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 Post subject: Food Labels: "Natural Flavors" often means MSG
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:11 pm 

Posts: 830
My husband loves hot sauce on a lot of things. He recently bought a bottle of Franks Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce with an innocuous ingredients label of Aged Cayenne Red Peppers, Distilled Vinegar, Water, Salt, and Garlic Powder. Because I am so paranoid about things having MSG in them, I decided to check the website for this brand to see if there is MSG in it. The stuff's been made since 1898 (according to their advertising), so I figured it was pretty safe.

Guess what? The ingredients listed on Franks website for this very same sauce include another ingredient NOT on the product label! It's "natural flavors".

When a label says "natural flavors", you should not trust it. Often it means something(s) in the ingredients has been processed so as to form "free glutamic acid", which is basically MSG. So EVEN IF A PRODUCT IS ADVERTISED AS HAVING NO MSG--which many manufacturers claim now that folks are on to the neurotoxic dangers of MSG--it very likely could have it if you are dealing with a food processed in any way.

Here's a portion from

If you write or call to ask whether or not there is MSG in a product...

If you want to find out if there is processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in a product, you must ask the manufacturer for information about "free glutamic acid." Don't ask about "MSG." Manufacturers find it convenient, when speaking to consumers, to tell them that there is no "MSG" in their product, meaning that there is no ingredient called "monosodium glutamate." Even if a manufacturer tells you there is no MSG in a product, there may be autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed pea protein, carrageenan, sodium caseinate, enzymes, and a whole slew of other ingredients that contain or create processed free glutamic acid (MSG) during manufacture.

If you are told that all of the MSG in a product is "naturally occurring," thank the manufacturer for that meaningless information, but explain that all processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is referred to as "natural" by the FDA -- so "natural" tells you nothing. In fact, as the word "natural" is defined by the FDA, the food ingredient "monosodium glutamate" is "natural."

It is the amount of processed free glutamic acid in the product that will determine whether or not you might suffer an MSG reaction. (Everyone has a different tolerance for MSG.) If the manufacturer claims not to know whether or not there is processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in his or her product, ask that the product be analyzed for free amino acids, including free glutamic acid. There are tests for measuring free glutamic acid. The AOAC Official Methods of Analysis (1984) gives one method. There are others. The cost of testing should be no more than $150.

We have been advised by the FDA that if any such misbranded products are brought to their attention, they will act to correct the situation. To report misbranded products to the FDA, please call the FDA at 888-723-3366 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., eastern time - and keep a record of your call.

****I've now written to the Frank's Red Hot sauce company to ask if this product has "free glutamic acid". I'll let y'all know
if/what they respond.

--Nancy in TN

Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:12 pm
 Post subject: Re: Food Labels: "Natural Flavors" often means MSG
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 10:38 am 

Posts: 830
Thought about this P.S. last night..... I imagine all I wrote about natural flavors and folks saying their food does not contain MSG applies to restaurants as well. So just b/c a Chinese restaurant, for example, advertises no MSG, their food could easily still contain free glutamic acid, esp. when you think of all the prepared sauces they doctor food with! So be careful, esp. if you are super sensitive to this stuff! It's bad for everyone, though, even if there is not an obvious, immediate reaction to it.

Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:12 pm
 Post subject: Re: Food Labels: "Natural Flavors" often means MSG
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:19 pm 

Posts: 830
Here's a cut and pasted copy of the response I received from the company which makes Frank's Red Hot sauce as well as my response to them. This response was received after I contacted the company inquiring if their product had free glutamic acid in it and stressing that, because our daughter with autism must NOT have MSG in any form, this was important for us to know. I think I will also send a copy of this correspondence to in hopes that my little complaint will contribute to raising the awareness of food manufacturers that people are, indeed, concerned about ingredients being snuck into the foods whose ingredient labels seem safe.

Mrs. Kresley,

Thank you for writing. Honestly, your answer is not satisfactory, and it's a shame that your company requires a doctor's letter to reveal whether or not your product is truly safe for an especially MSG-sensitive person to ingest.

As for our family, we will no longer be buying your product, even though it tastes great.

I moderate a health forum and will post this response from your company on it as a warning to others that they should not trust ingredient labels on processed foods. I won't do this to be inflammatory, but because people truly concerned about their health need to be aware that this is how it's done in the processed food industry. I am sure Frank's Red Hot sauces are not the only ones with "proprietary" ingredients likely containing free glutamic acid, which act as neurotoxins in the body the same as declared MSG.


Nancy Webster

From: Consumer Relations <>
Sent: Sun, February 20, 2011 10:34:49 AM
Subject: FRANK?S

Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:12 pm
 Post subject: Re: Food Labels: "Natural Flavors" often means MSG
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:51 pm 

Posts: 429
It is amazing, isn't it? We're in a country where everything has to be labelled with
the ingredients and nutritional information, and you can't trust what's on it the label.
Thanks for sharing your experience and correspondence. It is rather surprising
that they would ask for a letter from a physician; you handled it firmly, fairly, and
graciously. Thanks also for sharing what you need to ask when you call or write.

Ds called a company recently after I questioned whether an organic jam, which I had bought
at a discount food store, could contain msg. He asked what the contents were of the
natural flavors and the person he talked to said it was made of two ingredients(he's not
sure, but thinks it was egg flavor and the other lemon) and that there was no msg.
He's not sure how qualified the person was to answer the question or how they got
their information. And I wonder what the egg flavor or whatever it was could be.

I have a sort of related question about cheese-making. Should that be another post?
A mozarella cheese can be made with citric acid and rennet and I'm not sure whether
the citric acid would contain msg or be a form of it, or if there's something else you
could use in its place.

Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Sat Jan 17, 2009 6:43 pm
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