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Whole Foods and MSG

Battling the MSG Myth » Sharing Media Reports and Letters Related to the Issue » Whole Foods and MSG « Previous Next »

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Becky
Unregistered guest
Posted on Saturday, June 30, 2007 - 4:55 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I found this article on the Whole Foods website. I think it's a shame, since a lot of us shop at Whole Foods. What do you all think about the section regarding "flavorings"? It says that hydrolyzed proteins cannot be used under the term "flavors". What are they using then? Or are they just cheating and hoping that nobody will catch them?



Title: Whole Foods Market : Ingredients : MSG Date: Sat Jun 30 2007
URL: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/wholebody/ingredients/msg.html

Are Labels Hiding MSG?
Are there hidden sources of MSG that are not disclosed on food labels? Ever since the popular CBS news expose' program, "60 Minutes", broadcast a report ten years ago exploring hypersensitivity to monosodium glutamate (MSG), confused, sometimes angry, consumers have continued to ask for answers to this question. A list of common questions and answers about MSG are provided below:

What Is MSG?
MSG is the sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid and a form of glutamate. It is sold as a fine white crystal substance, similar in appearance to salt or sugar. It does not have a distinct taste of its own, and how it adds flavor to other foods is not fully understood. Many scientists believe that MSG stimulates glutamate receptors in the tongue to augment meat-like flavors.
Asians originally used a seaweed broth to obtain the flavor-enhancing effects of MSG, but today MSG is made by a fermenting process using starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses.


Symptoms of MSG hypersensitivity
Symptoms may include one or more of the following: burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms, and chest; numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back; tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms; facial pressure or tightness; chest pain; headache; nausea; rapid heartbeat; bronchospasm (difficulty breathing) in MSG-intolerant people with asthma; drowsiness; and weakness.

MSG hypersensitivity in the United States
Depending on the group providing and interpreting a wide range of old and new data, hypersensitivity to MSG has been reported to effect 1.8% to 30% of the population. Between 1980 and 1994, the Adverse Reaction Monitoring System in FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) received 622 reports of complaints about MSG. Headache was the most frequently reported symptom. However, sensitivity specifically to MSG is extremely difficult to diagnose since reported reactions occurred anywhere from immediately to many hours later, raising the uncertainty whether for some people, the reactions could be attributed to other foods eaten or environmental factors encountered in the interim.

Government MSG Reveiw
In 1959, the FDA classified MSG as a "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS, substance. Since 1970, they have sponsored extensive reviews on the safety of MSG, other glutamates and hydrolyzed proteins, as part of an ongoing review of safety data on GRAS substances used in processed foods.
In 1986, the FDA's Advisory Committee on Hypersensitivity to Food Constituents concluded that MSG poses no threat to the general public but that reactions of brief duration might occur in some people.

To provide an extensive scientific review of the subject, in 1992 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contracted with an independent group of scientists, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Their report was presented to the FDA on July 31, 1995.The report identifies two groups of people who may develop a condition the report refers to as "MSG symptom complex." One group includes those who may be intolerant to MSG when eaten in a large quantity. The second is a group of people with severe, poorly controlled asthma. These people, in addition to being prone to MSG symptom complex, may suffer temporary worsening of asthmatic symptoms after consuming MSG. The MSG dosage that produced reactions in these people ranged from 0.5 grams to 2.5 grams.

In otherwise healthy MSG-intolerant people, the MSG symptom complex tends to occur within one hour after eating 3 grams or more of MSG on an empty stomach or without other food. A typical serving of glutamate-treated food contains less than 0.5 grams of MSG. A reaction is most likely if the MSG is eaten in a large quantity or in a liquid, such as a clear soup.

Other important findings include:

Severe, poorly controlled asthma may be a predisposing medical condition for MSG symptom complex.
No evidence exists to suggest that dietary MSG or glutamate contributes to Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's chorea, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, AIDS dementia complex, or any other long-term or chronic diseases.
No evidence exists to suggest that dietary MSG causes brain lesions or damages nerve cells in humans.
The level of vitamin B6 in a person's body plays a role in glutamate metabolism, and the possible impact of marginal B6 intake should be considered in future research.
There is no scientific evidence that the levels of glutamate in hydrolyzed proteins causes adverse effects or that other manufactured glutamate has effects different from glutamate normally found in foods.

What is "glutamate"?
Glutamate is derived from glutamic acid, a major building block for proteins. It is found naturally in our bodies and in protein-containing foods, such as cheese, milk, meat, peas, and mushrooms. MSG is one of several types of glutamate. When glutamate is released during breakdown of the protein molecule, "free glutamate" is formed. These substances can be added to food to enhance its flavor and are the focus of much of the concern about glutamate. It is only in this free form that glutamate can enhance a food's flavor.
Some foods, such as ripe tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, contain high levels of naturally occuring free glutamate. The flavor enhancing effect of hydrolyzed protein products, including soy sauce, is due to the presence of free glutamate.


What are "hydrolyzed proteins"?
Hydrolyzed proteins, or protein hydrolysates, are prepared by using food grade acid or enzymes to chemically digest proteins from soy meal, wheat gluten, corn gluten, edible strains of yeast, or other food sources. These protein foods are rich sources of glutamate. When proteins are broken down, bound glutamate is converted into free glutamate. The level of free glutamate resulting from hydrolysis varies from product to product, at levels of 5 to 20 percent. Hydrolyzed proteins can be used in a product as leavening agents, stabilizers (to impart body or improved consistency, etc.), thickeners, a protein source, and as a flavor enhancer. When used in a product as a flavoring agent, hydrolyzed proteins are used in the same manner as MSG in many foods, such as in canned vegetables, soups, and processed meats. However, the amount of free glutamate in hydrolyzed proteins is significantly lower than what occurs in monosodium glutamate.

Food labeling rules regarding MSG?
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.

Therefore, 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.

Furthermore, since some adverse reactions to hydrolyzed proteins may be due to the source used to produce the hydrolysate rather than to glutamate itself, in May 1993, the FDA amended Part 102 in the Code of Federal Regulations referring to "Common or Usual Name for Non-Standardized Foods". In 21CFR102.22 which specifically targets protein hydrolysates, the ruling states: "The common or usual name of a protein hydrolysate shall be specific to the ingredient and shall include the identity of the food source from which the protein was derived."

Examples of what this would mean on a label include such sources as: hydrolyzed wheat gluten, hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed casein. Terms such as hydrolyzed milk protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or hydrolyzed protein are not acceptable because they do not identify the food source of the protein. Labels of products including protein hydrolysates had to be in compliance by May 8, 1994.

Will the FDA ever require that foods high in free glutamate declare "glutamate" on the label? Although the FDA considered this in 1993 and in 1996 asked for public comments on the declaration of free glutamate in foods, no labeling rule has been proposed since the comment period. Whether the FDA decides the extra labeling is warranted or not, anyone who is sensitive to MSG or ingredients that contain significant levels of free glutamate should read ingredient labels carefully to screen for ingredients that may cause adverse reactions.
Deb A.
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, July 02, 2007 - 4:06 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I intend to send this to Jack Samuels since I am confused as to what glutamate rich additives can be concealed under the name of flavorings or natural flavors or flavors.
Becky
Unregistered guest
Posted on Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 3:15 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here's what I found about "natural flavors"
from http://frwebgate2.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=612074489687+14+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve



(3) The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential
oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate,
or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the
flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice,
vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf
or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products,
or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is
flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors include the natural
essence or extractives obtained from plants listed in Sec. Sec. 182.10,
182.20, 182.40, and 182.50 and part 184 of this chapter, and the
substances listed in Sec. 172.510 of this chapter.
Becky
Unregistered guest
Posted on Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 3:24 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

So, protein hydrolysates and yeast extractives CAN be labeled as natural flavors!

So it would seem that the Whole Foods website has false information regarding natural flavors. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that their information is out of date.

It does bother me that with a name like "Whole Foods" that so many of their own brand of prepared foods have questionable ingredients that I am too afraid to try.

But I guess I will keep shopping there because I like to buy organic produce.

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