MSG - free shopping list

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  • I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this so please do move this thread if you think it would be better found elsewhere... :)

    I thought it might be useful to have a list that we can add to, of food stuffs we know to be free of Mono Sodium Glutamate. I also hope that other people will be inspired to start similar lists of food stuffs that they know to be Aspartame free (cos I would find this most helpful) and Gluten free aswell...

    I have chosen to tackle the MSG list because my son is very intollerant to Mono Sodium Glutamate. If he eats food stuffs with MSG in, it causes the following symptoms...

    Phase 1:~ The High

    • His cheeks and ears become flushed
    • He starts to roll around on the floor or bounce on the furniture or climb on things he shouldn't be climbing on - he very quickly becomes hyper-active and literally does climb the walls.
    • His behaviour gets very immature very quickly
    • Initially it is highly amusing however after the initial humour his behaviour very quickly becomes trying to the extreme.
    • He cannot control his behaviour which very quickly gets out of control.

    Phase 2:~The Crash or The Come Down

    • Frustration kicks in and I think this is a mixture of him being aware he has lost control combined with the realisation that his behaviour is not desirable and he is at risk of getting told off.
    • When he was younger it is at this point that he would get aggressive and violent.
    • These days he has learnt enough about what is happening to him that he is able to go away and deal with the negative "crash" on his own.
    • He starts to feel generally pretty poorly. He gets a sore tummy and a headache.
    • His mood changes from hyper to angry/depressed/ extreme sullen and moody/weepy/tearfull/tantrum within a matter of minutes
    • He becomes fatigued very quickly.

    Since excluding Mono Sodium Glutamate from Charlie's diet I can hand on heart say that it is this substance that causes my beautiful son to act like the spawn of satan and as amusing as it can be during the high, the crash is heart-breaking to bare witness to.

    So what is mono sodium glutamate?

    Well its a flavour enhancer. Most people think that MSG is only found in chinese take-away food.... WRONG!
    MSG makes things taste hyper-real nice. It also makes you want to eat more of that food stuff because it is addictive and therefore your body can crave foods that are rich in MSG. Whether its physiologically addictive or psychologically addictive I would bet money on people who are not aware of its dangers, would always choose the MSG rich brand over the msg-free brand and probably give reasons such as "well the other one tastes bland" as to why they had chosen the msg rich food.



    MSG is a sodium salt of Glutamic Acid, an amino acid and is a drug. It acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter. It basically causes the nerve cells to discharge an electrical impulse and that's the basis of its use as a flavor enhancer. Food companies learned that MSG could increase the flavor and aroma and enhance acceptability of commercial food products.

    Equally important they learned that it could also uppress undesirable or "off" flavors, bitterness, and sourness and eliminated the "tinny" taste of canned foods. This is the reason food companies in general have no intention of giving up MSG as an additive in their products.

    Monosodium Glutamate is mostly listed as an ingredient in the following ways:~

    Monosodium Glutamate
    Flavour Enhancer
    Whey Protein

    It is also hidden in Hydrolysed vegetable protein, gelatine and yeast extract to name but a few...
    Please click the link provided for a good list of all the ways in which MSG is hidden... and to read some of the science behind this chemical additive and why it is one of the most toxic substances we are all subjected to...

    So how can I avoid MSG in my diet?

    Well, to put it quite simply and bluntly... It is virtually impossible to totally eradicate the substance from your life - I mean it is possible but you would never eat out at a restaurant or pub again, you would never again enjoy the simple pleasures of a scrape of marmite on crumpets on a winters evening, you would never partake in the guilty pleasures of a KFC and you would spend far too long in supermarkets scouring the lists of ingredients to make sure everything was msg free...We know in this house what we can and can't get away with. We try to avoid MSG at all costs. Shopping takes me a lot longer than it would someone who is not looking for the bastard MSG. But it still creeps in and boy don't we know about it...The biggest thing out of our control is going out for a meal - as rare as this treat is - we do like to pub lunch it occasionally and gravy.. gahhh.. fuckin's the single biggest nightmare in the msg-free diet.

    But let me help you a little...

    You can google for a list of msg-free foodstuffs but I have just done that and there is no such list I am gonna start the ball rolling on making and keeping up to date a list for shoppers in the UK that they can refer to without having to go through the rigmarole of ingredients reading in the supermarket.. me n si n charlie have been through this and the first couple of times it took us at least 3 hours to do the shopping :eek: utter nightmare.. so allow me to impart to you what foodstuffs I KNOW for definite are MSG free...

    Before I give you the list however, please please please add any foodstuffs you find that are definatley msg free... please also check for other additives in any of the foodstuffs that I list, that you may want to avoid. I am doing this purely from the viewpoint of msg - free.

    Again before I give the list there are two excellent books that I would like to recommend, particularly for anyone who's going down the whole diet/autism road...

    Firstly there is :

    The AiA Gluten and Dairy Free Cookbook compiled by Marilyn Le Breton
    Jessica Kingsley Publishers isbn: 1843100673
    this is an excellent recipe book for anyone wanting to move towards gluten and/or dairy free diet. All the recipes are also free from msg and artificial sweeteners.

    Secondly there is:

    A user guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HD by Luke Jackson Jessica Kingsley Publishers isbn: 184310055x
    this is an excellent manual for anyone undertaking any kind of diet where food intollerance/allergy is having to be considered and with particular reference to avoiding casein and gluten. It's like a support manual about how to implement such a diet and make it work on a practical level. It also has a wealth of information at he back of the book, lists of different food manufacturers and websites both for shopping and for information...

    OK Now to the list...

    What I am going to do is break down the usual suspects where MSG is found for you and firstly list the safe foodstuff (in black) and then list (in red) all the known nasty foodstuffs in the same category to avoid. Please please please could other people add their knowledge to this thread - lets make a list cos there isn't one anywhere on the internet that I have found...

    MSG-Free Food

    Ok.. the easiest and best way to avoid msg is to make everything from scratch with pure ingredients...for example: make your own gravy from stock you have made yourself, make your own stuffing from scratch. However, its time consuming and not always convenient and as such we tend to grab for the instant mixes and packets in the supermarket without neccessarily thinking...its part of how we cook in the 21st century after all...

    Stock Cubes/ Gravy Granules etc.

    The Kallo range is widely available now in most supermarkets, relatively cheap at around 65p for 6 stock cubes and available in lamb, beef, chicken and vegetable flavours. All ingredients are gm free and organic.

    Also there is a brand of vegetable bouillon that you can buy in a tub that is also safe but I cannot remember its name at the moment.

    It's been a while since I shopped there but Asda's cheap and cheerful everyday range (white box red writing) always used to be msg free - would be worth checking out if this is where you do your shopping :)

    Asda's cheap and cheerful everyday Gravy Granules always used to be MSG free. However I have not found the same for any other supermarket. Asda was where I shopped before we moved because I could rely on their cheap brand's being pretty much msg free.

    Bovril in a jar is relatively safe - I keep a jar for emergencies when we have run out of stock cubes and gravy is being demanded. It contains Yeast Extract and we have found that this on its own is not enough to have a negative impact on Charlie. I can say the same thing about Marmite which again, although it contains Yeast Extract, doesn't have an impact on Charlie in a negative sense.

    Somerfield Gravy Browning is also MSG free but DO CHECK THE INGREDIENTS at other supermarkets.



    Stuffing Mix

    Read the packets carefully!!! Is all I can say on this... I have recently found that Tesco's cheap and cheerful sage and onion stuffing mix DID NOT have msg in but all other brands of stuffing mix did...



    Infact while I am going down this list I can save myself alot of bother by stating the following...

    msg is found in most branded savoury foodstuffs and most of the normal priced and high-end luxury priced own-brand foodstuffs...

    If in doubt.. go for the cheapest option - usually called Everyday or something like that...these foodstuffs tend to use things like celery salt, garlic, onion salt, carrot etc etc to replace the flavour enhancer of msg. I have found when doing my shopping that I reach for the cheapo option first everytime and certainly in Asda most of their cheapo range is safe...its nuts but there ya go :lol:

    Crisps/Savoury snacks including ricecake type snacks:

    Walkers Ready Salted
    Walkers Salt and Shake
    Walkers Mr Potato Head in Ready Salted, Salt and Vinegar and Cheese and Onion (yay Charlie loves Mr Potato Head - he has had salt and vinegar and cheese and onion crisps for the first time in months and not had to suffer for it :) )
    Mc Vities Cheddars (Charlie is alright with these and they do say MSG free very clearly on the packet but they also list powdered WHEY in their list of ingredients - however we have found Charlie to be absolutely fine when he eats cheddars - they did used to contain MSG but recently have become OK)
    Wotsits (Same as Cheddars - they don't list MSG as an ingredient but list another sodium sommat or other instead - Charlie is fine when he eats Wotsits and Wotsits DID used to contain MSG but have recently replaced it with this other sodium ingredient which seems to be fine)
    Most supermarket brands of ready salted crisps.
    Some cheap and cheerful own brand value corn snacks - BUT CHECK THE INGREDIENTS CAREFULLY!!!
    Morrisons own brand Bombay Mix - although does contain E110 sunset yellow which might cause you nightmares in its own right :rolleyes:
    Morrisons own brand mini poppadoms :)
    Organic Rice Cakes with no added flavouring - Kallo again do a nice ricecake and a sesame one aswell but Snack Attacks go in the Red Zone squarley and firmly!!!

    Believe you me I have had to make the crisps a big area of research because kids love crisps :rolleyes: EVERYTHING ELSE as far as I am aware is a major NO NO!!!


    To keep this simple just stick with plain and boring cereals with nothing added or as little added as possible.. We like wheatabix, rice crispies and other whole-grain cereals. I never buy branded cereals and just go with the supermarket own brand stuff and I steer well clear of anything thats coloured or highly flavoured.

    Baking and Sauce mixes:

    I'm talking about the cake mixes, scone mixes, bread mixes, sauce packet mixes and jars blah blah blah.. do ya self a favour and learn how to bake with flour and eggs and fat and yeast and make sauces from fresh ingredients... its just not worth the time and exhaustion of going down the aisle and even considering these packet mixes...If ya must for convenience then READ THE INGREDIENTS VERY CAREFULLY!!!

    This website is coming up time and time again with relation to msg-free foodstuffs...

    It might be a godsend for anyone out there who really needs to go down the msg free road but for many reasons needs to be able to buy at convenience.

    I do hope we can make this list grow - I am going to make a point of going shopping on my own sometime in the next few weeks and writing down brand names that are safe and those that are definatley not safe.

    I think maybe such a list doesn't exist because of people being scared of slagging off certain products and the legalities of that.. well bollocks to that actually.. this needs to be talked about and will, I am sure, be a massive help to anyone out there who cannot eat msg or who wants to try and eradicate it from their diet :)

    If anyone needs any help, advice or support with regards to going MSG free, then please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do my best to help :)

    The most important peices of advice I can give you though is this...

    Use raw and fresh ingredients.
    Learn how to cook with these ingredients.
    Stay away from processed, convenience foods.
    Watch out for the ways MSG is hidden.

    With love and lots of goodluck

    Sarah xxxxxxxxxx

  • Wow, what a great post - thanks so much!

    I've been avoided anything containing MSG for a while now, but the bloody crap still manages to sneak itself into my diet every now and then. :mad:

    I think I'll forward this post to me mother, as she is anti-msg and anti-aspartame and this will be very interesting to her!

  • Thats the first "long" post I've bothered to read in a while :) and its great stuff. Cheers Ma :)

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • Great post!
    Thanks :)

    I am intollerant to MSG and it really surprised me when I first started checking labels, it's in everything!

  • Thats the longest post I've ever read but so informative. I was ignorant about this so thanks

  • Good post Sarah - if anything, it's shown who's too lazy to read long posts!!!! :D

    I despise msg with a passion, although I do eat the odd thing that contains it. The Chinese takeaway round the corner with make your food without msg if you request it - that's pretty cool!

  • It's awful i hate it so much it should be a classified substance. Oooh i could rant for the country bout this one - one for another time I think cos we just about to have tea lol :)

    Glad you have found the thread useful hun - please do add any information you can - not enough people know about the dangers and maybe suffer all sorts of problems that are to do with MSG - I think it has a profound and devastating impact on peoples lives and people need to be more aware :hug:

  • Sainsbury's Basics stock cubes in beef, chicken and vegetable all contain yeast extract but are msg free - might contain little bit in whey protein but we've used them a few times n seem to be safe :)

  • What a find....

    Asda (praise the almighty asda) have made ALL their flavoured crisps MSG free and all are clearly labelled no artificial colours flavours or hydrogenated fat ... FAIRPLAY ASDA!!!

    My son is sat here totally enjoying every single sodding crisp in a packet of smoky bacon crisps... it's been 3 years since he last could eat flavoured crisps :) bless him!

  • Maybe a mod might be kind enough to sticky this thread please?

    Asda also have introduced an aspartame and sugar free cola to their range.

    It seems finally at long last all the supermarkets are turning their backs on artificial crap infavour of natural flavourings etc in our food :thumbup::clap:

  • Wow Sarah

    Would just like to say a MASSIVE MASSIVE thank you for your post, i have joined this website just from reading your message.
    I too dont know for sure but im pretty sure i am sensitive to MSG, because on xmas day i had a funny turn, and last saturday the same thing happened when i ate at pizza hut, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, feeling not with it,hot flushes ,shaky and generally just ill .
    I have had to try and work out when this happens and it appears to be after i have just eaten. it is a pain in the arse and i already have to avoid many foods as i suffer with ibs and also have b12 and iron deficiency. life is a nightmare eating out. i just try to avoid it as much as possible. i found your post extremely usefull.
    i have emailed the food agency to find out why this disgusting chemical is present in most of our foods, will advise of what i am told.
    Thanks again


  • Hi Chelle - am really glad that you found my post informative and hope it helps you dealing with your own food intolerrances :hug: welcome to UK Hippy :) x x x

  • Hey ,
    Thanks for the welcome, shopping wasnt too bad now i know what i have to look out for, and whey protein is in pretty much everything, even a fish melt, i mean come on who would think msg was in fish,its rediculous. and as for tuna, i have wrote a letter of complaint to princes for not stating product is laced with msg as ingredients list fish oil and salt i think it was, no mention of msg. typical.
    no reply from the food agency either, typical also.

    going to doctors on wed to find out for sure if this is what i have.
    thanks again
    Chelle x

  • forgot to mention dont take " no artificial flavours, colours and preservatives" on the front of the packet as ok, as i have found out they still contain yeast extract in the ingredients :( which is msg, unless its just autolysed yeast extract that is msg. confused. lol
    tomatoes - are these a big no no?

  • if something contains gluten, does this mean it has msg in it? im a bit confused to somethings i can have and some things i cant.
    also is whey powder the same as whey protein, or two completely different things?
    i am getting annoyed now at picking up products that state 'msg free' but then you look on the ingredients and it contains yeast extract, this reverts back to my original question of .... is this safe to eat as its just autolysed yeast extract that is mentioned as containing msg, or should i just avoid it altogether?
    sorry for so many posts but its nice to have someone who i can have a conversation with regarding this as im sure my family get sick of me going on and on about food products.
    chelle x

  • no gluten is different to msg - some yeast extracts are fine - charlie is fine with marmite for example - all you can do really is exclude things and work out that way what causes you problems by reintroducing and keepin a very thorough food diary :hug: x x x

  • ohhh, so if it says gluten, it is safe to eat / drink. i have noticed a lot of drinks like 'oh so goodness' drinks that contain 32 vitamins and minerals, which i need because of my deficiency :-( say they contain gluten and whey powder, is this different to whey protein?
    why didnt god just make us without complications, or is it not eating properly that will have made me have these conditions?
    how come this has only come on in the last few weeks, i have eaten cheese and msg products all my life. im 24 btw.
    cheers. sorry i know your not a doctor but you do know what your talking about.

  • The first few links from curezone should answer any questions you might have hun - i am really not to clear on the whey powder/ whey protein thing but as far as I know whey powder would be ok where as whey protein would be one to watch. Labelling IS getting a hell of a lot better though and if something says its MSG free then I'm pretty sure it should be by law :) xxx