I am over doing the food thing. THANK YOU

  24. Llinos Murphy
    Llinos Murphy says:

    Thank you for this article
    This is my daughter’s email, her young son is suffering just like this. Can you send her this article?
    many thanks
    Mrs H. Renshaw

  25. Adam
    Adam says:

    Jennifer, you mentioned the “scalding water”.

    Are you referring to the desire of wanting to intensify the water temperature by making it hotter (i.e. less cold, more hot) applying the water to the skin? Because, I’ve had this thing (Drs said its excema) since 1989 on and off. Still got it. I eat everything, including the devil’s number, the 6…6…6… chemicals you mentioned. Whenever I put my skin under warm flowing water, I had this desire to make the water hotter and it causes the itch to go crazy up to a “kick” high.

    Thanks for saving us!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Adam, Yes that is exactly what I mean. Hope you are rash-free now and enjoying healthy glowing skin from the inside out! Blessings, Jennifer

  26. Kimmi
    Kimmi says:

    This is an amazing story, and I’m inspired to see you helping people now with the same condition. I wrote an article highlighting your story on my own raw food site, linking back to you.
    All the best to you!

  27. mind voyager
    mind voyager says:

    OMG! Thanks for writing up this important information.

    I was suffering from the exact same symptoms as you. For the longest time I thought I was suffering from so many different diseases/conditions and doctors couldn’t tell me what it was.

    At first I thought it was Celiac (Gluten Intolerance) and then I noticed that I’d get the rashes even when the food I ate didn’t contain Gluten.

    Then I thought it was some digestive disorder. Until I realised that it was a pattern of CERTAIN types of food. I did more research and found your website and it made me take a different path in determining that it was additives that are the ingrediants of the foods I was eating.

    And now my skin is much clearer as well :) My tip is to try and avoid all artificial additives and preservatives and you will live a much healthier lifestyle. Fresh food is always the best.

  28. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    So glad to have found your post. I had a similar reaction after eating at Mama Fu’s (fast casual Asian) about 3 years ago. I immediately knew it was food related, despite the 48 hour delay in the rash appearing. I finally went to the doctor, and a cortisone shot and prednisone prescription put me back to normal. A few months later, I had dinner at PF Chang’s and within 2 days, the exact reaction occurred. Same treatment. Doctor did give me an epi-pen because the reaction did seem more intense with tongue and lip swelling. Took a chance a few days ago and ate at PF Chang’s again – within 48 hours, same exact thing, though the intensity doesn’t seem as bad (perhaps they have decreased the amts?). Glad to put a name with this and will share with my allergy doctor. And am certainly going to look at the link you posted regarding children.

    Thank you!

  29. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    Mine came on all of a sudden during a preganacy. I also think from what I have read online that these flavor enhancer additives are relatively new. So some these same foods in the past may not have had them in there before.

  30. Diana
    Diana says:

    I too have been to allergists and physicians who do not and can not test for chemicals. I know that as a child I hated Chinese food……… a young adult I began eating it and never connected the MSG and the horrible itching on my fingers that actually went so deep I would find something hard to try to rub it against…………as an older (smile) person and as a person that LOVES salt, I began to enjoy Asian food especially PF Chang. I had a HUGE reaction to their lovely sauce that you put on things……..doctors didn’t believe it, they tested me for EVERYTHING and I found that I have NO food allergies. I googled and googled until I came up with Ribo Rash…..and stayed away from PF Changs, then I came across the FLAVOR ENHANCER FAMILY………now I am so hyper sensitive that any food that has a bit of MSG and the ribo rash #635 flavor enhancer which makes MSG 10-15 times stronger I’m scratching and breaking out all the time.

    Now I am going to have to do the elimination diet…………………………for me………….whatever it is that’s giving me what feels like a tummy flu and the horrible itchy rash and hive reaction ………it may take me 5 minutes to eat it unknowingly, but it takes several months for my body to get back to normal.

  31. Holly
    Holly says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s helped me to confirm that my husband and I were right suspect these addictives and to cut them out of our diet!

    My own experience started in Sept 2009, when I developed itchy skin with no rash, like bugs were crawling under my skin. I would get paranoia in the middle of the night when there was absolutely nothing there to be scared of, and either couldn’t get to sleep or would sleep restlessly. I would also get stomach upsets for no apparent reason.

    Through a process of elimination and with lots of research we worked out it was MSG and the flavour enhancers causing my symptoms and cut them out of our diet. Hubby had found Sue Dengate’s website when I’d been going through another allergy, and we confirmed the symptoms against the information there. I’d been to doctors and had tests for the previous allergy symptoms and found them useless, so we did all the work in working out what it was.

    It hasn’t been easy, because as you know they lurk in just about everything!! We read labels religiously now. It wasn’t easy for my body either. I felt like an addict detoxing when we came off them!! My body ached all over and I felt physically ill for about a week after we changed out diet. But I wouldn’t look back now! I feel so much better and we eat so much healthier now.

    Kindest regards,

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Holly,

      Thanks for sharing your story….it’s critical that we share our stories so people know they are not going crazy and understand the damage that these chemical additives can do to our precious bodies!



  32. Sunkiss
    Sunkiss says:

    I have been suffering with this rash since 2003. I have changed everything in my life to try to get rid of it, which was actually a blessig as I watched cigarettes, alcohol, high frutose corn syrup, and many other things disappear from my life. BUt with all of it gone, I still have the rash, and I sit here, pregnant, more miserable then ever. I had tried no gluten for months before I realized it was not gluten. I am so happy to have found this. Changes will be made immediately, thank you so much for posting this information…

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Dear Sunkiss,

      Thanks for your comments and for sharing your story. I hope everyone gets this information so we can stop needless suffering. Especially for you, it’s so good that you may have found the cause so as to not spread the chemicals to your newborn via breastmilk. I hope you are feeling better and are healthy and rash-free!

  33. Matt
    Matt says:

    I wrote earlier in November about how I am attacked by the ribo rash. I am happy to say that I am pretty sure I have found a product that works on completely stopping an attack dead in its tracks. I was vacationing with my family in Salt Lake City. The hotel that we stayed in for three days had supplied free gift bags with little trials of toothpaste, a burn cream and a bottle of body wash. Well we went out to eat the first night and the burger that I ate at Red Robin set me off on one of the worst attacks I had ever had. When I arrived back at the hotel I got out my little bottle of body wash and got into the shower (I have found that hot showers sometimes helps) and used the body soap that I had been given. Amazingly the attack stopped instantly. I thought it was a miracle. Two days later I purposely triggered an attack to see if the same thing happened again though this time I just took a cold shower. It worked the exact same. The product is Irish Springs new Intensity wash. I don’t know if its an ingredient in the soap or the whole mixture itself. But it works great. I don’t know if you ladies who are attacked by this would like smelling like a man but the relief is insane how fast and nice it comes.

    • Helen
      Helen says:

      Don’t you remember the Irish Spring tagline? Imagine this with a strong Irish brogue: “Manly, yes, but I like it too!”

  34. Tracey
    Tracey says:

    OMG ..finally I have an answer to this horrendous rash which started on the 7th January 2010 with 8 spots on my thighs… this rash some days covered my entire body and drove me to ablsoute despair – my doctor had no answer other than antihistamines and pinetarsal baths. Being that I am an RN I just had a inkling that something I was consuming was causing this rash.
    I know I have an intolerence to MSG it gives me wicked migraines and dirahhoea so I always try to avoid items with obvious additives (but never a rash), so I just had a feeling this rash was coming from some kind of food I was eating and I went looking myself for answers. I found your website along with Sue Dengates infomation and what a huge relief that Im not really going mad!!! (I was waking up in the middle of the night to try and catch/see the bugs that were eating me, but actually there werent any bugs at all..) my poor suffering husband is also glad Ive finally come up with an answer. My only problem is that although we eat healthy it is so hard with a family to prepare food with no MSG in it. Two nights ago we had a roast and with this I had gravy.. woke up in morning covered again – gggrrrr I only had the smallest amount of gravy too…Culprit hydrolized vegetable protein.
    But anyway I think Im finally on top of it all today Ive only about 6 spots on my body, slowly the toxins are leaving my body. I thankyou for your story as it has helped me greatly. I would love to hear about the foods that you can eat now, that are quick and easy to prepare.
    Thankyou again. Im forever greatful
    (one other question… Is this rash ever going to go away completely, can I ever go back to eating even the smallest amounts of these chemicals? So aleast I can enjoy a meal out with my family not worring about having a breakout the next day)

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      It’s a huge relief just to know you are 1) not going crazy, and 2) not alone!

      In my experience, the rash did go away entirely but it took about 3 months of not eating any whatsoever for my body to be able to detoxify all the buildup. So, you will have to consider that if you think you still want to eat these foods on occasion. Only you can decide what is best for you; personally I would never want to eat such a damaging additive and I certainly would not want my loved ones eating it either!

      There are many healthy alternatives, including cold-pressed oils, natural seasoners like garlic, onion, chili and ginger and so many great natural flavors for you to ex plore! I put a new recipe in my newsletter every month and I also have recipes in my blog, so check back to my site often for some good ideas and inspiration.

      It’s important that we get this information out there – no one should ever suffer from the Ribo Rash.

  35. Deb
    Deb says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this information! I got my first nasty rash about 2 months ago – red, enflamed and puffy all over and couldn’t stop scratching – and I had no idea what it was!

    Last week, I got a bout of nausea, headaches and heart palpitations, then I started to itch. For once, I thought about what I had eaten, and the only thing I had eaten was 2 minute noodles – after jumping on Google, the penny finally dropped!! I had never felt great after eating noodles (what I call desperate late-night office food). I had never had the rash before (like Matt) until this year, but with a full-on job and a baby, I have been very run-down. Also, lately I have noticed an increase in bouts of excema.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and knowledge (and making me feel sane again!) You are an angel. I’m sure my little girl will be so much better off because her mother is finally informed.. thank you thank you thank you!!!

  36. Matt Graves
    Matt Graves says:

    I am 16 years old and I believe I have the “Ribo Rash” also. There are several problems though. Some of the food I have had reactions to, (Ramen Noodles, Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning, chips, things like that.) have never affected me before. But suddenly they just started setting me off like crazy!!! Do you have any information about how it can just start randomly? Even now as I type I can feel another attack coming on-It is driving me CRAZY!!!!
    Any help you could provide would be most appreciated.
    Matt Graves

    • admin
      admin says:

      Hi Matt,
      I’m sorry to hear about your suffering..but be thankful that you may have found the cause. To be honest, I can’t explain why this intolerance seems to start for no reason. I myself ate these additives for many years with no reaction at all and bang, all of a sudden, the rash began. In my case, I was putting my body under extreme stress through sport (I was cycling up the east coast of Australia averaging 60-70 miles per day). I think the stress wore my body down and made me more susceptible to such allergic reactions. In other people, it may be a case of weakened or stressed liver due to illness, medications, or de-vitalized foods. I have seen others who seem to react when they move to a new country – this leads me to believe that different countries are using slightly different chemicals formulas.

      Believe me you will feel much, much better when you simply eliminate these foods from your diet. In fact, no one should be eating them – they are not even foods in my opinion, just chemical junk that we are all better off without! Your body will be forever grateful!

  37. Michelle-pure2raw
    Michelle-pure2raw says:

    Wow, what a great post! I learned so much from it. I totally agree that people have no idea what they are eating. I suffer from multiple food allergies myself, so I feel your pain! But glad to hear you are better with raw foods, same with me : ) You are beautiful person…inside and out!!


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