About Seven Lines of Evidence

Seven Lines of Evidence Leading to the Conclusion that the Manufactured Free Glutamate (MfG) in Monosodium Glutamate is Toxic is the culmination of over 30 years of research, factfinding, and personal experience.

My interest in the subject can be traced back to the day I realized that my husband Jack went into anaphylactic shock after eating a meal that contained MSG.

Prior to the 1988 publication of In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome, by Dr. George Schwartz, few people realized that the adverse reactions they suffered following ingestion of monosodium glutamate were caused by its free glutamic acid component; or that they would react to the processed free glutamic acid in all hydrolyzed protein products just as they reacted to MSG. It was only after reading In Bad Taste that I discovered that the Alzheimer’s disease-like symptoms that Jack was experiencing would disappear when free glutamic acid was eliminated from his diet. 

Inspired by Jack’s life-threatening sensitivity to MSG, I set out to uncover what foods I could serve my husband without bringing on a reaction.  I reviewed the medical literature, read widely in the literature of food science and technology, read material pertaining to glutamate and MSG in the files of the FDA, researched the history of the continued FDA approval of MSG as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and corresponded and met with Dr. John Olney, the neuroscientist who was the first to recognize the fact that glutamate is an excitotoxic – brain damaging – amino acid.

It was literally years before it became clear that those who manufacture MSG and MfG in the United States have purposefully lied about its safety, and more years still before I understood how they managed to keep the truth of toxicity from the public, professionals, and regulators.  The article The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A Study in Suppression of Information pretty much says it all.

The sidebar article, How we Know What We Know, tracks my path from ignorance to knowledge.

Over the course of the last 30 years, I have monitored the activities of the FDA, testified before the FDA and its agents, been an active member of the consumer group NOMSG, and been a member of the Institute for Food Technologist, the group of professionals who design the chemicals that are now poured into processed food. I have personally met with a number of members of the House and Senate who were interested in knowing something about MSG for the benefit of safely feeding their families, but without interest in legislating food safety reform. I also served as a plaintiff in a lawsuit over failure of the Food & Drug Administration to identify the toxic free glutamate in processed food.

By 2011, Jack and I knew that the FDA worked hand in hand with the glutamate industry, led by Ajinomoto, possibly the world’s largest producer of MSG. We had come to the FDA with reproducible data attesting to the toxicity of MSG and had been ignored.

We now knew where excitotoxic glutamic acid is hidden. We knew how the glutes engineer their research to come to the predetermined conclusion that MSG is safe.

We had learned that Ajinomoto and friends were rich and powerful, powerful enough to control the US legislature, any state legislature that might think to challenge them, and with possibly limited exception, control the media.  We understood their propaganda campaigns and knew exactly how they rigged the studies they presented to the FDA and “other authoritative bodies” as evidence that their product, monosodium glutamate, was safe.  And we had sued the FDA over the issue of labeling, and seen our case dismissed by Magistrate Mummert who refused to require that the FDA come up with the discovery documents we had requested.

Aside from helping people understand and avoid the dangers of free glutamate and the myriad of ingredients that contain it, our only “success” to date has been in Jack’s singlehandedly stopping the Organic Standards Board from giving organic status to the fertilizer-pesticide-plant growth enhancer called AuxiGro – which contains MSG.

Much of the work that the glutes pass off as research now consisted of reports of seminars and workshops wherein industry-sponsored researchers sat around tables discussing the virtues of MSG — and manage to get it all published.  Much comes from publication of papers declaring that there is a fifth taste sensation (the taste of monosodium glutamate) that they call umami.  Jack and I understood that umami as an object – as a thing — is a fantasy invented to justify pouring monosodium glutamate into processed food.  Free glutamate triggers glutamate receptors in the mouth and on the tongue, and gives the consumer a perception of enhanced taste. (Thus the term applied to MSG: “flavor enhancer.”)  For years, monosodium glutamate was advertised as having no taste of its own. As Macbeth might have said of umami, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  Umami is a tale that has been sold to the American public. 

In my humble opinion, there is no “fifth taste.”  But fifth taste or not, the free glutamate in MSG (called umami if you like) is still toxic.

Attempts to work with relevant government agencies have proved fruitless.  We continued to scrutinize their activities, without seeing any hint of change.  Similarly, it was obvious that the legislature is in the pocket of the glutamate industry – there is no other “excuse” for their inaction — and any energy we might have spent trying to educate the legislature would have been entirely wasted.

On January 15, 2012 Jack died from complications of a massive heart damage exacerbated by MfG in the electrode tabs applied to his skin; MfG in the dextrose solution that had to be used for delivering the drugs that would crystallize in the non-MSG Ringers’ Solution; and MfG in the starch, corn starch, and carrageenan components of the medications that were given to him to when the IV’s were withdrawn.  Had the FDA not lied about the toxic potential of MfG, had the medical community not believed them, had the MfG in the solutions and meds been identified on product inserts, Jack might be alive today.  Had Jack not spent half of the last quarter of his life fibrillating following ingestion of MfG hidden in food, he might not have had the heart attack in the first place.

(You can read Jack’s story, “It Wasn’t Alzheimer’s. It Was MSG” at https://www.truthinlabeling.org/assets/it_wasnt_az.pdf or buy it from Kindle).

Currently, I use my time to keep up the Truth in Labeling Campaign webpage, Facebook pages, and blogs through which we provided information to those who value honest information about MSG.  And I have filed three Citizen Petitions requesting that the FDA revoke the GRAS status of MSG and L-glutamic acid for any use in human food, to which FDA shows no sign of responding. All of this is accessible at the TLC webpage.

We learned a great deal on this journey.  It is with great sadness that we learned that almost everyone has their price.  Included are the people who talk about pure foods and preventive medicine — who talk the good talk about avoiding MSG, but profit from their sale of dietary supplements and/or protein drinks that contain MSG.  Yes, there are some who talk of MSG being toxic while selling dietary supplements with binders and fillers that contain neurotoxic MSG and/or aspartic acid, and sell protein powders that contain neurotoxic MSG, neurotoxic aspartame, and neurotoxic L-cysteine.

I am proud of our accomplishments – few though they may be.  Awareness of the toxic potential of MSG is growing.  Not growing enough, but growing.  That’s why we decided to establish this new webpage.  Laying out the evidence demonstrating that the toxicity of MfG, the toxic ingredient in MSG, might just prove to be the tipping point to creating understanding of the poisonous potential of free glutamic acid and its poster child, MSG.

Adrienne Samuels