WWW.truthinlabeling.org -- Home page
Return to the Table of Contents
 
 

Glutamate industry involvement is rarely obvious.  That's what makes it so effective in preventing the labeling of MSG.

FDA cooperation/collusion is particularly interesting.

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of processed free glutamic acid in plant "growth enhancers," the EPA jeopardized the health of every American. But instead of acknowledging and remedying their error once it was pointed out to them, the EPA began a cover-up that virtually guaranteed a healthy bottom line for the producers of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) at the expense of the health of Americans.

That cover-up included use of ambiguous words and phrases, half-truths, and downright lies told to consumers. The cover-up continued (and continues still) with a variation of those ambiguous words and phrases, half-truths, and downright lies told to legislators or anyone else who inquires about spraying MSG onto crops and into the environment.

The EPA has only recently come to aid and abet the questionable activities of the glutamate industry.  Maybe because they were not asked before.  But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been cooperating with Ajinomoto Company, Inc. members of its International Glutamate Technical Committee and The Glutamate Association, and with the International Hydrolyzed Protein Council for a much longer time.

Their history goes back to 1958, the time that the food ingredient called "monosodium glutamate" was first deemed "safe" by the FDA.  Not found to be safe and thereupon added to the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) list.  Only deemed to be safe because prior to the institution of the GRAS list in 1958, there had been no record of adverse reactions to "monosodium glutamate.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the glutamate industry

The first record of FDA/industry cooperation/collusion that we have in our files is from September of 1969, when then FDA Commissioner Ley testified before the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Health, and presented evidence from four studies that, he alleged, demonstrated that MSG was safe. It was later disclosed that two of the studies Commissioner Ley cited were incomplete and two did not even exist.

Why was it 1969 before FDA/industry collusion was first demonstrated?  Because before that time there had been no need.  It was only in 1968 that the first report of adverse reactions to "monosodium glutamate" was published in The New England Journal of Medicine; and in 1969 that the first evidence that "monosodium glutamate" caused brain lesions and endocrine disorders in experimental animals was published.

FDA/industry collusion has been demonstrated time and time again over the course of the last 34 years.

The FDA first built, and then reinforced its case for the "safety" of MSG, on misleading and deceptive studies sponsored by the glutamate industry.  FDA regulations require that those who manufacture food additives must provide evidence demonstrating that they are "safe."  The glutamate industry has, indeed, pretended to provide "evidence" on the safety of MSG; but they have falsified data, not by changing test scores or research results, but by rigging the procedures used in conducting the studies so that under no circumstances would MSG be found to be unsafe.  Glutamate industry studies are generally methodologically inadequate, statistically unsound, and/or irrelevant to the safety/toxicity of MSG.  Researchers have gone so far as to use aspartame and/or MSG in placebos to cause subjects to respond to placebos just as they would respond to MSG.  In addition, they have been know to draw conclusions that did not follow from the results of their studies.

Over the course of the last 34 years, the FDA has summarily dismissed much of the research that clearly demonstrates that MSG places humans at risk. Reports of adverse reactions to MSG collected by its own Adverse Reactions Monitoring System have been dismissed because "they could have been caused by something else."

The FDA has suppressed results of studies that might suggest that use of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) places humans at risk.  The FDA suppressed results of a study that found processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in supplements to be unsafe.  In July, 1992, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) concluded and suppressed the results of a study of the safety of amino acids used in dietary supplements.  In the report presented to the FDA, FASEB concluded that:

"...it is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, and children.... and...by women of childbearing age and individuals with affective disorders."   (MSG is called L-glutamic acid when used in supplements.)
The FDA has distorted results of its own research to serve the propaganda needs of the glutamate industry.  In a 1995 study, the FDA's D.H. Daniels, F. L. Joe, Jr. and G.W. Diachenko reported as fact, data that came from their own potentially unreliable procedures.  In that study, they also misrepresented the research findings of others.

The FDA has refused to recall foods advertised as "No MSG," "No Added MSG," or "No MSG Added" even though those foods contain ingredients that are sources of free glutamic acid, such as hydrolyzed protein, and are, therefore, in direct violation of Section 403(a)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) goes a step farther.  They approve labels that advertise "No MSG Added" even though the labels declare hydrolyzed proteins in their ingredient panels - in direct violation of Section 403 (a) (1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Historically, every time complaints about MSG toxicity have intensified, the FDA has called for an "independent" review of the safety of MSG and has, thereby, stalled addressing the issue.  Historically, the FDA has contracted with groups that provided consultants with strong ties to the glutamate industry and/or structured the "independent" review to rely primarily on industry sponsored data.  Legislators who inquire about the safety of MSG are told that the issue is being studied.  Manufacturers who inquire are told that there is a study being done, but that "If the outcome of the review raises substantive questions about the safety of MSG, FDA will require industry to conduct studies to resolve the questions," or "FDA won't be bound by its conclusions."

In 1992, the FDA contracted with FASEB to do an "independent" review of the safety of MSG in food.  Every aspect of that study was marked by lack of objectivity and FDA/FASEB pro-industry bias.  For example, in their Request for Proposal, the FDA asked questions that could not be answered; appointed Expert Panel members (at least four of the eight members selected by FASEB) who had ties to the glutamate industry (conflicts of interest); attempted to eliminate relevant non-industry data from consideration; and when a draft of the FASEB final report was finally submitted to the FDA in September, 1994, that report was leaked to the glutamate industry, found unacceptable to them, and was sent back to FASEB by the FDA for "further study."

Release of the final report had initially been delayed a month or two at a time beyond its original March,1994 target date. In September, 1994, when the draft final report was finally submitted to the FDA, it was leaked to members of the glutamate industry and finally rejected, claiming that it needed "clarification."  Circumstances surrounding the FDA's rejection of the draft final report and the unanticipated resignation of the FASEB project director following that rejection, suggested that the initial delays had not accomplished their purpose: that even Expert Panel members with ties to the glutamate industry could not (or would not) state that MSG is "safe;" and/or that glutamate industry researchers needed time to complete ongoing double-blind studies on the safety of MSG sponsored by the International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) that would be used to convince the Expert Panel of the safety of MSG.

Text of a "new" FDA/FASEB contract to provide "clarification" (signed February 1, 1995) tended to confirm the suggestion that evidence of MSG toxicity was so overwhelming that FASEB could not deny it, and neither could the FDA.  It might even be that questions we had asked of researchers conducting double-blind studies for the IGTC have made them cautious: possibly made them unwilling to expose themselves to almost certain criticism for poor methodology.

Whatever the reason, the objective of the new contract appeared to have been to provide the FDA with data they could use for refusing to identify all MSG.  Specifically, the FDA asked FASEB to review data relevant to possible limitations on the use of glutamates, recommendation of special labeling requirements, and/or recommended levels of use of glutamates.   As if to guarantee the outcome of the FASEB report, the FDA, in the Background Section of its contract, referred to evidence that people react to doses of 3 grams or more MSG, but failed to refer to evidence (from the same study as well as others) that people react to doses of less than 3 grams MSG.  The FDA also mentioned, in its new contract, that asthma can be "worsened" with doses of more than 2.5 grams MSG, but failed to mention that asthma can also be "worsened" with doses of less than 2.5 grams MSG, and that MSG can trigger asthma-type attacks in non-asthmatics.  Because FASEB was required, or chose, to respond directly to questions asked by the FDA, and to respond only to questions asked by the FDA, structuring the contract to the point of directing FASEB to consider certain data, while ignoring certain other data, guaranteed the study's outcome.

It must be repeated that evidence suggests that the February 1, 1995 FDA/FASEB contract was entered into in order to justify the FDA's refusal to require that all MSG in processed food be labeled.

The FDA's rejection of the FASEB September, 1994 draft final report on the safety of MSG in food was not without precedent.  When a FASEB committee submitted its evaluation of the safety of MSG to the FDA in July, 1978, the FDA returned the report "for updating in light of new information on these substances presented at an international symposium in May, 1978."  The symposium in question had been sponsored by the glutamate industry, and, with rare exception, the research reported had been sponsored by them, too.

Controlling reviews of the "safety" (never "toxicity") of MSG has not been the "glutes" only outlet. Their power can be seen in the FDA's appointment of Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D. Chairman of the International Glutamate Technical Committee, and Kristen McNutt, Ph.D., J.D., a spokesperson sponsored by The Glutamate Association, to the FDA Food Advisory Committee -- and the FDA's refusal to appoint a single person who might be considered a consumer advocate.

The appointment of McNutt and Ebert, and the refusal to appoint a consumer advocate demonstrates clear cut conflict of interest.  Appointment of Ebert, and subsequent refusal to dismiss him, also demonstrates the FDA's complicity in clear cut scientific fraud.

Why fraud?  Because Ebert has distributed both test materials and materials that he called placebos (inert substances that could not possibly cause a physical reaction in a person who ingested them) for use in double-blind studies designed to demonstrate that MSG is safe. And the supposed placebos that Ebert distributed were not inert substances at all, but actually contained aspartame, a substance made up of aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and a methyl esther.  Aspartic acid is a neurotoxic amino acid and structural analog of glutamic acid, the primary ingredient in MSG.  Both aspartic acid and glutamic acid cause brain lesions, retinal deterioration, and neuroendocrine disorders in laboratory animals.  In addition, not only are there are over 7,000 complaints of adverse reactions to aspartame on file with the FDA, the reactions mentioned are the same reactions reported by people who are sensitive to MSG.  Even the relative frequency with which the reactions occur is the same.  Could it be other than by purposeful intent that Ebert not only defiled the integrity of the placebo, but used a substance outside of glutamic acid that would not only guarantee adverse reactions in people who are exposed to amounts that exceeded their dose tolerance levels, but would precipitate the same reactions as MSG?

You have to understand just how the game is played in order to appreciate the hold that industry has on every branch of government in this country; on a large part of the scientific community; and on the media.  We have come to believe that the glutamate industry believes that if processed free glutamic acid (MSG) were ever labeled, consumers would realize that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) was causing or exacerbating illness and disease; and that exposing that fact would cost the glutamate industry billions of dollars in lost revenues. So researchers are hired to turn out research that claims to have demonstrated the safety of processed free glutamic acid (MSG); physicians, "scientists," and public relations firms are hired to fabricate stories about the safety of processed free glutamic acid (MSG); the FDA, USDA, and EPA, possibly through the revolving door system that has become commonplace, appear to do the bidding of the rich and powerful food, drug, and cosmetic industries, saying -- with authority -- that their toxic products are "safe;" and legislators ignore the fact that millions of pounds of neurotoxic MSG are being fed to our children, ourselves, and the elderly, and that millions of people are suffering because of it.

And if you, the taxpayer, are concerned what do you do?  If you are aggressive, you protest to the EPA, FDA, or USDA that MSG is toxic and should be regulated in some way. If the agency responds, they might tell you that they have seen no evidence that MSG is toxic. (They won't be honest enough to tell you that the evidence is there, but they are not permitted to look at it.) They might tell you that the animal studies that show that MSG is toxic were done on animals and are, therefore, irrelevant to humans. (They will ignore the fact that in this country we do toxicity studies on laboratory animals. We do not do toxicity studies on humans.)  And if the agency is caught with its pants down, and has no excuse what-so-ever, the agency simply will not respond. They may write you a letter, but the contents of the letter will not speak to your concerns.

Undaunted, you, the rare aggressive taxpayer, may write to your congressperson and/or senators, tell them that MSG is toxic, and ask them to see to it that MSG is regulated in some way. They, in turn, pass your inquiry on to the EPA, FDA, or USDA as appropriate, and send you a letter telling you that the agency in question has been asked to respond. And what does that agency do? They fill a page or two with ambiguous words and phrases, half-truths, and downright lies and send it off to your legislator(s), who, in turn, forward the agency's letter to you.

What's a consumer to do? Industry depends on the fact that most consumers will throw up their hands in frustration and disgust and do nothing. What the consumer should do, of course, is to fire off an immediate reply to their legislator(s): 1) pointing out the flaws in the agency's letters to them, and 2) asking the legislator(s) to do something on their behalf. Stand up to the glutamate industry.  Speak out.  That's what every consumer should do.

Industry also depends on the fact that industry controls the media. Not since 1991 when "60 Minutes" did a segment on MSG and there was comment on radio, TV, and in a number of major newspapers, has there been mention in any major media outlet about MSG.  Want to know why?  Take a look at the members of the boards of directors of major media.  Take a look at their advertisers.  Enough said.

Every legislator depends on the votes of consumers.  Newspapers live off of the people who buy them, and TV stations live off their ratings. Let those people hear of your displeasure  Ask you family and friends to do the same -- one letter, one call, and one vote at a time could add up to the labeling of MSG.
 

KEEP THIS WEB PAGE ONLINE with YOUR TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTION TO THE
TRUTH IN LABELING CAMPAIGN
850 DeWitt Place, Suite 20B, Chicago, IL  60611
adandjack@aol.com 858/481-9333 http://www.truthinlabeling.org

This page was last updated on July 12, 2004.


IF MSG ISN'T HARMFUL, WHY IS IT HIDDEN?