The Truth in Food Labeling – Food Additives to Avoid & Hidden Sources of MSG

Many people mistakenly think that flavor enhancers such as MSG (monosodium glutamate) are only in Chinese foods, and as long as they avoid Chinese foods, they are safe. Below you will see MSG in foods like Campbell’s soup, gravies and sauces. Taking a few minutes to scan food labels and make better choices in what you buy is the best investment you can make in your long-term health and longevity!

Some typical reactions that can occur from either MSG or the additives list below include: migraine headaches, insomnia, itchy rashes, asthma attacks, behavioral disorders, depression, heart irregularities, anxiety, arthritis, sinus problems and many digestive problems including diarrhea.

MSG, Ribonucleotides, Disodium Inosinate, and Disodium Guanylate are all flavor enhancers which add a salty, savory taste to foods.

They can be listed either by name or by additive number (sometimes called ‘E numbers’) as you will see below. Legally, these chemicals can also be ‘hidden’ in terms such as ‘spices,’ ‘yeast extract,’ ‘hydrolyzed vegetable protein,’ and ‘flavoring’ so I suggest avoiding products with any of these dodgy terms on the label.

MSG (E621) is known to cause migraine headaches and can also cause diarrhea. Ribonucleotide (E627, E635 or E631) is another salty food additive which can cause a itchy irritable rash, known as the ‘Ribo Rash.’ In my personal experience, I have seen Ribonucleotide (or Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate) cause a sudden rapid heart rate (up to 160 beats per minute) and also trigger anxiety attacks.

Let’s start looking at some labels.

Mmmm, mmmm, not so good!

Mmmm, mmmm, not so good!

Here we have a can of good ol’ fashioned Campbell’s Low Salt Chicken Soup. By all account it would appear to be healthy, in fact notice right on the label how it says ‘No MSG’ and ‘No Artificial Flavors.’ Well, I don’t know how they got away with that one, because if you look right on the ingredients list, you will see Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, both nasty chemical flavor enhancers.

You will also see Yeast Extract and Soy Protein Concentrate – legally MSG can be hidden in these ingredients and they do not have to report MSG as an additive.

Anytime you see a ‘yeast extract’ or ‘protein extract or concentrate,’ beware. In fact, put it back on the shelf. You see, this is where manufacturers are the masters of marketing. Everyone knows MSG is bad for you, and the companies know that, so they label their products as having ‘No MSG’ knowing that you will think it is a healthier choice, but of course they still have to add flavor to their artificial unnatural devitalized foods, so they add it in the form of other chemical additives which you have never heard of. Until now!!

And really, just look at this so-called ‘mechanically separated chicken’ – I mean, what is that?? That alone should have you running towards the hills!

Instant Loss of Health!

Instant Loss of Health!

Next example.

Ok, here we have a Contintental Instant Cup of Beef Noodle Soup. They have done a good job of highlighting all the uses of wheat here, but they have not distracted me from seeing the truth.

The nasty hidden chemicals here will be in the yeast extract, herb extract, spice extract and flavor enhancer 635.

All spice, yeast, protein or even herb extracts can have MSG in them. Always watch for that term ‘extract,’ especially in salty foods.

And 635, well that is the mother of the Ribo Rash -in my opinion, it is the worst food additive of all time.

They are even nice enough to tell you that this product contains soy, wheat and milk, but they neglect to tell you about the cheap nasty chemicals in there too!

Be aware that the following additives contain MSG or free glutamate: hydrolysed vegetable protein, hydrolysed protein, hydrolsyed plant protein, yeast extract, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, hydrolysed oat flour. The following ingredients often contain MSG, even though it may not be declared on the label: malt extract, malt flavoring, stock, broth, natural beef or chicken flavoring, seasoning, spices.
– from the book ‘Avoid Chemicals in Your Food’, published by the Consumer’s Association of Penang

Ain't like it was back on the farm

Aint like it was back on the farm

In this example, we are looking at a can of Old El’ Paso Refried Beans. If you didn’t know the truth in food labelling, this one would completely pass you by.

But by now I hope you noticed the ‘yeast extract’ right away and also the ‘natural flavor.’ Again, both are legal terms used to hide MSG and the other flavor enhancers as well.

No - not the mac and cheese too!

No - not the mac and cheese too!

So much for the Chinese food guys….we are not anywhere near Asian foods and look at all the hidden nasties! Yes, it’s true, even the mac and cheese is chemically altered. See for yourself – ‘natural flavors, yeast extract, spice extract and flavor enhancer 635.’ And somehow it is ‘National Heart Foundation Approved.’ Hmmm. I wonder how many people have experienced an increased heart rate due to that 635. Are you starting to recognize the difference between good marketing and truth in labeling?

A bit of MSG with your Daal?

A bit of MSG with your Daal?

Man, they were doing so good up until the very last ingredient – MSG (E621), otherwise known as Monosodium Glutamate. In your innocent lentil daal!!

MSG is a major excitotoxin and is known to damage the part of the brain that governs many other systems in the body. This damage may appear as symptoms of the autonomic nervous system and endocrine system. Thus it can manifest in disrupted sleep patterns, food cravings, and persistent hunger, which often leads to obesity. MSG also induces migraine headaches, asthma attacks, behavioral disorders, depression, heart irregularities, restless leg syndrome, arthritis, sinus problems and many digestive problems including diarrhea.
– from the book ‘Is MSG Safe?’, published by the Consumer’s Association of Penang

UPDATE: A recent study from John Hopkins researchers published in the journal Neurology (26 April, 2013) found that a neurotransmitter involved in arousal known as glutamate is abnormally high in people suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). They saw that the more glutamate found in the brains of people with RLS, the worse they slept.

Why do you think people have high concentrations of glutamate in their brain? From Monosodium Glutamate!!!

This is an epidemic, and in my opinion, a form of genocide, to kill people slowly without any smoking gun while making lots of money from prescribing them drugs along the way. There is really no more time to waste. We have to wake people up and show them the truth!

Tricky Food Labeling at it's Best

Tricky Food Labeling at it's Best

Here is a classic example of sneaky marketing used to hide what’s really in your food. Look at the Spaghettir Bolognese – they say right on the label that it has ‘No artificial flavors, No artificial preservatives, No Hydrogenated Fat and No Added MSG.’

Of course when you read the actual ingredients, you will see ‘yeast extract’ right there. And you know what that means by now, right? MSG!!

For a full list of terms that can have hidden MSG, go to the

100% Natural, Real Stock??

100% Natural, Real Stock??

Again, the masters of marketing are luring us in with the simple photo and tag of 100% natural. Then you look at the ingredients, and what do you see? Yeast extract, natural flavors and spices. Hmmm.

Teriyaki Marinade Yeast Extract Spice Blah

Teriyaki Marinade Yeast Extract Spice Blah

Once again, the dreaded yeast extract and spice tells us that there are hidden dangers here – could be any of the flavor enhancers, but most likely MSG and ribonucleotides.

Oyster Sauce - Beware of 621, 635 and yeast extracts!

Oyster Sauce - Beware of 621, 635 and yeast extracts!

Finally, I wanted to show you an example of a label in a non-English language. As you can see, the food additive numbers are universal, meaning they are the same everywhere in the world. Here, in the oyster sauce, we have MSG which is written as ‘Monosodium Glutamate,’ and we also have yeast extract, oyster extract (yet another hidden source of MSG) and if that wasn’t enough we have ‘Flavor Enhancer 631,’ which in Malay is written as ‘Penambah Perisa 631.’ This is the Disodium Inosinate, a most definite nasty additive.

This post tells you what to avoid. In a future post, I will be featuring what I consider to be ‘safe and healthy’ alternatives to get you on the right track to better health. Stay tuned!

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.

For additional information, read my personal story of suffering from the ‘Ribo Rash.’

More information and a full list of foods to avoid: List of foods that contain 635, 627 and 631.

Learn more about processed foods and how to improve the quality of your food: Are you eating Processed Foods? Improve the quality of your food, your health & your life!.

More on Food Additives:

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25 replies
  1. Magri Blignaut
    Magri Blignaut says:

    Thank you for Educating everybody about MSG and other bad stuff in food. My son is MSG intolerant – very intolerant! – and it took us 3 years to figure out what is wrong with him and then another 6 months finding out about all the other ingredients containing MSG.
    People here in South Africa still look at us with a blank look when we mention MSG. It is time for people to know the truth. I will recommend your website to my friends.

    Thank you

  2. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Hello Magri,

    Thanks for sharing your experience from South Africa! Clearly, education is the key so let’s continue to spread the word. Many people who suffer from migraines have no idea that it could be related to MSG in their diet. I’m happy to hear you finally found the solution for you son.


  3. judy
    judy says:

    Thanks! You have done a wonderful job here of showing just what to look for to avoid dangerous MSG. I have recently discovered that IT is what has been causing heart irregularities for me…racing heart and skipped beats. I will be much better able to avoid it now, after reading your page. This information should be MUCH more widely known, and I intend to spread it around. Again, thanks!


  4. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Hi Judy,

    Please share this info as much as possible! Getting MSG out of the diet is so easy to do when you know what to look for!

  5. Joey Thomas
    Joey Thomas says:

    What about “spice extract” and “herb extract”? What do those terms actually mean. I’m fructose intolerant so have to avoid garlic and onion. Should I be avoiding these additives or not. The food labelling laws need a major overhaul.

  6. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I don’t trust any “spice extract” for sure…Herb extract is not a usual one to see on food. Where did you see it? I personally think everyone needs to avoid these additives! Is it any wonder why so many people suffer from insomnia, chronic pain, headaches, vertigo, anxiety and ADHD when their poor bodies are having to deal with these excito-toxins? Brain toxins make the brain toxic!

  7. Holly
    Holly says:

    I have had horable allergys since I was born every problem it causes I have I have been to the ER many times and have had test after test. I have a rash over my entire body now. This is the last one of the side affects to happen. I finally got desperate and googled all of my problems and then I found this. It’s like my hole life being explained. I have notice my problems being worse as I have gotten older. I also now realize I am married to an Asian man and eat a lot of Asian dishes. I’m so happy I have found a cure for my problems. I can thank you enough I have been leaving in hell, and I finally have relief .

  8. Pat Merkel
    Pat Merkel says:

    Excuse me for swearing – but what the hell are we to purchase out of the grocery store? It seems to me that there is NOTHING left on the shelves without all those “nasties” you talk about here.

    What about people who are to busy making ends meet (2 jobs, etc.)? They don’t have time to home-make everything from soups to nuts.

    I am retired, but hate cooking! But I hate poor health more.

    I do have a bread machine and a soy maker. I guess I will have to spend all my time in the kitchen, eh?

    Pat Merkel

  9. Val
    Val says:

    In the Philippines, if they wanted to kill a dog, they would just pour MSG on top of a bowl of meat and the dog would die!!! MSG cannot be good for you if it can kill a dog in one bowlful!

  10. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Hi Pat, Did you ever consider eating fruits and vegetables? They are not expensive and do not take a lot of time to clean and prepare. Your body will thank you for the health these natural food provide! Blessings, Jennifer

  11. mind voyager
    mind voyager says:

    Another great post.

    Thank you once again for informing the public on these nasty additives that are so detrimental to good health.

    I have learned a lot from this website and will be avoiding these additives like the plague.

    I’m also of asian descent so eliminating MSG from my diet is tricky… but from here on out I will definately do my best :) (i’ll also try to avoid the yeast extract foods too. Thanks so much for your help and advice)

  12. Keith
    Keith says:

    This is great information, but actually, if you simply avoid ALL pre-packaged and pre-manufactured foods, your body will get much healthier and you can skip ingesting virtually ALL dangerous chemical additives, even the ones that they’re not telling us about.

    It’s actually cheaper, healthier and MORE FUN to eat food that you’ve made yourself from scratch with healthy, fresh ingredients than eating this cr*p that giant conglomerates are foisting off on humanity as “food”. It’s not food and it’s very cancer-causing, headache-causing, IBS-causing junk that should not be eaten by anyone.

  13. Veggie
    Veggie says:

    Thanks for the info. But I think you are bashing yeast extract prematurely. I researched MSG before, cause I eat vegemite. It is the G in MSG, called glutamate that makes food taste good. Commercially they just combine it with salt to create MSG to make it easier to sprinkle. But glutamate itself is naturally occurring in natural yeast and foods like tomatoes. Should we stop eating tomatoes, the answer would be no… it is natural glutamate. Same with yeast.

    Also if you ever tried different salts, they all taste a bit different. When commercially combining glutamate with salt to create MSG, each MSG will taste different. Hence different side effects as well. If one has to consume MSG better buy from Asian, since 1 billion Asians can’t all have headaches.

  14. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Yeast is not yeast extract. Tomatoes are not tomato paste (only the paste had a high natural glutamate content). With all due respect, your over-generalization of Asians is not only racist but incorrect. MSG is used just as much (if not more) in the West than in the East (check your Doritos, KFC, tofu burger, wasabi covered peas and cheddar cheese flavored rice crackers). MSG is known to make people gain weight. Are the rates of obesity as high as they have ever been? What about anxiety, insomnia, depression, and yes..headaches? All epidemics now ALL OVER THE WORLD. Sadly, no country is exempt. Food manufacturers are very sneaky and do not want to list MSG on their product, so they will use several foods high in glutamate (like yeast extract, pea protein, rosemary extract, natural flavor, spices)…which, when added up have the SAME amount of glutamate as the single ingredient of MSG. That is why the food tastes so savory and delicious! It’s time we wake up to the food industry’s games, get out of our addictions and demand better food.

  15. Trish
    Trish says:

    Thank you so much for this information!! I suffer from indigestion, rapid heart rate, and anxiety. The past year I am starting to correlate my symptoms to what i’m eating. This article really explains a lot and is easy to understand. Thank you!

  16. Dyn Whitleford
    Dyn Whitleford says:

    Thanks for sharing this great informations :)
    I just want ask you one quistion..
    Is E621 and E637 really made from pig extract?
    Sorry for my bad english… -_-”
    And thanks for your answer :)

  17. Hollowell, J.L.
    Hollowell, J.L. says:

    I am v. sensitive to MSG—headaches AND chills but with NO fever. Now, after too long unwitting exposure, I’m getting hand-shakey [try to get soup in your mouth? Bib time!]
    The worst one yet is: “Spice Extract” WATCH OUT FOR THIS deceptive NASTY!

  18. kathleen
    kathleen says:

    So I am currently looking at a box of College Inn bold rotisserie chicken stock. On the from it says “no msg added*(notice the asterisk). I looked at the ingredients and the ones that popped out to me were disodium Inosinate ( which led me here) and disodium guanylate. After reading your article, I found in the ingredients, autolyzed yeast extract. And to top it all off, at the bottom of the ingredients list, there is a disclaimer saying, “a small amount of GLUTAMATE occurs naturally in yeast extract”.

    It is like they lie to your face, then admit to lying to you in such a way that you would not notice until you bought the product.

    This definitely is a genocide. It is very important to read labels

  19. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    Thanks for sharing your story..It really pleases me to see that people are starting to read labels and understand the food label trickery. Keep spreading the word!

    To your health,


  20. denise mornell
    denise mornell says:

    i am in awe of the info i received suffered so long with anxiety and rapid heart beat this article will change my life to eat naturally with out the fast quick solutions in the frozen food isle or i thought to make a natural meal for hours in a crock pot using the so called natural ingredients such as the broths used thank you so much

  21. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Hi Denise,
    Your comment has made my day, really! I’m so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude when I see people “getting it” and benefiting from simple changes in food! Bless and be well! Jennifer

  22. Johnd977
    Johnd977 says:

    I don’t usually comment but I gotta admit thanks for the post on this great one

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