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  • Scott Adams

    Is MSG Gluten-free and Safe for People with Celiac Disease?

    Scott Adams
    3 3
    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      MSG is gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease, but many prefer to avoid it. Here are some hidden names for MSG you might have missed.


    Image: CC BY-ND 2.0--Mr.TinDC
    Caption: Image: CC BY-ND 2.0--Mr.TinDC

    Celiac.com 08/07/2020 - Everyone knows that some people react to the food ingredient monosodium glutamate (MSG). Did you know that the name of monosodium glutamate (MSG), is a trade name for sodium hydrogen glutamate? Did you know that MSG has dozens of names, and can sneak into processed food in myriad ways? 

    MSG is gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease. MSG is included on Celiac.com's list of Safe Gluten-Free Ingredients, and plenty of people have no problems when eating MSG. However, MSG can cause adverse reactions in some people. Symptoms of adverse MSG reaction can include numbness or pressure in the face, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, sweating, wheezing or burning sensations in various parts of the body. For this reason, many people prefer to avoid MSG. 



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    For anyone sensitive or allergic to MSG, or anyone just trying to avoid it, here's a handy list of names for MSG that you might see on food labels. Remember, it's the chemical, not the name, that's important.

    Glutamic Acid

    Since MSG is the sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid, whenever glutamic acid is listed on a food label, the food always contains MSG. On its own, unprocessed glutamic acid found in protein is generally harmless. Only glutamic acid that has been processed, or which results from fermented protein, can cause adverse reactions.

    Yeast Extract

    Foods that contain yeast extract always contain MSG, including those labeled autolyzed yeast, yeast food or yeast nutrient. If you see the word 'yeast' or 'yeast extract' in processed foods you are getting monosodium glutamate (MSG) by another name. 

    Hydrolyzed Protein

    Any form of hydrolyzed vegetable protein, animal protein or plant protein, contains MSG.This includes any ingredient listed as hydrolyzed, protein-fortified, ultra-pasteurized, fermented or enzyme-modified, which either contain MSG, or produce free glutamic acid in manufacturing. 

    These other names include soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, autolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed oat flour and textured protein. 

    Caseinate

    MSG can sometimes appear on labels under the names sodium caseinate or calcium caseinate, and even under more wholesome names, such as bouillon, broth stock or malt extract (not gluten-free).

    Natural Flavors

    Besides yeast extract, MSG is often labeled as "natural flavors." Variations include natural flavor, natural flavorings, natural chicken flavor, natural beef flavor, chicken flavoring, seasoning, spices, enzymes and simply "flavoring." 

    There are at least three dozen different ingredients that contain Manufactured Free Glutamate (MFG), the chemical in monosodium glutamate. Note that Europe uses E numbers, instead of food additive names. Those names and numbers include: 

    • Autolyzed Yeast
    • Carrageenan (E 407)
    • Calcium Caseinate
    • Calcium Glutamate (E 623)
    • Glutamate (E 620)
    • Glutamic Acid (E 620)
    • Magnesium Glutamate (E 625)
    • Monoammonium Glutamate (E 624)
    • Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622)
    • Monosodium Glutamate (E 621)
    • Natrium Glutamate
    • Sodium Caseinate (msg)
    • Sodium Hydrogen Glutamate (msg)
    • Torula Yeast
    • Vetsin
    • Yeast Extract
    • Yeast Food
    • Yeast Nutrient

    Even though these product are gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease, some people have reactions to them, and want to avoid them.

     

    Edited by Scott Adams

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    So malt extract... Since malt is, by definition, sprouted barley that's then kilned to stop the sprouting, how is malt extract gluten-free?  Since wheat is on the FDA's list of major allergens, but barley is not, they are not required to disclose it.  Second-run barley-malt is relatively easy to procure from brewers and distillers, as it's the "biproduct of beverage production. 

    Next question: Ultra-pasteurized?  My understanding is that ultra-pasteurization simply heats the substance to high heat in a vacuum (therefore a lower temp than in standard atmosphere).  Are you saying that ultra-pasteurized milk--which is practically industry standard these days, even for organic brands--could contain MSG in some form? (I'm assuming calcium casseinate?) 

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    Guest jmnutrition

    Posted

    On 8/9/2020 at 4:42 PM, ch88 said:

    Fabulous link!  Thank you.

    I am curious about why the information stated in the article hasn't been cited. As someone who does nutrition research for her job and has some knowledge in how our bodys are using the foods we eat I am disturbed by what is being claimed here.. 

    Can you share where exactly you got the information so I can research these msg 'hidden names' myself?

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    Guest ANTHONY COLATRELLA

    Posted

    On 8/11/2020 at 2:18 AM, sc'Que? said:

    So malt extract... Since malt is, by definition, sprouted barley that's then kilned to stop the sprouting, how is malt extract gluten-free?  Since wheat is on the FDA's list of major allergens, but barley is not, they are not required to disclose it.  Second-run barley-malt is relatively easy to procure from brewers and distillers, as it's the "biproduct of beverage production. 

    Next question: Ultra-pasteurized?  My understanding is that ultra-pasteurization simply heats the substance to high heat in a vacuum (therefore a lower temp than in standard atmosphere).  Are you saying that ultra-pasteurized milk--which is practically industry standard these days, even for organic brands--could contain MSG in some form? (I'm assuming calcium casseinate?) 

     

    On 8/11/2020 at 2:18 AM, sc'Que? said:

    So malt extract... Since malt is, by definition, sprouted barley that's then kilned to stop the sprouting, how is malt extract gluten-free?  Since wheat is on the FDA's list of major allergens, but barley is not, they are not required to disclose it.  Second-run barley-malt is relatively easy to procure from brewers and distillers, as it's the "biproduct of beverage production. 

    Next question: Ultra-pasteurized?  My understanding is that ultra-pasteurization simply heats the substance to high heat in a vacuum (therefore a lower temp than in standard atmosphere).  Are you saying that ultra-pasteurized milk--which is practically industry standard these days, even for organic brands--could contain MSG in some form? (I'm assuming calcium casseinate?) 

    Exactly,malt is derived from BARLEY--it is NOT gluten free--who said it was?

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    Guest ANTHONY COLATRELLA

    Posted

    2 hours ago, Guest jmnutrition said:

    Fabulous link!  Thank you.

    I am curious about why the information stated in the article hasn't been cited. As someone who does nutrition research for her job and has some knowledge in how our bodys are using the foods we eat I am disturbed by what is being claimed here.. 

    Can you share where exactly you got the information so I can research these msg 'hidden names' myself?

     

    On 8/10/2020 at 11:18 PM, sc'Que? said:

    So malt extract... Since malt is, by definition, sprouted barley that's then kilned to stop the sprouting, how is malt extract gluten-free?  Since wheat is on the FDA's list of major allergens, but barley is not, they are not required to disclose it.  Second-run barley-malt is relatively easy to procure from brewers and distillers, as it's the "biproduct of beverage production. 

    Next question: Ultra-pasteurized?  My understanding is that ultra-pasteurization simply heats the substance to high heat in a vacuum (therefore a lower temp than in standard atmosphere).  Are you saying that ultra-pasteurized milk--which is practically industry standard these days, even for organic brands--could contain MSG in some form? (I'm assuming calcium casseinate?) 

    Exactly,malt is derived from BARLEY--it is NOT gluten free--who said it was?  I am confused and a bit dubious about this article and the list---glutamate itself is a natural substance from the amino acid glutamic acid--it is a natural component of many foods--fruits, vegetables, meats and fish---I am not sure because a label lists glutamate that equates with it containing monosodium glutamate--where did this list and that information come from???? 

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    Regarding barley-malt, maltose, et.al.... I think several of you are missing my point that we were talking about items that are not covered under the FDA's major allergen list (a list of merely eight) and how barley does not need to be called out... and even could fall under "natural flavoring".  

    So when you contact a company to ask what their "natural flavoring" is and whether it's gluten-free, they often times get defensive and claim that it's proprietary info. But those ingredients (IMO) should be required to be disclosed.  But to date, they are not required to do so. 

    The FDA's major allergens list:  Milk, Eggs, Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g. crab, lobster, shrimp), Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), Peanuts, Wheat and Soybeans.  Even corn doesn't make the top-8 list, though I've certainly know many people in my lifetime who are allergic to it. My understanding as to why it's not a top-10 list was because farm lobbyists didn't want corn to appear there as they felt it would undermine a major US industry. (I have no sources to cite, however.)

    But please understand where I was coming from with my original comment. 

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    What do you mean when you ask, " And is this is a case where UK (social language) nomenclature is decidedly different versus US nomenclature versus scientific nomenclature?" When I read through the article it seemed unambiguous to me, a US citizen. Does "barley malt" or "vinegar" mean something different in the UK vs. the US?

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  • About Me

    Scott Adams was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. In 1995 he launched the site that later became Celiac.com to help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives.  He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of the (formerly paper) newsletter Journal of Gluten Sensitivity. In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. Celiac.com does not sell any products, and is 100% advertiser supported.


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