4

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Is "spices" a code word for nasty stuff like MSG?

Commented on December 03, 2014
Created April 14, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Just bought a seafood spice mix to go with the wild salmon that I microwaved for lunch (don't get me started!). It says: salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, paprika and dehydrated onion. What can the food companies include under "spices"?

Oh, whew! There is a box that says: All Natural, No MSG, No preservatives, Gluten Free. It's Chef Paul Prudhomme's - Magic Seasoning Blend - btw. But what if they hadn't stated that explicitly?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 13, 2013
at 03:25 PM

Yes, the trick there is "added", but if it's inside something else, like yeast extract, etc. they can get away with non labeling it. Sort of the same way as you can get nitrate free hotdogs, which has celery extract, which is a source of nitrates (however, unlike MSG, the nitrate scare is bunk - I'm using it as a method to illustrate what "food" manufacturers do to hide things so as they appear to look better than they are - i.e. they can legally lie.

4739dfc454ee7d5b4a6c232984fb9fb9

(70)

on April 17, 2013
at 12:55 AM

A lot of times manufacturers will get around it by saying "no msg added", yet there is "yeast extract" and other MSG additives.

28130879a8fd388b048df43d3ae29ccb

(10)

on July 05, 2012
at 05:52 PM

For me, yes; for you - I don't know. Everyone has there own level of tolerance for free glutamate. Essentially if your food is coming from a can you are taking your chances.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on July 05, 2012
at 02:36 AM

Tomato paste is now bad for you?

7660f5a0ec906d3922d79b20f3434ecc

(788)

on May 08, 2012
at 05:34 PM

So does "Spices" qualify as something that can hide MSG?

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on April 27, 2012
at 04:14 PM

Nasty invasive species, but the fur is fabulous.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:58 AM

Ok, time to add some common sense: how much sugar are you realistically adding when a fraction of a spice blend may be sugar?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 19, 2011
at 04:20 PM

Okay, so I now know what a nutria is. I sure hope I'm not eating it's musk gland - eeww!

Eb800baf10f5c42478f803b7cb09aa6a

(119)

on April 14, 2011
at 07:50 PM

Hear, hear! This is why I don't buy anything that has the ambiguous ingredient "spices" in it anymore. Not worth the risk.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 14, 2011
at 06:49 PM

Yeah. I just wanted something easy for work

9f9fa49265e03ddd2bf2bba5477a556b

(3184)

on April 14, 2011
at 05:58 PM

You don't actually expect Paul Prudhomme to give out his secret spice blend, do you? That spice blend has been passed down for generations deep in the bayou's of Cajun country. Based on what my Cajun friends eat, the "spice" is probably something like the musk gland from a nutria--in which case it is totally paleo.

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on April 14, 2011
at 05:37 PM

You beat me to it, but Bingo! Anything that says "natural flavorings" or "hydrolyzed" is the same as MSG, and the label can still claim it's MSG-free.

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11 Answers

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13
6927f7289fce95ccf3f4ad1034488548

(190)

on April 14, 2011
at 05:34 PM

Just because it says "NO MSG" doesn't mean much. It may still have ingredients which act like MSG. Anything hydrolyzed, most extracts (yeast extract, spice extract) and most natural flavors, flavorings and spices contain free glutamate- which is essentially the same as MSG. Instead of adding straight monosodium glutamate they process ingredients in such a way (hydrolyze is one way) as to create free glutamic acid to get the desired effect without labeling.

Eb800baf10f5c42478f803b7cb09aa6a

(119)

on April 14, 2011
at 07:50 PM

Hear, hear! This is why I don't buy anything that has the ambiguous ingredient "spices" in it anymore. Not worth the risk.

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on April 14, 2011
at 05:37 PM

You beat me to it, but Bingo! Anything that says "natural flavorings" or "hydrolyzed" is the same as MSG, and the label can still claim it's MSG-free.

7660f5a0ec906d3922d79b20f3434ecc

(788)

on May 08, 2012
at 05:34 PM

So does "Spices" qualify as something that can hide MSG?

4739dfc454ee7d5b4a6c232984fb9fb9

(70)

on April 17, 2013
at 12:55 AM

A lot of times manufacturers will get around it by saying "no msg added", yet there is "yeast extract" and other MSG additives.

2
2fd566cefde2de38e75e1bc13a966e16

on April 27, 2012
at 04:17 PM

The existing replies are correct: MSG can and often is hiding in "natural/artificial flavoring" or "hydrolyzed" anything. However, "spices" CANNOT include MSG, so your seafood spice mix should be MSG-free if those are the only listed ingredients.

Here is a nice summary: http://www.home-ec101.com/food-labels-controversy-and-msg/

1
736662d9fd6314d426cc6de1896aa045

(175)

on August 13, 2013
at 02:50 PM

Seth Roberts linked this experience by a mother of an autistic girl: http://blog.sethroberts.net/2013/05/17/journal-of-personal-science-one-childs-autism-eliminated-by-removal-of-glutamate-from-her-diet/#more-10417

The mother is a biology PhD, I think, and very inspiring - although her views on relieving autism are contested.

Point is - she decided to eliminate MSG from her girl's diet and couldn't believe how it permeates all processed foods. There's a video link of her rummaging through a supermarket too.

516c051c787526ede63170a73b795c9a

on December 03, 2014
at 04:52 AM

Seth Roberts, good job!  I went and watched this video and it was motivational and outstandingly informative.

I taught Jr High Science for 33 years with an msg sensitivity/alergic response. It took me years and years to discover it. Unbind My Mind is a great title with a double meaning. After reading Katie's blog I went and watched her 16 minute ted video. So many of us could benefit from this understanding. I have been a weirdo at school for years. I ate no processed treats. : (

I consoled myself by reminding I could come home and eat homemade icecream and crispy cheese tortilla treats evey night. Of course I had to watch the icecream flavorings and the type of cheese.  Recently I have discovered that crisping the cheese denatures the glutamate and I can eat crispy cheddar cheese where I couldn't before.

1
28130879a8fd388b048df43d3ae29ccb

(10)

on July 05, 2012
at 02:17 AM

Spices contain proteins. When not consumed FRESH they most definitely contain free glutamate. This is so because as foodstuffs age they begin to breakdown into their constituent elements. It is quite difficult to find FRESH spices unless they are in whole seed form and ground as needed. The issue isn't MSG (the most palatable form of glutamate) the issue is free glutamic acid, its prevalence in foods, and its rate of absorption. I twitch and sweat whenever I have anything with "spices" added (especially if it contains tomato sauce/puree/paste as tomatoes naturally contain free glutamic acid). Think down the road a few decades and ask yourself if you want to deal with dementia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, RLS (to name a few conditions that may result from excessive dietary exposure to free glutamic acid and which are, incidentally, being treated with glutamate blockers - ALS and schizophrenia are more extreme conditions that may result from the neurotoxic effects of unbound glutamate). Glutamic acid is a non-essential amino acid (meaning that the body can produce it on its own). Exposure to excessive dietary glutamate can cause nerve cells to fire UNTIL THEY DIE.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on July 05, 2012
at 02:36 AM

Tomato paste is now bad for you?

28130879a8fd388b048df43d3ae29ccb

(10)

on July 05, 2012
at 05:52 PM

For me, yes; for you - I don't know. Everyone has there own level of tolerance for free glutamate. Essentially if your food is coming from a can you are taking your chances.

1
A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

(3501)

on April 14, 2011
at 05:34 PM

I think that usually means "sugar" in some form...but best thing to do...buy your spices individually and just combine yourself ahead of time so you have them..then you ALWAYS know what's in them.Kind of a pain in the arse at first but once you've gotten them done it's wonderful!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 14, 2011
at 06:49 PM

Yeah. I just wanted something easy for work

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 29, 2011
at 11:58 AM

Ok, time to add some common sense: how much sugar are you realistically adding when a fraction of a spice blend may be sugar?

1
09e3a4b532dd8898d8eee23d1d8e121c

on April 14, 2011
at 05:08 PM

No. Artificial or Natural Flavorings could and usually are, though.

0
Ebecb6ff0b9f86b22835d84d46344826

on August 13, 2013
at 04:45 AM

MSG and all the other names makes me deathly ill. Now I understand why spaghetti makes me sick.

0
Ed79ecc1b1986599fd8cc993ec03400c

on April 16, 2013
at 11:34 PM

Yes, it is CODE for msg. No MSG means it's called something else. Natural Flavors, spice, spices etc. All mean MSG.

0
03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

on July 05, 2012
at 02:21 AM

I wonder that too. Sometimes I look at something like a soup mix, which has NO dairy in the ingredients, but then on the bag it says "contains dairy." The only ambiguous ingredients are the "spices" so I guess it can mean anything!

0
A6bccc9a3fcda92dce8f84b41d615ac5

on April 27, 2012
at 04:06 PM

Copmliments Beans in Tomato Sauce

The label reads "Spices". More like MSG which did produce my usual hives.

0
9574575b43f359d4c1cca586ef05e90c

on November 29, 2011
at 04:20 AM

Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning - No Added MSG, "spices", got a killer migraine and panic attack - my usual symptoms from MSG.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 13, 2013
at 03:25 PM

Yes, the trick there is "added", but if it's inside something else, like yeast extract, etc. they can get away with non labeling it. Sort of the same way as you can get nitrate free hotdogs, which has celery extract, which is a source of nitrates (however, unlike MSG, the nitrate scare is bunk - I'm using it as a method to illustrate what "food" manufacturers do to hide things so as they appear to look better than they are - i.e. they can legally lie.

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