Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Smart Shopping and Reading Labels

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Smart Shopping and Reading Labels

Article excerpt

As a general rule, the more food is processed, the more likely it is to contain monosodium glutamate (MSG). It is also true that the ambiguities of labeling requirements can make it difficult to determine whether food products contains MSG, according to George R. Schwartz, M.D., author of the 1988 book, In Bad Taste.

The following list of foods are grouped in order of their likelihood of containing MSG.

Most Likely
Potato chips and other prepared snacks
Canned soups and dry soup mixes
Canned meats, box dinners, and prepared meals
Frozen foods (seafood, chicken, and dinner entrees)
International foods
Poultry injected with broth

Very Likely
Diet foods
Salad dressings
Cured meats and lunch meats

Less Likely
Cookies, crackers (unless seasoned), and candy
Dairy products
Frozen vegetables
Breads, pasta, and baking ingredients (unless MSG is added to the

Seldom or Never
Ice cream
Frozen juices
Soft drinks and citrus juices (except possibly V-8)
Canned fruits and vegetables
Cereals, pancake mixes, and syrups
Bulk foods (rice, grains)
Fresh meat and fish

MSG and Food Labeling

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the labeling requirements of food products in the United States. Packaged food products are required by law to have their ingredients printed on the package and listed in descending order of predominance.

If MSG is added to a food product during its processing, it will be listed on the label. However, "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" is permitted to be listed on the label without a mention that it may contain up to 20 per cent MSG.

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (protein hydrolysate) is classified by the FDA as a natural flavoring. Therefore, a packaged food item might specify "natural flavoring" in its list of ingredients without mentioning that the natural flavoring consists of hydrolyzed vegetable protein -- which contains MSG. …

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